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Ex-Army officer and key impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman characterized President Donald Trump as a “useful idiot” eager to please Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview with The Atlantic published Monday.
Trump “should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of Putin,” Vindman told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.
“They may or may not have dirt on him, but they don’t have to use it,” he continued. “They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him. He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarians who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he’ll try to please Putin.”
Vindman told the outlet that Trump is what the Army calls “free chicken,” something that just comes to you without requiring any extra work.
Lt. Col. Vindman served as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council and had firsthand knowledge of Trump’s infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked Zelensky to launch investigations targeting his political rival, Joe Biden, while holding up vital security assistance and a White House meeting.
Vindman testified about his knowledge of these events as well as others in the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry into Trump last year. In his testimony, he described Trump’s actions as “inappropriate” and “improper.”
After Trump was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, he fired Vindman and his twin brother, Yevgeny — who had no involvement in the impeachment proceedings — from the National Security Council.
Later, Vindman left the military altogether following what he characterized in a Washington Post op-ed as “a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies” that “forever limited the progression of my military career.”
Vindman is not the first national security official to question whether the president is an unwitting Russian asset.
Dan Coats, the former director of national intelligence, harbored a “secret belief, one that had grown rather than lessened, although unsupported by intelligence proof, that Putin had something on Trump,” Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward wrote in his new book “Rage,” an early copy of which was obtained by Insider.
“Coats could see no other explanation” for the president’s behavior, Woodward wrote.
Current and former US spies also expressed similar sentiments to Insider last year after Trump’s disastrous performance at the G7 summit, during which he advocated for Russia to be allowed back into the alliance.
Glenn Carle, a former CIA covert operative and frequent Trump critic, told Insider there’s been “no question” in his mind for years that the president is behaving like “a spy for the Russians.”
“The evidence is so overwhelming that in my 35 years in intelligence, I have never seen anything so certain,” Carle said. “Trump clearly responds favorably to praise. And over the years, the handling officer — Putin, in this case — realizes what the asset wants, and that’s what they provide. Trump wants to be …read more
Source:: Business Insider