Retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a former national security aide who key testimony in President Donald Trump’s 2019 impeachment for dealings with Ukraine, has filed a lawsuit against the former president, Rudy Giuliani and two former aids, accusing them of witness intimidation and retaliation.
The 73-page federal suit, filed Wednesday, says Vindman became “the target of a dangerous campaign of witness intimidation by President Trump and a group of conspirators” after testing about Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine into investigating the family of his then-2020 election rival Joe Biden.
“The conspirators agreed on common, unlawful objectives — to deter Lt. Col. Vindman from testing in the future and to retaliate against him after he did so,” says the lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the District of Columbia.
In addition to Trump and Giuliani, who was Trump’s former personal attorney, the suit names as defendants former deputy White House communications director Julia Hahn and former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino. It seeks unspecified damages and an order banning the defendants from further illegal actions against Vindman.
Fox News and its on-air personalities, including Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, are also named in the lawsuit, accused of being direct conduits for Trump’s smear attacks.
“The extent to which Ingraham worked closely with President Trump before and during his presidency, including using her platform at Fox News to advance his agenda, was no secret and appears to have had the full approval and support of Fox News. In fact, Ingraham is represented by just one of the remarkably close connections between Fox News and the Trump White House” the suit states.
The lawsuit specifies multiple examples of Trump and his affiliates spreading false news reports about Vindman and his character on Fox News and on social media without corrections. On the morning that Vindman was to testify before Congress, the lawsuit alleges, Hahn distributed false talking points about Vindman to Trump’s allies and surrogates.
“While some of the talking points stretched the truth, others were blatantly false and defamatory. They all had the same unlawful purpose,” his suit states.
Vindman tested on Nov. 19, 2019, that he didn’t think Trump’s behavior was “proper” and said he raised concerns with the National Security Council. This followed Trump’s phone call requesting a “favor” from Ukraine’s president.
Vindman, who became a star witness in the impeachment, was ousted from his job on the National Security Council by Trump in February 2020 and announced his retirement from the Army the following July. At the time, he cited Trump’s “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation.”
“I’ve been disheartened to see so little accountability for what I experienced and other abuses of power that took place during that time. I worry about what that means for future whistleblowers, regardless of issue or party, who also want to do the right thing.”
Vindman has been unable to find work since, with potential employers fearing association with him could lead to harassment, intimidation or the appearance of being partisan, the suit says.
The suit says that Vindman and his family have been threatened with violence through email and social media, including from members of the military, and that the menacing has led to psychological harm and financial costs.
In an op-ed published Wednesday, Vindman said he has no regrets about testing against Trump and speaking out, but wishes “it hadn’t ended my career and upended my life.”
“I especially wish that it hadn’t taken such a toll on my family,” he wrote. “Public servants who do their duty, tell the truth and uphold their oaths of office shouldn’t be subjected to intimidation and retaliation. I’ve been disheartened to see so little accountability for what I experienced and other abuses of power that took place during that time. I worry about what that means for future whistleblowers, regardless of issue or party, who also want to do the right thing.”