The lawsuit accuses Donald Trump’s eldest son, along with several White House officials, of conspiring to intimidate Vindman from offering testimony in the former president’s first impeachment trial.
Retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against former President Donald Trump in his first impeachment trial, has filed a lawsuit accusing Trump’s eldest son, as well as adviser Rudy Giuliani and several other prominent conservatives. In his lawsuit, Vindman claims that Trump allies conspired to stop him from taking the stand and then retaliated against him afterward.
According to ABC News, Vindman was one of several officials who listened to a July 2019 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zolensky.
Vindman, along with other witnesses, listened to Trump pressure Zolensky into investigating his political rivals—including current President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who served as chairperson for a natural gas company headquartered in Ukraine.
Now, Vindman says that Trump, his family, and allies actively spread false claims to defame Vindman. They suggested, for instance, that Vindman was a Ukrainian spy, accused him of perjury, and had both Vindman and his twin brother fired from positions in the White House.
Vindman’s lawsuit also alleges that Trump allies deliberately leaked classified information to undermine the former colonel’s credibility.
“This campaign of intimidation and retaliation has had severe and deeply personal ramifications for Lt. Col. Vindman,” the complaint states, adding that Vindman has since suffered “significant financial, emotional, and reputational harm” for testifying against Trump at the impeachment trial.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants—identified as Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, and former White House official Julia Hahn—violated two provisions of the so-called Ku Klux Klan Act, which prohibits threats and intimidation against government officials carrying out their constitutional duties.
ABC News notes that Vindman has placed his lawsuit in relation to the ongoing House investigation into the January 6th riots outside the United States Capitol.
Vindman’s complaint, for instance, asserts that other people may be dissuaded from taking the stand against Trump if the former president’s family members and allies can continue bullying political rivals with impunity.
The message sent to Vindman, says the lawsuit, “reverberates to this day, as witnesses subpoenaed by Congress in connection with its investigation into the events of January 6, 2021, continue to heed former President Trump’s instructions to defy those subpoenas, undermining Congress’s constitutional oversight role and the fundamental principle of checks and balances between three co-equal branches of government.”
“Sharp-elbowed politics is not against the law, nor should it be. It has always been fair game to criticize public figures. But what happened to me was something different,” Vindman in a USA Today op-ed, published the same day his lawsuit was filed. “I was attacked in a way calculated to inflict maximum personal and professional damage likely in order to prevent me from testifying or to punish me for doing so. In this country, that violates the law.”
Vindman is seeking unspecified damages.