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Key Words: Trump is Putin’s ‘useful idiot,’ Alexander Vindman says

Key Words

Whistleblower says he acted patriotically, calls Trump Russia’s ‘free chicken’

National Security Council Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman takes the oath before he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 19, 2019.

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“President Trump should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of Putin.”

Those are the words of Alexander Vindman, the retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who blew the whistle on President Donald Trump’s dealings with the president of Ukraine last year, in a new interview with The Atlantic.

Vindman was an aide with the National Security Council who was alarmed by Trump’s actions, and testified in Trump’s impeachment hearings. He retired from the Army in July, claiming his career had been derailed “through a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” by the Trump administration.

He opened up to The Atlantic in an interview published Monday, saying “I did my duty as an American citizen and Army officer.”

Vindman said he was disheartened by the president’s actions, but felt he had a duty to report Trump’s demand for a Ukrainian investigation into the Bidens. “I had to choose between the president and the Constitution. … No Army officer wants to be put in that position, but there I was.”

When asked straight-up by Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg if he thought Trump was a Russian intelligence asset, Vindman said Trump was more of “a useful idiot” — an unwitting dupe of Russian intelligence — and a “fellow traveler” who shares Russian President Vladimir Putin’s disregard for democratic norms.

Vindman said he doesn’t know if Russia has blackmail information on Trump, but it doesn’t really matter, since he said Trump naturally acts out of an effort to please Putin.

“In the Army we call this ‘free chicken,’ something you don’t have to work for — it just comes to you. This is what the Russians have in Trump: free chicken,” he said.

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