Impeachment update: Trump’s Republican Party is no longer pro-military

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On Tuesday, two more key witnesses in the investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine testified under oath before Congress. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is a Purple Heart-awarded active-duty servicemember who works for the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams is a special advisor to Vice President Mike Pence.

In their opening statements, both witnesses testified that they were on the infamous July 25 phone call where Trump asked newly elected Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Biden family.  

“I listened in on the call in the Situation Room with White House colleagues,” Vindman told the House Intelligence Committee. “I was concerned by the call…It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent.”

Williams, a Foreign Service Officer with fourteen years of experience working with three different administrations, echoed the remarks she gave during a closed-door testimony earlier this month. “As I testified then, I found the July 25th phone call unusual because, in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter,” Williams said. 

The GOP reaction

Republicans have lined up like good soldiers to execute a smear campaign, from the pro-Trump usual suspects at FOX News to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who claimed in a letter that Vindman was after Trump and leaked information to the press.

The former GOP congressman turned CNN pundit Sean Duffy essentially accused Vindman of disloyalty and treason. A CNN anchor asked Duffy, “Are you saying a decorated war veteran isn’t looking out for America first, yes or no?” Duffy replied, “I don’t know what he’s doing.”

The smear campaign against Vindman follows attacks on members of the military by the GOP, most recently led by the president himself who attacked a Gold Star family and insulted veteran lawmakers like John McCain and his own former defense secretary, Jim Mattis. But other examples of veterans and four-star generals being sullied by Republicans persist, most notably former Rep. Tammy Duckworth who was accused of not really serving her country in the Army because her mother is from Thailand.

Conservatives have also gone after Vindman and Williams by claiming, without a shred of evidence, that both are “Never Trumpers.” 

Why would any “Never Trumper” work in the Trump administration, particularly in such a high-profile role as special advisor to the Vice President? (Answer: They wouldn’t.)

The House Democratic case against Trump, now, is simple: He engaged in bribery and extortion. In exchange for Ukraine investigating an American citizen, he would give them millions in military aid. 

An ABC News poll released Monday found 70 percent of Americans believe Mr. Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine were “wrong;” 51 percent think he should be impeached and removed from office. 

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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