Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said that Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman acted correctly when he shared his concerns about President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
During a Question and Answer session at Drew University on Wednesday, Kelly said that Vindman was doing his job in reporting his concerns about the July 25 call and subsequently testifying before Congress during the impeachment inquiry.
“He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave,” Kelly said, adding, “He went and told his boss what he just heard.”
Additionally, Kelly called Trump’s decision to pressure Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden an “illegal order” and said Vindman followed the proper protocol for what to do if someone is given an illegal order.
“We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss,” he said.
Kelly continued to say that Vindman’s actions were warranted since the existing U.S. policy was to provide military aid to Ukraine.
“Through the Obama administration up until that phone call, the policy of the U.S. was militarily to support Ukraine in their defensive fight against … the Russians”
“And so, when the president said that continued support would be based on X, that essentially changed. And that’s what that guy [Vindman] was most interested in,” he added
Kelly’s comments come after Vindman was removed from his position in the National Security Council (NSC) on February 7.
After removing Vindman from the NSC, Trump accused him of being “very insubordinate,” and claimed he “reported contents of my ‘perfect’ calls incorrectly.”
Fake News @CNN & MSDNC keep talking about “Lt. Col.” Vindman as though I should think only how wonderful he was. Actually, I don’t know him, never spoke to him, or met him (I don’t believe!) but, he was very insubordinate, reported contents of my “perfect” calls incorrectly, &…— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2020
After Vindman was reassigned, Congressional Democrats alleged the move was in retaliation for Vindman’s impeachment testimony.
However, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said that the decision to cut staff at the NSC had already been planned and was part of an effort to make the organization more efficient.