In an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, Vindman was asked if he believes that Trump is an “asset of Russian intelligence.”
“President Trump should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of Putin,” Vindman responded.
Vindman told Goldberg that by “fellow traveler,” he views Trump as someone who has a disdain for democratic norms.
He was also asked if he believes Russian officials have blackmail on Trump, to which he said, “They may or may not have dirt on him, but they don’t have to use it.”
“They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him. He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarian strongmen who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he’ll try to please Putin.”
According to Vindman, the Army has a term for this kind of situation, “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.”
Vindman, who served as the National Security Council’s (NSC) top Ukraine expert until February, retired from the Military in July, as IJR reported.
In a statement announcing his retirement, Vindman’s lawyer claimed his client faced a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” for his testimony during House Democrats’ impeachment proceedings against the president.
“LTC Vindman did what the law compelled him to do; and for that he was bullied by the President and his proxies. And yet, LTC Vindman would not be intimidated and will not b corrupted. He did what he has always done: put the interests of his country ahead of his own,” the statement added.
BREAKING: Lt. Col. Vindman, Trump impeachment inquiry witness, is retiring from military, lawyer says:— MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 8, 2020
“Through a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation, the President… attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President.” pic.twitter.com/un48mu9Pj7
In August, Democratic lawmakers urged the acting Pentagon Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to investigate whether Vindman was fired in retaliation for his testimony.