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Trump slams ex-adviser who defended key impeachment witness

AP  |  Washington 

President Donald Trump on Thursday lashed out against former White House chief of staff John Kelly for being disloyal after the ex-adviser came to the defense of a former national security aide who offered key testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

The president's comments targeting Kelly came after Kelly defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who was among administration officials who raised concerns about Trump's July phone call with Ukraine's president. That call spurred the president's impeachment trial, which ended in acquittal last week.

Like so many X's, he misses the action & just can't keep his mouth shut,. which he actually has a military and legal obligation to do," Trump tweeted about Kelly.

His incredible wife, Karen, who I have a lot of respect for, once pulled me aside & said strongly that 'John respects you greatly. When we are no longer here, he will only speak well of you.' Wrong! Kelly, speaking at a public forum on Wednesday in Morristown, New Jersey, said that Vindman did exactly as he was trained in raising concerns to his superiors after hearing questionable comments from Trump, according to a report by The Atlantic magazine. Vindman was ousted last week from his position as a Ukraine specialist detailed to the White House National Security Council.

He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave, said Kelly, a retired Marine general who served as Trump's chief of staff from the summer of 2017 until early last year. He went and told his boss what he just heard. Vindman was a key witness in Democrats' impeachment inquiry of Trump.

The Army officer was ousted from his job on the White House National Security Council last Friday, just two days after the Senate acquitted Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of justice charges. He is to be reassigned by the Pentagon. His twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who worked as an ethics lawyer at the NSC, also was ousted from his job and was re-assigned to the Army General Counsel's Office.

Kelly came to Vindman's defense after Trump suggested this week that the Pentagon should review Vindman's conduct in the Ukraine episode and potentially consider disciplinary action against him.

Trump has insisted that his call to Zelenskiy was perfect. During the conversation, Trump asked Zelenskiy to do him a favor and look into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son's business dealings in Ukraine.

Vindman testified that he raised his concerns inside the White House after concluding that Trump was inappropriately conditioning nearly USD 400 million in military aid to the country on getting Zelenskiy's help digging up dirt on the Republican president's political rival.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 13 2020. 22:42 IST
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