Donald Trump is coming under fire after the White House led a widescale attack on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman during his impeachment testimony on Tuesday that included attacks from the president, his son, and even the official, taxpayer-funded White House Twitter account that had traditionally been non-partisan.
Vindman appeared in a public impeachment hearing on Tuesday and delivered testimony that implicated Trump in a plan to pressure Ukraine into digging up dirt on his political rival, Joe Biden. During the hearing, Republicans on the committee appeared to hint that the Ukrainian-born Vindman may have dual loyalty, a line of attack that was picked up by Trump aide Dan Scavino Jr. He tweeted that Vindman was offered the position of defense minister for the Ukrainian government three times, though Vindman said during the hearing that he made it immediately clear that he had no desire for the job.
That was re-tweeted by President Trump, who also used the official White House Twitter account to cast doubt both on Vindman and the unnamed whistleblower who first raised concerns about Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine. The account picked up on a line of questioning from ranking member Devin Nunes, who attempted to question Vindman about who he spoke to about concerns regarding Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president. Reports have indicated that Vindman spoke to the whistleblower, and chair Adam Schiff shot down Nunes line of questioning, noting that it was inappropriate to name the whistleblower, who is offered federal protections including the right to anonymity.
Trump and Republicans have demanded that the identity of the whistleblower be revealed, and Donald Trump Jr. has tweeted a story that claimed to identify him. The use of the White House official account in an apparent attempt to attack Vindman and the whistleblower drew significant backlash.
Tim Morrison, Alexander Vindman's former boss, testified in his deposition that he had concerns about Vindman's judgment. pic.twitter.com/xwHOt4bsHS— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 19, 2019
Vindman made it clear that he gave information about President Trump’s phone call with President Zelensky to an unnamed individual.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 19, 2019
Schiff shut down questioning about the unnamed individual to "protect the whistleblower."
But neither one knows who the whistleblower is? ????
Many people commenting criticized the use of the account, and journalists questioned the impropriety of using a taxpayer-funded communication channel for a partisan attack.
“The White House is using its official ‘dot gov’ government Twitter account to attack a decorated Army officer who is obeying a subpoena to testify before the US Congress,” noted CNBC White House correspondent Christina Wilkie on Twitter. “This seems like a questionable use of taxpayer dollars.”
The official White House account also posted videos critical of Schiff, referring to him by the derogatory nickname “Shifty Schiff.”
Shifty Schiff is inventing fake quotes from the President again. ???? pic.twitter.com/KMjmTnFkDn— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 19, 2019
Other attacks on both Vindman and the whistleblower came from Trump-supporting Republicans and from the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who appeared to mock Vindman’s manner of speech in suggesting that he was “stammering” during his testimony.