Retired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a former national security aide who provided key testimony in President Donald Trump’s 2019 impeachment for dealings with Ukraine, has filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and two former aides, accusing them of witness intimidation and retaliation.
Citing the Ku Klux Klan Act – a 19th-century law that bars threats or intimidation toward government officials who are carrying out their constitutional duties – Vindman alleged that the group of Trump allies engaged in a conspiracy of witness tampering against him over his testimony in the 2019 impeachment proceedings.
In his testimony, Vindman discussed the former president’s attempts to compel Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to find him political dirt on Joe Biden a year ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“It has always been fair game to criticize public figures,” Vindman wrote in an op-ed for USA Today following the submission of his lawsuit. “But what happened to me was something different. I was attacked in a way calculated to inflict maximum personal and professional damage likely in order to prevent me from testifying or to punish me for doing so. In this country, that violates the law.”
In addition to Trump and Giuliani, who was Trump’s former personal attorney, the suit names as defendants former deputy White House communications director Julia Hahn and former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino. It seeks unspecified damages and an order banning the defendants from further illegal actions against Vindman.
Fox News and its on-air personalities, including Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, are also named in the lawsuit, accused of being direct conduits for Trump’s smear attacks.
The lawsuit specifies multiple examples of Trump and his affiliates spreading false news reports about Vindman and his character on Fox News and social media without corrections. On the morning that Vindman was to testify before Congress, the lawsuit alleges, Hahn distributed false talking points about Vindman to Trump’s allies and surrogates.
Vindman, who became a star witness in the impeachment, was ousted from his job on the National Security Council by Trump in February 2020 and announced his retirement from the Army the following July. At the time, he cited Trump’s “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation.”
“I especially wish that it hadn’t taken such a toll on my family,” Vindman wrote in his op-ed. “Public servants who do their duty, tell the truth and uphold their oaths of office shouldn’t be subjected to intimidation and retaliation. I’ve been disheartened to see so little accountability for what I experienced and other abuses of power that took place during that time. I worry about what that means for future whistleblowers, regardless of issue or party, who also want to do the right thing.”