Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman has asked Fox News to retract and correct reporting the cable network televised prior to his testimony in open impeachment proceedings this week.
Col. Vindman, a National Security Council expert on Ukraine who publicly testified Tuesday, sent a letter through his lawyer Wednesday objecting to a segment that ran in a recent episode of “The Ingraham Angle” in which it was argued he might have committed espionage.
First aired on Oct. 28, the segment was initially broadcast on the eve of Col. Vindman, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in the former Soviet Union, being privately deposed as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump. A transcript of his deposition was released to the public two weeks later, and much of its contents were rehashed when he testified during Tuesday’s open hearing in the House of Representatives.
“Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine, while working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest, and usually, they spoke in English,” conservative commentator and lawyer Laura Ingraham said during the broadcast. “Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?”
“I find that astounding,” replied John Yoo, a legal professional appearing as a guest on the program. “Some people might call that espionage.”
David Pressman, an attorney for Col. Vindman, said in the letter sent to the vice president and general counsel for Fox News this week that the segment and the gist of the guest’s remarks have since been shared countless times by individuals including the president despite being “deeply flawed and erroneous.”
“At no point during the segment did Fox News publish any facts that could reasonably provide a basis for accusing LTC Vindman of criminal — treasonous — misconduct. The viewer was left to understand that Ms. Ingraham, an attorney and former Supreme Court clerk, and her law professor guest must have had a factual basis for concluding that LTC Vindman engaged in espionage against the country he was sworn to protect. They did not,” Mr. Pressman wrote.
“Fox News is liable, including for punitive damages, for the false and defamatory allegations it published about LTC Vindman, knowing they were false,” Mr. Pressman wrote later in the letter. “As the self-described ‘most watched, most trusted’ news network, Fox News has a grave responsibility to the truth. The segment was not true. It has now been repeated by some of the most powerful people in the world. It is causing great pain. We ask you to retract the coverage, correct the record, and publish the truth.”
Fox News pointed to Ms. Ingraham’s guest when contacted about the request.
“As a guest on Fox News, John Yoo was responsible for his own sentiments, and he has subsequently done interviews to clarify what he meant,” said a Fox News spokesperson.
Mr. Yoo, a former Department of Justice official, previously said that accusations he claimed Col. Vindman committed espionage “could be as far as possible from the truth.
“I have tremendous respect for a decorated officer of the U.S. Army and a veteran of the Iraq War. I have no reason to question Vindman’s patriotism or loyalty to the United States,” Mr. Yoo, 52, wrote shortly after the segment first aired.
Col. Vindman, 44, immigrated from Kyiv as a child. He received a Purple Heart and other awards as a result of his service in Iraq, and he currently holds the position of director of European affairs for the NSC.
House committees are considering whether to pursue impeaching the president in part over his administration’s withholding of military assistance to Ukraine. Col. Vindman has said that he was concerned about the Trump administration’s Ukrainian policies and that he believed they could “undermine U.S. national security.”
Mr. Pressman’s letter was first reported by The New York Times.
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