(CNN)Rachel Vindman — the spouse of former Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry — slammed the President on Friday for going after her husband and household.
Trump, she mentioned, put her, her husband, and their younger daughter at risk of bodily hurt.
“He simply regularly put Alex’s identify on the market — he gave the impression to be somewhat bit obsessive about it, and he would, you recognize, regularly comment on Vindman,” Rachel Vindman advised CNN in an exclusive interview Friday. “And I believe by consistently saying his identify, by telegraphing it to his supporters, that he put — he continued to place us at risk by persevering with to say our identify.”
She chalked up Trump’s concentrate on her husband to worry. Alexander Vindman was current on the phone call during which Trump primarily tried to shake down Ukraine’s President to analyze former Vice President Joe Biden in change for a lot wanted US army help.
“He was scared,” Rachel Vindman mentioned of Trump.
“He would do something to discredit Alex, no matter it took, as a result of Alex had heard the telephone name, he was the primary particular person to discredit,” she mentioned. “We acquired some not-so-nice notes within the mail and a few bizarre packages. We might see issues on-line of individuals supporting him, and… it buoyed us.”
Alexander Vindman raised issues about Trump’s July 25, 2019, phone call with the Ukrainian President to different officers on the Nationwide Safety Council.
Trump fired him from his position as the highest Ukraine skilled on the White Home in February, in the end resulting in his determination to retire from the Army this previous summer time.
In keeping with Rachel Vindman, her husband believed elevating his issues in regards to the telephone name would result in an inside course correction within the President’s strategy to Ukraine, and he had no concept it could set in movement a whistleblower criticism that led to Trump’s impeachment.
She remembers the night in September of 2018 that, looking back, was the final day of her previous life as a army partner. It was a Thursday and she or he was studying a e book. Her husband acquired into mattress.
“He was like, ‘So, there is a whistleblower criticism that is gone to Congress,'” she recalled. “And I used to be like, ‘Oh, yeah, I believe I heard one thing about it, however I have not had an opportunity to examine it.'”
“And he mentioned, ‘Properly it was a few telephone name to (Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelensky’. And I mentioned, ‘Properly, you heard the telephone name, was it OK?’ And he simply form of stopped there and dropped off and requested me to verify on his private legal responsibility insurance coverage the subsequent day. Then he promptly fell asleep. And I stayed awake all night time.”
A public introduction
Rachel Vindman was fearful, however she had no concept the extent to which her husband was about to change into embroiled in an historic presidential impeachment.
“The next week there was extra info that got here out. The extra the President talked about it, the extra I assumed there was most likely one thing to it,” she mentioned.
Shortly after, a whistleblower criticism was made public detailing the decision her husband, together with different aides, had heard.
She had watched as her husband learn the criticism.
“He would not actually get nervous or ruffled,” she mentioned, “but when I might say there’s one second in all of this it was perhaps studying that criticism that — you recognize, I might inform he was critical. And he is not somebody who takes issues significantly that do not need to be taken significantly, and I felt that.”
Ultimately he was subpoenaed by Congress to testify within the President’s impeachment, behind closed doorways at first, after which publicly.
Rachel Vindman helped her husband write his opening remarks that launched him, for the primary time, to thousands and thousands of People.
“I wished to speak about his service, about what introduced him right here,” she defined. “I knew most likely on his personal he would by no means introduce himself.”
A key a part of the assertion was about his immigration to the US as a refugee from then-Soviet Ukraine. Vindman and his twin brother, who additionally labored on the Nationwide Safety Council, had been solely 3 years previous when their father introduced them and their older brother to New York Metropolis.
“We actually went phrase for phrase and thought of each phrase that he would say,” Rachel Vindman defined.
“And even nonetheless I do not suppose we anticipated the influence that it could have. There have been just a few issues that folks did not notice. He heard the telephone name. That he was the primary particular person to testify who had heard the telephone name, and that was one thing that lots of people latched on to. I believe we underestimated the influence that will have.”
What adopted was a whirlwind. Lt. Col. Vindman was a adorned energetic obligation army officer on the time. He acquired a Purple Coronary heart for accidents he sustained from a roadside bomb throughout a 2004 deployment to Iraq. He had earned his Ranger tab and the Fight Infantryman Badge.
The Vindmans weren’t ready to have his patriotism questioned, however that is precisely what occurred.
“It was essentially the most gut-wrenching feeling. I by no means anticipated it. So it was only a suckerpunch to see somebody accuse him of being a traitor,” Rachel Vindman mentioned.
On Fox Information, host Laura Ingraham accused Alexander Vindman of working to assist the Ukrainian authorities, in opposition to the pursuits of Trump, noting the Lt. Col. typically spoke to them in Ukrainian, his native language.
Her visitor, John Yoo, a former official within the George W. Bush administration greatest identified for writing the authorized rationale for the improved interrogation of suspected terrorists that was later decided to be torture, responded, “I discovered that astounding, and a few folks would possibly name that espionage.”
Yoo later clarified his remarks, denying that he had claimed Alexander Vindman dedicated espionage.
“I’ve great respect for a adorned officer of the US Military and a veteran of the Iraq Struggle. I’ve no motive to query Vindman’s patriotism or loyalty to the USA,” he mentioned.
However Yoo’s preliminary feedback opened the gate for different criticism from the President’s allies and the injury was completed.
Alexander Vindman would ultimately be fired from his prestigious National Security Council position by Trump and escorted from the White Home grounds.
This summer time, he retired sooner than he had deliberate when it grew to become obvious his profession prospects within the army had been restricted. Even the insinuation that one’s loyalty to at least one’s nation has been compromised is a legal responsibility for a overseas space officer like Vindman, who would usually be assigned to an embassy place out of the country.
Rachel Vindman remembers watching her husband testify earlier than Congress, crammed with delight, whilst she fearful about the associated fee his honesty would actual on his profession and their household.
After the testimony, Trump was requested if the Lt. Col. ought to face disciplinary fees from the army.
“That is going to be as much as the army,” the President responded on the time. “We’ll must see.”
“Probably the most highly effective man on the earth is — you recognize, a really veiled, like, ‘We’ll see about your partner and your life.’ It is — it’s actually intimidating,” Rachel Vindman recounted Friday.
It was turning into apparent that her husband — and her household — would ceaselessly be outlined by his position within the President’s impeachment.
However even now, after her husband’s retirement from the Army, she hasn’t absolutely wrapped her head round it.
“I believe we’re nonetheless processing that. I do not suppose that that is one thing we’re going to have the ability to put into context for a really very long time,” Rachel Vindman mentioned.
“What I am most involved about is our daughter, who’s 9 and a half. She is aware of that her father did a superb factor by telling the reality, and we’re fairly trustworthy along with her about that. She additionally shouldn’t be proof against figuring out there are individuals who do not like him. She does perceive, however, after all, on a 9-and-a-half-year-old stage. Hopefully in time, she’ll see the entire thing.”
The final two years have been difficult for the Vindmans, however they have been by way of worse.
In January 2009, Rachel was pregnant with the couple’s first little one, a woman. She delivered the infant, whom the Vindmans named Sarah, 4 months early.
“Per week later she handed away, and we hadn’t been in a position to maintain her throughout — as a result of she was such a micro preemie. So… after they gave her to us, Alex held her as a result of I had carried her, so he held her as she took her final breaths,” she mentioned Friday.
“After which, Alex, after that, (had) an enormous burden, Alex needed to carry me for 2 years till I may very well be a standard particular person once more. That was the toughest factor I believe any couple will undergo, to lose a toddler.”
In brief succession, each of her dad and mom handed away and she or he gave start to their surviving daughter.
“I knew that no matter we went by way of with this would not maintain a candle to that — these robust occasions,” she mentioned. “And I additionally all the time knew that he would do the appropriate factor. That is one thing that we additionally need in a frontrunner — in our leaders, management, to have leaders with values.”
The Vindmans have begun to talk out about their expertise, hoping to sway voters forward of the presidential election.
Alexander Vindman agreed not too long ago to an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic, after studying an article he wrote in regards to the President allegedly calling service members killed in warfare “suckers” and “losers.” Goldberg additionally described Trump at Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day in 2017, saying, “I do not get it. What was in it for them?”
Trump denies he ever made the feedback whilst a number of media shops, together with CNN, have confirmed numerous parts of the preliminary report.
In Rachel Vindman’s thoughts, there isn’t a doubt the President mentioned these issues.
“I felt sorry for him, that he cannot perceive the fantastic thing about service to others, of serving one thing greater than himself,” she mentioned.
“It’s the privilege of my lifetime to be married to a army service member … We have now associates whose husbands have made the final word sacrifice, and to not perceive why somebody would try this, I really feel sorry for him that he cannot perceive that,” she mentioned.
The Vindmans have acquired criticism for wading into politics, however Rachel Vindman appears unphased by it.
“I am positive lots of people are questioning why I am talking out now and why I’ve chosen such a visual position, and I’ll say that it isn’t one thing that Alex finds — he is not so enthusiastic about it,” she mentioned.
“However to me, if I’ve a voice, even when it is a small voice, I believe everybody ought to do their half for this election, and this looks like one thing that I can do.”
Regardless of the hardships she and her household have endured the final two years, Rachel Vindman says she is optimistic in regards to the future — each for her household and the nation.
“I am not fearful in regards to the future, as a result of Alex’s father got here right here in his 40s, he did not converse English, he had $450 and three little boys and a mother-in-law who did not like him very a lot, and he realized English and was in a position to get a job and supply for his household,” she mentioned.
“And that is nonetheless the USA that I dwell in. That chance nonetheless exists, and I’m not fearful in regards to the future, as a result of I do know it doesn’t matter what, we’ll make it work.”