Republican leaders called out conservatives who have been attacking Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and other witnesses in the House impeachment investigation on Tuesday.
After complaining about Democrats’ handling of the investigation during a House Republican leadership presser, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) switched tracks.
“Now I also want to say a word about something else that’s been going on over the course of the last several hours and last night which I think is also shameful,” she said. “And that is questioning the patriotism, questioning the dedication to country, of people like Mr. Vindman, Lt. Col. Vindman, who will be coming today, and others who have testified.”
The Republican lawmaker urged for Vindman’s critics to “show that we are better than that as a nation.”
“We’re talking about decorated veterans who have served this nation, who’ve put their lives on the line, and it is shameful to question their patriotism, their love of this nation, and we should not be involved in that process,” she continued.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the Senate’s second highest-ranking Republican, also chided Republicans who have been smearing Vindman.
“That guy’s a Purple Heart,” Thune told Politico. “I think it would be a mistake to attack his credibility.”
“You can obviously take issue with the substance and there are different interpretations about all that stuff. But I wouldn’t go after him personally,” he added. “He’s a patriot.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he’s “not going to question the patriotism of any of the people who are coming forward.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the No. 4 Republican in the Senate, also told Politico he “wouldn’t be on board” with criticizing Vindam.
“This is the career military officer with a purple heart? I’m sure he’s doing his best to serve his country,” he said.
Though the Republican leaders didn’t mention anyone by name, the last several days have seen President Donald Trump and his Republican allies bash Vindman and acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, two key witnesses in the impeachment probe who served in the Iraq War and Vietnam War, respectively.
Trump has baselessly accused the witnesses of being “Never Trumpers,” former Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) accused Vindman of having “an affinity for Ukraine,” and various Fox News personalities have similarly cited Vindman’s Ukrainian-American heritage as cause for suspicion.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), a Trump loyalist, seemed reluctant to participate in other conservatives’ attacks.
“I have no concerns about about double, triple, quadruple agents,” Meadows told reporters on Capitol Hill after he emerged from Vindman’s deposition.
“I can’t question anyone’s integrity until we’ve finished it all,” he said.
Watch Cheney below:
House Republican conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney on questioning the patriotism of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and others: "We're talking about decorated veterans who have served this nation … It is shameful to question their patriotism, their love of this nation." pic.twitter.com/vwbVqUG94w
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 29, 2019
TPM reporter Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.