Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who served as a key witness in the first impeachment proceedings against then-President Donald Trump in 2019, filed a lawsuit against Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr., plus ex-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former White House officials Dan Scavino and Julia Hahn on Wednesday.
In the lawsuit, Vindman accused the four defendants of carrying out an “intentional, concerted campaign” to intimidate and retaliate against him — in violation of the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, he argues — as he gave impeachment investigators crucial testimony on Trump’s infamous quid pro quo scheme involving U.S. aid to Ukraine.
Vindman alleged that the defendants plus “others not presently named” in the lawsuit had violated the law by repeatedly attacking him in public and pushing a false narrative that the official, who was serving under the National Security Council as an expert on Ukraine at the time, was a spy for the Ukrainian government who was disloyal to the U.S. Those attacks carried over to Trump’s media allies at Fox News, who proceeded to amplify the defendants’ efforts to undermine Vindman’s credibility.
The smear campaign derailed Vindman’s career as a colonel (though he eventually prevailed despite the White House’s efforts) and led to violent threats against him and his family, causing them to fear for their physical safety, the official alleged.
The lawsuit highlighted the relevance of Vindman’s case to the House Jan. 6 Committee’s investigation into the Capitol attack that Trump incited last year. Multiple former top Trump officials and allies in Congress have refused to cooperate with the committee, per the ex-president’s demand.
“The actions taken by Defendants against Lt. Col. Vindman sent a message to other potential witnesses as well: cooperate and tell the truth at your own peril,” the lawsuit stated. “The message reverberates to this day, as witnesses subpoenaed by Congress in connection with its investigation into the events of January 6, 2021, continue to heed former President Trump’s instructions to defy those subpoenas, undermining Congress’s constitutional oversight role and the fundamental principle of checks and balances between three co-equal branches of government.”
Vindman is requesting compensation for damages in an amount to be determined at trial, plus legal fees.
The suit also walked back Vindman’s emotional assurance to his father in his opening statement that he’d be “fine” even though he was testifying against a sitting U.S. president.
“Lt. Col. Vindman’s continued optimism proved largely wrong,” the lawsuit stated.
Read the lawsuit below: