President should not have ‘belittled’ Vindman

By John R. Stone

I can understand that President Donald J. Trump would want to remove some of those who testified against him in the recent impeachment process over his actions regarding pressuring leaders of the Ukraine to give him dirt on presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

And it is probably fair that he take actions to get those people out of their roles that gave them access to information about the president. He is entitled to have people whom he trusts.

Where I disagree with President Trump is what he said about Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Lt. Col. Vindman testified about the July 25, 2019 phone call in which President Trump asked the Ukranian president “for a favor.” The favor was well known in diplomatic circles as information about the Bidens.

President Trump said Lt. Col. Vindman was dismissed from the White House because he was “insubordinate, very insubordinate.” Lt. Col. Vindman had  wanted to leave the position and was scheduled to leave this summer. President Trump didn’t want him to move out quietly, he wanted to fire him and humiliate him.

After the July 25 call, Lt. Col. Vindman was not insubordinate. He expressed his concerns about the phone call up his chain of command. That was exactly what Lt. Col. Vindman was supposed to do. He didn’t leak, he didn’t rush to the press; he expressed his concerns to his superiors.

That command was within the National Security Council (NSC), where Army based Lt. Col. Vindman was assigned. He was one of the Army’s top experts on the Ukraine.

 I admit I have a bias in this case, I am an Army veteran. If there is anything one learns in the military, it is about the chain of command. If you have a concern, you start with your immediate commander. If you don’t feel he or she is responsive, there is a whistleblower process. So, for our president to say that Lt. Col. Vindman was insubordinate is simply not true. His boss was in the NSC; he didn’t answer directly to the president or the president’s staff.

If you don’t want him in the White House Mr. President, OK. But don’t belittle this man’s career or what he did in service to his country. He’s given 20 years of his life so far to the U.S. Army.  He was wounded in Iraq. He qualifies for very high security clearances. All of that should be respected.

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Some of you may remember Chad Richardson who worked here in the 1990s. He was one of the best photographers I ever hired. When he left here he went on to several other newspaper positions.

 A photo Chad took of Steve Hoffman, who was coaching softball at the time, won a first place award in the Minnesota Newspaper Association annual Better Newspaper Contest.

He now works as the communications director for the International Wolf Center office in the Twin Cities.

Recently Chad went on the World Marathon Challenge. This was a group of people who planned to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. He was to record the event in photographs.

The group was to start in Antarctica, then return to Africa and continue the trip around the world.

Chad didn’t make it to Antarctica, bad weather resulted in a change of aircraft and there wasn’t room for Chad on that aircraft and that delayed things by a day. But the next day they did their marathon near Cape Town. And on it went.

Last I heard was that he was on his way to Australia. By the time you read this he will probably be back in Minnesota. Over Christmas Chad and his wife and two children spent about 10 days in Thailand. From a Glenwood newspaper reporter to world traveler!