Schumer Floor Remarks On The White House Retaliation Against LTC Alexander Vindman And Ambassador Gordon Sondland

February 10, 2020

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer spoke today on the Senate floor in opposition to President Trump retaliating against witnesses, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and Ambassador Sondland, who testified in Congress, which can also be viewed here:

In the aftermath of the president’s impeachment trial, the president has begun dismissing members of the administration who testified in Congress, including Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and Ambassador Sondland. The president also dismissed LTC Eugene Vindman—this was vindictive, nasty, typical of President Trump—for no other reason than that he was the brother of LTC Alexander Vindman. This morning, senior advisor to the president Kellyanne Conway said that these were likely not the last of the firings.

This is a textbook case of witness retaliation. Not only is the retaliation against LTC Vindman, the anonymous whistleblower, and others like them shameful, it is also illegal. It is illegal. All federal employees have the legal right to make protected disclosures to Congress and to Inspectors General anonymously and free from reprisals. Even the Founding Fathers were concerned about whistleblowers and protecting them. This country is being turned inside out, and too many people are going along. If something’s going on wrong in government, don’t we want to encourage government employees to bring that forward? Don’t we? Well, not President Trump, because he is the government. And what he thinks is good for him, he thinks is good for America—even when they diverge.

So, the rights are now being challenged like never before, creating a chilling effect among those who, in previous administrations, might have come forward to expose abuses of power, waste, and fraud. Whistleblowers save the taxpayers money. Again, it used to be bipartisan: the Senator for Iowa has always been defending whistleblowers, but all that goes away now that President Trump is president.

Without the courage of whistleblowers and the role of Inspectors General, the American people would never have known how the President abused his power in Ukraine. Now, the president is taking steps to punish anyone who came forward—out of spite, and out of a desire to prevent future whistleblowers from potentially reporting on the president’s misconduct.

Make no mistake about it: the president is conducting a deliberate campaign to intimidate anyone who might blow the whistle on his conduct or the conduct of those under his direction. He feels this cannot be tolerated. So today, I sent a letter to all seventy-four inspectors general in the executive branch requesting that they immediately investigate any and all instances of retaliation against anyone who has made, or in the future makes, protected disclosures of presidential misconduct to Congress or to an inspector general.

Members of the administration take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Some of them bravely stepped forward to tell the truth about the president’s efforts to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 elections. And for that—for telling the truth under oath, which the president didn’t allow his allies to do, for these people doing their patriotic duty to their country—they are being summarily dismissed from their jobs by a vindictive president.

Our founders believed that truth was fundamental to good government and, indeed, the survival of the republic. As the president takes steps to punish anyone in his administration who tells the truth, it is incumbent on the independent watchdogs in our government to protect whistleblowers like LTC Vindman and others who put their lives and livelihoods on the line to protect our freedoms. And I was glad to hear the Chief of Staff say that  LTC Vindman, within the military, was protected. At least there’s some honor left in this government.