MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace laced into Republicans for not-so-subtly implying during Tuesday’s impeachment hearings that National Security Council official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman could have dual loyalty. The GOP’s line of questioning, the MSNBC host suggested, was inspired by pro-Trump hosts at Fox News.
During a break in Tuesday's testimony, Wallace asked MSNBC correspondent Garrett Haake about counsel Steve Castor questioning Vindman about a Ukrainian official asking him if he’d be interested in becoming Ukraine’s minister of defense. Vindman is a Ukrainian-born American citizen who emigrated to the United States when he was a child.
After Haake said the Republicans were trying to portray Vindman—an Iraq War veteran who earned a Purple Heart—as “disgruntled and perhaps having dual loyalty,” Wallace said they needed to be more “blunt” about this.
“It’s a reprehensible line of questioning,” she exclaimed, “but it is one that they were perhaps inspired by some of the president’s favorite programs.”
Specifically pointing to a Fox News segment last month in which pro-Trump host Laura Ingraham and former Bush administration official John Yoo speculated that Vindman committed “espionage” and could be a double agent, Wallace added that since this is “out there” they “should out it.”
“This is a smear campaign against Lieutenant Colonel Vindman,” Wallace said. “It is active. It is live, and today it spilled out in this public hearing.”
MSNBC legal analyst Maya Wiley, meanwhile, agreed with Wallace while going even further in repudiating the implication that Vindman was disloyal to the United States.
“What’s implied in all this that hasn’t been as explicit is he’s Jewish,” Wiley noted. “And at the time [his family] fled the Soviet Union, Jews had extreme discrimination against them.”
“They were fleeing persecution,” she continued. “Synagogues all over the United States had signs that said free Soviet Jewry. That’s what he represents, and yet, and yet he has to signal publicly that his father did not make a mistake in bringing him to the U.S. when he was three years old.”