John Kelly says Vindman did the right thing
John Kelly doesn't approve of how his former boss treated Vindman.
By Allen Laiche | Feb 19, 2020 | Print-friendly

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, whom President Trump fired for reporting his Ukraine dealings to superiors last summer, in a speech Monday at Drew University in New Jersey. Kelly said that Vindman did "exactly what we teach them to do" and that the president's attacks against him were uncalled for.

Vindman was a Ukrainine expert and was one of several National Security Council officials that listened in on Trump's controversial July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He testified during the House's impeachment inquiry in November that Trump's efforts to get Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential aspirant Joe Biden so disturbed him that he reported it to the council's top lawyer.

Trump removed Vindman and his brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, from the council last week, in addition to firing fellow impeachment witness Gordon Sondland, the now-former ambassador to the European Union.

Kelly told his audience that Trump's decision to tie military aid to Ukraine to Ukraine's willingness to investigate the Bidens would have sounded to Vindman like an "illegal order". As such, he was being a good soldier by reporting it, Kelly said.

"We teach them, 'Don't follow an illegal order. And if you're ever given one, you'll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order and then tell your boss," Kelly said.

Kelly also criticized Trump's intervening to reverse the demotion of Eddie Gallagher, a Navy SEAL convicted of posing with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter. The former chief of staff told his audience that Trump's decision was "the wrong thing to do" and that "had I been there, I think I could have prevented it."