“Let me assure you, the Department will not tolerate any retaliation or retaliation,” Norquist wrote to Schumer, noting that he was speaking on behalf of his boss, Esper.
“In addition, we are committed to taking all necessary measures, in line with Section 714 of Title 10, U.S. Code, to ensure the safety of LTC Vindman,” he added. Norquist also promised to provide the same protections to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper, another witness to the impeachment who provided key testimony in the House investigation.
Later, around 6:00 PM ET, he stated without evidence that Vindman leaked the July call to the whistleblower, adding: “Both have a lot in common.”
CNN is not identifying the informant, but there is no evidence that Vindman or the informant knew or had political motivations.
Blackburn accused both individuals of “doing the same job in the NSC”, of being “liberals working under Obama” and “wanting to eliminate Trump”.
As the President’s attorneys prepare to begin their arguments, Schumer asks Esper to publicly defend Vindman and condemn Blackburn’s remarks.
“Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman is a patriot. He does not deserve these shameful attacks for defending and defending the Constitution,” said Schumer in a statement to CNN. “The Department of Defense must live up to what they told me, defend Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and protect him from reprisals. Secretary Esper should condemn Senator Blackburn’s comments.”
CNN contacted the Pentagon for a reaction to the letter.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman stopped questioning on Friday when asked if it was appropriate for a congressman to question the patriotism of an active service member.
“I’m not going to delve into the hearings and things that are taking place on Capitol Hill right now,” he told CNN, referring to the impeachment process underway in the Senate.
“Obviously it’s … a very busy environment, so I’m not going to endure this besides saying that Colonel Vindman is still an active member of the army and continues to do his job on a daily basis,” he said.
Blackburn’s public attacks on Vindman fueled criticism of the senator, in particular for a tweet he published saying: “Vindman’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jim Hickman:” Don’t be fooled by the uniform. He is a uniformed political activist. “
Brig. Retired. General Peter Zwack, who claims to have been Vindman’s commander between 2012 and 2014, rejected Hickman’s claims and credibility on Twitter on Friday after the Blackburn tweet.
“Dear Sen Blackburn. I was the head of LTC Vindman in Moscow between 2012 and 2012. LTC Hickman no. I have to visit you to discuss privately his loyalty and reliability. Please bring these unfounded and corrosive allegations into the public domain. They are wrong and offensive! “He said in the tweet.
David Pressman – Vindman’s attorney and former UN ambassador for special affairs – also slammed Blackburn’s tweets into a statement.
“This difficult time in our country requires seriousness and seriousness on purpose. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman has sacrificed enormously for our country. He believes in our country. And he believes in the great institutions of our country, including the United States Senate,” he said. said Pressman.
“That a member of the Senate – at a time when the Senate is taking on his most solemn responsibility – would have chosen to take Twitter to spread defamation against an army member is a testament to cowardice,” he continued. “While Senator Blackburn fires on defamatory tweets, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman will continue to do what he has always done: serve our country with diligence and honor.”
Ryan Browne of CNN contributed to this story.