The BBC writes

As the testimony was due to begin, Mr Trump suggested Col Vindman was a "Never Trumper witness" in a tweet.

But there's no evidence mentioned in support of that statement in that BBC article. So, is that Trump tweet a figurative statement or did Vindman sign one of those "Never Trump" letters/pledges?

Or more generally, what other "never Trump" act has Vindman done besides disagreeing with the idea that Ukraine investigating the Bidens (first at Sondland's and later at Trump's request) was in the US national security interest (and then testifying to Congress about those occurrences)?

(Aside: confusingly enough, Donald Trump Jr. implied Vindman was a "leftist" or at least "on their side".)

  • 4
    I am sorry, but what do you mean by "literal" evidence? After googling "types of evidence", I have not found anything which would show that this is a legal term. Do you mean "written" or "direct"? "Documentary" evidence seems to be the legalese term.
    – grovkin
    Oct 30, 2019 at 9:31
  • 3
    Shouldn't this be on Skeptics
    – user9790
    Oct 30, 2019 at 12:57
  • 8
    @KDog: Lately, Skeptics doesn't like questions that involve the interpretation of political statements, especially when those statements don't involve science. Their main goal is to be a board for "scientific skepticism". It would have to be an unambiguous statement of fact (from Trump in this case) to work as a question on Skeptics. See skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/45184/… for a contrast. Labelling people seldom qualifies. Oct 30, 2019 at 13:07
  • 7
    This is such an odd question. Why would you ask whether there's evidence for anything Trump claims? politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/statements/byruling/…
    – Black
    Nov 1, 2019 at 2:13
  • 2
    @Fizz: But usually only on the "stopped clock" principle :-(
    – jamesqf
    Nov 5, 2019 at 16:33

4 Answers 4


This comment is coming from the same President who called lifelong Republican Robert Mueller "a Democrat" for investigating him.

He doesn't use these words to mean what they mean. He consistently uses them as epithets to dehumanize anyone who doesn't support him. It is a cue for his in-group to consider these people 'outsiders' and 'nonbelievers'. 'Others' to be immediately distrusted.

"The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats," Trump tweeted Thursday. "Watch out for them, they are human scum!"

'Human scum:' Donald Trump has harsh comments for 'Never Trumper' Republicans - USA Today

In the same way that "Fake News!" leads to his followers wearing shirts that promote the lynching of journalists.

Trump has provided no evidence for this specific claim. As of the writing of this answer, there does not appear to be any publicly available evidence of any sort of disqualifying personal bias on behalf of Vindman or other witnesses.

Attacking a source of information that has already been verified from multiple other sources, including his own administration, is entirely baseless anyway. It's a purely ad hominem attack that plays to the emotions of his most fervent followers.

  • 39
    @Fizz Take it for what it is. twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/975350027169206273 twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/984053549742067712 The man's tweets barely count as English, but ad hominem is a consistent tactic that he uses to demonize anyone who questions him.
    – Tal
    Oct 30, 2019 at 13:57
  • 19
    @wolfsshield A brief Google search reveals this and this and this. Oct 30, 2019 at 19:58
  • 12
    Adding to @DJClayworth's citations for Trump rallies selling t-shirts endorsing lynching journalists, Trump himself has directly praised a Congressman who attacked a reporter for the attack itself, and refers to the news as an "enemy of the people" (a phrase whose historical usage is primarily Stalin referring to political opponents, and Nazi descriptions of Jews; in both cases leading to murders). Oct 31, 2019 at 1:25
  • 12
    @WolfRevokCats Trump has called for or endorced violence against Journalists or political opponents multiple times.
    – tim
    Oct 31, 2019 at 10:44
  • 15
    @Beska While it is true that we could simply answer this question as "No, the president's statement is not factually true", that robs the reader of the important context regarding why he is lying and the consistent repeated pattern of his lies and behavior. I used a couple stand out examples that resonate. But this answer could easily cite dozens if we wanted to dredge through his history. This is not an isolated incident. Pretending that it is would be like describing a tree falling down without acknowledging that the forest fire raging around it is connected.
    – Tal
    Oct 31, 2019 at 13:01

No, from ABC News (in reference to Ambassador Bill Taylor and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman; emphasis mine):

Trump has repeatedly lambasted these officials sitting for depositions as “Never Trumpers” – he called the United States’ top diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, one, too – despite the fact that there’s no evidence they have political biases against Trump and despite both officials having long records of service for the United States.

  • 2
    There's a second side to the coin here I'd like to see this answer address: Presumably a "Never Trumper" would not be found voluntarily working in the man's administration for years (thus lending it some of their own expertise and credibility).
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 31, 2019 at 17:52
  • 3
    @T.E.D. I'm not sure if that reasoning holds per se. A conspiratorial person might say it's wise to stay to sabotage it from the inside.
    – JJJ
    Oct 31, 2019 at 17:57
  • 4
    @T.E.D. if you think so, please post that in a separate answer. I am not entirely sure if I agree, though I may if you can elaborate on the reasoning in an answer.
    – JJJ
    Oct 31, 2019 at 18:38
  • 3
    Even a "Never Trumper" may willingly serve in a career (as opposed to an appointed) position viewing their service as to the Country and not being towards the man himself. Oct 31, 2019 at 22:05
  • 2
    @T.E.D.: "Voluntarily working" might well not apply to Vindman. He's a military officer, and when you're in the military, you go where you're assigned. I think most of us who've spent time in the military have served under officers (or FTM Presidents) we disliked, or even thought incompetent.
    – jamesqf
    Nov 1, 2019 at 2:19

Is there evidence for Col. Vindman being a “Never Trumper”?

At the time of his testimony the answer was no per several other answers here, but there is now! Vindman is now a self-identified “Never Trumper”. Note however that the question was asked a year ago in an earlier context and this does not affect the several answers to the negative that were written at that time. This is a new development to an old issue, and people's views evolve as information is revealed and events unfold.

While the Atlantic's 2020-09-14 article Alexander Vindman: Trump Is Putin’s ‘Useful Idiot’ does not say so specifically, an interview with Vindeman in NBC News' Alexander Vindman says he's become a 'never-Trumper' says this:

Retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman says he’s “absolutely” become a "never-Trumper" after coming under relentless attack from President Donald Trump, telling NBC News’ Lester Holt that the White House leaked a classified memo about him to congressional Republicans in a bid to smear him.

In an interview airing Monday on "NBC Nightly News," Vindman says he’s speaking out publicly in hopes of encouraging Americans to “choose an alternative to what we have” in Trump.

Vindman says he “was not a never-Trumper before, I was nonpartisan,” echoing language he used during his pivotal testimony to Congress during the impeachment inquiry. But Vindman said that has changed “as the president's attacked and politicized me directly.”

“In taking a very sober view of where this president is taking this country, the divisions, the catering to our adversaries, the undermining of national security interests, that I am absolutely a never-Trumper,” Vindman says.

  • 2
    An interesting addition, though maybe the question should be changed to capture the framing ("...'Never Trumper' in the period leading up to his whistle-blower testimony"), to avoid self-fulfillment ("I poked this dog with a stick 200 times. It snapped at me. THIS DANGEROUS DEEP-STATE DOG MUST BE PUT DOWN!") Sep 15, 2020 at 8:14
  • @TomGoodfellow that's a good point, and it's possible that a strategy for how to handle this kind of situation has already been established in meta, and it's possible that one hasn't and this could be a good example case for such a discussion. I qualified my answer up front to make the chronology clear, but maybe something more should be added/adjusted here or somewhere else as well. Maybe that could start as a comment addressed to the OP under the question? Sep 15, 2020 at 8:30
  • @Jongia thanks for the adjustment; I've fine tuned further to make sure it doesn't exceed the scope of what I can say. Sep 15, 2020 at 12:07

There was an answer here (now deleted) stating this in less cautious terms, but since NYT covered the issue on Nov 6, I think it's worth mentioning that one specific accusation was leveled at Vindman by retired colonel Jim Hickman, himself a very overt Trump supporter (prior to this disclosure) and QAnon fan. In turn, this accusation was retweeted/broadcast in various ways by the pro-Trump camp, including by Donald Trump Jr and also on Fox & Friends by Pete Hegseth.

The attack emerged late on Halloween night, when a retired Army officer, Jim Hickman, claimed he had overheard Colonel Vindman — a major at the time who was chatting with Russian soldiers during a military exercise — laugh “about Americans not being educated or worldly” and talking up “Obama & globalism to the point of uncomfortable.” Mr. Hickman said he took the major aside and reprimanded him.

Through his lawyer, Michael Volkov, Mr Vindman declined to comment.

Mr. Hickman, a former lieutenant colonel whose service record indicates he served in Afghanistan and earned a Purple Heart, at some point took an interest in QAnon. A review of his past tweets found more than 100 in which he recirculated or commented on QAnon-related theories, including hoaxes about Satanism and pedophilia, and until recently he had the hashtag #Q in his profile. Reached for comment, Mr. Hickman said he did not believe in QAnon but found it “interesting.”

“I do think it’s actually been pretty accurate on predicting a lot of things,” he said.

He has also tweeted strident pro-Trump, anti-Democratic themes, writing, “It’s incredible how evil the Democrat party is.” A week before going public with his story about Colonel Vindman, he retweeted a Trump supporter urging: “STOP IMPEACHMENT! STOP THIS COUP!” [...]

As the tale gained attention on Twitter, and received pushback from some who questioned it, a new Twitter account popped up with the name Thomas Lasch, tweeting that he had worked with Mr. Hickman and remembered the 2013 episode.

Mark Hertling, a retired general who was suspicious of the pair and contacted them through direct messaging, later tweeted: “They are who they say they are.” But he added that “LTC Hickman and I agreed to disagree on LTC Vindman and many other things.”

In an interview, General Hertling, who commanded the United States Army in Europe, said that a number of things about Mr. Hickman’s recollections did not add up, including his claim of hearing what Colonel Vindman, who was born in Ukraine, said to Russian soldiers.

“Vindman would’ve been speaking to Russian soldiers in Russian, not English,” he said. “Russians, when they come to these exercises, they don’t speak English — they take pride in it.”

General Hertling added: “I asked Hickman about that, and he said, ‘Well, they were going back and forth between Russian and English.’”

An effort to reach Mr. Lasch was unsuccessful. At his home in Homosassa, Fla., Mr. Hickman said, “All I want is the truth to get out.” [...]

But those who know and have worked with [Vindman] have provided a different account. They said that Colonel Vindman, then a military attaché, was assigned to meet with Russians and gather whatever intelligence he could.

He spoke to the Russians in Russian, did not denigrate the United States and reported everything he heard, according to a person briefed on the episode, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the colonel had not publicly testified. Colonel Vindman did not have dealings with Mr. Hickman in relation to his work during the exercise, the person said, and was not reprimanded for it.

Peter B. Zwack, a retired brigadier general who was Colonel Vindman’s commanding officer during the joint exercise, said he was skeptical of Mr. Hickman’s account.

“If there was something egregious that occurred, believe me, we would have had our ears rapped in Moscow,” said General Zwack, who served as the United States’ senior defense official and attaché to Russia.

“The bottom line is, where there are Russians in an exercise in and among our units and people, we have an attaché that coordinates with them,” the general said. “It’s all just a part of an attaché’s job.”

Attachés are expected to overtly collect information on what is happening in the country in which they are posted, as well as collect information from unsuspecting foreign officials through casual conversation. The allegations made by Mr. Hickman may simply describe Colonel Vindman playing his assigned role.

(The NYT article was also syndicated by The Independent in the UK.)

I wasn't able to turn up any more recent story than this that adds anything in terms of facts (either corroborating or disproving) to this matter.

And even if the event is true as recollected by Hickman, it doesn't prove that Vindman was a "never Trumper" in the usual sense. At best it would be an indication that Vindman had some positive things to say about Obama, which apparently is unforgivable (or proof enough) in some quarters (Donald Jr.) of a "leftist" inclination on Vindman's behalf.

Trump also accused other witnesses of being "Never Trumpers". So it's now apparently becoming a tradition to ask this in the hearings:

Like George Kent and William Taylor, whose testimony preceded hers, Yovanovitch was asked if she was a “never Trumper,” a charge some of the President’s allies have used to describe the witnesses who came forward. “No,” she answered firmly.

Kent and Taylor also denied it, the latter just as laconically as Yovanovitch.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, when Vindman testfied publically, he was (together with Jennifer Williams) asked the same question. And Vindman replied:

I'd call myself "never partisan".

The Washington Examiner disputed this self-characterization of Vindman, instead stating Vindman has registered as a Democrat in the past:

Vindman, a 44-year-old Army combat veteran who received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during an IED explosion in Iraq in October 2004, initially registered as a Democrat in New York in 1994. He was listed as a Democrat at least as recently as 2009, according to public records. In 2012, Vindman registered to vote in Washington, D.C., but did not declare a party.

I could not verify this from other sources though.

(N.B. Mueller was a "true never Trumper" according to Trump.)

  • I've read through the whole quote, but is there anything in there that can be construed as Lt. Col. Vindman being a never trumper? If so, please emphasize those parts. If not, please state that explicitly.
    – JJJ
    Nov 16, 2019 at 22:03
  • 1
    @JJforTransparencyandMonica: I've added something to that effect. Nov 16, 2019 at 22:09
  • 1
    From what I see one person says he overhears Vindman badmouthing America to some Russians, a higher up says the Russians would only talk in Russians followed by a response that they where switching between the languages and follows up with it was Vindman's job to interact with the Russian officials and to try and get any information he could from them.
    – Joe W
    Nov 16, 2019 at 22:17

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