A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit from star Trump impeachment witness Alexander Vindman, who had accused Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and former Trump White House staffers of smearing him so that he lost his federal job.
Vindman alleged in his lawsuit earlier this year that Giuliani, Trump Jr., then-White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, and Julia Hahn, a White House communications staffer, conspired against him to cause him harm after Trump’s first impeachment proceeding.
But Judge James Boasberg of the DC District Court wrote Tuesday that Vindman wasn’t able to show the group worked together with the “specific goal of intimidating Vindman from testifying or performing his job” or injure him by taking unlawful action.
The judge also found that statements from White House officials that Vindman tried to claim defamed him were not enough for a lawsuit under the law.
Vindman, an Army lieutenant colonel and national security official, was on the phone for the 2019 call where Trump pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, which led to Trump’s first impeachment by the US House. Vindman testified publicly to Congress during the impeachment about what he heard and its inappropriateness, then was removed from his White House position.
Boasberg in his dismissal said that “history will be the final judge of Vindman’s actions and the former Administration’s response,” adding that the “platintiff’s pled facts, taken as true, certainly suggest that Defendants leveled harsh, meanspirited, and at times misleading attacks against him. But political hackery alone does not violate” the law.
Boasberg went out of his way in the opinion to note the harm Trump world’s political tactics had on Vindman – from him losing his job, to creating an environment where Vindman’s family feared for their safety and were threatened online.
“Defendants’ actions had consequences, and while the Court is duty bound to apply governing legal standards, it nonetheless pauses to recognize the real harm that their attacks inflicted on Vindman and his family,” the judge wrote.
In his lawsuit, Vindman alleged Trump’s family, his lawyers, right-wing media and others in the White House tried to intimidate and retaliate against him because he was willing to testify against the former president, calling out Trump’s entreaties of Ukraine for his personal political gain.
Vindman called the efforts to intimidate him obstruction. The lawsuit, articulating over 73 pages of his saga in Trump’s first impeachment, aimed to capture the plight whistleblowers face after standing up to a powerful political machine.
Vindman, the former director of European Affairs at the US National Security Council, in the lawsuit sought an unspecified amount in damages, saying his complaint aimed for “long-overdue accountability.”
“The coordination and agreement on purpose and strategy is exactly what made this unlawful campaign against Lt. Col. Vindman so damaging,” the lawsuit stated.