Alexander Vindman Says America is 'Heading for More Disaster,' Warns We're Giving Away Democracy

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a former National Security Council director and impeachment witness, warned that President Donald Trump's efforts to please Russian President Vladimir Putin are a direct threat to American democracy.

Vindman offered his latest comparison between the Trump administration and Soviet-style leadership in an interview for The Atlantic published Monday in which he highlighted his shock at "Trump's desire to impress Putin." Vindman relayed his direct knowledge of the president's efforts to leverage Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a call on July 25 of last year. He said Trump's political effort to gain negative information about Joe Biden's son Hunter should be a warning to all Americans how close the country is treading along authoritarian lines.

Vindman said the U.S. is now "mocked by our adversaries and by our allies, and we're heading for more disaster." He said Russia may be "blackmailing" Trump, but that the president's arrogant leadership style and desire to please Putin means "they don't have to" use information against the former New York businessman.

"They have more effective and less risky ways to employ [Trump]," Vindman said. "He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarian strongmen who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he'll try to please Putin."

The former Director for European Affairs for the U.S. National Security Council said Trump was able to coerce him into co-opting his political errands - and that even the country's biggest patriots are at risk of the same fate. Vindman said the reason he's speaking out now, a few months after retiring from the U.S. Army altogether, is to warn good-natured Americans about authoritarianism "before it's too late."

"I was drawn into this by the president, who politicized me. I think it's important for the American people to know that this could happen to any honorable service member, any government official. I think it's important for me to tell people that I think the president has made this country weaker. We're mocked by our adversaries and by our allies, and we're heading for more disaster," Vindman told The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg.

"Authoritarianism is able to take hold not because you have a strong set of leaders who are forcing their way," he says. "It's more about the fact that we can give away our democracy. In Hungary and Turkey today, in Nazi Germany, those folks gave away their democracy, by being complacent," Vindman continued.

Vindman, who left the White House in February 2020 after his damning testimony during the impeachment hearings, concluded that "truth is a victim in this administration. I think it's Orwellian - the ultimate goal of this president to get you to disbelieve what you've seen and what you've heard."

Newsweek reached out to the White House for additional remarks Monday afternoon but did not receive a reply in time for publication.

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National Security Council Ukraine expert Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, leaves the Longworth building after testifying during the House Intelligence Committee hearing, into President Donald Trump's alleged efforts to tie US aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on November 19, 2019. - President Donald Trump faces more potentially damning testimony in the Ukraine scandal as a critical week of public impeachment hearings opens Tuesday in the House of Representatives. OLIVIER DOULIERY / Staff/Getty Images