In his first interview since testifying against President Trump during the impeachment trial earlier this year and subsequently leaving the U.S. Army after what he described as "a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation," retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman used some colorful, poultry-based imagery to describe how he views Trump's relationship to Russia.
The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg asked Vindman if he considers Trump a Russian intelligence asset. Vindman hedged a bit, instead labeling Trump as a "useful idiot" — which Goldberg notes is not a blunt insult, but a term commonly used to describe "dupes of authoritarian regimes" — and a "fellow traveler" of Putin, meaning he shares his Russian counterpart's "loathing for Democratic norms." That, Vindman said, "makes him an unwitting agent of Putin."
He also said that if Russia does have "dirt" on Trump, as some of his critics have theorized, the Kremlin probably isn't actively blackmailing him. "They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him," Vindman said, adding that Trump looks up to Putin and wants to emulate him. Therefore, Moscow doesn't actually have to exert much energy to get what they want out of the American president. "In the Army," Vindman notes, "we call this 'free chicken,' something you don't have to work for — it just comes to you. This is what the Russians have in Trump: free chicken." And not many people are going to pass up free chicken. Read more at The Atlantic.
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