Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman's lawyer on Wednesday asked Fox News to retract or correct comments made during an October segment of prime-time host Laura Ingraham's program, "The Ingraham Report," where a guest appeared to suggest Vindman might have committed espionage.
The remark came from former Justice Department official John Yoo, a guest on Ingraham's Oct. 28 program.
"LTC Vindman and his family have been forced to examine options, including potentially moving onto a military base, in order to ensure their physical security in the face of threats rooted in the falsehood that Fox News originated," lawyer David Pressman wrote in the letter.
"Espionage is a felony punishable by death," Pressman also said, adding that before the Fox segment, Vindman "had never in his decorated 20-year career of service to his country been accused of having dual loyalties or committing espionage."
Yoo's remark came after Ingraham read a paragraph from a report in The New York Times about Vindman's testimony. She expressed shock at the newspaper's report that Ukraine sought out Vindaman for advice, as had "emigrated from Ukraine along with his family when he was a child and is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, Ukrainian officials sought advice from him about how to deal with [Trump lawyer Rudy] Giuliani, though they typically communicated in English."
"I find that astounding and some people might call that espionage," Yoo replied.
Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz was also in the segment on Ingraham's show but did not comment directly on Vindman or his then-upcoming testimony.
"All of the panelists on the show are prominent lawyers, including Mr. Yoo, a former Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General and current U.C. Berkeley law professor," said Pressman in the letter. "When Mr. Yoo accused LTC Vindman of a felony, he spoke with the gravitas and precision of an expert."
"As a guest on FOX News, John Yoo was responsible for his own sentiments and he has subsequently done interviews to clarify what he meant," a Fox News spokesperson told Newsmax in response to Pressman's letter.
In an opinion piece for USA Today, Yoo responded that "I did not and do not claim that Vindman assisted the Ukrainians in any way," but added that the background of witnesses is important.
He also clarified his comments during a CNN interview and on Facebook, where he wrote that he did not mean to say he thought Vindman committed espionage, but that he "meant to say that this sounded like an espionage operation by the Ukrainians. I think it deliberately misconstrues my words to say that the separate issue of the phone call between the U.S. and Ukrainian president through the chain of command constitutes espionage by Vindman, or that Vindman is some kind of double agent."
Vindman, who testified Tuesday in President Donald Trump's impeachment proceedings, was on the July 25 phone call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy where the president asked Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, for corruption.
Ingraham's segment "sparked a torrent of re-publications and copycat false charges," Pressman said.
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