Chain of command

Dear President Trump,

I had another letter almost completely written this morning but the day’s events are too important to put on hold until tomorrow so the original letter will have to wait.

I just read the opening statement that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman will be reading when he testifies before the House Committees that are investigating your attempts at extortion with Ukraine. Have you bothered to read it? I’m guessing not – it would be like going into a Tarot reading knowing you are about to hear that you’ll be hit by a bus within a matter of days and knowing that it’s true. Besides, it’s almost certain that you’d rather spend your time blaming people right around you for not having sufficiently gotten to Vindman first and trying to figure out ways to torpedo his reputation. Laura read a Tweet earlier about how Fox (I’m refusing from here on out to use the word “news” in connection with that cable propaganda channel) is saying that Vindman is a double-agent for Ukraine. It’s a ludicrous accusation, but even if it were true, how in the world would it be in Ukraine’s best interest to have their double-agent testify about his concerns in this matter? Someone didn’t think through their lie very carefully, did they?

In addition to tomorrow’s testimony looking a lot more like a spike than a nail that’s about to be driven into your coffin, it’s got me thinking about the issue of chain of command. Vindman references the importance to him of military structure and chain of command in his written statement and as a 20-year service member it’s got to be true that he’s very mindful of such matters. It’s interesting though that he didn’t connect the chain of command dots all the way up in that he didn’t talk about how you’re his Commander in Chief, the final stop on his chain of command. He mentioned Dr. Fiona Hill and how he talked to her about his concerns since he answers to her. He mentioned that he and Hill both discussed their concerns with NSC counsel. He made a pretty significant point of all this in addition to having stated in the introduction to the written testimony that he will be: “appearing today voluntarily pursuant to a subpoena and will answer all questions to the best of (his) recollection.”

So he’s almost certainly contravening orders from you, his Commander in Chief, in that you’ve tried to bar anyone who works for the Federal Government from testifying and Vindman is a White House official so what he is fixing to do is incredibly radical. And courageous. And patriotic. He must have very, very good reasons for doing what he’s about to do. It seems to me that he’s essentially saying that he doesn’t recognize your authority in what would be the normal military chain of command because you’ve violated your oath of office. He’s clearly decided that he cannot stay silent about what he heard, what he thinks it means, and his grave concerns about it.

It will be interesting to see if coming forward will cost Vindman the rest of his military career. My guess is that he’s prepared to lose his commission if it comes to it, that’s he’s decided to put Country and our democracy ahead of his own interests. My other guess is that he won’t be forced out of the military because he almost certainly has the support of his chain of command 99% of the way up and because the final 1% is officially toast.

May we all be safe to do what we believe is truly right.
May we be willing to step up and speak out about consequential wrong-doing.
May we support the health and wellbeing of the brave ones, the true patriots.
May nothing bad happen to Vindman or any of the others.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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