Trump’s defenders set a new low in going after an American war hero

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was hit with disgusting smears as he testified in the impeachment inquiry.

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Director For European Affairs At The National Security Council Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman Testifies In Impeachment Inquiry

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, arrives at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 29, 2019 for a closed-door deposition in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump,

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Trying to keep up with the ever-changing positions of President Trump’s loyalists is hard work.

This week, Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade, Fox News guest John Yoo, CNN contributor Sean Duffy and others suggested that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukrainian-born American, war hero and Purple Heart recipient, was loyal to Ukraine because of his testimony before Congress.

Ingraham actually used the odious words “dual loyalty,” while Yoo offered that Vindman’s damning testimony about Trump’s call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was akin to “espionage.” Duffy decided that Vindman had put his “affinity for Ukraine” above his love of America — whom he has literally bled for — and Kilmeade more colorfully offered that he was “simpatico with Ukraine.”

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In some surprising and good news, many Republicans stepped forward to rebuke these disgusting smears.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “I’m not going to question the patriotism of any of the people who are coming forward.”

Sen. Mitt Romney described the attacks as “absurd, disgusting and way off the mark.” Sen. Liz Cheney said, “Questioning the patriotism, questioning the dedication to the country of people like Mr. Vindman ... I think that we need to show that we are better than that as a nation.”

Of course, these same Republicans helped elect a president who did just that routinely while running for office. Remember, Trump smeared Sen. John McCain, a Trump critic, for his military service, saying, “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

He belittled a Gold Star family, whose son’s death he said he could have prevented had he been president. He questioned the loyalty of American Jews who voted for Democrats. And since getting elected, Trump has questioned the patriotism of four women of color in Congress and has regularly attacked his own generals, law enforcement and intelligence community.

So, it should be no surprise that his acolytes have taken up the disgusting practice in service of their master.

Except, that is, when they’re outraged that someone else is questioning an American’s patriotism.

Recently, Fox News hosts rushed to the defense of Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, after Hillary Clinton suggested the Russians might be “grooming” her for a third-party run.

Kilmeade praised Gabbard, saying, “She’s been an absolute standout during this whole election campaign.” His co-host, Ainsley Earhardt, said of Clinton’s accusations, “it shows how dirty politics is.”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson was also dismayed by the charge of disloyalty, calling it “lunacy,” “reckless” and “silly.” “That’s such a serious thing to say,” he insisted.

Or ask Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, who’s been accused by many Republicans and even some Democrats — rightly, in my opinion — of smearing American Jews for their supposed “dual loyalty” to Israel.

Kilmeade took particular issue with her comments about 9/11, in which she said “some people did something,” referring to the Al Qaeda hijackers. “Really? Some people did something? You have to wonder if she’s an American first.” He later walked that attack back.

Kilmeade’s now insisting that questioning Vindman’s relationship with Ukraine isn’t questioning his patriotism. Just like he insisted Trump wasn’t questioning Jewish voters’ loyalty to America when the president said, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or a great disloyalty.”

Ingraham also disputed the correct reading of those Trump comments, insisting, “Oh, he’s not talking about that. Nice try. You guys (Democrats) have the anti-Semitism problem, not us.”

If you’re trying to make sense of where these people stand when it comes to questioning American patriotism, you’ll be here a while. As is now commonplace in the era of Trump, defending a position depends on the day and what the president is saying about it.

Trump supporters chant patriotic-sounding slogans like “America First” and “Make America Great Again,” while defending a president who continually puts his own interests ahead of his country’s. Their attempt at besmirching a decorated war hero to prop up their dear leader is phonier than their phony outrage.

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S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.

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