November 28, 2022

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by Alexander S. Vindman, a chief witness in President Donald J. Trump’s first impeachment trial, against Donald Trump Jr., Rudolph W. Giuliani and two other top Trump allies, saying that Mr. Vindman had failed to prove that they had conspired to intimidate and retaliate against him.

In the lawsuit, filed in February, Mr. Vindman said the defendants had spread false claims that he was a Ukrainian spy, had leaked classified information to undermine his credibility, falsely accused him of perjury and had him and his twin brother fired from their White House positions, leaving “a stain on our democracy.”

But in a 29-page ruling, Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court in Washington said that while the attacks against Mr. Vindman may have been “outside the bounds of appropriate political discourse,” the “political hackery alone” did not violate the law.

“Vindman’s facts do not plausibly suggest that defendants agreed to intimidate him so as to prevent him from testifying or doing his job, or to unlawfully retaliate against him,” Judge Boasberg said, let alone that they had engaged in illegal conduct to do so.

Mr. Vindman was an Army officer serving on the National Security Council in 2019 when Mr. Trump pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of his political rival Joseph R. Biden Jr., while the United States was withholding military aid to Ukraine.

In dramatic testimony during Mr. Trump’s first impeachment, Mr. Vindman, whose family fled Ukraine when he was 3, said he was so alarmed by Mr. Trump’s conduct that he reported it to his superiors.

The February lawsuit cited various public statements and Twitter posts by Mr. Trump’s confidants and allies in the news media that attacked Mr. Vindman around the time of his testimony before House impeachment investigators. The suit accused the Trump allies of leaking information about an interaction between Mr. Vindman and a top Ukrainian national security official that conservative news outlets used to paint him as disloyal to the United States.

Besides Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s eldest son, and Mr. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer, the two other defendants in the lawsuit were Dan Scavino Jr., Mr. Trump’s longtime aide, who had control over Mr. Trump’s Twitter account; and Julia Hahn, a White House aide who had worked at Breitbart News. Mr. Trump was not named as a defendant.

Mr. Vindman retired from the military in 2020 after he was made a colonel, a promotion Mr. Trump and his aides tried to block. At the time, Mr. Vindman’s lawyer said he was retiring after suffering “through a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation.”

Judge Boasberg, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, acknowledged that Mr. Vindman had been “dragged into a media firestorm,” but said his ruling did not assess the validity of the attacks on Mr. Vindman.

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