The Hill: Rep. Crow's Op-Ed "Defending their honor as we hear their testimony"

November 13, 2019
In The News

Monday, the United States reflected on the service and sacrifice of our veterans. As a combat veteran myself, I was grateful to spend the day honoring my fellow veterans. There is a deep bond between many veterans forged on the battlefield and in service to the country. For generations, this bond has transcended politics and served as a bridge over some of our nation’s most troubled waters. And I hope that it will do the same in the months ahead.

The American people will soon hear the testimony of veterans, career foreign service officers, and dedicated public servants. As both a combat veteran and member of Congress, I have one request of my colleagues: do not question the patriotism of these decorated veterans and public servants.

We can and will debate the merits of the testimony, but baseless smears against those who have dedicated their lives to our country are beneath our nation’s dignity. Unfortunately, we have seen these attacks before. 

The president and his allies have been quick to smear the character and distort the careers of these public servants. This is nothing new. Before he was elected, Mr. Trump attacked a Gold Star Family and disparaged Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) military service. As president, he has continually lambasted all those who disagree with him.

Now confronted with mounting evidence that he withheld national security funds for political gain, the president has doubled down on the same strategy, falsely attacking the integrity of the witnesses instead of addressing the facts.

This past week, the president called Ambassador William Taylor a "Never Trumper” - a phrase meant to discredit Taylor and suggest political bias. Such attacks serve only to distort the facts and mislead the American people.

The truth is Ambassador Taylor is a decorated combat veteran and career diplomat. He has served with honor in every presidential administration over the past five decades, regardless of party.

The president’s attacks haven’t been limited just to Ambassador Taylor.

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch – “a top-notch diplomat, careful, meticulous, whip smart” – was put through months of a coordinated smear campaign by President Trump and his allies. Now, removed from office, the smears persist. The president said on his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, “Well, she’s going to go through some things.” Ambassador Yovanovitch testified “[she] was very concerned. I still am.”

When Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman testified before House investigators, Donald Trump, Jr. took to Twitter to spew misinformation about Vindman’s career, calling him a "leftist veteran” and President Trump branding him "Never Trumper.” The name calling and attacks fail to mention that Vindman served in Iraq where he was awarded the Purple Heart and has continued service to our country as a member of the White House national security staff.

Ambassador Taylor, Ambassador Yovanovitch, and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman have all demonstrated the professionalism and courage that exemplifies the best of our military officer and diplomatic corps. I have long said we must be deliberate about an impeachment inquiry and give the American people full confidence in the process. This includes ensuring we respect and defend the honor of those testifying. The men and women who come forward are patriots who deserve respect for their service, even from people who may disagree with them.

Such attacks don’t just distract from the serious matters at hand and undermine the integrity of the process, they also further erode the morale of our military and career civil servant. These are men and women who salute the flag every day, no matter who sits in the White House.

It is our duty to defend the honor of those who have dedicated their lives to serving our country. And we will.

Crow represents Colorado’s 6th District and is a former Army Ranger