As hearings continue in the House impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump has continued to attack individuals involved in what he considers a purely partisan affair. Since the inquiry started, the President has labeled several people who initially testified behind closed doors, and are now scheduled witnesses in the public impeachment hearings, as “Never Trumpers.”
His latest target is Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence and a career foreign service officer. Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that Williams “should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”
Williams, who is scheduled to testify on Tuesday, stands accused of being a “Never Trumper” alongside former US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, Ambassador Bill Taylor and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
Facts First: There is no public evidence for the President’s claims that any of these career government officers were “Never Trumpers,” and thus aligned against the President before he won election. Instead, “Never Trumper” is the President’s latest line of defense, and a label he tends to apply to anyone he perceives as a threat, regardless of whether it’s true.
Here’s a break-down of each individual’s role within the impeachment inquiry and the facts refuting Trump’s accusation that they are a “Never Trumper.”
Pence aide Jennifer Williams
Williams, who is currently serving as special adviser to the vice president for Europe and Russia, listened to President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. She testified behind closed doors that she felt Trump’s request on the call for specific investigations was “unusual and inappropriate.”
Trump’s Twitter attack on Williams came a day after transcripts of her testimony were released.
“Jennifer is a State Department employee,” Pence’s press secretary Katie Waldman said in response to CNN’s request for comment about Trump’s tweets attacking Williams.
While Williams is indeed a State Department employee detailed to the Vice President’s office, sources explained to CNN that Pence’s senior staff typically interviews career officials before deciding who gets assigned to their office.
One White House official told CNN that Williams is “the most professional person in this building.”
Prior to joining the State Department in 2006, Williams served as a field representative for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004 and worked in the US Department of Homeland Security under the Bush administration in 2005.
Former US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch
During public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last week, Rep. Terri Sewell said the Republicans were likely to paint Yovanovitch as a “Never Trumper” and asked whether she was one. Yovanovitch denied the accusation and referred to her work as “nonpartisan.”
Yovanovitch testified that she was “shocked and devastated” after the President removed her from her post as US ambassador to Ukraine over unfounded allegations from what she called a “campaign of disinformation” led by the President’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Her removal was mentioned in the July 25 phone call, where Zelensky noted Trump told him she was “a bad ambassador.”
A career Foreign Service Officer, Yovanovitch has served under six Presidents – four Republican and two Democrats. Her State Department colleagues, including Taylor, spoke highly of her apolitical professionalism in their own testimony.
Lt. Col Alexander Vindman
Vindman, an Army officer who is currently detailed to the National Security Council as their top Ukraine expert, is scheduled to testify publicly on Tuesday with Williams.
In prior closed-door testimony, Vindman said he had concerns about Trump’s July 25 call with the leader of Ukraine, which he reported to the top NSC lawyer almost immediately but was later told not to discuss the call with anyone else.
After that testimony, the President tweeted that Vindman was a “Never Trumper witness,” and implied to reporters that he had information to support the accusation. Unverified reports have circulated online that Vindman criticized the US while working overseas several years ago, but a person close to Vindman disputed these claims. There was no proof to the accusation.
Vindman is a Purple Heart recipient with a self-proclaimed strong sense of duty. He also currently has no party affiliation to indicate he is a “Never Trumper.” Though he was registered as a Democrat before 2012, the Federal Election Commission has no record of any political donations made under his name.
Ambassador Bill Taylor
Taylor, who is currently the top US diplomat to Ukraine, testified in the first public impeachment hearing. Taylor testified that one of his aides overheard the President discussing US aid to Ukraine and desired investigations with US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland.
Prior to coming out of retirement to lead the US embassy in Kiev, Taylor previously served as US ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009. He was appointed by then-President George W. Bush and confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate. Taylor is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and a Vietnam War veteran who has represented the US for the State Department under both Republican and Democrat administrations.
All available information paints him as a respected and apolitical public servant. According to Federal Election Commission data, there is no indication that Taylor has ever donated to political candidates for federal office. Ten former State Department officials who previously spoke to CNN described Taylor as a person who was more likely to put sound foreign policy before politics.
Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.