UC Berkeley School of Law professor John Yoo received a wave of backlash after he allegedly accused Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient, of espionage during an appearance on Fox News.
Those who criticized him allege that Yoo accused Vindman of espionage. In a statement, however, Yoo stated that he did not intend to accuse Vindman but rather meant call out an “espionage operation” by Ukrainians.
On Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show, “The Ingraham Angle,” Yoo and Ingraham discussed Vindman, a White House official who testified during impeachment hearings, regarding President Donald Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Having emigrated from Ukraine at a young age, Vindman became heavily involved with the impeachment proceedings and reportedly worked with Ukrainian officials, who allegedly sought his advice concerning Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer.
On the show, Ingraham alleged that Vindman had advised Ukraine while working for the White House “against the president’s interest.” She proceeded to ask Yoo if he felt that this was an interesting angle.
“I find that astounding,” Yoo said on the show. “Some people might call that espionage.”
News outlets, including the New York Times and CNN host John Berman, have since criticized Yoo for allegedly accusing Vindman of espionage. Many also weighed in on Twitter, among other social media platforms.
Joe Scarborough, a host of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, claimed that Yoo “attacked an Iraqi War hero” and attempted to “to impress Trump.” Scarborough’s tweet is one of many comments sparked by Yoo’s statement, however.
In response to the backlash, Yoo said in a statement that Vindman’s advice allegedly “sounded like an espionage operation by the Ukrainians” and that he did not intend to personally attack Vindman.
“I have tremendous respect for a decorated officer of the U.S. Army and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Yoo said in the statement.