Fox pushed to correct guest who seemed to call Vindman a spy

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News has given no indication that it plans to address on the air a segment that ran on Laura Ingraham’s show where a guest seemed to suggest that Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was a spy.

Vindman, who’s assigned to the National Security Council in the White House, testified Tuesday in the House impeachment inquiry. His lawyer, David Pressman, called on Fox to retract the segment and make no further defamatory statements against Vindman.

The segment aired Oc. 29. John Yoo, a law professor and former federal prosecutor, appeared on Ingraham’s prime-time show to address Vindman’s role in working at the White House on a U.S. aid package to Ukraine. Accusations that President Donald Trump held up the aid for his own political purposes are at the center of the impeachment case.

In the segment, Ingraham said, “Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine while working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interests and usually they spoke in English. Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?

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“I find that astounding, and some people might call that espionage,” Yoo replied.

Yoo, in a subsequent column written for USA Today and an appearance on CNN, said that he was really thinking about Ukrainians and not Vindman when he made that accusation. “I really regret the choice of words,” he said on CNN.

Yet Vindman’s lawyer wrote in a letter to Fox that “the very fact Mr. Yoo wrote an article entitled ‘No, I didn’t call Alexander Vindman a spy’ shows that he knew his statement was understood by reasonable viewers to have done just that.”

In a statement, Fox News pointed to what Yoo has said in other venues.

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“As a guest on FOX News, John Yoo was responsible for his own sentiments and he has subsequently done interviews to clarify what he meant,” Fox said.

The network would not comment on whether Yoo’s comments should be addressed on the network that originally aired them, specifically on Ingraham’s show. “The Ingraham Angle” can reach as many as 3 million viewers a night.

Vindman testified Tuesday that he was offered a position as Ukrainian minister of defense, which he immediately dismissed and reported to his supervisors. That part of his testimony was highlighted by Ingraham and her Fox colleague Tucker Carlson and eventually tweeted out by Trump himself. It was an apparent attempt to question Vindman’s loyalty, Pressman said.

The resulting attention and threats he’s received have forced Vindman to consider moving with his family onto an Army base for protection, Pressman said.

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“Fox News has a responsibility to help put out the fire it lit when it falsely accused a decorated soldier of disloyalty to his country,” Pressman wrote. “LTC Vindman, who has devoted his life to defending America out of the public eye, deserves better than to be falsely attacked when compelled by law and duty to speak the truth.”