Boies Schiller Flexner partner David Pressman has written to Fox News demanding that the network retract or issue a correction to an aired segment that he said suggested that his client, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, might be guilty of espionage.
“We are compelled to write because of a deeply flawed and erroneous Fox News segment,” read the letter sent to Fox News executive vice president and general counsel Lily Fu Claffee.
Vindman, the director for European Affairs for the National Security Council and a Ukrainian immigrant who is an expert on the country, has gained widespread attention for his testimony in the Congressional impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump.
The segment Pressman cites took place on Oct. 28 during “The Ingraham Angle,” in which host Laura Ingraham and guest John Yoo, a former Department of Justice official, discussed Vindman.
“Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine, while working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest, and usually they spoke in English. Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?” Ingraham said.
“I find that astounding. Some people might call that espionage,” Yoo responded.
Yoo, the former deputy assistant U.S. Attorney General in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel during the George W. Bush administration and a current law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has since sought to clarify his statements.
Yoo’s argument, made in the editorial, that he did not intend to accuse Vindman of “espionage,” but rather accusing the nation of Ukraine instead, is legally irrelevant as it is factually incredible, Pressman’s letter said.
But at no time since the segment aired at 10 p.m. Eastern on Oct. 28 has Fox News retracted or corrected the allegations despite knowing that they are false, Pressman wrote.
“Instead, Fox News has watched as the false narrative it originated about allegation of dual loyalties —an accusation that has never before been made against LTC Vindman, a decorated patriot and veteran— were republished by some of the most powerful people in the world,” the letter said.
President Trump “built on and amplified Fox News’ falsehoods” concerning Vindman in a retweet to his 66.9 million followers, the letter said. The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., has also “personally attacked” Vindman’s loyalty on the network, it added.
The letter said that Vindman and his family have been forced to examine options including potentially moving onto a military base to ensure their physical security as a result of the threats faced from the falsehood that Fox News originated.
“We ask you to retract the coverage, correct the record, and publish the truth,” Pressman’s letter concluded.
When reached for comment, a Fox News spokesperson provided a written statement.
“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,” the statement said.
Pressman has extensive experience in national security and in handling high-profile investigation and crises, particularly in the international sphere.
He joined Boies Schiller in 2016 after two years as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs and deputy to then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Prior to his move to the U.N., Pressman was assistant secretary of Homeland Security and was a member of President Barack Obama’s atrocities prevention board.
Pressman is also the executive director of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, an initiative founded by actor George Clooney and his wife, former Sullivan & Cromwell lawyer Amal Clooney.