Fox News Guest 'Regrets' Explosive Espionage Claim, Admits Trump Quid Pro Quo

John Yoo told CNN's Chris Cuomo he was referring to the Ukrainians, not Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.

A Fox News guest who seemed to accuse Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman of espionage ahead of his testimony in the House impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump now says he didn’t mean it that way.  

In a new CNN interview, John Yoo also admitted that Trump “seemed to ask for a quid pro quo” when he called on Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden. 

Yoo made headlines earlier this week when Fox News personality Laura Ingraham accused Vindman of working “apparently against the president’s interests” while inside the White House. She also noted a New York Times report that said Ukrainian officials had approached him for advice on how to handle Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. 

“I find that astounding,” Yoo said. “Some people might call that espionage.”

The comments provoked outrage, with former CIA chief of staff Jeremy Bash calling it “absolutely despicable” and MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace slamming it as “chickenshit.” 

But on Wednesday, Yoo told Chris Cuomo he was referring to the Ukrainian officials, not Vindman. 

“I wasn’t questioning Lt. Col. Vindman’s patriotism,” said Yoo, a former George W. Bush administration lawyer who authored the so-called torture memos justifying mistreatment of detainees. “I have a lot of respect for people who wear the uniform.”

Based on Ingraham’s comments, Yoo said it seemed to him that the Ukrainians, not Vindman, were engaging in espionage.

“I really regret the choice of words,” he said, adding that Vindman “did the right thing” by reporting his concerns with Trump’s call.

Yoo then went even further and admitted that Trump’s actions amounted to a quid pro quo. 

“I don’t have any doubts about that because you can read them in the transcript of the phone call that the White House released,” Yoo said. The only question is whether it’s a “high crime and misdemeanor” worthy of impeachment, or if it’s a matter best decided in next year’s election.

See Yoo’s full discussion with Cuomo below: