in his defense
February 13, 2020

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is defending one of the subjects of his old boss' ire.

Kelly at an event on Wednesday night discussed Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman after he was removed from his National Security Council job last week. Vindman had testified in the impeachment inquiry about how he was alarmed by President Trump's phone call with Ukraine and spoke up about it.

"He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave," Kelly said of Vindman, The Atlantic reports. "He went and told his boss what he just heard."

Kelly went on to compare hearing Trump's phone call with Ukraine to hearing an "illegal order," saying Vindman was correct to report it.

"We teach them, 'Don’t follow an illegal order,'" Kelly said. "And if you're ever given one, you'll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss.'"

The White House has insisted that Vindman wasn't fired, but Trump said this week he "obviously wasn't happy with the job he did," and Vindman's lawyer said he was removed because Trump "decided to exact revenge."

"Through the Obama administration up until that phone call, the policy of the U.S. was militarily to support Ukraine in their defensive fight against ... the Russians," Kelly said Wednesday. "And so, when the president said that continued support would be based on X, that essentially changed. And that's what that guy [Vindman] was most interested in." Brendan Morrow

April 3, 2019

As former Vice President Joe Biden continues to face allegations of making women uncomfortable with inappropriate touching, some Republicans are coming to his defense.

The latest was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who on Wednesday said that Biden "is my friend" and that "whatever he did, it may have been inappropriate, but it was not driven by malice or misconduct," per NBC's Frank Thorp.

Four women over the past week have said that Biden made them feel uncomfortable with inappropriate touching, with two more saying as much on Tuesday, per The New York Times.

Previously, Biden had received a defense from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who said that he is "very friendly" and a "natural toucher" but that she "never found him to be inappropriate," per HuffPost. The View's Meghan McCain also defended Biden on Monday, tweeting that he is "one of the truly decent and compassionate men in all of American politics."

Democrats are also coming to Biden's defense, including Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), who said that the former vice president is a "warm and friendly" person and that he "didn't mean it as anything other than that," per Axios. Some 2020 presidential candidates have offered more criticism, though, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) saying that "Joe Biden needs to give an answer." Thus far, however, these Democrats have generally declined to say Biden should not run as a result.

This reaction stands in contrast to that of the pro-Trump Great America PAC, which is already out with an ad titled "Creepy Joe." Biden has said per CNN that "not once" did he "believe I acted inappropriately." He has also privately said the allegations will not dissuade him from a presidential run, The New York Times reports. Brendan Morrow

April 1, 2019

MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski is coming to former Vice President Joe Biden's defense after a woman accused him of kissing her inappropriately.

Morning Joe on Monday discussed the recent allegation from former Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who says Biden inappropriately touched her and kissed the back of her head at a 2014 campaign rally. Brzezinski said that Biden, who she has known for "a long time," is "extremely flirtatious" but in a "completely safe way," per Mediaite. She argued that Biden had no "bad intent" in this instance and was only trying to be "nice" but that "I'm sure somebody can misconstrue something he's done."

During another segment, Brzezinski said that "what concerns me about this is the political nature of this announcement," and the host called Biden's statement, in which he said he never intended to act inappropriately, "really important." After showing different photos of Biden embracing various people, Brzezinski said that the former vice president loves to "show his warmth, his openness" and that "in the age of #MeToo ... that is being very misunderstood." This, Brzezinski added, is "frustrating" for "some people who see Joe Biden as just a kind, generous, gentle man."

Watch Morning Joe's discussion of the allegation against Biden below. Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads