Army Lt. Col Alexander Vindman was terminated from his position in the National Security Council at the White House Friday after speculation that President Donald Trump was planning to fire him.
Vindman was escorted out of the White House on Friday, according to a press statement by his lawyer, David Pressman. Pressman characterized Vindman’s firing as an act of “revenge” by President Trump for Vindman’s testimony.
“The truth has cost LTC Alexander Vindman his job, his career and his privacy,” Pressman said. “He did what any member of our military is charged with doing every day: he followed orders, he obeyed his oath, and he served his country even when doing so was fraught with danger and personal peril.”
The lawyer representing Lt. Col. Vindman – a decorated war hero – said in a statement that Americans must not allow “truthful voices to be silenced” pic.twitter.com/xF5y1wzv8c
— West Wing Reports (@WestWingReport) February 7, 2020
On Friday, Trump told reporters he was “not happy” with Vindman following the U.S. Army officer’s November testimony which contributed to Democratic-led impeachment efforts to remove Trump from office.
Pres. Trump doesn’t deny reports his White House plans to force out a National Security Council expert who testified in the House impeachment inquiry.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 7, 2020
In November, Vindman testified that he was concerned by a controversial July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Allegations first circulated that Trump had pressured Zelensky to take up an illicit investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden during the call, following allegations Biden extorted the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor. Vindman’s testimony helped further allegations about the Ukraine phone call, which became the subject of an impeachment effort in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.
As a child, Vindman immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine. During his testimony, Vindman invoked his father’s decision to leave Ukraine when it was under Soviet control. In his remarks, he said the testimony he planned to provide would get him killed in Russia, but that he felt a “sense of duty” to testify.
“This is the country I have served and defended, that all of my brothers have served. And here, right matters,” Vindman said in his testimony. “I knew I was assuming a lot of risks. [My father] deeply worried about [my testimony]. Because in his context, it was the ultimate risk.”
The House voted to impeach Trump in December on a charge of “abuse of power” and another charge of “obstruction of Congress” for not conceding to House demands for witnesses and documents and for seeking the opinion of the judiciary.
The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to acquit Trump on the impeachment charges. Vindman’s apparent departure from the White House follows just two days after the Senate’s acquittal vote.
According to Bloomberg, the Trump White House officials indicated plans to remove Vindman stem from plans to shrink the overall foreign policy bureaucracy. That pretext may come as an effort to suggest Vindman’s ouster as a larger NSC staff downsizing, rather than specific retaliation for Vindman’s testimony.
Trump’s allies have criticized Vindman since he testified.
During the Senate’s impeachment trials, Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn tweeted criticism for Vindman, including claims that Vindman had a history of political partisanship.
Vindman’s commanding officer, Army Lt. Col. Jim Hickman: “Do not let the uniform fool you. He is a political activist in uniform.”
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) January 24, 2020
Blackburn also tweeted claims Vindman breached the chain of command to further his complaints against Trump.