Democrat Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee Army veteran, ended her block against more than 1,000 military service member promotions last week.
Duckworth lifted her block on promotions on July 14 after the Department of Defense confirmed Trump impeachment trial witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman would receive his own promotion to Colonel.
“Duckworth will not object to the confirmation, en bloc, of the remaining military promotions at the O6 level or above, when the Senate returns to session the week of July 20, 2020, and if the Majority Leader requests consent to do so,” a statement from Duckworth’s office said on July 14.
“I’m glad the Department of Defense was finally able to set the record straight that Vindman had earned and was set to receive a promotion to Colonel,” Duckworth said in the statement. “We must always protect the merit-based system that is the foundation of our Armed Forces from political corruption and unlawful retaliation.”
Duckworth’s block was in place for nearly two weeks after she announced on July 2 her intention to prevent the promotion of 1,123 senior U.S. military promotions until Secretary of Defense Mark Esper could confirm he would not block Vindman’s own promotion.
Duckworth had insisted her blocking promotions was “about protecting a merit-based system from political corruption and unlawful retaliation.”
After Duckworth’s block, Vindman announced his retirement from the U.S. Army after 21 years of service on July 8. A statement released by his lawyer, David Pressman, claimed Vindman’s retirement came as a result of “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” by Trump following Vindman’s impeachment testimony in November.
On the same day of Vindman’s announcement, Duckworth said, “Lt. Col. Vindman’s decision to retire puts the spotlight on Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s failure to protect a decorated combat Veteran against a vindictive Commander in Chief.”
During the November impeachment hearings, Vindman had testified that he felt Trump did not follow Vindman’s prepared talking points on Ukrainian policy for a July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Vindman described Trump’s phone call with Zelensky as “improper.”
Days after a Senate impeachment vote found Trump not guilty in February, Trump removed Vindman from his assignment at the White House National Security Council (NSC). Hours before the removal, Trump had told reporters he was “not happy” with Vindman.
Vindman was a Ukraine-Russia expert at the NSC. His twin brother, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, was also removed from the NSC.