U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman announced Wednesday he is retiring from the military after more than 21 years of service, amid concerns about retaliation by President Donald Trump over Vindman’s decision to testify in impeachment hearings against the President.
Vindman announced his decision in a tweet, including a picture of himself purportedly filing his request to retire.
“Today I officially requested retirement from the US Army, an organization I love. My family and I look forward to the next chapter of our lives
Today I officially requested retirement from the US Army, an organization I love. My family and I look forward to the next chapter of our lives. pic.twitter.com/h2D9MRUHY2
— Alexander S. Vindman (@AVindman) July 8, 2020
Vindman’s lawyer David Pressman described the reasoning behind Vindman’s decision to CNN, alleging a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” by Trump following Vindman’s impeachment testimony in November.
During the impeachment hearings, Vindman testified that he felt Trump had not adhered to talking points Vindman had prepared regarding Ukrainian policy for a July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Vindman further characterized Trump’s discussion Zelensky as “improper.”
In February, in the days following a Senate impeachment vote that found Trump not guilty of the underlying charges, Trump removed Vindman from his assignment at the White House National Security Council.
Vindman has continued to serve in the military following Trump’s decision to remove him from his White House position, but his continued status in the military has been in question in recent weeks.
Vindman’s name was recently included in a list of potential promotions for the Department of Defense to consider. Trump and other Republican allies have criticized Vindman of political partisanship and CNN reported allegations Trump had sought to intervene and stop Vindman’s potential promotion to Colonel.
Pentagon officials, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, have said Vindman is not the target of a retaliation by the President, however Vindman’s lawyer maintained that Vindman’s retirement decision was based on the alleged retaliation.
“The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers,” Pressman said of Vindman’s decision to retire.
Vindman’s newest planned assignment would have entailed him attending the National War College, however CNN reported senior Army officials had told Vindman that he would likely have to undergo a “rehabilitative assignment” and that he may never be assigned to his area of expertise in Ukrainian policy.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) announced a strategy last week, to hold up the promotions of some 1,123 U.S. military officers until there were assurances that Vindman’s promotion would not be blocked.