Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman marked his first day in retirement from the U.S. military with an opinion article for The Washington Post, in which he criticized President Donald Trump and called his administration a reminiscent of an “authoritarian regime.”
Vindman, who testified against Trump in November during Democrat-led efforts to impeach the president, wrote his opinion article, titled “Coming forward ended my career. I still believe doing what’s right matters.”
“After 21 years, six months and 10 days of active military service, I am now a civilian,” Vindman began his article. “I made the difficult decision to retire because a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies forever limited the progression of my military career.”
Vindman had not spoken publicly about the reasons for his retirement, though David Pressman, a lawyer representing Vindman, had said that Vindman chose to retire amid a bullying campaign by Trump and his allies. Pressman had also claimed the Trump administration was holding up a potential promotion for Vindman as retaliation for his impeachment testimony. In his opinion article following retirement, Vindman gave voice to the claims.
“A year ago, having served the nation in uniform in positions of critical importance, I was on the cusp of a career-topping promotion to colonel,” Vindman continued. “A year ago, unknown to me, my concerns over the president’s conduct and the president’s efforts to undermine the very foundations of our democracy were precipitating tremors that would ultimately shake loose the facade of good governance and publicly expose the corruption of the Trump administration.”
Vindman was serving in the White House National Security Council. During the impeachment hearings, Vindman testified he felt Trump had not adhered to talking points Vindman prepared for a July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
During their phone call, Trump spoke with Zelensky on a range of topics including U.S. military aide for the Ukraine and allegations of corruption, including a claim then-Vice President Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to stop an investigation into a Ukrainian gas company that had hired his son Hunter Biden to serve on the board of directors.
In his impeachment testimony, Vindman said he felt Trump’s comments to Zelensky were “improper.”
Vindman was born in Ukraine when the country was under Soviet Russian control, and in his opinion article he wrote: “our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving.”
The impeachment effort against Trump passed in the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, but failed in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, failing to gain a simple majority of Senate votes or enough Republican votes to achieve the 67 votes needed to convict. Following his acquittal, Trump removed Vindman from his White House position.
In his opinion article, Vindman went on to criticize Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his handling of civil unrest following the death of George Floyd.
“Impeachment exposed Trump’s corruption, but the confluence of a pandemic, a financial crisis and the stoking of societal divisions has roused the soul of the American people,” Vindman wrote. “A groundswell is building that will issue a mandate to reject hate and bigotry and a return to the ideals that set the United States apart from the rest of the world. I look forward to contributing to that effort.”
Vindman said in retirement “I will continue to defend my nation” and speak out “about the attacks on our national security” and advocated “policies and strategies that will keep our nation safe and strong against internal and external threats.”
Vindman concluded his opinion article, writing “I believe that in America, right matters. I want to help ensure that right matters for all Americans.”