Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a “star witness” in the impeachment farce against President Trump, and his twin brother Yevgeny were removed from their National Security Council posts and escorted out of the White House on Friday, Politico reported.
The president told reporters earlier Friday that he was “not happy” with suspected leaker Alexander Vindman and suggested that he would be dealt with soon.
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
Trump made his preference crystal clear later on when he retweeted posts calling for Vindman to be fired “ASAP.” It is assumed that Alexander Vindman will go back to his post at the Department of Defense.
The White House is reportedly considering repercussions for other administration officials who defied the White House’s orders to not testify in the Democrats’ illegitimate inquiry.
Vindman, who listened in on Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy, told Democrat House investigators that the president abused his office by withholding vital aid from Ukraine until it announced investigations into his political opponents. The former NSC aid is widely believed to be the primary source for so-called “whistleblower” Eric Ciaramella.
One of Vindman’s lawyers complained that the NSC aide’s ouster was political retribution for his role in the impeachment inquiry. “There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House,” David Pressman said in a statement. “The truth has cost LTC Alexander Vindman his job, his career, and his privacy,” Pressman added.
Vindman’s attorney indicated that the Iraq War veteran’s twin brother Yevgeny, who serves as a senior lawyer on the NSC, was also removed from his post and exited the White House alongside his brother. Yevgeny Vindman was not a witness in the impeachment process. His lawyer didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The unceremonious removal of the Vindmans was quickly denounced by Democrats as an act of retribution against those who testified against Trump, one foreshadowed by a White House that has warned of “payback” for Trump’s detractors. Several GOP lawmakers, most notably Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) have defended Alexander Vindman against attacks on his patriotism, calling criticism of his role “shameful.”
“He was not ‘fired’ per se as he remains an active duty Army officer and will be reassigned elsewhere,” Vindman’s lawyer Mark Zaid wrote in a tweet. “And let’s also not overlook the fact he may very well be relieved to be out of the WH! Could you blame him!”
He was not "fired" per se as he remains an active duty Army officer and will be reassigned elsewhere.
And let's also not overlook the fact he may very well be relieved to be out of the WH! Could you blame him!#ProtectAllWhistleblowers
— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) February 7, 2020
Politico goes on to report: “Vindman’s removal from his post came amid three months of relentless attacks by Trumps allies in Congress, the White House and on Fox News, questioning the Iraq War veteran’s patriotism and honesty.”
Indeed, Vindman’s “patriotism and honesty” was called into question after a fellow soldier came forward to share his recollections of the then-Major when he served with him in Grafenwoher, Germany in 2013.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Jim Hickman told American Greatness that he “verbally reprimanded” Vindman after he heard him “talking up” then-President Barack Obama and making derisive remarks about America and Americans in front of Russian military officers. “Do not let the uniform fool you,” Hickman wrote on Twitter: “He is a political activist in uniform.”
The retired officer said that Vindman, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Ukraine, made fun of the United States to the point that it made other soldiers “uncomfortable.” For example, Hickman told American Greatness that he heard Vindman call Americans “rednecks”—a word that needed to be translated for the Russians. He said they all had a big laugh at America’s expense.
Hickman is a wounded warrior who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq and received multiple combat medals—including the Purple Heart. He took medical leave from the service in 2017 due to complications from his injuries.
Thomas Lasch, Hickman’s boss at the time, corroborated his story to American Greatness, as did a General Services Employee with the Department of the Army.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) shared Hickman’s account about Vindman in a series of tweets during the impeachment trial.
In response to the news that Vindman had been removed from his post, Hickman said he was pleased, but more needed to be done to hold him accountable, including possibly a court martial.
“To simply move LTC Vindman as part of a larger drawdown, without holding him accountable for the court martial worthy offenses he committed, will have immediate ramifications on good order and discipline in the Army,” Hickman told American Greatness via a text message.
“If officers are permitted to directly disobey lawful orders from the CINC, because they have political policy opinion differences, well, where are we now with precedent? I suppose lying to congress too will go without any consequence, I mean why bother being held to a higher standard in the military?” he asked.
“What exactly are we teaching young Soldiers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and Officers, if LTC Vindman just moves duty stations without being held accountable?”
“The civilian world can be polarized politically right now, and write things off to that, but not the United States Armed Forces. If you’re still wearing the uniform, then damn it, you better hold people accountable to regulations, and ensure they follow orders. Lives depend on us doing this right in combat and peace time operations. Take the hard right!” Hickman said.
The former officer was not optimistic that anything more would be done.
“They will throw phrases around like he lost his job, career, etc… then in a couple of months he’ll show up at the War College with an eagle on,” he lamented.
The silver eagle insignia would indicate that he’d been promoted to colonel.