Purple Heart recipient Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s days at the White House are over just two days after President Donald Trump was acquitted at the impeachment trial in the Senate, during which Trump’s lawyers noted Vindman was a witness against the president.
BREAKING: Alex Vindman was escorted out of the White House by security this afternoon. Dismissed from NSC.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) February 7, 2020
Vindman started working on the National Security Council (NSC) in July 2018 and was supposed to stay there for two years. That stint has ended a few months early.
Vindman’s lawyer said his client was clearly ousted for “telling the truth” about the president’s July 25 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky.
Here’s the full statement from Lt. Col. Vindman’s attorney saying he was escorted out of the White House today pic.twitter.com/s9vzZJ7wof
— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) February 7, 2020
“Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful. During his decades of service to this country, LTC Alexander Vindman has served quietly but dutifully, and he has served with honor,” David Pressman said.
Vindman was escorted out of the White House by his NSC lawyer twin brother Yevgeny, who was also let go. Technically, Vindman wasn’t fired given that he is still active military and is going to be reassigned, but he was nonetheless removed from his NSC post months ahead of schedule.
— Ram Ramgopal (@RamCNN) February 7, 2020
What they will be doing next:
What’s next for the Vindman brothers? Alex is going back to the Pentagon and Yevgeny will be at the U.S. Army general counsel’s office, per a lawyer.
— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) February 7, 2020
Many immediately reacted to confirmation of Vindman’s ouster by using two words: “Witness retaliation.”
Witness retaliation. https://t.co/dJNioIZqrj
— Jennifer Rodgers (@JenGRodgers) February 7, 2020
Trump is just straight up retaliating now against those who testified before a lawful congressional investigation about potential presidential misconduct.
It would be nice if Mitt Romney wasn’t the only Republican with a spine.
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) February 7, 2020
Utterly disgusting. Brazen retaliation. https://t.co/lF6eCwvZJ5
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) February 7, 2020
From Gallagher to Vindman and everyone in between, the messages this Administration is sending to the men and women in uniform about duty, loyalty, and the rule of law is pretty clear—and pretty terrifying.
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) February 7, 2020
This is reprehensible. There was no need to humiliate Vindman this way, nor was it appropriate to retaliate against him for testifying before Congress. Where is @ChuckGrassley, who in 2018 released a video assuring feds they wouldn't face retaliation for testifying to congress? https://t.co/DvyhYwoyF8
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) February 7, 2020
Conservative media figures, lawyers, and lawmakers said that Vindman “deserved to be fired.”
Vindman doesn't just deserve to be fired. He deserves to be court-martialed for insubordination and leaking for the sole purpose of overthrowing the Commander-in-Chief. https://t.co/lv3T0fx5UF
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) February 7, 2020
Vindman brothers get the perp walk they deserve. https://t.co/IJglpUeNzf
— Robert Barnes (@Barnes_Law) February 7, 2020
They said the same was true of Vindman’s brother.
Alexander Vindman is no longer on the National Security Council!
Don’t stop there.
Fire his brother, Yevgeny Vindman who handled Bolton’s book approval.
— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) February 7, 2020
A reminder that yesterday, while talking about Vindman, Trump for some reason also mentioned his brother, Eugene, who was not an impeachment witness. pic.twitter.com/JNRZLGxi8G
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) February 7, 2020
They got their wish.
We shall see what justification or pretext the White House offers. “Downsizing” NSC staff generally was what was floated in the media before this ouster officially occurred.
Lt. Col. #Vindman has been removed from NSC post six months earlier than from when his assignment would have expired. Whether this is unlawful retaliation, we shall see. "Escorting" him off WH grounds was definitely tacky at a minimum.https://t.co/BT6jCopg73
— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) February 7, 2020
Steve Castor, the lawyer who did the questioning for House Republicans during the impeachment inquiry, was criticized for questioning Vindman’s loyalty back in Nov. 2019.
Following that line of questioning, Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) said it was “designed exclusively to give the right-wing media the opportunity to question your loyalties.”
In response to questioning by Himes, a uniformed Vindman explained how he came to be a Purple Heart recipient.
“In 2014, in the ramp up to probably the largest urban operation in decades, outside of Fallujah, we were conducting a reconnaissance patrol in conjunction with the Marines, and my vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device that penetrated the armor,” he said.
“Were you injured?” Himes asked.
“I was,” Vindman answered.
Donald Trump Jr. reacted by calling Vindman a “coached” up, “low level” partisan bureaucrat.”
Consider the moral depravity of a President who allows his son to launch a vicious attack on a decorated American military officer. https://t.co/p2NXm1z72f
— Nicholas Burns (@RNicholasBurns) November 19, 2019
The White House official Twitter account also got involved in criticism of Vindman.
Vindman, when asked during the hearing if he has was a “Never Trumper,” responded that he was “never partisan.”
[Image via Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images]