Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who played a key role in President Trump’s impeachment inquiry, will retire from the U.S. Army, citing fears that his career will always be hindered and limited due to political retaliation from Mr. Trump and his allies.
Lt. Col. Vindman, who had a 21-year career in the military, was removed from the National Security Council in February after the president alleged that he and his twin brother falsely reported information about his phone calls with Ukraine’s president last year, conversations that led to the president’s impeachment.
Mr. Trump suggested earlier this year that the U.S. military should look at disciplinary action against Lt. Col. Vindman, who gave testimony against the president in the impeachment inquiry.
Lt. Col. Vindman’s attorney, Ambassador David Pressman, told CNN Wednesday that his client endured a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” from the president and his allies following his testimony in the impeachment inquiry.
“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,” Mr. Pressman said in a statement.
“These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it,” he continued, and said that his client “did what the law compelled him to do; and for that he was bullied by the President and his proxies.”
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper at the time said that military officers are free from “retribution” when they return to the Pentagon from jobs elsewhere. But Lt. Col. Vindman’s promotion to colonel has since been stalled.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Illinois Democrat, last week vowed to stall more than 1,100 military promotions until Lt. Col. Vindman’s is approved. It remains unclear how his retirement will affect the promotions.
The circumstances surrounding Lt. Col. Vindman’s retirement quickly caught the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill as one key Democrat said there is “no doubt” Mr. Trump and his allies will privately cheer the news.
“That’s how the President and his enablers regard public servants — in uniform or otherwise — who uphold their oaths to the constitution, rather than giving into the cult of personal loyalty that has rotted our government from the inside for the last three and a half years,” said Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Lt. Colonel Vindman will rightly be viewed as the heroic embodiment of courage and service to this country,” the New York Democrat continued. “I’m grateful for his service and I wish him well.”