- President Donald Trump on Tuesday suggested the US military might explore disciplinary action against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
- Vindman is the National Security Council staffer who lost his role there after testifying in Trump’s impeachment trial.
- “That’s going to be up to the military – we’ll have to see,” Trump told reporters of potential disciplinary action.
- “We sent him on his way to a much different location, and the military can handle him in any way they want,” Trump said.
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President Donald Trump on Tuesday suggested the US military might take disciplinary action against the impeachment-trial witness ejected from the White House National Security Council last week.
“That’s going to be up to the military – we’ll have to see,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday. He said he “certainly” imagined the military would “take a look at that.”
Trump dismissed Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army soldier for 20 years who received a Purple Heart, from the National Security Council on Friday, reassigning him to the Defence Department.
Vindman was escorted from the White House after his dismissal, two days after the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Trump of allegations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in his impeachment trial.
Vindman in November told the House Intelligence Committee that Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was concerning to him and prompted him to raise objections within his chain of command out of a “sense of duty.”
The call was the centre of a whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment.
Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he “obviously wasn’t happy with the job he did” and that Vindman’s account of the conversation was “very different” from his “perfect call.”
“We sent him on his way to a much different location, and the military can handle him in any way they want,” Trump said.
“General Milley, he can have him,” Trump said, referring to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Army Gen. Mark Milley.
White House officials claimed that Vindman’s dismissal was part of a wider effort to downsize a bloated NSC, an initiative that has been in the works for over a year, according to The Washington Post.
Sceptics, however, pointed out that Vindman’s twin brother, Yevgeny, also a US Army lieutenant colonel, was dismissed from his post as an ethics attorney on the NSC at the same time, despite not testifying in the House’s impeachment investigation.
Retired Marine Corps Col. David Lapan, a former Pentagon spokesman who is now the vice president of communications at the Bipartisan Policy Centre, said he “absolutely” believed the ousters of Vindman and his brother were retaliation by the White House.
“It was Lt. Col. Alex Vindman who actually testified under oath in front of Congress,” Lapan previously told Insider. “His brother didn’t. Yet somehow his brother was also dismissed from his position in the National Security Council.”
“I would recommend the Pentagon that given all the circumstances … to state very clearly that Vindman will be allowed to come back to the Army, that he will get his follow-on assignments and there won’t be any retaliation against him,” Lapan added.
“I think that is needed right now to send a strong message to the force that we’re not going to allow retaliation for somebody who was subpoenaed.”
According to The New York Times, both Vindmans are expected to be transferred to prestigious follow-on assignments within the Army – Alexander Vindman to the Army War College in Pennsylvania, an institution designed to prepare officers for leadership roles, and Yevgeny Vindman to the Army’s general counsel.