Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council aide who testified against President Trump during the impeachment inquiry, has been removed from his White House job.
Vindman’s twin brother, Yevgeny, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the Army, was also removed from the NSC, where he worked as a lawyer. On Friday afternoon, the two were escorted out of the White House, Alexander Vindman’s attorney said, dismissals that came as Trump continued to rage against the attempt to remove him from office.
“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, Alexander Vindman’s lawyer, said in a statement. “LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”
Pressman said Alexander Vindman will return to work at the Defense Department until he reports to the Army War College in July. Yevgeny Vindman, who also goes by Eugene, will return to the Army on Monday, but his assignment is unclear, said his lawyer, Michael Volkov.
Alexander Vindman, who testified during House Democrats’ impeachment hearings, had already informed senior officials at the NSC and the Army that he intended to leave his post by the end of February, months ahead of schedule, according to people familiar with his decision. It appears that wasn’t soon enough for the president, who was eager to make a symbol of the Army officer soon after the Senate acquitted him.
Leaving the White House on Friday for a speech in North Carolina, Trump was asked about Vindman and told reporters: “Well, I’m not happy with him. You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”
“Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and his twin brother — right? — we had some people that — really amazing,” Trump said during a speech at the White House on Thursday in which Trump celebrated his acquittal by the Senate.
During his Nov. 19 testimony, Alexander Vindman, the NSC’s European affairs director, was careful to say he was not a political actor.
He said he considered the president’s demand of the Ukrainian leader “inappropriate,” because it could have “significant national security implications” for the United States.
He called the attacks on those who have appeared before lawmakers “reprehensible” and — addressing his father, who brought the Vindman family to the United States from the Soviet Union decades ago — said: “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”
Pressman cast the dismissal as vindictive and punitive, and blasted Trump’s decision.
“He did what any member of our military is charged with doing every day: He followed orders, he obeyed his oath, and he served his country, even when doing so was fraught with danger and personal peril,” Pressman said of his client. “And for that, the most powerful man in the world — buoyed by the silent, the pliable, and the complicit — has decided to exact revenge. LTC Alexander Vindman leaves the White House today. But we must not accept the departure of truth, duty, and loyalty that he represents.”