Mom, can you come pick us up? The President is acting like a fascist again.
On Friday, key impeachment witness Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was ousted from his position as Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, as was his twin brother Yevgeny, an attorney at the NSC; the two were escorted off the premises.
Subsequently, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent letters Monday to 74 inspectors general asking them to investigate retaliation against whistleblowers and ensure agency employees be informed of their rights as whistleblowers.
In October 2019, Vindman became the first White House official to testify in the House impeachment inquiry who was actually on that July 25 phone call in which Trump pushed Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden (who, at the time, hadn’t yet chomped on his wife’s fingers in public during daylight hours, or begged for an invite to the cookout by claiming he “comes from the Black community” and subsequently looked like a formidable general election opponent for Trump).
Vindman’s testimony also demonstrated that the call heard round the world wasn’t an anomaly; he recounted a July 10 meeting at which Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, requested that Ukraine investigate Biden in order to get a meeting with Trump.
Two days after Trump’s acquittal, Vindman was dramatically removed from his position at the NSC, which, notably, he had while on active military duty.
The next day, Trump tweeted his characteristically diplomatic comment;
Fake News @CNN & MSDNC keep talking about “Lt. Col.” Vindman as though I should think only how wonderful he was. Actually, I don’t know him, never spoke to him, or met him (I don’t believe!) but, he was very insubordinate, reported contents of my “perfect” calls incorrectly, &...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2020
The president notes that Vindman “was given a horrendous report by his superior, the man he reported to, who publicly stated that Vindman had problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information.” Vindman also has a Purple Heart following two decades of military service and a tour in Iraq.
During the opening statements at his testimony, Vindman gave somewhat of a soaring oration, explaining that he spoke out both within the NSC and to Congress “out of a sense of duty” and concern that Trump’s behavior would destabilize Ukraine and its international position. He expressed gratitude for his ability to speak out about misconduct: “In Russia, my act of expressing my concerns to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions … Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”
Vindman will be reassigned to the Pentagon. But for many, the President’s retaliation has meant the end of a career. Throughout his term, Trump has made a habit of brazenly retaliating against government officials who refuse to do his bidding, or who shed light on his wannabe-House of Cards antics.
Schumer wrote in one letter that the Vindman firing was “part of a dangerous, growing pattern of retaliation against those who report wrongdoing only to find themselves targeted by the President and subject to his wrath and vindictiveness.”