Alexander Vindman, NSC official who testified in impeachment trial, removed from White House

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Alexander Vindman

(CBS) — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official who testified in the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump, has been removed from the White House, according to a statement from his lawyer.

“Today, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was escorted out of the White House where he has dutifully served his country and his President. He has spoken publicly once, and only pursuant to a subpoena from the United States Congress,” said Vindman’s attorney, David Pressman, in a statement. “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. LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”

Vindman participated in the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which the president asked Zelensky to investigate a political rival. Vindman flagged concerns about the call to the NSC counsel.

Vindman’s ouster comes two days after Mr. Trump was acquitted by the Senate on two articles of impeachment, and the day after the president obliquely referenced Vindman in his lengthy speech celebrating the acquittal. On Friday, Mr. Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn that he was “not happy” with Vindman.

In his public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in November, Vindman said that he reported his concerns about the call to his superiors “out of a sense of duty.” He also denied being a “Never Trumper,” instead describing himself as “never partisan.” Vindman also said of Mr. Trump’s apparent suggestion to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden that “it was inappropriate, it was improper for the president to request — to demand — an investigation into a political opponent.”

Several Republicans criticized Vindman after his testimony, accusing him, without basis, of being a “Never Trumper.” Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn called him “vindictive Vindman” multiple times on Twitter.

Vindman, whose family emigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine when he was a young boy, served in Iraq and is the recipient of a Purple Heart.

Vindman earned plaudits when he referenced his father in his opening statement, and thanked him for emigrating to the U.S.

“Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here.” Vindman said. “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine for telling the truth.”

Vindman was then asked by Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney how he could be certain that he would not face reprisals for his testimony.

“Because this is America. This is the country I have served and defended, that all of my brothers have served. And here, right matters,” Vindman replied.

Pressman, Vindman’s attorney, indicated in his statement that he believed Vindman did eventually face a reprisal in his removal from the White House.

“The truth has cost LTC Alexander Vindman his job, his career, and his privacy.  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. And for that, the most powerful man in the world – buoyed by the silent, the pliable, and the complicit –  has decided to exact revenge,” Pressman said in his statement.

“In this country right matters, and so does truth. Truth is not partisan. If we allow truthful voices to be silenced, if we ignore their warnings, eventually there will be no one left to warn us,” Pressman continued.

A Pentagon official told CBS News Vindman will now return to the Department of the Army for assignment until his Army War College class starts this summer.

Paula Reid contributed reporting.

First published on February 7, 2020 / 4:09 PM

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