Last week, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman announced his retirement from the U.S. Army — stressing that he was leaving because of a “campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation” on the part of President Donald Trump, who fired him from his position on the National Security Council in February. Vindman became persona non grata in Trumpworld after testifying against the president during an impeachment inquiry led by House Democrats in late 2019, and NBC News is reporting that the Trump White House sent a list of defamatory anti-Vindman allegations to the Pentagon following that testimony.
Vindman was on track to be promoted to colonel, and according to NBC News reporters Carol E. Lee and Courtney Kube, the list was designed to derail that promotion. The list received by the Pentagon, they report, “alleged that Vindman created a hostile work environment at the NSC, as he was on track to be promoted to colonel. The accusations outlined in it, if substantiated, would have kept him from moving up a rank in the Army, the people familiar with the document said. They said it was not the typical evaluation that military officers serving on the NSC are given when their temporary positions end and they are set to return to the Defense Department.”
According to Lee and Kube, “The Pentagon conducted a command-level investigation into the allegations, looking for evidence to substantiate the claims about Vindman’s conduct while he was detailed to the NSC, the people familiar with the document said. But ultimately, the military could not corroborate any of the accusations, they said. Included in the list was an accusation that Vindman had verbally abused a colleague, a senior administration official said.”
Before Vindman was fired from the NSC, he was its top expert on Ukraine — a country that was at the heart of Trump’s impeachment. During a July 25, 2019 phone conversation, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a political rival — former Vice President Joe Biden — as well as his son, Hunter Biden. Leading House Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, stressed that Trump committed an impeachable offense by making that investigation a condition of military aid to Ukraine.
Vindman was among House Democrats’ most important witnesses during the impeachment inquiry, which led to two articles of impeachment against Trump. But Trump was acquitted on both articles during his trial in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate.