Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Army officer who served as the Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, was escorted out of the White House on Friday after reports surfaced that President Donald Trump would be punishing people who testified during his impeachment trial.
Vindman is a national security official who testified about his knowledge of a July 2019 call with the Ukrainian president that set off Trump’s impeachment inquiry and proceedings. Up until Friday, Vindman worked in the White House and his term in the NSC would have ended in July.
The White House planned to inform Vindman that he was being moved into a role at the Pentagon, The Washington Post reported late Thursday night, citing two people familiar with the plan.
Vindman had previously told senior officers that he planned to leave his posting early, the Post reported, but Trump reportedly wanted to make him a target for his fury.
The officer’s lawyer confirmed to HuffPost that Vindman was escorted from the White House on Friday, adding that he was “asked to leave for telling the truth.”
“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,” attorney David Pressman said in a statement. “LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”
Vindman’s twin brother, Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, was also fired and escorted out of the White House.
“Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, a senior lawyer and ethics official at the National Security Council, and a decorated Iraq war veteran, was escorted off of the grounds of the White House, suddenly and with no explanation, despite over two decades of loyal service to this country,” Pressman told HuffPost. “He is deeply disappointed that he will not be able to continue his service at the White House.”
Earlier on Friday, ahead of a trip to North Carolina, Trump hinted at Vindman’s dismissal when asked by a reporter whether he wanted to see the officer “out” of the White House.
“Well, I’m not happy with him,” Trump told reporters. “Do you think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”
Vindman was the first person to testify in the House’s impeachment hearings who had personally listened in on Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, and he told lawmakers he repeatedly expressed concerns to his superiors that Trump’s behavior was inappropriate.
“Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth,” Vindman told his father during his remarks at a House Intelligence Committee hearing in November.
Despite hopes from some Republicans that Trump might have learned his “lesson” after being impeached, the president has signaled that he plans to continue to target his political opponents. He attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as a “horrible person” on Thursday during what he called an acquittal “celebration.” He called the investigations into his actions “evil” and has all but assured that he plans to use the outcome to drum up support and fundraising going into his 2020 reelection campaign.
The Post noted Thursday that Trump’s ire may extend throughout the White House to other administration officials who spoke or testified during the impeachment inquiry. During the House impeachment hearings, dozens of current and former officials detailed the president’s demand that the leader of Ukraine announce that he was opening an investigation into political rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter.
The story has been updated to note that Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman has also been fired from his White House job.