President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that the military should consider taking disciplinary action against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, whom Trump fired from his National Security Council last week in apparent retaliation for his role in the president’s impeachment.
Trump’s remarks came in response to a reporter asking him if he was calling for disciplinary action against Vindman, whose dismissal from the NSC set off widespread outrage.
“That’s gonna be up to the military. We’ll have to see,” Trump said. “If you look at what happened, they are certainly — I would imagine take a look at that.”
Trump then created more confusion about his stance by adding, “But, no, I think what he did was just reported a false call.”
Vindman, a wounded veteran of the Iraq war, was a key witness in the House’s impeachment investigation into Trump’s efforts to prod the Ukraine government to open a probe targeting one of his Democratic political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Vindman was the first to testify during the hearings and told lawmakers he expressed concerns to other administration officials about Trump’s comments during a July 25 phone call in which he pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch the investigation. At the same time, the Trump administration was withholding congressionally approved military aid for Ukraine.
Trump has defended his call as “perfect.” But Vindman’s testimony was widely viewed as some of the most damning during the trial.
Two days after the Senate voted against convicting Trump on either of two articles of impeachment, Trump dismissed both Vindman and his twin brother, Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, from the NSC on Friday. The two remain in the military.
Trump also fired European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who told the House Intelligence Committee that Trump’s actions amounted to a “clear quid pro quo.” Sondland, a businessman before Trump appointed him the envoy post, contributed $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee.