Last week, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was removed from the National Security Council and escorted out of the White House.
At an Oval Office press conference on Tuesday, President Trump confirmed that the military could pursue disciplinary charges against Vindman.
“Up to the military”
“We sent him on his way to a much different location, and the military can handle him any way they want,” the president said to reporters.
“Gen. Milley has him now. I congratulate Gen. Milley,” Trump added, referring to Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “He can have him,” adding that it should be “up to the military” to determine what — if any — additional action should be taken.
“But,” Trump continued, “if you look at what happened, they’re going to certainly, I would imagine, take a look at that.”
When senior National Security Council official Timothy Morrison testified before the House Intelligence Committee, he said that Vindman was suspected of leaking information to the media and was known for having questionable judgment.
He also told Republican counsel Steve Castor that Vindman seemed frustrated about not being brought along on a trip to Ukraine and felt that he had been “cut out of some of the Ukraine portfolio.”
“Absolutely no retaliation”
Democrats have tried to cast Vindman’s reassignment as an act of retaliation against Vindman for his testimony in last year’s House impeachment inquiry, but National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has insisted that isn’t the case.
“At the end of the day, the president is entitled to staffers that want to execute his policy, that he has confidence in, and I think every president is entitled to that,” the Hill quoted O’Brien as saying.
“But there is absolutely no retaliation with respect to the Vindmans as far as impeachment goes,” the national security adviser asserted.
At a press conference on Friday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper also denied that Vindman would face any retaliatory measures.
“We protect all of our persons, service members, from retribution or anything like that,” Esper pledged. “We’ve already addressed that in policy and other means.”