President Donald Trump’s power plays, following his impeachment acquittal, continued on Friday with the removal of another individual from the White House.
Reports indicate that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council (NSC) member who testified in the House impeachment inquiry, has been escorted from the White House premises and reassigned from the NSC.
Not so heroic
In the aftermath of his dismissal, Vindman’s supporters and the left have been trying to paint him as a heroic victim who was revenge-fired by President Trump for doing his job and 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,” said Vindman’s attorney, David Pressman. “LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”
Pressman continued: “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.”
That’s certainly one way to look at what happened, and there is probably a modicum of truth to it. But, to find it, we have to move away from the media’s notion of “dictator Trump” silencing his enemies.
Earlier in the day on Friday, President Trump was asked by reporters whether he wanted Vindman gone. While Trump made it clear that he was “not happy” with Vindman, he did distance himself from being directly responsible for Vindman’s departure.
“Well, I’m not happy with him,” the president said. “You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not. [The NSC will] make that decision. You’ll be hearing. They’ll make a decision.”
The president, of course, is “not happy” with Vindman because he testified before the House, both privately and publicly, that he felt the July 25th phone call between Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky — which Vindman overheard — was inappropriate. This opinion made Vindman central to the House impeachment case.
With this in mind, it is probably fair to say that none of us, if we were in the president’s shoes, would want Vindman to continue to work for our administration. And, Trump, as president, certainly should be able to have the final say on who works for his administration.
The president tweeted a further defense of the decision on Saturday morning:
….was given a horrendous report by his superior, the man he reported to, who publicly stated that Vindman had problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information. In other words, “OUT”.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2020
To be expected
Be that as it may, President Trump will continue to be portrayed negatively by the media in the coming months before the 2020 election, both over his impeachment and the removal of key figures like Vindman and, previously, Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and William Taylor, Yovanovitch’s replacement.
A smear campaign is all the Democrats are left with now that their impeachment attempt turned out to be a bust.