CNN was the first to report that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman has been removed from the National Security Council as of Friday morning after rumors began swirling soon after Trump’s Wednesday acquittal.
Vindman’s lawyer, David Pressman, confirmed the news, stating, “Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was escorted out of the White House where he has dutifully served his country and his President. He does so having spoken publicly once, and only pursuant to a subpoena from the United States Congress.”
Vindman’s brother, attorney Eugene Vindman, was reported to have left as well, although whether or not he was fired is not yet clear.
Retaliation or cleaning house?
Some are arguing that Vindman’s removal is an act of retaliation after Vindman testified against Trump in the House impeachment inquiry. However, congressional Republicans have long expressed doubts over his judgment and motivation.
“White House is weighing a plan to dismiss Alexander Vindman from National Security Council after he testified in impeachment inquiry, a move that will be part of a broader effort to shrink Trump admin foreign policy bureaucracy, sources tell me,” Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs tweeted on Thursday.
“The White House intends to portray any house-cleaning as part of a downsizing of the NSC staff, not retaliation,” a Bloomberg News article said.
Despite the media’s portrayal of a vengeful president, the Daily Wire noted that Vindman’s testimony exposed the fact that he didn’t have a good grasp of his own responsibilities in regard to Ukraine, displaying ignorance of “basic facts about U.S. aid to the country.”
President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday morning shortly before the news broke, “I’m not happy with him. You think I’m supposed to be happy with him?… They’re going to be making that decision.”
A questionable figure
When senior NSC official Timothy Morrison was at one point asked by Republican counsel Steve Castor if he was aware of “potential issues” relating to Vindman’s judgment, Morrison replied that he was.
As The Daily Wire explained, “Morrison later confirmed that multiple other officials were concerned that Vindman was potentially leaking sensitive information to the media.”
“Morrison also confirmed that Vindman did not keep him in the loop about all the things that he was doing in the job and that Vindman went behind his back and did not inform him about the concerns that he had about President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine.”
What’s more, Morrison said Vindman seemed frustrated that he was not among those invited to come on a trip to Ukraine. Additionally, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) accused Vindman of coordination with the infamous Ukraine whistleblower in retaliation for a “policy dispute” with the president.