A surprise retirement was announced on Wednesday.
Breitbart reports that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the former National Security Council (NSC) member who featured prominently in the impeachment of President Donald Trump, has decided to retire from the U.S. Military.
NPR reports that according to Vindman’s attorney, David Pressman, his client’s decision to retire is all the fault of President Trump. Pressman claims that, ever since he played a well-publicized role in the president’s impeachment, Vindman has suffered a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation.”
Vindman’s retirement comes as he was just about to be promoted to the rank of colonel. In recent weeks, however, there have been claims that the White House would attempt to prevent this from happening.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), in fact, pledged to put a procedural stop to 1,100 Army promotions until the Secretary of Defense gave assurances that Vindman would indeed be promoted, as USA Today noted.
But Vindman’s retirement has not rendered that threat moot.
During the House impeachment inquiry, Vindman claimed that he overheard the now-infamous phone call between President Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine. It was this conversation that was at the center of the impeachment process, as Democrats claimed that Trump was trying to force Zelensky into helping him dig up dirt on his political rival, Joe Biden, ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Controversial impeachment role
After hearing the phone call, Vindman went on to file a complaint — not with his immediate supervisor — but with the NSC counsel, as Breitbart noted. Eventually, he ended up testifying before Congress, saying that although he didn’t think Trump did anything “illegal,” he did think that Trump did something “wrong.”
At the same time, however, Vindman also testified that he thought President Trump’s foreign policy had gone outside of what he referred to as the “interagency consensus,” as Breitbart reported. Accordingly, some, especially Republican lawmakers, pointed to this as Vindman’s true motivation for complaining, namely a disagreement with Trump’s foreign duly enacted policy.
Ultimately, it is hard to know what to make of Vindman’s testimony, as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the head of the House Intelligence Committee, shielded Vindman from the difficult questions that Republicans wanted to ask him.
Following the impeachment trial in which President Trump was acquitted by the Senate, Vindman was reassigned away from the NSC to the Department of the Army.
What Vindman’s future plans might entail remains to be seen.