President Donald Trump suggested that the military will likely look at disciplinary action against impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who was recently dismissed from the National Security Council (NSC) last week.
“That’s going to be up to the military, we’ll have to see, but if you look at what happened, they’re going to certainly, I would imagine, take a look at that,” Trump told reporters at the White House after he was asked about further steps that might be taken. Trump had previously said the “military can handle him.”
In another comment, the president said Vindman was sent to “a much different location,” likely referring to his new job at the Pentagon. “The military can handle him any way they want,” he told reporters, adding that “General Milley has him now. I congratulate General Milley,” referring to Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Vindman, along with Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who also testified during the House impeachment inquiry, confirmed they were dismissed via their lawyers on Friday. Trump again defended Vindman’s dismissal, saying there were concerns raised about him in the NSC.
“It turned out that what he reported was very different,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday about a July 25 phone call that Vindman listened in on. In that call, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and asked him to look into the business dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
Trump also appeared to make reference to public testimony from Vindman’s former boss, Tim Morrison, who said other staffers had told him that Vindman’s judgment seemed questionable and also told him that he had leaked information. Vindman, Trump alleged, “avoided the chain of command, leaked, [and] did a lot of bad things.”
David Pressman, a lawyer for Vindman, said that his ouster from the agency was retribution for the role that he played during the impeachment inquiry.
“The truth has cost LTC Alexander Vindman his job, his career, and his privacy,” Pressman said last week.
The personnel shakeups have drawn criticism from Congressional Democrats, who have called for investigations.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on every agency inspector general in the United States to investigate possible retaliation against whistleblowers.
“These attacks are part of a dangerous, growing pattern of retaliation against those who report wrongdoing only to find themselves targeted by the President and subject to his wrath and vindictiveness,” Schumer wrote in his letter earlier in the week.