Lt. Col Alexander Vindman was removed from his position with the National Security Council and escorted out of the White House on Friday after testifying against President Trump in the recent impeachment trial.
Vindman, who is the head Ukraine expert on the council, was a key witness in Trump’s impeachment inquiry, which infuriated the president.
“Today, 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,” David Pressman, Vindman’s attorney, said in a statement.
There were reports on Thursday and Friday that the White House was considering relieving Vindman of his duties. Trump told reporters on Friday that he was unhappy with Vindman and signaled that he was on his way out.
“I’m not happy with him. You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not,” Trump said.
Although Vindman is no longer working in the White House, he is scheduled to work at the Pentagon until he leaves there to go to War College in July.
The reason for the impeachment inquiry was a July 25 phone call in which it was alleged that Trump denied funds to Ukraine pending investigations targeting political rivals.
Vindman said he directly listened in on the phone call and testified that he was “concerned” by what he heard.
“It was inappropriate, it was improper for the president to request — to demand — an investigation into a political opponent, especially a foreign power where there’s at best dubious belief that this would be a completely impartial investigation,” he said. “This would have significant implications if it became public knowledge, and it would be perceived as a partisan play that would undermine our Ukraine policy, and it would undermine our national security.”
Vindman testified that immediately after the call ended, he reported his concerns to John Eisenberg, the NSC’s top lawyer.
President Trump defended his firing of Vindman, saying he was “very insubordinate”. The president posted a series of messages on his social media account and said that Vindman incorrectly reported the contents of a “perfect” phone call that was at the center of his impeachment. Trump said he didn’t know Vindman personally, but that his superiors indicated that he had repeated problems with judgement and adhering to the chain of command, which is obviously an issue for anyone in his position.
“Actually, I don’t know him, never spoke to him, or met him (I don’t believe!) but, he was very insubordinate, reported contents of my perfect calls incorrectly, &. was given a horrendous report by his superior, the man he reported to, who publicly stated that Vindman had problems with judgment, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information. In other words, OUT,” Trump wrote on his social media pages.