Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Friday that the service is not investigating Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the former National Security Council (NSC) staffer who was removed from his assignment last week after testifying during the impeachment inquiry.
Asked if the Army would be investigating or punishing Vindman, McCarthy said:
Col. Vindman was scheduled to come back to the Army — he was detailed to the National Security Council — by May, June timeframe, so we brought him back. So he’s got basically a bridging assignment for a couple of months within an [headquarters of the Department of the Army] assignment, and then he will be heading to a senior service college this summer. There’s no investigations into him.
President Trump was asked this week if he thought the military should punish Vindman, and he responded that it would “be up to the military.”
“We’ll have to see. But if you look at what happened, they’re certainly going to, I imagine, take a look at that,” he said.
Trump said that Vindman did not report his concerns about his July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president through his chain of command at the NSC and that he “leaked, did a lot of bad things.”
“And so we sent him on his way to a much different location, and the military can handle him any way they want,” he added.
Vindman testified in the House impeachment inquiry that he was so alarmed by the president’s July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he went to the NSC’s general counsel, along with his twin brother, a lawyer at the NSC, to report his concerns, instead of going to his direct superior.
Vindman also possibly spoke to the “whistleblower,” whose complaint launched House Democrats’ impeachment effort. When asked whom he spoke to in the intelligence community about the president’s call, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) refused to let him answer, this due to concern of revealing the “whistleblower’s” identity.
When Vindman testified, he wore his military dress uniform despite wearing a business suit to work at the NSC every day and despite only having to abide by the NSC dress code, which is civilian attire.
The president removed Vindman from his assignment at the NSC several months early and returned him to the Pentagon, where he will serve until going to his next assignment at the Army War College. His twin brother, Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, was also removed and will return to the Department of the Army.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said at the Atlantic Council Tuesday that Vindman and his brother were not targets of retaliation.
“At the end of the day, the president is entitled to staffers that want to execute his policy, that he has confidence in, and I think every president is entitled to that,” he said. “But there is absolutely no retaliation with respect to the Vindmans as far as impeachment goes.”