Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a former national security aide who served as a key witness last year during the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, announced Wednesday that he’s retiring from the U.S. Army amid what his attorney called a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” headed by the president.
"My family and I look forward to the next chapter of our lives," Vindman wrote in a social media post announcing his decision.
In a statement obtained by NPR, Vindman’s attorney, David Pressman, said his client decided to leave the Army “after it has been made clear that his future within the institution he has dutifully served will forever be limited.”
An unidentified U.S. official told The Associated Press that Vindman’s name had been on a promotion list sent earlier this year to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. The list was reportedly delayed for weeks after White House officials requested an investigation of Vindman.
The Pentagon did a review and found that any suggestion of misconduct was unfounded. However, after the list was resent to Esper, it was delayed for a second time, according to the AP.
"LTC Vindman's patriotism has cost him his career," Pressman said. "Today our country loses a devoted soldier, but it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure it does not lose the values he represents."
Another unidentified official told the AP that Esper signed the promotion list with Vindman’s name on it this week. It was not immediately clear if he knew of Vindman’s plan to retire.
Vindman served as the National Security Council’s Ukraine expert until he was ousted earlier this year, according to CNN, which first reported on Vindman’s decision to retire. The news network reported Vindman had been told by senior Army officials that he would no longer be deployable in his area of expertise and that he would instead be assigned to a post at the National War College.
"Through a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation, the President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers," Pressman said.
Last year, Vindman testified that he was concerned over Trump's decision to "demand that a foreign government investigate" former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running against Trump for president, and Biden's son, Hunter Biden. The president brought up unsubstantiated allegations that the former vice president had sought to interfere with a Ukrainian prosecutor's investigation of his son during a call last year with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, sparking the impeachment inquiry.
The House of Representatives impeached Trump last year on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but he was later acquitted by the Senate.
When a soldier requests retirement, it must be approved by the Army’s Human Resources Command, and normally can take months to process before the person actually leaves the military.
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