Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the former White House aide who was a key figure in President Donald Trump's impeachment, will retire from the U.S. Army after more than 21 years of military service, CNN reports.
Vindman’s attorney David Pressman told CNN that Vindman is retiring because he feels his future military career "will forever be limited" by a campaign of "bullying, intimidation, and retaliation" by Trump.
Vindman provided some of the most damaging testimony during an investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives into Trump's dealings with Ukraine.
Vindman confirmed to Reuters that he decided to retire instead of becoming a colonel and wrote on Twitter that he and his family "look forward to the next chapter of our lives."
Trump fired Vindman from his role as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council in February. The president also fired Vindman’s twin brother who was involved in the impeachment proceedings, too. He worked as an NSC lawyer.
Most recently, Vindman claimed the White House was trying to block his promotion to colonel.
"The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers," Pressman said in a statement to CNN. "These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it.”
He added that Vindman "did what the law compelled him to do; and for that he was bullied by the President and his proxies."
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and other top Pentagon officials said Vindman hasn’t been targeted for political reasons. But a source familiar with Vindman’s decision to retire told CNN that military officials told him the White House wanted to get involved in the promotion process.
The source said Vindman was told that Department of Defense officials discussed whether to hold his name back until after the election or move it forward on a “list of one” so other promotions weren’t impacted. The source added it is “absurd and frightening" for the White House to be involved in promotions at this level.
Rather than attend the National War College, which was his next assignment, Vindman opted to retire.
Senior Army officials told him he wouldn’t be deployable in his area of expertise, a source told CNN.
The source said one senior official said he may be sent to “man a radar station in Alaska.”
Before Vindman’s decided to retire, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said she would block Senate confirmation of military promotions until she received assurance that Vindman’s promotion wouldn’t be blocked.
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