This post has been updated to reflect new information.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was fired from his job at the White House on Friday. He was not expected to leave his post in July, but the Washington Post reported Friday morning Vindman and “other national security officials who testified or cooperated with House Democrats” were being considered for dismissal. According to the earlier report, Trump discussed with aides removing officials he called “disloyal.” According to that earlier report, Vindman will be assigned a different position in the Department of Defense.
Vindman’s twin brother Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, a National Security Council attorney, was also fired, and both were escorted off the White House grounds.
Vindman was one of the Democrats’ key witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry, despite his admission that he had no firsthand knowledge of the held-up Ukraine aid or any potential linkage to the investigation, and admitted he was just “following news accounts.”
Vindman also admitted that President Trump was “well within his rights” to ask Ukraine for help in an investigation, undercutting the Democrats’ narrative, and that he couldn’t recall Ukrainian officials ever feeling pressured to launch any investigations.
Considering these elements of his testimony alone certainly raises doubts about his ability to do his job in the National Security Council objectively. He was a key witness for the Democrats, despite having no firsthand knowledge of any of the allegations, which suggests that he was just part of the “deep state,” who cares more about “resisting” Trump than national security.
Trump was asked about Lt. Col. Vindman earlier on Friday. “Well, I’m not happy with him. You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”
That said, Trump needs to proceed with caution when it comes to firing people who have testified against him. Trump should be able to trust that members of his administration aren’t trying to undermine him from within, but any mass firing of individuals could backfire on him politically.
Vindman’s lawyer David Pressman claimed his ouster was political, done out of revenge for his testimony in the impeachment hearings. “There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House,” he said in a statement.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis