Donald Trump has defended his decision to remove senior White House official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, appearing to admit that the National Security Council member was taken out of his post in part due to his testimony in the impeachment inquiry.
Vindman responded to a House subpoena to testify in the investigation of Trump’s actions to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation of political rival Joe Biden, sharing key details of a call that Trump had with the Ukrainian president. Trump had Vindman removed from his White House post on Friday, reportedly having Vindman escorted off the premises. Trump also removed Vindman’s twin brother, who worked as a lawyer in the White House.
Critics claim that Trump’s move to remove the Vindmans was retribution for Alexander’s decision to comply with a subpoena and testify in the impeachment inquiry. Within hours of removing them from the White House, Trump informed fellow witness Gordon Sondland that he was being recalled from his post as ambassador to the European Union. Sondland had also testified in the inquiry.
In a series of tweets on Saturday, Trump complained about media coverage of his removal of Vindman but also appeared to admit that Vindman’s testimony was the main reason for the removal. Trump insisted that there was nothing personal about the move, instead claiming that Vindman was “insubordinate” and was not truthful in his testimony.
“Fake News @CNN & MSDNC keep talking about ‘Lt. Col.’ Vindman as though I should think only how wonderful he was,” Trump wrote.
“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 judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information. In other words, ‘OUT’.”
As many pointed out, Vindman received a strong recommendation from his supervisor. When Congressman Jim Jordan questioned Vindman during his testimony about reports that National Security Council official Tim Morrison had raised “concerns” about Vindman’s judgment and claimed that former NSC official Fiona Hill shared those concerns, Vindman publicly read a glowing review from Hill.
“Alex is a top 1 percent military officer and the best Army officer I have worked with in my 15 years of government service,” he quoted Hill as saying in the review. “He is brilliant, unflappable, and exercises excellent judgment.”