An attorney for Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is firing back after President Donald Trump ousted the impeachment witness from his White House post and then insulted his job performance on Twitter.
Vindman, who answered a subpoena to testify during the House impeachment hearings and revealed some damaging information about Trump’s campaign to pressure Ukraine into digging up dirt on Joe Biden, was removed from his post on Friday and escorted from the White House grounds. The dismissal came just days after the U.S. Senate voted to acquit Trump of both articles of impeachment, drawing allegations that the president was seeking retribution.
Amid the criticism, Trump took to Twitter to explain his rationale for removing Vindman, admitting that his impeachment testimony played a part in that. In a series of tweets posted early on Saturday, Trump said that the decision was not personal and claimed that Vindman received a poor job appraisal.
“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’.”
The attorney representing Vindman struck back later on Saturday. As Politico reported, attorney David Pressman said that Trump’s claims about Vindman’s job performance were unfounded. During impeachment hearings, Republican Jim Jordan had raised a similar point, noting that National Security Council official Tim Morrison raised concerns about Vindman’s judgment. That prompted Vindman to read verbatim a glowing performance review from his direct superior.
Pressman went further, calling out lawmakers for remaining silent after Trump ousted Vindman from his post while the president “continues his campaign of intimidation.” Maine Republican Susan Collins had spoken out ahead of Vindman’s ouster, saying she would not be in favor of any retribution against witnesses. She did not release a statement after Trump’s decision to remove him.
In removing Alexander Vindman from his White House post, Trump also ousted Vindman’s twin brother, who also worked in the White House but played no part in the impeachment inquiry. Hours later, Trump removed another impeachment witness from his post. Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, released a statement confirming that Trump recalled him from the position.