Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who testified against President Donald Trump during his impeachment inquiry, has announced his retirement from the Army, citing "bullying" from the president, CNN reported.
In a Wednesday afternoon tweet, Vindman simply stated that he is retiring from the military, but didn't provide any additional context.However, in a statement, Vindman's attorney, Amb. David Pressman, put the blame for his retirement solely on Donald Trump.
"The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President." the statement reads in part.
In October 2019, Vindman, a decorated Iraq War veteran and, at the time, the Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council (NSC), played a key role in the impeachment proceedings against Trump. Specifically, Vindman testified that he was present when the 45th president made a telephone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump purportedly tied hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid to the country investigating Joe Biden.
"I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. Government's support of Ukraine," he testified, as reported at the time by NPR News.
During the impeachment process, Trump repeatedly attacked Vindman, calling him a "Never Trumper," as The Hill reported in 2019.
In February, Trump fired Vindman from the National Security Council.Since his firing, allegations have surfaced that the Trump administration has been instrumental in blocking Vindman's promotion from lieutenant colonel to colonel.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has insisted, however, that Vindman is not being targeted for political reasons, a claim that an unidentified source close to the decision denies. According to the CNN report, the source also called it "absurd and frightening" that the president would be directly involved in military promotions at this level.
Vindman's next assignment was to have been attending the National War College; his superiors having reportedly told him that he was no longer deployable in his area of expertise, which may be referring to Ukraine. He was also reportedly told he would have to go through a "rehabilitative assignment" before the National War College assignment even if he did accept the job. However, Vindman, claiming that there were sources within the military working against his further promotion, decided instead to retire.
"[Vindman] did what the law compelled him to do; and for that he was bullied by the President and his proxies," Pressman's statement said.