One of the most unsavory aspects of Donald Trump’s defense against impeachment—and there were many!—was the concerted effort to smear decorated war veteran Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman. The effort kicked off last October, with his allies on Fox News suggesting that the Purple Heart recipient, Ukraine expert, member of the White House National Security Council, and witness to the infamous July 25 phone call was a double agent. “Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine, while working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest, and usually, they spoke in English,” said all-star terrible human Laura Ingraham during her show. “Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?” Later, during his public testimony on Capitol Hill, Rep. Jim Jordan attempted to go after Vindman’s professional record, only to have his ass thoroughly handed to him. And now that the president has been acquitted? Apparently the next logical step is to punish anyone who spoke out against him, starting with the Iraq war veteran.
Bloomberg reports that the White House is “weighing” a plan to dismiss Vindman from the National Security Council “after he testified in President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry.” Naturally, the administration, per people familiar with the matter, “intends to portray any house-cleaning as part of a downsizing of the NSC staff, not retaliation,” though that most certainly will not be the case, considering the extremely vengeful nature of Team Trump.
Vindman was one of the Democrats’ most crucial witness in their impeachment proceedings—a decorated Army lieutenant colonel, who raised the alarm over the president’s July 25 telephone call with Ukraine’s leader. Before Vindman’s testimony, the only account of that call came from an anonymous whistle-blower whose identity has remained largely hidden to this day, and a partial transcript released by the White House.
Some of the officials being targeted for removal from the NSC would be reassigned because they’re perceived as being disloyal to the president, three people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity owing to the sensitivity of personnel moves. Senior staff were informed on Thursday that some aides would be leaving the White House, the people added. The moves have been in the works since at least last week and could come as soon as Friday…. Vindman has not been told of any change in his status, according to a person close to his legal team, and plans to show up for work until told otherwise.
Vindman’s rotation at the NSC is supposed to end this summer. His next rotation would likely be at the Department of Defense. In November, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that Vindman wouldn’t face any retaliation from the Pentagon over his testimony.
Vindman, of course, is far from the only individual the White House has plans to punish. As my colleague Gabriel Sherman reported earlier this week, the view in Trumpworld, which operates on a similar basis to the mob, is that “it’s payback time. He has an enemies list that is growing by the day.” At the top of that list is apparently John Bolton, along with Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, and Mitt Romney. Romney has already gotten a taste of what “payback” looks like, with the president’s allies all but demanding he be burned at the stake after he cast a vote for Trump to be convicted. Donald Trump Jr. for one, wants Romney expelled from the Republican Party for disloyalty, while Ingraham said on her show Wednesday that the senator from Utah is “the ultimate selfish, preening, self-centered politician.” She later threatened to move the Beehive State to defeat him in 2024.
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