WASHINGTON (AP) — Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Friday there is no investigation into the Army officer who until last week worked at the White House National Security Council and was a key witness in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
McCarthy said Lt. Col. Alex Vindman has been moved to a short-term assignment at Army headquarters until he starts a regularly scheduled stint at a military college later this year. McCarthy’s comments at the National Press Club appeared to put an end to any debate about potential punishment of the officer, who came under fire for raising concerns about Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s president.
Trump on Tuesday suggested the Pentagon should review Vindman’s conduct and said any potential disciplinary action would be up to the military. He said military officials “can handle him any way they want,” but added that the military would certainly take a look at his conduct.
Vindman was detailed by the Pentagon to the White House and testified before the House impeachment panel that Trump inappropriately pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Last week, just two days after the Senate acquitted Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges, Vindman was ousted from his NSC job. His twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who worked as an ethics lawyer at the NSC, also was removed from his job and was re-assigned to the Army General Counsel’s Office.
Vindman also got support from Trump’s former chief of staff earlier this week. John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, said that Vindman did exactly as he was trained by raising concerns to his superiors after hearing “questionable” comments from Trump, according to a report by The Atlantic magazine.
Trump on Thursday lashed out against former White House chief of staff John Kelly for being disloyal after he came to the defense of the former national security aide who offered key testimony in the impeachment inquiry.
The president’s comments came after Kelly defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who was among the administration officials who raised concerns about Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s president. That call spurred the president’s impeachment trial, which ended in acquittal last week.
McCarthy did not provide details about Vindman’s new assignment.
It’s routine for up-and-coming officers to go to war college or another advanced school when they are lieutenant colonels, as part of the process for likely promotion to higher rank.