Former National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was fired from the White House on Friday — two days after President Donald Trump's acquittal in his bitter impeachment trial.
Vindman was a central witness, testifying publicly on November 19 before the House Intelligence Committee that Trump's behavior towards the president of Ukraine had troubled him deeply.
As the top Ukraine expert at the NSC, Vindman listened in on the now-infamous July 25 call between Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, where Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate his political rivals, the Biden family.
Vindman told Congress he was "concerned," and found the call "inappropriate" given its partisan political character, and the conspiracy theory which underpinned it.
During his opening statement, Vindman drew a contrast between how somebody in his position might be treated in Russia, and how he believed he would be treated in the US.
He moved to address his father, who left the Soviet Union with Vindman, then aged three, for a new life in America:
"In Russia, my act of expressing my concerns to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions and offering public testimony involving the President would surely cost me my life.
"Dad, my sitting here today, in the US Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth."
Political reality proved Vindman too optimistic. Vindman was the first and most prominent figure to be punished Friday by a newly-emboldened Trump.
The President fired Vindman, his twin brother, as well as Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador the the EU, in the space of a few hours.
Unlike the Russia in his comparison, Vindman came to no physical harm. But he — and a family member who had no role in the impeachment hearings — were ejected from prestigious jobs in a way which may tarnish their future prospects in the US military.
Vindman has only ever worked for the US military, and he and was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
Only the most capable officers are recommended for work with the NSC, usually the sign of a sparkling career to come.
While he was only on loan to the White House and was transferred to the Pentagon, his highly political dismissal could now feature in Vindman's personnel files. As Command-in-Chief, Trump is Vindman's ultimate boss, and the boss of all his superiors. He has made abundantly clear that he doesn't like him.
When competing for promotions with equally skilled offices without this political shadow over them, Vindman could well find himself passed over.
In a statement Vindman's lawyer, David Pressman, said, "LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful."
Sonam Sheth and Sam Fellman contributed research and analysis to this article.