Sen. Tammy Duckworth finally lifts her block against 1,123 military promotions after reassurances that Alexander Vindman was not retaliated against by the Army

By David Choi

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois lifted her hold against the promotions of over 1,000 military service members, following the Defense Department's confirmation that it had officially approved of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's tentative promotion.

"Donald Trump's unprecedented efforts to further politicize our military by retaliating against Lt. Col. Vindman—for doing his patriotic duty of telling the truth under oath — are unconscionable," Duckworth said in a statement on Tuesday.

"I'm glad the Department of Defense was finally able to set the record straight that Vindman had earned and was set to receive a promotion to Colonel," she added. "We must always protect the merit-based system that is the foundation of our Armed Forces from political corruption and unlawful retaliation."

Duckworth's statement comes days after she held up the promotions for 1,123 military officers. Duckworth, who serves on the Armed Service Committee, effectively stalled the promotions and demanded an answer to whether Vindman's promotion to colonel was approved by the Defense Department before it was supposed to make its way to the White House for final approval.

Vindman, a 21-year US Army veteran and a Purple Heart recipient, resigned last Wednesday before the White House could make its decision.

Vindman's promotion was speculated to be uncertain; particularly after he attracted the president's ire for complying with a congressional subpoena for the impeachment proceedings. After Vindman's testimony, Trump baselessly claimed he broke the chain of command and "leaked" details of his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The president previously suggested the military was going to explore taking disciplinary action against Vindman — which never materialized — and dismissed him from the National Security Council as its Ukraine-Russian expert. Vindman's twin brother, US Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, was also dismissed from the NSC.

Following Vindman's retirement, Duckworth praised him for his service while accusing Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Trump of bullying him into retirement.

"Lt. Col. Vindman's decision to retire puts the spotlight on Secretary of Defense Mark Esper's failure to protect a decorated combat Veteran against a vindictive Commander in Chief," she said in a previous statement. "Secretary Esper's failure to protect his troops sets a new, dark precedent that any Commander in Chief can interfere with routine merit-based military promotions to carry out personal vendettas and retaliation against military officers who follow duly-authorized subpoenas while upholding their oath of office and core principles of service."