Summary List PlacementRetired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in President Donald Trump's impeachment inquiry, said he "absolutely" became a "Never Trumper" in light of the president's attacks against him. Following Vindman's congressional testimony for the president's impeachment inquiry, Trump accused the decorated veteran of being a "Never Trumper." When Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut asked at the time if Vindman identified with the term, he replied saying, "I would call myself a never partisan." In an interview with NBC News' Lester Holt, Vindman said he now considers himself a "Never Trumper," adding that he joined into the administration "with the hopes of being able to do my job, with the hopes of being able to advance US national security interests." "Regardless of what administration, I would just try to do the best I could to advance national security interests," Vindman told Holt, "but I think, as the president's attacked and politicized me directly, in taking a very sober view of where this president is taking this country, the divisions, the catering to our adversaries, the undermining of national security interests, I am absolutely a 'Never Trumper.'" Vindman and his twin brother were both ousted from their positions at the National Security Council earlier this year. In July, Vindman retired from the Army after more than two decades. Vindman's lawyer David Pressman told Fox News the veteran's decision to retire was because "it has been made clear that his future within the institution he has dutifully served will forever be limited." "Nobody told me that I had to leave," Vindman told Holt during the NBC News interview. "As a matter of fact, if the president were not to be re-elected, for instance, I probably could have continued on but that's a huge if." "If he were to be re-elected, the joke was that I would end up in a radar station in Alaska." Vindman also claimed in the NBC News interview that the White House leaked classified information about him to GOP congressional members in an attempt to smear him. During his congressional testimony, Steve Castor, the lawyer for Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, asked Vindman if the Ukrainian national security adviser asked if Vindman, who was born in Ukraine would work as the country's defense minister. "That memorandum that I had classified, the White House leaked to the Republicans, a classified memo, to try to trip me up," Vindman told NBC News. "That could have only come from one place, could have only come from the White House." Castor told NBC News that he denied that he learned the information from the White House but did not clarify where it came from. In response to the interview, National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot described Vindman as "a disgruntled former detailee, seeking publicity, who is making allegations that are without merit," according to the NBC News report. Vindman, however, said it was not bitterness or anger that compelled him to speak out against Trump, which he said could bring "a significant amount of personal risk, reputational risk" to him. He said he spoke out in hopes "to share a perspective that could somehow inform an electorate going into the most important election of our lifetime, and maybe persuade them to choose an alternative to what we have, an alternative to four more years of disaster."
WATCH: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman addresses President Trump's suggestion that he is a "never Trumper."Vindman tells @LesterHoltNBC that he was nonpartisan, but says now he is "absolutely a 'never Trumper.'"More from the exclusive interview tonight on @NBCNightlyNews. pic.twitter.com/aT5pf35qhS — NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) September 14, 2020
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Sen. Tammy Duckworth finally lifts her block against 1,123 military promotions after reassurances that Alexander Vindman was not retaliated against by the Army
Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois lifted her hold against the promotions of over 1,000 military...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. "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 said in a statement. "We must always protect the merit-based system that is the foundation of our Armed Forces from political corruption and unlawful retaliation." Duckworth 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. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. 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."Join the conversation about this story »
The White House had made clear to Pentagon officials that President Trump did not want to...The White House had made clear to Pentagon officials that President Trump did not want to see Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman promoted.
Donald Trump Jr. just shattered the White House's flimsy justification for firing the witnesses who testified against Trump
Donald Trump Jr. blasted out a tweet Friday sarcastically thanking House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff...Donald Trump Jr. blasted out a tweet Friday sarcastically thanking House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff for helping President Donald Trump unearth "who all needed to be fired" for testifying against Trump in his impeachment inquiry. The tweet shatters the White House's flimsy defense that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an impeachment witness who listened to Trump's Ukraine call, was removed from the National Security Council as part of a "broader effort to shrink" the Trump administration's foreign policy bureaucracy. Trump Jr.'s tweet confirms, as it was already been suspected, that the president's motivation in firing Vindman — and later Gordon Sondland, the US's ambassador to the EU and another impeachment witness — was rooted in personal vengeance. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. When Bloomberg News first reported late Thursday that the White House planned to reassign Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from his post as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, the outlet cited sources as saying the decision would be portrayed as part of a "broader effort to shrink" the Trump administration's foreign-policy bureaucracy. A day later, Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., blew up that flimsy defense, tweeting, "Allow me a moment to thank—and this may be a bit of a surprise—Adam Schiff," referring to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the lead House manager who oversaw witness testimony in Trump's impeachment hearings. "Were it not for his crack investigation skills, @realDonaldTrump might have had a tougher time unearthing who all needed to be fired. Thanks, Adam! #FullOfSchiff," Trump Jr. tweeted. His tweet confirms, as it's already been suspected, that the president's motivation in firing Vindman was rooted in personal vengeance and not a desire to cut bureaucracy. Indeed, Trump himself signaled as much earlier Friday, telling reporters he was "not happy" with Vindman, who provided firsthand testimony about his knowledge of Trump's Ukraine dealings after receiving a lawful congressional subpoena last year. Vindman was fired shortly after and escorted from the White House grounds. His brother, Yevgeny, who served alongside him on the NSC but was not an impeachment witness, was also similarly fired and escorted off the grounds without being given a reason. And hours later, the president recalled Gordon Sondland, another witness who testified in the impeachment proceedings, from his post as the US's ambassador to the European Union. The president's actions illustrate how he's become newly emboldened following his acquittal in the Senate after a bitter impeachment trial. On Thursday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham gave the public a preview of what Trump would say in a speech from the White House podium Thursday afternoon addressing his acquittal. "He is going to be honest, going to speak with honesty and I think with a little bit of humility that he and the family went through a lot," Grisham told Fox News. "But I think he's also going to talk about just how horribly he was treated and, you know, that maybe people should pay for that." Vindman's lawyer, David Pressman, also released a scathing statement defending his client and saying Vindman was fired for "telling the truth." "Today, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was escorted out of the White House where he has dutifully served his country and his President. He does so having spoken publicly once, and only pursuant to a subpoena from the United States Congress," David Pressman, Vindman's attorney, said in a statement to Insider. "LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth," Pressman said. "His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful." Trump Jr.'s tweet could foreshadow more firings targeting other impeachment witnesses who testified against the president and are still serving in the US government. They include the Pentagon official Laura Cooper, State Department officials David Holmes, David Hale, and George Kent, and more. Last week, Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence who testified in the hearings, left his office earlier than planned and went back to work at the State Department. The president also took aim at lawmakers who voted to convict and remove him from office, including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the lone Republican to break ranks and vote for Trump's conviction, and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democratic swing-vote who is known to be friendly with the president.SEE ALSO: Impeachment witness Alexander Vindman and his twin brother were abruptly fired and escorted from the White House as part of Trump's payback Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Extremists turned a frog meme into a hate symbol, but Hong Kong protesters revived it as an emblem of hope