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Alexander Vindman, key impeachment inquiry witness, to retire from the military

Trump fires impeachment witnesses
Trump fires impeachment witnesses 02:21

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who was a key witness in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump last year, will retire from the military, he announced in a tweet.

"Today I officially requested retirement from the US Army, an organization I love," Vindman wrote Wednesday.

 Vindman's decision came after a "campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation" led by the president, according to Vindman's attorney, David Pressman.

Pressman said that Vindman believed his future in the U.S. Army would be "forever limited" because of retaliation by the president after Vindman's testimony before the House last year. Vindman was fired from his post as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council in February, and his twin brother, an NSC lawyer, was also ousted. Pressman said that Vindman had decided to retire from the military rather than begin his next post at the National War College.

"Through a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation, the President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers," Pressman said in a statement. 

"LTC Vindman did what the law compelled him to do; and for that he was bullied by the President and his proxies. And yet, LTC Vindman would not be intimidated and will not be corrupted. He did what he has always done: put the interests of his country ahead of his own," Pressman said. "LTC Vindman's patriotism has cost him his career. Today our country loses a devoted soldier, but it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure it does not lose the values he represents."

Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth had pledged to block more than 1,100 military promotions until she received confirmation from Defense Secretary Mark Esper that he would not block an expected promotion for Vindman to full colonel.

Although Vindman felt his professional prospects would be curtailed by his impeachment inquiry testimony, he was also concerned about other repercussions. He told friends he was leaving the military because the controversy over his expected promotion to colonel was holding up all the other colonels on the list. The Army had kept his name on the list despite complaints from the White House that it had evidence of misconduct against Vindman, according to knowledgeable sources. The allegation was investigated and determined to be unfounded.  

Vindman participated in the July 25, 2019 call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which the president asked Zelensky to investigate a political rival. Vindman raised concerns about the call to the NSC counsel. Mr. Trump and his allies sought to cast Vindman as disloyal, even though Vindman insisted in his public testimony in November that he had acted "out of a sense of duty."

He plans to join a Washington think tank, the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, and will also pursue a Ph.D.

Vindman, whose family emigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine when he was a young boy, served in Iraq and is the recipient of a Purple Heart. 

Paula Reid and David Martin contributed to this report.

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