With reporting by Paula Reid
Despite giving testimony that was critical of President Trump's July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the White House Ukraine expert on the National Security Council (NSC), is scheduled to remain on the job at the White House until July 2020, his lawyer told CBS News Sunday.
The question about the duration of Vindman's detail on the NSC arose when CBS News' "Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan asked national security adviser Robert O'Brien, even though he had criticized the president when he was interviewed by Congress in October.
Asked directly by Brennan, "Will he continue to work for you despite testifying against the president," O'Brien responded indirectly.
"Well, look," he replied, "one of the things that I've talked about is that we're streamlining the National Security Council. It got bloated to like 236 people from, up from 100 in the Bush administration, under President Obama."
He added, "We're streamlining the National Security Council. There are people that are detailed from different departments and agencies. My understanding is he's — is that Colonel Vindman is — is detailed from the Department of Defense. So everyone who's detailed at the NSC, people are going to start going back to their own departments and we'll bring in new folks. But we're going to get that number down to around 100 people."
Brennan followed up by asking O'Brien to confirm that this did not constitute retaliatory action against Vindman.
"I never retaliated against anyone," O'Brien told Brennan.
After "Face the Nation" aired, Vindman's lawyer, Michael Volkov, told CBS News in a statement, "LTC Vindman is still detailed to the National Security Council. His detail ends July 2020. We are not aware of any change in his status. Obviously any retaliatory action against LTC Vindman on a day when we honor our military heroes would be reprehensible."
In October, Vindman told Congress he didn't think it was proper for the president to urge the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and he shared his concerns about the president's comments with the lead National Security Council lawyer.