House Democrats demanded in a letter this week that the Defense Department inspector general probe retaliation against a key witness in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
The heads of the House Oversight and Intelligence Committees asked Defense Department acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to probe “a concerted effort” by the White House to lash out at Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman in retaliation for testifying before House impeachment investigators last year.
“Retaliation against a talented and dedicated war veteran is completely unacceptable and sends the wrong message to our fellow Americans in uniform about the oaths they take to defend and protect the Constitution,” wrote Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) in the July 21 letter. “It is critical that your office act now to investigate these allegations to ensure that our military system remains impervious to political vendettas.”
Vindman resigned from the military on July 8, saying that President Trump and his associates had orchestrated a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” to prevent his scheduled advancement in the military.
For House impeachment investigators, Vindman was a particularly helpful witness. A Ukraine specialist who sat in on President Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Vindman was able to corroborate key elements of Trump’s ham-handed attempt to extort Ukraine into becoming an opposition research arm of his 2020 reelection campaign.
NBC reported last week that after impeachment, the National Security Council circulated a list of criticisms of Vindman. The allegations were reportedly never corroborated.
“Specifically, we ask that you examine the Department of Defense’s actions regarding the employment, career opportunities, or promotion of LTC Vindman following LTC Vindman’s testimony before Congress, and whether they were influenced in any way by White House officials,” the lawmakers wrote. “In addition, we request that your office investigate any actions by DOD or other officials to create a retaliatory work environment for LTC Vindman, including retributive actions taken against his brother LTC Yevgeny Vindman, as well as any systemic improvements that could be made to protect DOD whistleblowers from similar retaliation in the future.”
In the letter, Democrats gave the DOD inspector general until Friday to respond to their demand that he open a probe.
Read the document here: