Feb 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Army secretary: "There's no investigation" into Alexander Vindman

Alexander Vindman before testifying during Trump's impeachment inquiry on Nov. 19, 2019. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Army is not investigating Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key national security official who was fired and escorted from the White House last week, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said at the National Press Club on Friday.

Why it matters: Firing Vindman was one of Trump's first acts of retribution against officials who testified at his House impeachment hearings. After Vindman's ouster, Trump made it clear that what happens next in Vindman’s career is "up to the military."

  • EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, a standout witness in Trump's impeachment inquiry, was also fired last Friday.
  • Vindman testified that Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was "improper," and Sondland testified during the House impeachment trial that he had worked with Rudy Giuliani "at the express direction" of Trump on matters involving Ukraine.

What he's saying: McCarthy said that Vindman is on "a bridging assignment for a couple months" within the U.S. Army's department headquarters, after which he will head to "a senior service college" this summer. "And there's no investigations there," McCarthy added.

Flashback: Speaking to a group of reporters in the White House on Tuesday, Trump said of Vindman: "We sent him on his way to a much different location. And the military can handle him any way they want."

  • The president added that chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley "can have him and his brother also."
  • When pressed on how the military would handle Vindman's reassignment, Trump said, "That's going to be up to the military, we'll have to see. But if you look at what happened, they're going to certainly, I imagine, take a look at that."

Go deeper: Trump justifies firing Vindman for being "insubordinate"

Go deeper

Robert O'Brien says decision to remove Vindman was his, not Trump's

National security adviser Robert O'Brien. Photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

National security adviser Robert O'Brien said Tuesday that President Trump did not ask him to remove Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman nor his brother Yevgeny from the National Security Council, insisting the brothers were “absolutely not retaliated against.”

Why it matters: Vindman was a key witness during House impeachment hearings, and Trump justified his ouster by calling him "insubordinate."

Trump justifies firing Alexander Vindman for being "insubordinate"

President Trump. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Saturday morning to explain why he fired national security official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who had testified before the House Intelligence Committee that the president's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was "improper."

"I don't know [Vindman], never spoke to him or met him (I don't believe!) but, he was very insubordinate, reported contents of my 'perfect' calls incorrectly.......and was given a horrendous report by his superior, the man he reported to, who publicly stated that Vindman had problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information. In other words, 'OUT.'"

Trump retweets congressman calling for Alexander Vindman's firing

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump retweeted a statement from Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) calling for the firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman on Friday as part of a larger tweetstorm against the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert.

Why it matters: With the retweet, the president is publicly endorsing the idea of removing a key national security official that testified during the House impeachment inquiry — a move that he has privately pushed for in recent days, per the Washington Post.