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Vindman before the House Intelligence Committee in November 2019. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) said Thursday that she plans to block the promotion of 1,123 senior military officers through the Senate until Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirms that he will not block the promotion of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.

Why it matters: Some lawmakers and military officials are concerned that Vindman's promotion could be sunk by White House retaliation over his testimony in President Trump's impeachment inquiry, the New York Times and Washington Post report.

  • Duckworth's office described the move in a press release as "unprecedented in modern times."

The backdrop: Trump fired Vindman from the White House in February, tweeting that the national security official "was very insubordinate, reported contents of my 'perfect' calls incorrectly and was given a horrendous report by his superior."

What she's saying: "Our military is supposed to be the ultimate meritocracy. It is simply unprecedented and wrong for any commander in chief to meddle in routine military matters at all, whether or not he has a personal vendetta against a soldier who did his patriotic duty and told the truth — a soldier who has been recommended for promotion by his superiors because of his performance," Duckworth said in a statement.

  • After Trump endorsed the idea of removing Vindman, but before the key security official was escorted out of the White House, Esper told reporters in February that the Pentagon "[protects] all of our persons, service members from retribution or anything like that."

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Sep 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

First look: Biden's tough "Knock on the Door" ad

Joe Biden, believing President Trump is suddenly vulnerable with military voters, goes up today with an ad called "Knock On The Door," featuring retired Air force Brigadier General John Douglass, a former casualty notification officer.

Dave Lawler, author of World
13 mins ago - World

Modi humbled by India's coronavirus crisis

Still looming large, in New Delhi. Photo: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg via Getty

After mishandling the worst domestic crisis India has faced in decades, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s approval ratings have plummeted … to 63%.

Breaking it down: While that’s down from 74% before India’s second wave struck, per Morning Consult’s tracker, it still makes him perhaps the most popular leader of any major democracy. But despite his enduring popularity, Modi no longer appears invulnerable.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Updated 50 mins ago - World

Israeli ground troops join the fight near Gaza, raising threat of war

Israeli troops prepare to fire shells toward the Gaza Strip. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli ground troops have joined the fight near the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Thursday night.

Driving the news: While tanks and artillery were deployed for the first time on Thursday, the IDF says no ground troops have crossed into Gaza. Israel has called up 9,000 reservists and massed at least three brigades on the frontier with Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.