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."
- Vindman was one of the first witnesses to publicly testify in the impeachment inquiry who directly listened in to Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which he described as "improper."
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."