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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

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Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Collective.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).

DHS warns of "heightened threat" because of domestic extremism

Supporters of former President Trump protest inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued an advisory warning of a "heightened threat environment" in the U.S. because of "ideologically-motivated violent extremists."

Why it matters: DHS believes the threat of violence will persist for "weeks" following President Biden's inauguration. The extremists include those who opposed the presidential transition, people spurred by "grievances fueled by false narratives" and "anger over COVID-19 restrictions ... and police use of force[.]"