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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who served as a key witness in President Trump's impeachment trial, announced Wednesday that he has moved to retire from the military after 21 years of service amid fears that he will "forever be limited" due to political backlash over his testimony.

The big picture: The president fired Vindman in February as the leading Ukraine expert on the National Security Council for being "insubordinate," but top military leaders including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper claim Vindman had not been politically targeted.

  • In his testimony, Vindman called Trump's push for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden "inappropriate" and said he reported his concerns on the matter due to a "sense of duty."
  • Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) vowed last week to block the promotions of 1,123 senior military officers until Esper confirmed that Vindman's promotion would go through.

What they're saying: "Through a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation, the president of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a president. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers, " Vindman's lawyer, Amb. David Pressman, said in a statement.

  • "These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it," Pressman added.

Flashback: In concluding his opening statement at the impeachment hearing, Vindman emotionally addressed his immigrant father: "You made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth."

Go deeper

Dead malls get new life

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Malls are becoming ghosts of retail past. But the left-behind real estate is being reimagined for a post-pandemic world.

Why it matters: As many as 17% of malls in the U.S. "may no longer be viable as shopping centers and need to be redeveloped into other uses," per Barclays.

White House now says Biden will move to increase refugee cap by May 15

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House on Friday afternoon said President Biden plans to lift the Trump-era refugee cap by May 15.

Driving the news: The announcement follows stinging criticism from several Democrats and rights groups, who said Biden was walking back on his pledge to raise the limit. Earlier Friday, Biden signed a directive to speed up the processing of refugees, but kept the Trump administration's historically low cap of 15,000 refugees for this year.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Suspect in FedEx shooting identified as 19-year-old former employee Brandon Hole

Crime scene investigators walk through the FedEx parking lot in Indianapolis the day after a mass shooting left nine dead, including the gunman, who took his own life. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images.

The suspected gunman who killed at least eight people and wounded several others in Indianapolis before killing himself has been identified by local police as 19-year-old Brandon Hole, a former FedEx employee, a company spokesperson told the AP.

The latest: At least 100 people were in the FedEx warehouse at the time of the shooting, authorities said Friday. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Deputy Chief Craig McCartt told reporters that Hole worked at FedEx through 2020. He did not specify the circumstances of Hole’s departure.