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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

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”