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President Trump retweeted a statement from Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) calling for the firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman on Friday as part of a larger tweetstorm against the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert.
Why it matters: With the retweet, the president is publicly endorsing the idea of removing a key national security official that testified during the House impeachment inquiry — a move that he has privately pushed for in recent days, per the Washington Post.
Flashback: Vindman testified before the House Intelligence Committee that Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — which he listened in on — was "improper."
- Vindman, who was born in Ukraine, used his opening statement during that testimony to tell his father that his ability to speak freely during the proceedings was "proof that [he] made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union ... in search of a better life for our family."
- Leading up to his testimony, Vindman faced unsubstantiated cable news attacks that questioned his loyalty to the U.S.
The state of play: Trump also retweeted Tom Fitton, the president of conservative activist group Judicial Watch, who said that Vindman should be fired as soon as possible "to protect our foreign policy from his machinations."
- And before departing the White House for North Carolina on Friday, the president told the press corps that he was "not happy with" Vindman after being asked if he wanted him to be removed.
- "They'll make that decision," Trump added.
The big picture: The Post first reported late Thursday that Trump was preparing to push Vindman out "after he expressed deep anger ... over the attempt to remove him from office because of his actions toward Ukraine."
- Asked by reporters Friday about the report, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the Pentagon "[protects] all of our persons, service members from retribution or anything like that."