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Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, whose brother, Alexander, served as a key witness during President Trump's impeachment, filed a complaint last week with the Pentagon's inspector general suggesting he was retaliated against for disclosing potential ethics violations by senior White House officials, his lawyers confirmed on Wednesday.

The state of play: Vindman, like his brother, is a decorated Iraq War veteran and served at the National Security Council as a senior lawyer and ethics official. They were dismissed simultaneously in February, though top military leaders, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, claim they were not politically targeted.

What happened: Details about Vindman's complaint were first made public in a letter from top House Democrats, including House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney and House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, who asked the Pentagon's internal watchdog to open an investigation into the matter.

  • The Democrats say Vindman's complaint alleges he was retaliated against for raising concerns about Trump's 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • They also say the complaint alleges that he was removed from the NSC after he reported potential legal and ethical violations and allegations of sexism by national security adviser Robert O’Brien and NSC chief of staff Alex Gray.

What he's saying: "There were allegations of sexism, violations of standards of ethical conduct for employees and violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act. ... I notified my supervisors on the NSC staff and White House Counsel’s Office about each of these concerns," Vindman wrote in a March memorandum that was attached to his complaint.

  • "While any of these infractions are serious, together they form a disturbing pattern of flagrant disregard for rules." 
  • "I fear that if this situation persists, personnel will depart and national security will be harmed. I request you inquire into the facts and allegations herein and take appropriate action."

Read House Democrats' letter about Vindman's complaint.

Go deeper

Scoop: Divisive Pentagon hire may rush troop withdrawals before Trump's exit

President Trump. Photo: Jim Watson / Getty Images

President Trump's newly installed acting Pentagon chief is bringing on a senior adviser in a sign the administration wants to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East before the end of his presidency in January, three people familiar with the move told Axios.

Why it matters: A senior administration official says a wave of firings at the Pentagon and the hiring of Ret. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor is in part a settling of Trump's personal scores — but senior White House officials also have made clear "they want them more publicly to talk about getting out of Afghanistan by the end of the year."

3 hours ago - World

Map: A look at world population density in 3D

This fascinating map is made by Alasdair Rae of Sheffield, England, a former professor of urban studies who is the founder of Automatic Knowledge. It shows world population density in 3D.

Details: "No land is shown on the map, only the locations where people actually live. ... The higher the spike, the more people live in an area. Where there are no spikes, there are no people (e.g. you can clearly identify ... the Sahara Desert)."

Biden's Day 1 challenges: The immigration reset

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President-elect Biden has an aggressive Day 1 immigration agenda that relies heavily on executive actions to undo President Trump's crackdown.

Why it matters: It's not that easy. Trump issued more than 400 executive actions on immigration. Advocates are fired up. The Supreme Court could threaten the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and experts warn there could be another surge at the border.

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