The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said that he will watch to make sure that Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman does not suffer retaliation from testifying in a House impeachment hearing last month.
“We don’t involve ourselves in those decisions, but we will certainly pay attention to whether or not any retaliation is taken,” Democratic Rep. Adam Smith said during a roundtable briefing on Wednesday. “There is cause for concern.”
Vindman, 44, is the National Security Council’s Ukraine expert and was one of the few administration officials on a July phone call between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. During the House-led impeachment hearings against Trump, Vindman testified about the call.
Although praised by Democrats, Vindman has been dismissed by critics who charge, among other things, that his testimony consisted largely of opinion and that he withheld information from investigators.
Vindman’s appearance in uniform before the committee sparked rebuke from soldiers who saw it as a “bad look” that makes it appear as if the Army is “pushing a coup.” Military members assigned to the NSC typically wear suits in their day-to-day work. Other soldiers lauded Vindman as a “patriot” who was simply doing his duty.
“He shouldn’t have any fear of retaliation,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters on Monday, adding that he had discussed the issue with the Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy.
“I take Secretary Esper at his word, and I believe he will do that,” Smith said. “As far as what the White House would do, that’s something we’re going to have to keep a more careful eye on.”
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