'Still there': Vindman not removed from National Security Council despite alarm over vengeful firing

Washington Examiner 2 days ago

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman expects to serve out the remainder of his time as Ukraine director on the National Security Council, according to his attorney.

Multiple reports Sunday claimed Vindman, who gave sworn testimony for the House impeachment effort against President Trump, would be removed from the National Security Council.

These reports hinged on a Face the Nation interview on CBS in which National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien was asked if Vindman would remain on the National Security Council after testifying against the president. O'Brien said, "Everyone who's detailed at the NSC, people are going ... back to their own departments, and we'll bring in new folks."

Afterwards, the Twitter account for Face the Nation blared, "VINDMAN OUT AT NSC: After testifying on the Hill, NSA O'Brien says Alexander Vindman will be removed from the National Security Council." Other outlets followed suit with similar reports, and verified Twitter users with hundreds of thousands of followers announced that Vindman had been fired.

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But Vindman's lawyer, Michael Volkov, dismissed anything out of the ordinary was being done to his client. Volkov told CBS News that Vindman “still has a job - his detail ends in July 2020."

“Vindman is still detailed to NSC. We are not aware of any changes in his status. Obviously any retaliatory action against LTC Vindman on a day when we honor our military heroes would be reprehensible," he added, referring to Veterans Day.

"He is still there," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham confirmed to the Washington Examiner.

Vindman, an active-duty member of the military, testified in uniform before Congress on Oct. 29 as one of the few people who listened in on a July phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations into Joe Biden and other Democrats.

Concerned that the conversation could "undermine U.S. national security," Vindman said he raised the matter with the National Security Council's lead counsel. Portions of Vindman's testimony were reported immediately after his closed-door deposition, and the transcript of his testimony was released last week.

Trump has attacked Vindman as being a "Never Trumper" witness.

Asked by Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan to confirm he is not suggesting that there will be retaliation against Vindman for testifying against Trump, he replied, "I never retaliated against anyone."

After a whistleblower complaint about the call spurred the House Democrats' impeachment proceedings, Trump ordered a reduction in size of the National Security Council. O'Brien said on Sunday this is an effort aimed at "streamlining" an oversized team and emphasized that the staff cuts would come as officials complete their assignments and return to their home agencies.


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