Oversight and Intelligence Committees Urge DOD IG to Investigate Political Retaliation Against Lieutenant Colonel Vindman
Washington, D.C. (July 21, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, the Chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security, sent a letter to Sean O’Donnell, Acting Inspector General of the Department of Defense (DOD IG), urging him to open an investigation into what appears to have been a concerted effort by the Trump Administration to retaliate against U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Alexander S. Vindman.
“Retaliation against a talented and dedicated war veteran is completely unacceptable and sends the wrong message to our fellow Americans in uniform about the oaths they take to defend and protect the Constitution,” the Chairs wrote. “It is critical that your office act now to investigate these allegations to ensure that our military system remains impervious to political vendettas.”
The Chairs ask the IG to examine actions involving the employment, career opportunities, or promotion of LTC Vindman following his testimony before Congress and whether they were influenced by White House officials. In addition, the Chairs request an investigation into any actions to create a retaliatory work environment for LTC Vindman, including retributive actions taken against his brother, LTC Yevgeny Vindman, as well as any systemic improvements that could be made to protect DOD whistleblowers from similar retaliation in the future.
On November 11, 2020, less than two weeks after LTC Vindman testified before Congress, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper insisted that LTC Vindman “shouldn’t have any fear of retaliation.” Yet, on July 8, 2020, after 21 years of decorated service, LTC Vindman submitted his request for retirement from the U.S. Army. His attorney stated:
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.
Recent reports suggest that DOD officials communicated to LTC Vindman that he could no longer work in the field of his expertise, that he likely would need to complete a “rehabilitative assignment,” and that the White House was trying to prevent his promotion to the rank of Colonel.
The Chairs asked the IG to respond by July 24, 2020, to advise whether he intends to open an investigation into these allegations.
Click here to read today’s letter.