The White House is considering removing the aide from the National Security Council who testified against President Donald Trump during impeachment hearings, Bloomberg News reported.
Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the NSC’s director of European Affairs, would be dismissed from the council along with others as part of a broader reduction of the foreign policy bureaucracy, Bloomberg reported citing anonymous sources.
The report comes only days after Trump was acquitted by the Senate on two articles of impeachment in regard to a July 25 phone call between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Vindman alerted the White House counsel to the call and testified before a House committee claiming he believed Trump exerted “inappropriate” pressure on Zelensky to investigate former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son for corruption for his dealings with a Ukrainian energy company.
A similar report by CNN, also quoting anonymous sources, said Vindman has told colleagues he expects to leave his post by the end of the month and return to the Department of Defense. That would be five months ahead of his scheduled two-year rotation on the NSC, which was set to expire at the end of July.
White House mulls plan to dismiss Vindman
The CNN report said its source did not indicate whether the departure was voluntary or at the behest of the White House. Vindman’s duties, along with those of his twin brother, Yevgeny, an attorney for the NSC, have been severely curtailed since Vindman went public with his claims of the July phone conversation.
“Without hesitation, I knew that I had to report this to the White House counsel,” Alexander Vindman testified in November.
Bloomberg reported that Vindman has not been told of any possible change in his status and plans to work at the NSC until told otherwise.
After Vindman’s testimony, Trump dismissed him as “a low level partisan bureaucrat and nothing more.”
Dismissing Vindman from the NSC likely will result in Democrats excoriating Trump, though senior council officials have previously mentioned reducing the size of the body.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper was quoted in November as saying Vindman “shouldn’t have any fear of retaliation.”
Vindman’s possible departure would follow that of another witness, Jennifer Williams, who left Vice President Mike Pence’s office two months ahead of schedule. She will be joining the U.S. Central Command.
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) February 7, 2020
The reports drew the expected reaction on social media, with Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton hailing the decision and others suggesting Democrats recruit him to run on the 2020 ballot.
In two speeches on Thursday, Trump took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow House Democrats as well as Republican Senator Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee and the only Republican senator to back an impeachment charge.
“So many people have been hurt, and we can’t let that go on,” Trump told the typically bipartisan National Prayer Breakfast, attended by Pelosi. “When they impeach you for nothing, then you’re supposed to like them, it’s not easy, folks,” he said.
At a White House celebratory event with his legal team and congressional supporters, Trump on Thursday also called out former FBI Director James Comey, House Democrats’ lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff, and his 2016 Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, though he stopped short of announcing any specific actions to be taken against anyone.
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham had told Fox News that Trump was considering “just how horribly he was treated and that maybe people should pay for that.”
Separately, two Trump aides brought in to the White House to help with the impeachment proceedings, Tony Sayegh and Pam Bondi, were leaving following the Senate’s acquittal on Wednesday.
(Reuters contributed to this report.)