Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is calling it quits on his 21-year military career, and his lawyer says it's because Vindman believes his future in the US Army "will forever be limited" due to political retaliation at the hands of President Trump and his allies. Vindman says he found himself in the crosshairs after acting as a key witness in President Trump's impeachment inquiry in November, with his lawyer saying he has endured a "campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation" since, per CNN. Vindman, who had listened in on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, was in February escorted out of the White House complex, having been removed as director for European affairs on the National Security Council.
The Hill reports that after the announcement, Vindman tweeted an image showing him at his laptop wearing civilian clothes. He wrote, "Today I officially requested retirement from the US Army, an organization I love. My family and I look forward to the next chapter of our lives." The Washington Post in June reported Vindman's name was on a list of hundreds of officers chosen to be promoted to full colonel in 2020. It explained Army and Pentagon leaders sign off on the list, and that government sources were worried the White House could have Vindman struck from that list, though Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has previously said the Pentagon protects service members from retribution. His lawyer spoke cryptically on the subject, saying "The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose ... Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers." (Read more Alexander Vindman stories.)