While John Bolton sat back and contemplated his huge book advance, and even larger supply of personal cowardice, those who had served under him demonstrated both bravery and dedication to the Constitution in coming forward to testify in the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. The two most critical witnesses of the entire event may have been Dr. Fiona Hill, who testified to how Trump suborned the foreign policy of the United States to “a domestic political errand” and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who made it clear that Trump and others were promoting “a false and alternative narrative of Ukraine” and that Trump’s call to the Ukrainian president had generated serious concern.
In his opening statement before the House, Vindman sent a touching reassurance to his father. "Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth." However, even though he was slated for promotion this month, Vindman has now announced he is leaving the military. Because Donald Trump is determined to prove that the United States can be just as bad as the Soviet Union.
After over 21 years of service, Vindman was slated to be promoted to full colonel. However, there were concerns that Trump—who had Vindman both reassigned and escorted forcibly from the White House—might interfere. In normal times, this shouldn’t be a concern. However, these are anything but normal times, and considering that Trump had already acted against Vindman’s twin brother, even though he did not testify, the idea of Lt. Col. Vindman being persecuted for doing his duty both as a military officer and a citizen seemed a pretty good bet.
Earlier this month, a purge got underway at the Defense Department as Trump flushed career officials and military officers who were seen as more loyal to anything, Constitution included, than to Trump. This included the removal of the top official overseeing international security, Kathryn Wheelbarger, and acting comptroller Elaine McCusker. Their crime was only that they had a “good relationship” with former general Jim Mattis. But now that Mattis is on Trump’s enemies list, so is everyone associated with him.
Considering that even guilt by association was enough to doom others, it shouldn’t be that surprising that CNN is now reporting that “military officials have communicated to Vindman that the White House has sought to become involved in the promotion process.” Vindman has also been told that he is “no longer deployable” in his area of expertise. So, rather than stay around, Vindman is retiring. In a statement from his attorney, the lieutenant colonel says that he has been subject to a "campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation" directed by Trump since the impeachment.
Vindman may be leaving now, but he should be going with the admiration of a nation—and a promise from Joe Biden that when Trump is gone, the military will once again have room for those who have demonstrated true personal bravery.