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Army promotes brother of impeachment witness Vindman who was fired by Trump White House

Yevgeny Vindman says his promotion came despite "intense pressure" from the Trump administration on the U.S. Army.
Lt Colonel Vindman testifies at House Intelligence Committee hearing on Trump impeachment inquiry on Capitol Hill in Washington
With his twin brother Yevgeny Vindman, left, looking on, Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman testifies on Capitol Hill on Nov. 19, 2019.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters file

WASHINGTON — Lt. Col. Yevgeny "Eugene" Vindman, who was fired last year from his job in the Trump White House after he raised concerns about the former president's dealings with Ukraine, is set to be promoted to a full colonel, the Army said Tuesday.

Vindman is the twin brother of Alexander Vindman, who was a key witness in the Ukraine impeachment inquiry. The brothers were both Army officers serving on the National Security Council when they raised concerns about former President Donald Trump's phone call to Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019. They told an NSC lawyer that Trump's phone call, in which he sought to pressure Kyiv for political dirt on his then political opponent, Joe Biden, was potentially illegal.

Both men were sacked from the NSC days after the conclusion of the impeachment trial and escorted out of the White House.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs at the National Security Council, acknowledges his brother, Yevgeny, left, during a break in the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump in Longworth Building on Nov. 19, 2019.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

"I am deeply grateful for the trust and confidence the U.S. Army and the Judge Advocate Generals Corps have placed in me with selection for promotion to Colonel. They stood their ground despite intense pressure during the last administration," Yevgeny Vindman said in a statement.

The promotion was first reported by Politico.

Vindman was on a promotion list released on Tuesday, Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Gabriel Ramirez said.

Vindman announced the promotion on Twitter on Tuesday morning, adding that someone should sponsor a bill so his brother Alexander could receive a promotion to colonel as well.

Yevgeny Vindman had served as deputy legal adviser for the NSC staff in the Trump administration.

While his brother Alexander retired from the Army and is now pursuing a doctorate, Yevgeny Vindman remained in uniform. He filed a whistleblower complaint last year to the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General, alleging he was retaliated against not only for raising flags over Trump's conduct with Ukraine but also for expressing concerns about the actions of former National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien and his chief of staff, Alex Gray.

Yevgeny Vindman alleged he had been steadily sidelined, barring from various meetings and then fired from his position on the NSC for "reporting waste, fraud, and abuse, to his chain of command," according to a 32-page complaint to the inspector general filed in August 2020. He accused O'Brien of using NSC staff to carry out personal errands.

A spokesperson for the Trump White House previously called Vindman's allegations "ridiculous and false."

The Defense Department inspector general has yet to conclude its investigation into Vindman's complaint.

Before Yevgeny Vindman raised alarms about Trump's conduct with Ukraine, he received a glowing review in 2019 from Michael Ellis, the then senior associate White House counsel, and John Eisenberg, former deputy White House counsel, who urged that the Army promote him to colonel without delay, according to Vindman's complaint.

"Sought by White House staff regularly, he can do any job in the legal field under unusual and constant pressure and scrutiny," they wrote in the evaluation, according to the complaint. "Absolutely unlimited potential!"

But after he and his brother had voiced concerns about Trump's phone call to this Ukrainian counterpart, the same White House officials gave Vindman a negative evaluation, saying he was "unsatisfactory" and "unqualified."

Vindman's promotion to colonel, along with other officers, has been approved by the Army and the Biden White House, and is due to be sent to the Senate for formal confirmation.

"I look forward to continuing my service to the U.S. Army and the Nation in positions of increasing responsibility," Vindman said.

"The Department of Defense Inspector General will soon complete its investigation into the malfeasance of former White House officials, one of whom remains in a senior government position," Vindman said. "I look forward to reviewing the report, which I hope will lead to accountability for those who retaliated against me for making lawful disclosures of misconduct."

Vindman is currently staff judge advocate and deputy chief counsel at the Army's Combat Capabilities Development Command in Aberdeen, Md.