Trump suggests military should consider disciplinary action against Vindman

Trump fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry, on Friday.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters during a signing ceremony for the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

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By Lauren Egan and Shannon Pettypiece

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump suggested the military should consider disciplinary action against Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the House impeachment inquiry, and said there could be more departures from his administration related to the proceeding.

"We sent him on his way to a much different location, and the military can handle him any way they want," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday. "General Milley has him now. I congratulate General Milley."

Army Gen. Mark Milley is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Trump on Friday removed Vindman, who testified in the House impeachment inquiry about the president's conduct toward Ukraine, from his National Security Council post at the White House and had him escorted off the grounds.

Trump also fired Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who also testified in the impeachment inquiry. Vindman's twin brother, a National Security Council lawyer who did not testify, was also let go.

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Asked by reporters whether Vindman should face disciplinary action, Trump said: "That's going to be up to the military. We'll have to see. But if you look at what happened, they're going to certainly — I would imagine — take a look at that."

Trump said he was "wasn't happy" with Vindman and accused him without evidence of having reported "very inaccurate things" about Trump's phone call in July with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

"After they said these horrible things and made up these horrible, horrible lies about what was said on the call, and then I said, 'Here's the call,'" Trump told reporters. "If I didn't have a transcript, it would've been my word against their word."

Trump also suggested that more departures from the White House could come, telling reporters, "Oh, sure, absolutely, there always are."

At an event in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, national security adviser Robert O’Brien said that the decision to remove the Vindman brothers from their White House positions was unrelated to impeachment.

"Their services were no longer needed," O'Brien said. "The president is entitled to staffers that want to execute his policy, that he has confidence in."