On Feb. 5, 2020, the Senate wrapped up Donald Trump's first impeachment trial, with nearly every Republican member acquitting the then-president, despite his obvious guilt. Just two days later, the Republican started crossing names off his enemies list.
On a Friday afternoon -- an especially popular time in the Trump White House to do outrageous things -- the then-president started his retribution campaign, removing Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from his White House position. What's more, Team Trump also removed Vindman's brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an Army officer who also worked on the National Security Council staff.
As we discussed at the time, Yevgeny Vindman, who goes by Eugene, wasn't involved in any way with Trump's Ukraine extortion scandal, but he's Alexander Vindman's brother, so the then-president and his team decided he had to go, too.
There was no subtlety to the retaliation. Trump, feeling emboldened, targeted foes -- both real and perceived -- in part because he assumed he could get away with it, and in part to send a discouraging message to others who may have been tempted to do the right thing going forward.
In his striking congressional testimony, Alexander Vindman famously told his father, an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, "Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth." The then-president seemed eager to effectively tell anyone who might get in his way, "No, do worry. You won't be fine for telling the truth."
Last summer, Alexander Vindman's 21-year career in the U.S. military came to an end with his retirement. The announcement came on the heels of a Washington Post report that said Vindman's military career prospects were "in jeopardy over what some officials fear could be White House retaliation for his role in last year's impeachment inquiry."
The news about his brother is more heartening. NBC News reported this morning:
[Yevgeny] 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, says he is set to be promoted to a full colonel.... 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.
A Politico report added that Lt. Col. Vindman "is now on a list of colonel promotions that has been approved by the White House and is going to the Senate for formal confirmation, according to the two people familiar with the matter."
I can only hope that Trump's Senate allies have the good sense not to oppose Vindman.
It's also worth pausing to appreciate the list of those who've done well after being mistreated by the former president. Trump, for example, targeted Janet Yellen and ousted her from the Federal Reserve at the end of her first term, but she's now the secretary of the Treasury. Last year, Dr. Rick Bright was allegedly ousted as head of a biodefense agency and sidelined at the National Institutes of Health after becoming a government whistleblower, and he went on to become an adviser to Joe Biden during the presidential transition process.
And Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman may have been fired from the White House last year, but he's getting a promotion this year.