Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial wrapped up on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Two days later, on a Friday afternoon — the Republican White House’s favorite time to do outrageous things — Team Trump crossed some names off the then-president’s enemies list.
As we discussed at the time, one of the first targets of the retaliation campaign was Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the impeachment trial, who was removed from his White House position. But Team Trump also went a little further, ousting Vindman’s brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an Army officer who also worked on the National Security Council staff.
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.
There was no subtlety to the apparent 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 August 2020, Yevgeny Vindman went by the book and filed a complaint with the Pentagon’s inspector general, alleging that he was subjected to political retribution. Alyssa Farah, the then-White House communications director, insisted that Vindman’s allegations were “ridiculous and false.”
Two years later, we now know that Farah was wrong and Vindman was right. The Washington Post reported:
Army Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who along with his twin brother raised alarm about President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, precipitating the first of two impeachments, suffered a “swift” reduction in responsibilities advising the White House and probably was punished for speaking out, according to the findings of an investigation released Wednesday.
In a 44-page report, the Defense Department inspector general’s office determined it is “more likely than not” that Vindman was targeted for reprisal.
I’ll look forward to members of Team Trump acknowledging their wrongdoing any minute now.
It’s worth emphasizing that the IG office’s findings are not the only piece of good news Vindman has received in the wake of Trump’s defeat: In March 2021, the Biden administration announced his promotion to full colonel.