Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman: “The uniform I wear today is that of the United States Army. We do not serve any particular political party; we serve the nation.”
On February 7, President Trump ordered the firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (and his twin brother Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman.) Despite Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s plan to leave his National Security Council at the end of the month, Trump ordered him marched out of the White House by security guards. Vindman is an Iraq War veteran who earned a Purple Heart, among other decorations. He was fired from the National Security Council for the now-unpardonable crime of testifying truthfully under oath when called by the House impeachment committee.
That sin is unpardonable because the president’s ego stands above any law or moral principle. Vindman knew that when he testified. He still stood strong and spoke with courage.
Vindman was part of the July telephone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine. His testimony provided the first-hand account of that call that Trump and his minions claim does not exist.
Before he gave that damning testimony, Vindman made an opening statement, which you can read in full here, if you want inspiration and reassurance that high officials can act with principled courage. In that opening statement, he said:
“Next month will mark 40 years since my family arrived in the United States as refugees. When my father was 47 years old he left behind his entire life and the only home he had ever known to start over in the United States so that his three sons could have better, safer lives. His courageous decision inspired a deep sense of gratitude in my brothers and myself and instilled in us a sense of duty and service. All three of us have served or are currently serving in the military. Our collective military service is a special part of our family’s story in America.
“I also recognize that my simple act of appearing here today, just like the courage of my colleagues who have also truthfully testified before this Committee, would not be tolerated in many places around the world. In Russia, my act of expressing my concerns to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions and offering public testimony involving the President would surely cost me my life. I am grateful for my father’s brave act of hope 40 years ago and for the privilege of being an American citizen and public servant, where I can live free of fear for mine and my family’s safety.”
In his statement, he sent a message to his father:
“Dad, my sitting here today, in the US 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.”
When Vindman was escorted out of the White House, his lawyer issued a statement that included these paragraphs:
” There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House. LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful. …
“He did what any member of our military is charged with doing every day: he followed orders, he obeyed his oath, and he served his country, even when doing so was fraught with danger and personal peril. And for that, the most powerful man in the world – buoyed by the silent, the pliable, and the complicit – has decided to exact revenge.
“LTC Alexander Vindman leaves the White House today. But we must not accept the departure of truth, duty, and loyalty that he represents. In this country right matters, and so does truth. Truth is not partisan. If we allow truthful voices to be silenced, if we ignore their warnings, eventually there will be no one left to warn us.”
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman walked out of the White House with his integrity intact. He is fine today, no matter what Trump says or does.