Former National Security Staffer Lt. Col. Alexander “That’s Lt. Col. to you, Congressman” Vindman, and some 70 other Obama holdovers on the NSC, have been shown the door, as The Washington Examiner reports:
Officials confirmed that Trump and national security adviser Robert O’Brien have cut 70 positions inherited from former President Barack Obama, who had fattened the staff to 200.
Many were loaners from other agencies and have been sent back. Others left government work.
The NSC, which is the president’s personal staff, was rocked when a “whistleblower” leveled charges that led to Trump’s impeachment.
Last week, one key official who testified against Trump at a House hearing on the Ukraine affair that led to impeachment was sent packing. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was returned to the Pentagon. His twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, was also given the boot. Trump had expressed displeasure that Alexander Vindman had testified against him when the Ukraine specialist said he did not like the phone conversation between the president and a newly elected president of Ukraine.
D/S/Cs are, of course, mad(der) with rage at the great injustice of removing Vindman and his brother from the NSC. Why, Vindman is a decorated war hero! There are national TV commercials saying just that, of course, if this were not an election year, and D/S/Cs didn’t think they might be able to harm Trump with them, they’d be as interested in Vindman as they were the various women accusing Justice Kavanaugh after he was confirmed. He’s a paragon of virtue for participating in the coup against Trump! How dare Trump punish a whistleblower! Why Trump also removed EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who also participated in the coup. He’s a whistleblower too! Orange man bad! Bad! Bad! Bad! Paul Mirengoff of Powerline comments:
But was it improper for Trump to take these personnel actions?
Sondland’s case seems easy to me. Ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the President. Trump lost confidence in Sondland. Thus, his removal made sense.
Vindman’s case is somewhat different and less easy for me. Unlike Sondland, he’s a career government employee and military man. Thus, ousting him from the government would be highly problematic, in my view.
However, Vindman wasn’t ousted from the government. He was reassigned to the Pentagon.
As far as I know, Vindman will suffer no loss of pay or rank. Nor is it extraordinary for NSC staffers to be sent back to their previous posting. As I understand it, these people often circulate back and forth from their Department to the White House. In fact, Vindman was scheduled to rotate back to the Pentagon this summer.
Take the link and read the rest of Mirengoff’s article. One need not be overly sad for Sondland. He’s a wealthy businessman, and will not, in any way, be financially harmed by Mr. Trump’s decision. Let us consider reality.
The people let go by President Trump were appointees, non-civil service members of the executive branch. It is common for presidents to clean out every appointee of the previous administration, including US Attorneys.. Mr. Trump did not do this, which in hind sight, seems a mistake. They serve at the President’s pleasure, a term of some importance in the current situation.
D/S/Cs are screaming that Trump let them go—particularly Sondland and Vindman—because he is punishing them for being whistleblowers. They were not, in law or fact, whistleblowers. Sondland was the only D/S/C witness that actually spoke with President Trump about the Ukrainian affair. Under questioning by D/S/Cs, he neglected to tell the whole truth, saying he “surmised” Mr. Trump wanted a quid pro quo. It was only when questioned by Republicans that he admitted Mr. Trump specifically told him he wanted no quid pro quo, and his belief in a quid pro quo was nothing more than his own guess, informed by gossip. No other witness, Vindman included, ever spoke with Mr. Trump. They had no first hand knowledge about anything, just second, third and more handed gossip and supposition.
It matters not why Mr. Trump fired Sondland, he had the authority to fire him for any reason, including his part in spreading false rumors and participating in the coup. Any President that did not employ only people willing to honorably carry out his policies is a fool, yet D/S/Cs argue that Mr. Trump is somehow being dishonorable, even criminal, in ridding himself of people who have bragged their foreign policy desires take precedence over the one elected official—the President–given the power to formulate and apply them.
Why did Mr. Trump wait so long to fire these Deep State moles? D/S/Cs are claiming Trump must have trusted Vindman, only firing him in retaliation for his noble and truthful testimony. Nonsense. It was political reality. Trump had to wait until he was acquitted to take that step. Had he fired them earlier, particularly when they so blatantly and publically outed themselves as narcissistic usurpers, D/S/Cs—media always included—would have screamed “obstruction of Congress/justice” to high heaven, demanded another special prosecutor, a triple secret impeachment, and advocated Trump be drawn and quartered on the Mall. Even had he fired these people prior to when D/S/Cs were casting about for a faux-scandal on which to hang impeachment, they would surely have been used in the same ways by D/S/C ankle biters.
Lt. Col. Vindman, however, is a special case. In testimony before Congress, he disparaged the President, and actually said he—and other bureaucrats–was defending the official foreign policy of the United States from the President’s interference. In other words, it is the permanent bureaucracy, the eternal Deep State of unelected bureaucrats that holds and exercises ultimate executive power, not the President, particularly if he is a Republican. Bureaucrats subvert him, lie about him, undermine him at every opportunity, even counsel foreign leaders of enemy nations not to treat with him because he’ll be gone soon and then, as Barack Obama said, they’ll have more flexibility to betray American interests.
Everyone in the military, virtually from the day of their induction, is taught military personnel do not, in any way, and absolutely never publically, criticize those in positions of authority above them. This includes the Commander In Chief–the President Of The United States. They are taught—and this is continually reinforced—they are never to be political, in or out of uniform. They are also taught never to jump the chain of command, and refusal to obey an order, or to in any way weasel around one, is insubordination, a very serious offense. Anyone who so disparages a superior officer, to say nothing of the CIC, is normally in serious trouble indeed.
I’ve seen reporting indicating Vindman was ordered not to testify. If so, disobeying that order is a violation of the UCMJ. I’ve also seen reporting that at least one of Vindman’s past superior officers said he often went around the chain of command, and was a political operative in uniform. It has also been reported, and apparently confirmed, that Vindman repeatedly briefed the Ukranian President on how to deal with President Trump, and he routinely disparaged Mr. Trump to fellow officers and foreign nationals. If any of this is accurate, and it appears to be, Vindman is lucky not to be court-martialed.
Oh, but Vindman’s evaluations were excellent! In fact, he read from an evaluation during his testimony, and he’s another Napolean at least! How could Trump fire such a brilliant military leader?
As anyone that has been in the military, particularly the ranks of officers, knows, any officer’s evaluation that does not portray him or her as the second incarnation of George Patton is essentially career ending. Writing euphemistic evaluations is a military art form, and the kind of verbiage that might strike civilians as so outlandish as to be embarrassing, is merely middle of the road stuff—weak tea–for officer’s evaluations.
I do not know Vindman, nor am I informed about his career or accomplishments, but my impression, for what little it is worth, is he is a bureaucratic warrior, a chair bourn commando rather than a war fighter, a man whose career was focused at behind the scenes maneuvering rather than maneuvering on the field of battle.
But what about his purple heart? The Purple Heart is awarded for injuries suffered in combat that require treatment by a doctor. There is no doubt some soldiers actually injured have been passed over, while others, such as John Kerry, have been given the medal for the most trifling scratches. Kerry, a man who is arguably a traitor, for he gave aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime, made sure he got the award for a tiny piece of metal a doctor removed from his epidermis with a tweezers and covered with a Bandaid. Tens of thousands of honorable servicemen and women would have never accepted a medal for such an “injury.” I do not know the circumstances of Vindman’s award apart from it apparently had something to do with a roadside bomb. The point is this medal, and others, do not render anyone permanently noble, virtuous, eternally immune from criticism or immune from the consequences of their action, nor does any decoration guarantee anyone a lifetime appointment on the National Security Staff.
At least for the time being, Vindman is not being discharged from the military, nor is there any adverse action being taken against him by the Army. At his rank, it is likely he is already eligible for retirement, and the retirement pay of his rank is not insignificant. He will merely be reassigned—likely to the Pentagon; the field of battle where he is most competent—and his career will continue. He will lose no pay or benefits. He has lost the President’s confidence, so he will no longer have anything to do with the White House.
But what about his career? This disgrace could keep him from advancement! That’s possible, and should it happen, it’s his fault, no one else’s. Any military officer doing what Vindman has done should count himself fortunate not to be involuntary separated from the military.
Everything Mr. Trump did was entirely within his constitutional authority. Even if his sole motivation in removing Vindman and Sondland was anger at their testimony, that is a perfectly valid reason to remove them, but the record makes clear there was much more, and the fact that some 70 have already been removed from the NSC with more to come also speaks to less personal motives. But again, they served at the pleasure of the President. Anyone in such a posting must understand that, and please the President, who has the absolute, sole power to demand that all that work for him are loyal to the Constitution and abie to wholeheartedly work to support this policies. As Barack Obama also said: “elections have consequences.”
But, but… complain about that to the more than 200 high ranking officers removed by Barack Obama because they were not politically reliable and insisted on preparing for war rather than implementing Obama’s social engineering projects.
Vindman’s ego would not allow him to comport himself properly as an officer. He thought himself superior to the President of the United States. He took part in a coup. He deserves everything he has gotten, and much, much more.