Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, whose brother Alex was a star witness in the House impeachment inquiry, has been selected for promotion to colonel after overcoming alleged retaliation efforts by the Trump White House.
Vindman, an Army JAG attorney who served as the ethics counsel on the National Security Council during the Trump administration, said in a statement he is “deeply grateful for the trust and confidence the U.S. Army and the Judge Advocate General Corps have placed in me with selection for promotion to Colonel.”
“They stood their ground despite intense pressure during the last Administration,” Vindman said.
Vindman alleged in a complaint to the Department of Defense’s Inspector General that those performance reviews and other actions by Trump White House officials were retaliation for concerns he raised internally about former President Donald Trump’s 2019 phone call with Ukraine’s President and his twin brother’s testimony in the impeachment inquiry.
Vindman had also investigated allegations involving then-national security adviser Robert O’Brien and his chief of staff Alex Gray, according to a complaint he filed last year. The allegations, Vindman wrote, included “sexism, violations of standards of ethical conduct for employees and violations” of a law involving congressional appropriations, according to the Democrats’ letter.
Vindman’s Trump-appointed superiors had penned glowing reviews the year prior, according to quotes of the reviews in his complaint.
The Pentagon’s Inspector General has not yet concluded its investigation into the allegations, but Vindman said he hopes that investigation “will lead to accountability for those who retaliated against me for making lawful disclosures of misconduct.”
Vindman noted that one of those superiors “remains in a senior government position,” referring to Michael Ellis, who was installed as the National Security Agency’s general counsel in the waning days of the Trump administration.
Politico first reported Vindman’s expected promotion.
Vindman’s brother, Alex, retired from the Army last summer following what his attorney described as “a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” and reports that his promotion was being held up over concerns about political retaliation by the President and his staff.
Trump fired Yevgeny Vindman as well as Alex Vindman and then-US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland – the latter two key witnesses in Trump’s first impeachment – in February 2020.
An adviser to Trump had said the firings of the major impeachment witnesses was meant to send a message that siding against the then-President would not be tolerated. “Flushing out the pipes,” the adviser told CNN at the time. “It was necessary.”
Alex Vindman was pushed out of his role as the top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council months earlier than expected, according to a statement from his attorney at the time. He had not been slated to leave until July 2020, but had told colleagues in the weeks before his departure that he would likely leave soon.
A decorated veteran who was born in Ukraine, Alex Vindman was escorted out of the White House by security and told his services were no longer needed, according to his lawyer, David Pressman, at the time.
Yevgeny Vindman, who had never testified or spoke publicly about the Ukraine saga, was also fired “suddenly and with no explanation, despite over two decades of loyal service to this country,” Pressman said, and walked off the White House grounds alongside Alex Vindman.
O’Brien said in February 2020 there was “absolutely” no retaliation against the Vindman twins, asserting that “they weren’t fired” just days after Trump did, in fact, fire them.
Both brothers were “reassigned” shortly after the impeachment trial concluded, with O’Brien calling their being escorted out of the White House “standard procedure.”
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Caroline Kelly, Kaitlan Collins, Kristen Holmes, Katelyn Polantz, Gloria Borger, Kevin Liptak, Jim Acosta, Devan Cole, Nikki Carvajal and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.