Lawmakers Call for Investigation into Vindman Firings, Allege White House Retaliation

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Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman leaves after testifying on Capitol Hill.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman leaves after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

House Democrats this week reiterated their demand for an investigation into the firings of Army Lt. Cols. Alexander and Yevgeny Vindman, citing new allegations of White House retaliation for the twin brothers' roles in the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

The new allegations involved charges by Yevgeny Vindman that White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien and his aides "misused government resources" and created a hostile work environment in an effort to force him out of his White House job as an ethics lawyer on the National Security Council.

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The call for an investigation by Acting Pentagon Inspector General Sean O'Donnell came from Rep. Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; Rep. Adam Smith of Washington., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; and Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, chair of the House Oversight Committee.

There was no response from the IG's office to a previous call for an investigation by the Democrats.

In a letter to O'Donnell Wednesday, the Democrats charged that Yevgeny Vindman faced retaliation for looking into whether O'Brien, his chief of staff Alex Gray and others "misused government resources, excluded women from meetings, and made sexist and demeaning remarks to female NSC staffers, including inappropriately commenting on women's looks and 'talk[ing] down' to women."

In his complaint, Yevgeny Vindman wrote that, "while any of these infractions are serious, together they form a disturbing pattern of flagrant disregard for rules."

The Democrats asked that the IG determine whether those alleged actions amounted to "unlawful retaliation" and whether White House officials "sought to create an inhospitable work environment for the two brothers during their service at the White House."

In a statement, White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah dismissed the allegations as "ridiculous and false."

"These allegations are an example of precisely what's wrong with Washington -- a junior-level disgruntled former detailee, with whom Ambassador O'Brien had almost no interaction -- can launch baseless attacks for partisan purposes," Farah said.

The Vindmans, both born in the former Soviet Union, were detailed from the Army together to the National Security Council -- Alexander as an expert on Ukraine, and Yevgeny as an ethics lawyer.

Alexander Vindman, who earned a Purple Heart in Iraq, testified under subpoena before the House impeachment inquiry regarding Trump's July 25, 2019, phone call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In the call, Democrats charged that Trump demanded damaging information on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in return for freeing up military aid to Ukraine. Trump has repeatedly denied the charge and claimed that his phone call was "perfect."

In his testimony, Alexander Vindman said he was "concerned" by the call.

"I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government's support of Ukraine," he said.

Trump was impeached by the House, but acquitted by the Senate. In February, the brothers were fired from their National Security Council jobs and marched out of the White House.

In July, following a delay concerning whether his name was included on the selection board for promotion to full colonel, Vindman announced that he was retiring from the Army after 21 years of service. Yevgeny Vindman has remained in the Army as a lieutenant colonel and military lawyer.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

Related: Vindman Retiring from Army, Lawyer Blames Trump

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