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House Chairmen call for Pentagon investigation into claims Vindman brothers were wrongly punished

Four House chairmen are urging the Defense Department to launch an investigation into claims that the Trump administration sought to retaliate against U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonels Alexander Vindman, who testified against President Trump during his impeachment inquiry, and his brother, Yevgeny Vindman.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who had a 21-year career in the military, was removed from the National Security Council in February after the president alleged that he and his twin brother falsely reported information about his phone calls with Ukraine’s president last year, conversations that led to the president’s impeachment by the House.

In a letter to Acting Pentagon Inspector General Sean O’Donnell, Reps. Carolyn Maloney, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Adam Schiff, chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Stephen Lynch, chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security, called for an investigation.

“It is all the more urgent that the DOD IG immediately investigate whether adverse personnel actions taken against [LTCs Vindman] were carried out in retaliation for their protected disclosures, and that your investigation include a close examination of actions taken by White House officials,” the chairs wrote.

The calls come after each committee received a copy of a complaint filed last week with the Pentagon’s inspector general detailing allegations that Mr. Trump and White House officials retaliated against the brothers for “making protected disclosures, including about President Trump’s July 25, 2019 call with the Ukrainian President and serious allegations of legal and ethical violations committed by senior White House officials.”

The lawmakers also suggest that Yevgeny Vindman appears to have been punished for not only raising concerns about the call, but also for alleging that National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and his chief of staff Alex Gray “committed several ethics and legal compliance violations, 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.”

Mr. Trump suggested earlier this year that the U.S. military should look at disciplinary action against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper at the time said that military officers are free from “retribution” when they return to the Pentagon from jobs elsewhere.

But Lt. Col. Vindman’s promotion to colonel was indefinitely stalled and he retired from the U.S. Army last month, citing fears that his career will always be hindered and limited due to political retaliation from Mr. Trump and his allies.

The lawmakers warned that “if the White House refuses to cooperate fully—including by denying requests for documents or for interviews with White House officials — we will have no other choice but to infer that any such actions were retaliatory.”

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Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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