Trump administration unlawfully punished impeachment whistleblower, report finds

‘We found, based on a preponderance of the evidence, that the Complainant was the subject of unfavorable personnel actions from administration officials’

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Wednesday 18 May 2022 19:51
Comments
<p>Donald Trump of escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine "either way"</p>

Donald Trump of escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine "either way"

Leer en Español

Multiple Trump administration officials violated federal whistle-blower protection laws by removing Colonel Yevgeny Vindman from his position as a National Security Council lawyer after he made “protected communications” alleging that former president Donald Trump violated US law by asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate then-former Vice President Joe Biden and his son during a 2019 phone call, according to a new report from the Defense Department’s inspector general.

“We found, based on a preponderance of the evidence, that the Complainant was the subject of unfavorable personnel actions from administration officials,” Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell wrote in the report, which was released on Wednesday by his office. “Furthermore, we concluded based on a preponderance of the evidence, that these actions would not have occurred or been withheld absent the Complainant’s protected communications”.

Specifically, Mr O’Donnell found Col Vindman made several such communications when he discussed Mr Trump’s request for an investigation with Michael Ellis, who then the National Security Council’s legal adviser, and John Eisenberg, who was Mr Ellis’ deputy at the NSC. Both also held appointments in the White House Counsel’s Office.

Mr O’Donnell also found that Col Vindman also became the target of retaliation by White House officials — including Mr Trump — because of his association with his twin brother, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, after he testified to the House Intelligence Committee regarding Mr Trump’s attempt to blackmail Mr Zelensky.

That retaliation began after the July 2019 communications with Mr Ellis and Mr Eisenberg, and first took the form of being excluded from meetings he would otherwise have attended and being blocked from contact with National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien — who he was supposed to advise on ethics matters as part of his official duties — and stripping him of responsibility for reviewing “personnel-related matters” and “sensitive internal investigations” even though he had been meeting with Mr O’Brien’s top deputy on such subjects for some time.

Col Vindman was also told to stop working on financial disclosure matters for top White House officials and ordered not to attend meetings related to Nato even though such meetings were squarely within his responsibilities.

Mr O’Donnell wrote that Trump administration officials actions to strip Col Vindman of so many responsibilities “to such a degree that no focus area was left untouched” reflected a “reduction in duties that resulted in his marginalization and isolation”.

The report found that the reduction in Col Vindman’s responsibilities was contemporaneous with a succession of derogatory remarks Mr Trump made about Alexander Vindman in the days after both Col Vindman and his brother were fired from the NSC, reportedly on Mr Trump’s orders.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in