Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthIn politics, as in baseball, it ain’t over till it’s over Congress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Senate Democrats demand to see copies of Trump’s intelligence briefings on Russian bounties MORE (D-Ill.) lifted her hold on some military confirmations after she said Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperWhite House CTO chosen to serve as acting Pentagon tech chief Congress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Senate Democrats demand to see copies of Trump’s intelligence briefings on Russian bounties MORE confirmed to her that he did not block the promotion of Lt. Col. Alexander VindmanAlexander VindmanGOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over ‘bullying’ Marie Yovanovitch on Vindman retirement: He ‘deserved better than this. Our country deserved better than this’ Schiff to Vindman: ‘Right does not matter to Trump. But it matters to you’ MORE to colonel.
Duckworth, a combat veteran herself who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, had said earlier this month that she intended to block the Senate confirmation of 1,123 senior U.S. Armed Forces promotions until Esper confirmed Vindman did not face any obstacles in his promotion after appearing as a prominent witness in the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpWayfair refutes QAnon-like conspiracy theory that it’s trafficking children Stone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentence Federal appeals court rules Trump admin can’t withhold federal grants from California sanctuary cities MORE.
“Donald Trump’s unprecedented efforts to further politicize our military by retaliating against Lt. Col. Vindman—for doing his patriotic duty of telling the truth under oath—are unconscionable. I’m glad the Department of Defense was finally able to set the record straight that Vindman had earned and was set to receive a promotion to Colonel,” Duckworth said in a statement.
“We must always protect the merit-based system that is the foundation of our Armed Forces from political corruption and unlawful retaliation.”
Democrats have accused the Trump administration of trying to politicize the military after Vindman was ousted from his role on the National Security Council and escorted out of the White House following his testimony.
The Washington Post reported last month that government officials expressed concern that Trump would block Vindman’s promotion to full colonel because of his actions during the impeachment inquiry.
“Our military is supposed to be the ultimate meritocracy,” Duckworth said when she first announced she would block the military confirmations. “It is simply unprecedented and wrong for any Commander in Chief to meddle in routine military matters at all, whether or not he has a personal vendetta against a Soldier who did his patriotic duty and told the truth—a Soldier who has been recommended for promotion by his superiors because of his performance.”
Vindman, who was on detail from the Defense Department, returned to a position there following his ouster from the White House. His twin brother Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who also worked at the National Security Council, was dismissed from his position the same day as his brother.
Vindman ultimately announced last week that he was retiring from the Army after serving in the branch for over two decades. Amb. David Pressman, Vindman’s attorney, said in a statement that his client was retiring “after it has been made clear that his future within the institution he has dutifully served will forever be limited.”