One of the key figures in the impeachment of Donald Trump has described being forced into retirement by ‘a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation’, and likened the current government of the United States to the dictatorship of the Soviet Union.
Lt Colonel Alexander Vindman, 45, wrote a scathing op ed in The Washington Post on Saturday – the first day of his retirement.
‘At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment,’ said the Ukrainian-born lieutenant colonel.
‘Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving.’
Alexander Vindman testified against Trump in November 2019 during the impeachment trial
Trump, pictured Friday, was said to be more enraged by Vindman’s testimony than anyone else
He noted that opponents of the president are treated harshly, likening the treatment to that meted out by dictators.
‘Our citizens are being subjected to the same kinds of attacks tyrants launch against their critics and political opponents,’ he wrote.
‘Those who choose loyalty to American values and allegiance to the Constitution over devotion to a mendacious president and his enablers are punished.’
Vindman, an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient who until February served as the top Ukraine policy officer on the National Security Council staff, was due for promotion to colonel before he testified in November.
He said his promotion was ended due to ‘bullying, intimidation and retaliation’ by Trump and his allies.
Trump fired him in February.
An official told The Washington Post that Trump dislikes Vindman more than any other witness in the impeachment proceeding and noted that he was the first one fired from the White House when it ended.
‘The president said it was a ‘total disgrace’ what he did,’ the official said.
Vindman was born in the Ukraine but escaped Soviet Russia and fought for the United States
Vindman wrote: ‘The circumstances of my departure might have been more public, yet they are little different from those of dozens of other lifelong public servants who have left this administration with their integrity intact but their careers irreparably harmed.’
Vindman’s retirement was announced last month – after his promotion was approved by the Pentagon, but before it was sent to the White House for approval.
He was crucial to the December 18 vote in the House to impeach Trump – making him only the third president in U.S. history to be subject to such censure.
Vindman had told congressional lawmakers that he raised alarms about Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president, in which Trump appeared to make U.S. aid to the country dependent upon an investigation of Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his son’s business dealings.
‘I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen,’ he testified.
Vindman has said he does not yet know what he will do after his retirement.
Despite losing his career over this ‘painful’ experience, he stood by his testimony, he wrote.
‘America has thrived because citizens have been willing to contribute their voices and shed their blood to challenge injustice and protect the nation,’ he said.
‘It is in keeping with that history of service that, at this moment, I feel the burden to advocate for my values and an enormous urgency to act.’
He added: ‘To this day, despite everything that has happened, I continue to believe in the American Dream.’