On Friday, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was escorted from the White House, where he had served on the National Security Council. His twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, was also dismissed from the NSC.
Alexander Vindman had testified against President Trump in the House impeachment proceedings. He had listened in on the president’s telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and testified that Trump had abused his office by withholding aid to Ukraine until it announced investigations of his political opponents. Reportedly, Alexander is believed to be the primary source of information for alleged whistleblower Eric Ciaramella.
Although Yevgeny did not testify, there are unconfirmed reports that he may have had a role in leaking parts of former Ambassador John Bolton’s anti-Trump book manuscript, which is embargoed and under review at the NSC.
Alexander’s lawyer and the mainstream media are denouncing these dismissals as unjustified retaliations by President Trump. To hear them tell it, a position on the NSC is an entitlement that may not be rescinded.
Within hours of the Vindmans being put out the door, Gordon Sondland, who testified about Trump’s Ukraine dealings during the House impeachment hearings, announced that “the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States ambassador to the European Union.”
Sondland testified to his assumption that Trump had engaged in a quid pro quo exchange of U.S. military aid to Ukraine in return for that country’s assistance in investigating the corrupt Ukrainian dealings of Vice President Joe Biden and his wastrel son. Only after being pinned down on cross-examination did Sondland finally admit that, contrary to Sondland’s assumptions, Trump had explicitly told him that he wanted nothing from Ukraine other than for Zelensky to clean up that country’s culture of corruption.
As described by the hysterical media, you would think that President Trump had “settled all family business” in the manner portrayed in The Godfather’s climactic scene, in which Michael Corleone has the heads of New York’s five Mafia families whacked.
But the truth is altogether to the contrary. In May of this year, Alexander Vindman will enroll in the Army War College. This is a highly sought and selective program and a singular opportunity to advance one’s military career. It is open only to the favored few who are being groomed for top leadership positions in the military.
Similarly, Yevgeny Vindman is set to work in the Office of General Counsel of the Army at the Pentagon. Neither this assignment nor the slot at the Army War College can be considered as punitive. Put another way, neither qualifies as the equivalent of being reduced in rank and placed in charge of the PX at Camp Frostbite, Alaska.
As for Sondland, he is a hotel magnate who was a big contributor to Trump’s 2016 campaign. Recalling him is not the equivalent of terminating the livelihood of a career State Department official. Sondland can go back to his day job of running his hotel empire. And since the Obama regime is no longer in charge, he can do so without fear of the IRS auditing his company, OSHA inspecting his hotels, and ICE vetting his employees.
As retaliation goes, removing the Vindmans from the National Security Council and stripping Sondland of his ambassadorship is pretty weak stuff. Which raises the troubling question as to whether or not such pallid measures will be enough to deter others who may wish to emulate Sondland and the Vindman twins in any future coup attempt.
There are now reports that the House Democrats are gearing up for another impeachment. Given the positive effect that the last impeachment had on Trump’s approval rating and campaign fundraising, you might think that the House Democrats would be disinclined to do it again. But then such a conclusion would be premised on the belief that these people are rational. They are not. When it comes to Trump, they are bat-guano crazy and consumed by the kind of frustration and uncontrolled rage that drove Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to publicly debase and embarrass herself by tearing up the president’s State of the Union address.
Since the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result, you can count on the Democrats again impeaching Trump at least once between now and the November election.
That is why President Trump should seriously consider taking firm and decisive punitive action to discourage all deep-state partisans from promoting yet another impeachment hoax. In that regard, he has a positive obligation to the nation to make clear to one and all that they will pay a heavy price if they meretriciously participate in any future attempted coup.
The Vindmans and Sondland got off relatively unscathed. But if other deep-state denizens remain to be called to account, the president needs to take off the gloves.
George Parry is a former federal and state prosecutor. He is a regular contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer and blogs at knowledgeisgood.net. He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.