Armed Services, Oversight, and Intelligence Committees Urge DOD IG Review Retaliation Against Lieutenant Colonels Alexander and Yevgeny Vindman
August 26, 2020
Committees Release New Details Regarding Potential Legal and Ethical Violations Committed by Multiple White House Officials
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security sent a letter to Sean O’Donnell, Acting Inspector General of the Department of Defense (DOD IG), urging him to open an investigation into what appears to have been a concerted effort by the Trump Administration to retaliate against U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonels (LTC) Alexander S. Vindman and Yevgeny Vindman.
The request comes after the Committees obtained a complaint filed on August 18, 2020 with the DOD IG. The complaint details disturbing new allegations that the President and White House officials retaliated against LTC Yevgeny Vindman 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.
In the new letter, the Chairs write:
Based on this new information, it is all the more urgent that the DOD IG immediately investigate whether adverse personnel actions taken against LTC Alexander Vindman and LTC Y. 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. 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.
LTC Y. Vindman appears not only to have been punished for raising concerns to National Security Council (NSC) lawyers about President Trump’s July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but also for reporting multiple allegations that Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA) Robert O’Brien and NSC Chief of Staff (CoS), 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.
LTC Yevgeny Vindman outlined his concerns in a memorandum to the DOD Office of General Counsel within a month of his abrupt removal from the NSC staff, writing in March:
During the fall of 2019 to February 2020, I became aware of legal compliance and ethics violations involving Robert O’Brien, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor (NSA) and Alex Gray, Deputy Assistant to the President (DAP) and National Security Council (NSC) Chief of Staff (CoS). Specifically, there were allegations of sexism, violations of standards of ethical conduct for employees and violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act. These violations were within my purview as the senior ethics official on the NSC staff and NSC Deputy Legal Advisor. I notified my supervisors on the NSC staff and White House Counsel’s Office about each of these concerns. To my knowledge no action was taken. Consequently, my professional obligations persist. While any of these infractions are serious, together they form a disturbing pattern of flagrant disregard for rules. I fear that if this situation persists, personnel will depart and national security will be harmed. I request you inquire into the facts and allegations herein and take appropriate action.
In July, Maloney, Schiff and Lynch sent a letter to the DOD IG urging him to open an investigation into whether the Trump Administration sought to retaliate against LTC Alexander S. Vindman following his testimony before the House of Representatives during the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, including by taking retributive actions against his brother, LTC Yevgeny Vindman.
The full letter sent today by the Chairs can be found here.