Key Trump impeachment witness Alexander Vindman says coming forward ended my career in scathing op-ed

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Lieutenant colonel Alexander Vindman has accused the president of “bullying and intimidation” and said coming forward helped “end his career” in an op-ed with The Washington Post.

“After 21 years, six months and 10 days of active military service, I am now a civilian. I made the difficult decision to retire because a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies forever limited the progression of my military career,” he wrote.

Mr Vindman experienced attacks from President Trump after he testified before Congress during the president’s impeachment hearings. His testimony became key in the impeachment inquiry, as he expressed alarm over Mr Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. During the phone call, Mr Trump asked for the country to open an investigation into political rival Joe Biden.

His op-ed went on to warn about the dangers of the Trump administration against those who speak out about the president.

“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. 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,” he wrote.

The Iraq veteran and Purple Heart recipient was born in the Soviet Union but left at the age of three following the death of his mother.

He found himself in the public eye after being assigned as a member of the Trump administration’s National Security Council. Congress subpoenaed Mr Vindman to testify during the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry, making him the first from the White House to speak under oath about Mr Trump.

“During my testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, I reassured my father, who experienced Soviet authoritarianism firsthand, saying, ‘Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.’ Despite Trump’s retaliation, I stand by that conviction,” he wrote.

After Mr Vindman’s testimony, he was denounced by the president and subject to repeated attacks from Republicans.

Then this summer, his promotion to colonel from lieutenant colonel for the Army was delayed, sparking questions it was one way the president was retaliating against Mr Vindman. One day after the Pentagon approved Mr Vindman’s promotion, the man submitted a letter of resignation on 7 July. His retirement went into effect on 1 August.

The decision for Mr Vindman to resignation came as he believed staying would result in more retaliation from the president and allies. But despite losing his career over this “painful” experience, he stood by his testimony.

“America has thrived because citizens have been willing to contribute their voices and shed their blood to challenge injustice and protect the nation. 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 wrote.

He added: “To this day, despite everything that has happened, I continue to believe in the American Dream.”

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