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Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the European affairs director on the National Security Council, was back in the news on Sunday, this time because the mainstream media claimed that he was fired from the NSC in retaliation for sworn testimony he gave to House Democrats leading the impeachment effort against President Donald Trump.
“Vindman booted from NSC,” Josh Marshall, publisher of the left-wing website Talking Points Memo, declared on Twitter.
“VINDMAN OUT AT NSC,” the official Twitter account for CBS’ “Face the Nation” claimed.
The reporting, of course, led some to accuse the president of additional “impeachable” offenses.
BREAKING: Trump has fired Lt Col Vindman, whose damning testimony confirmed Trump tried to bribe and extort Ukraine. This firing is an abuse of power and another impeachable offense. Trump retaliated against an American patriot, on Veteran’s Day weekend. Disgusting and pathetic.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 11, 2019
The reporting hinged on comments from national security adviser Robert O’Brien, who told “Face the Nation” on Sunday that a substantial number of people on the NSC will be returned to their respective government agencies in the near future in an effort to streamline the NSC, which has bloated to more than 230 individuals.
As O’Brien explained, the NSC is comprised of security and intelligence experts from numerous government agencies, who serve an appointment on the NSC before returning to their agency of employment.
“We’re streamlining the National Security Council. There are people that are detailed from different departments and agencies. My understanding is he — that Col. Vindman— is detailed from the Department of Defense. So everyone who’s detailed at the NSC, people are going to start going back to their own departments and we’ll bring in new folks,” O’Brien said. “But we’re going to get that number down to around a hundred people.”
It turned out that O’Brien was only commenting on the impending NSC staff reductions — not implying that Vindman would be fired.
Vindman’s lawyer, Michael Volkov, confirmed to CBS News that Vindman is still a member of the NSC and will remain on the council for the duration of his appointment.
“Still has a job — his detail ends in July 2020,” Volkov said. “Vindman is still detailed to NSC. We are not aware of any changes in his status. Obviously any retaliatory action against LTC Vindman on a day when we honor our military heroes would be reprehensible.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Gresham similarly confirmed to the Washington Examiner that Vindman was still employed on the NSC.
Perhaps the confusion could have been avoided had the media watched O’Brien’s interview further because when asked to confirm whether or not Vindman was being fired as retaliation for his testimony, O’Brien confirmed that he was not being fired. “I never retaliated against anyone,” he said.