NEW YORK - U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman should not fear retaliation over his testimony to the U.S. Congress in its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told a small group of reporters on Monday.
Vindman, now detailed to the White House National Security Council, has been targeted by Trump following his Oct. 29 congressional testimony. Trump tweeted that Vindman was a "Never Trumper witness," raising questions about potential fallout on his military career.
"He shouldn't have any fear of retaliation," Esper said during a flight to New York, adding he had reinforced the "no retaliation" message in a conversation with the secretary of the Army.
Vindman was among the U.S. officials in the White House monitoring Trump's call on July 25 with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a main focus of the impeachment probe in the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives. According to a transcript of his testimony, Vindman said he had no doubt that Trump demanded that Ukraine investigate political rival Joe Biden in return for an Oval Office visit for the Ukrainian leader.
"This was about getting a White House meeting," Vindman said in his testimony. "It was a demand for him to...fulfill this particular prerequisite."
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