Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth has put a blanket hold on 1,100 military promotions until Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper assures her in writing that impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alex Vindman will not be punished for his testimony.
Vindman, who had been staffed to the National Security Council as an expert on Ukraine, testified against president Trump during the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings in November. Vindman was fired from his NSC job, and there have been reports that Trump is pressuring the Pentagon to block his promotion to colonel.
Duckworth told reporters that her hold, which applies to 1,123 scheduled promotions to the rank of “06” (colonel or Navy captain) or above, could actually make things easier for the Defense Department.
The hold does not apply to the nomination of Gen. Gustave Perna to be the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s effort to produce a coronavirus vaccine by early next year.
Duckworth said it is unprecedented for a commander in chief to take interest in a single promotion at the 06 level and that Vindman earned the promotion if his name was on the list.
The Army declined to comment for this story, citing a policy of not discussing promotions until they are finalized.
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