Last Friday, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was relieved of his duties at the National Security Council for nothing more or less than telling the truth in sworn testimony, provided under subpoena, to the House Intelligence Committee. The Trump Administration has made no effort to portray this decision, or a similar one with respect to his brother, Lt. Col. Yevge Vindman, as anything other than retaliation for Col. Vindman’s testimony.
This retaliation sends a chill through the ranks of government employees and seems plainly intended to do so. It is an affront to the First Amendment.
The State Department has yet to explain or defend its highly unusual decision to remove an NPR reporter from an upcoming trip by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a time when Pompeo is fuming about the public radio network.
NPR’s diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen was supposed to be the radio representative on the plane that will travel with Pompeo to the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan in the coming days. He departs for the UK on Wednesday.
On Tuesday afternoon NPR CEO John Lansing said the State Department “has been unresponsive” to its inquiries.
For more than a year, a federal ethics agency has instructed federal employees to steer clear of taking a stand at work for or against the impeachment of President Donald Trump, saying that doing so could run afoul of the Hatch Act that bars them from participating in certain political activities.
With Trump now impeached and the subject of a Senate trial, a union representing federal employees says that the controversial legal guidance from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) tramples on workers’ First Amendment rights.