July 02, 2020

Duckworth to hold up confirmations to ensure impeachment witness Vindman's promotion isn't blocked

Duckworth said her blockade on senior nominees would exempt Army Gen. Gustave Perna, nominated to lead the effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

Source: Politico


Sen. Tammy Duckworth on Thursday announced she'll hold up the confirmation of more than 1,000 military promotions until Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirms that the promotion of impeachment witness Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman won't be blocked.

Duckworth, a retired Army officer who lost both legs because of injuries sustained in the Iraq war, said she intends to block 1,123 promotions until Esper "confirms in writing that he did not, or will not, block the expected and deserved promotion" of Vindman to colonel.

"Our military is supposed to be the ultimate meritocracy," Duckworth said. "It is simply unprecedented and wrong for any Commander in Chief to meddle in routine military matters at all, whether or not he has a personal vendetta against a Soldier who did his patriotic duty and told the truth — a Soldier who has been recommended for promotion by his superiors because of his performance. I won’t just sit by and let it happen, and neither should any of my colleagues."

"This goes far beyond any single military officer, it is about protecting a merit-based system from political corruption and unlawful retaliation," she added.

Duckworth said her blockade on senior nominees would exempt Army Gen. Gustave Perna, whom Trump nominated to help lead the administration's effort to develop and produce a coronavirus vaccine. Perna was confirmed to the post Thursday afternoon.

"It is disappointing that Senator Duckworth would willingly impede the careers of more than a thousand deserving Army officers, many of whom are deployed overseas defending our country," a Pentagon official said.

"In addition, among those officers is the nominated next Chief of the National Guard Bureau, who, if confirmed, would be responsible for leading tens of thousands of Guardsmen deployed around the country helping local communities fight Covid-19."

Vindman, who served on the National Security Council staff, listened to President Donald Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019 and later testified in public before the House impeachment inquiry.

Trump has publicly attacked Vindman, and the officer was ousted from his job at the NSC after the Senate acquitted Trump of charges that he abused his power by withholding security assistance to Ukraine for his political gain.

In the wake of his acquittal, Trump and his allies have also ousted other members of the administration viewed as disloyal.

The White House pulled the nomination of Elaine McCusker to be Pentagon comptroller this year. McCusker did not testify in the House probe, but was revealed in emails to have questioned the legality of the White House budget office's freeze on Ukraine funding. She has since resigned as the acting Pentagon budget chief.

In addition, Gordon Sondland, who testified in the impeachment probe, was recalled from his post as ambassador to the European Union.

By:  Connor O'Brien