Duckworth lifts her hold on military promotions after Esper assurance on Vindman

Sen. Tammy Duckworth has lifted her hold on 1,123 senior military promotions after receiving confirmation that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper did not block the promotion of Lt. Col. Vindman, she said in a statement Tuesday.

The Hoffman Estates Democrat said that in the previous 24 hours the U.S. Department of Defense confirmed in writing to Duckworth that Vindman was selected by the Army promotion board to be promoted to colonel, that the Secretary of the Army approved this recommendation and submitted it for approval, and that the Department of Defense signed off on and submitted the Army promotions packet without modification to the White House.

Duckworth said July 2 she was blocking the promotions until she got assurances from Esper that he did not and would not retaliate against an Army officer for his role in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. Esper later said he did not block Vindman's promotion and sent it on to the White House.

Vindman, who received a Purple Heart for his actions in Iraq and later served as a White House aide on European affairs, was among hundreds of officers selected to be promoted to colonel this year. He resigned from the Army on July 8.

In February, the White House ousted Vindman from his post on the National Security Council. He had testified to Congress in November that he was disturbed by Trump's call for Ukraine to investigate the president's political rivals. Asked at the time about Vindman's future, the president said only that he was "not happy with him."

"Donald Trump's unprecedented efforts to further politicize our military by retaliating against Lt. Col. Vindman - for doing his patriotic duty of telling the truth under oath - are unconscionable," Duckworth's statement Tuesday said. "I'm glad the Department of Defense was finally able to set the record straight that Vindman had earned and was set to receive a promotion to Colonel. We must always protect the merit-based system that is the foundation of our Armed Forces from political corruption and unlawful retaliation."

Alexander Vindman is sworn in to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington during a public impeachment hearing on President Donald Trump. Associated press, november 2019
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