Updated: Feb 18
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is leaving his post at the National Security Council, Fox News confirmed Friday.
The timeline of Vindman’s departure is unclear. Vindman was apparently planning to leave his post at the end of the month, but his exit could come sooner.
The news comes after reports that the White House was weighing options to dismiss Vindman from the NSC in an effort to shrink its foreign policy bureaucracy. Bloomberg reported Thursday that the White House planned to frame Vindman’s exit as part of an NSC staff downsizing, not retaliation.
President Trump on Friday, when asked about the reports, told reporters that he was "not happy with him."
"You think I'm supposed to be happy with him? I'm not," Trump said, adding that a decision will be made soon.
Meanwhile, several reports suggested Vindman could be reassigned back to the Pentagon -- a move Defense Secretary Mark Esper appeared to welcome.
"We welcome back all of our service members wherever they served to any assignment they're given," Esper told reporters Friday. "[A]s I said, we protect all of our persons, servicemembers from retribution or anything like that. We have already addressed that in policy and other means."
Vindman was an important witness for Democrats during the House impeachment inquiry. Vindman raised concerns over Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he pressed Kiev to launch an investigation concerning presidential candidate Joe Biden's family.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., on Friday blasted the removal of Vindman, calling it a "subversion of justice."
"People who disagree with me are not scum," Nadler told reporters Friday. "It's more than just settling scores. This is a subversion of justice."
The House voted to impeach Trump in December. On Wednesday, after a weeks-long trial, the Senate voted to acquit the president on both charges against him—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
During Vindman’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, he drew applause after expressing his love for America, when asked how he overcame his fear of being retaliated against.
“Congressman, because this is America. This is the country I have served and defended, that all of my brothers have served. And here, right matters," Vindman said. "I knew I was assuming a lot of risks. [My father] deeply worried about [my testimony]. Because in his context, it was the ultimate risk."