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Democrats press Pentagon watchdog to probe allegations of retaliation against Vindman brothers

Four top Democrats are urging the Pentagon’s watchdog to launch an investigation into whether there was a concerted effort to retaliate against two Defense Department officials tied to President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: GOP seeks to detoxify Trump at convention Harris honors Women’s Equality Day in op-ed, calls for voting reform Trump breaks with precedent on second night of convention MORE‘s impeachment inquiry.

In a Wednesday letter, the House Democrats asked acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to examine reports of retaliation against Lt. Colonel Alexander VindmanAlexander VindmanVindman describes ‘campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation’ by Trump, allies in op-ed Vindman marks 1 year since call that led to Trump’s impeachment White House officials alleged Vindman created hostile work environment after impeachment testimony: report MORE, a key impeachment witness, and his twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, who served as deputy legal adviser on the National Security Council (NSC).

The Democrats highlighted a “disturbing” complaint from Yevgeny Vindman filed earlier this month with the watchdog’s office that detailed allegations of whistleblower reprisal against military personnel by White House officials.

“It raises disturbing new allegations which, if true, would further substantiate our concerns that he was retaliated against for making protected disclosures about potential legal and ethical violations committed by multiple White House officials, including President Trump,” the Democrats wrote to the Department of Defense (DOD) inspector general (IG).

“Based on this new information, it is all the more urgent that the DOD IG immediately investigate whether adverse personnel actions taken against LTC Alexander Vindman and LTC Y. Vindman were carried out in retaliation for their protected disclosures, and that your investigation include a close examination of actions taken by White House officials,” they added.

The letter was led by Reps. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyThe Hill’s Convention Report: Trump rails on mail voting at surprise convention appearance | Republicans prepare for convention close-up | New York AG investigating Trump Org DeJoy defends Postal Service changes at combative House hearing Maloney threatens to subpoena postmaster general to produce information on agency reforms MORE (D-N.Y.), Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffJon Voight narrates intro to Trump convention DeJoy defends Postal Service changes at combative House hearing Katie Porter says she’d consider role in Biden administration, California Senate run MORE (D-Calif.) and Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithCBO: Letting nuclear treaty expire could cost billions Barr opposes possible Trump pardon for Snowden OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Midshipmen have COVID-19 | Worries about reopenings | Snowden pardon gets bad reviews from key lawmakers | Eyes turn to Democratic convention MORE (D-Wash.), respectively the chairs of the House Oversight and Reform, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs committees, as well as Rep. Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchCongress must enact a plan to keep government workers safe House committee requests hearing with postmaster general amid mail-in voting concerns House Democrats launch investigation into Trump administration’s repeal of silencer export ban MORE (Mass.), who heads the Oversight and Reform panel’s Subcommittee on National Security.

Democrats say the new allegations suggest Yevgeny Vindman was punished not only for raising concerns about Trump’s July 2019 call with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, where he pressed the foreign leader to investigate his political foes, but also for reporting ethics and legal compliance concerns about top officials at the NSC related to misused government resources and treatment of women in the office.

Those allegations pertained to Robert O’BrienRobert O’BrienUS officials announce first Israel-UAE commercial flight for next week Jared Kushner will take first commercial flight between Israel and UAE Sunday shows preview: Mail-in voting, USPS funding dominates political debate before conventions MORE, White House national security adviser, and NSC chief of staff Alex Gray. Yevgeny Vindman laid out the concerns in a memorandum to the DOD Office of General Counsel a few weeks after being removed from the NSC staff earlier this year. He remains on active duty with the U.S. military.

“There were allegations of sexism, violations of standards of ethical conduct for employees and violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act … I notified my supervisors on the NSC staff and White House Counsel’s Office about each of these concerns,” he wrote, noting that these concerns fell within his purview.

“To my knowledge no action was taken … While any of these infractions are serious, together they form a disturbing pattern of flagrant disregard for rules. I fear that if this situation persists, personnel will depart and national security will be harmed,” he added.

Alexander Vindman said his retirement in July was due to “a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies” that hampered the progression of his military career.

 “This experience has been painful, but I am not alone in this ignominious fate,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

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