Vindman Brothers Burning Down NSC From BEYOND THE RETIREMENT GRAVE
The Vindman brothers are back to burn it all down, baby.
Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny Vindman, twin brother of impeachment witness Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, filed a whistleblower complaint alleging retaliation by individuals at the White House, including the president and national security advisor. And now the chairs of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Armed Services Committees are demanding an investigation by the Acting (natch) Inspector General of the Department of Defense.
On February 7, both Vindman brothers were abruptly fired and escorted off the White House grounds in an unmistakeable display of retaliation for their role in Trump's impeachment. Yevgeny was a legal advisor to the National Security Council on which his brother was the Director of European Affairs. Both raised concerns with John Eisenberg, the NSC's legal advisor, about Trump's infamous PERFECT, PERFECT extortion call with the president of Ukraine.
Eisenberg was up to his beady little eyeballs in the impeachment mess, having buried the transcript of the call on the bin Laden server, helped Barr hide the Ukraine whistleblower complaint from Congress in violation of statute, and then signed off on routing the investigation of the whistleblower's concerns through the DOJ's Criminal Division, where Barr's stooge Brian Benczkowski was only to happy to bury it again.
And when it came to the Vindman brothers, Eisenberg was no less scummy. Yevgeny alleges in an August 18 whistleblower complaint that he went to Eisenberg on multiple occasions to bring up ethical and legal issues regarding National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien. Because that was Yevgeny's actual job.
In September of 2019, Yevgeny told Eisenberg that O'Brien was inappropriately accepting gifts and meals from private entities, and that he had lost his shit at NSC legal staff who pointed it out to him. Yevgeny also told Eisenberg that O'Brien was illegally using NSC staff for personal tasks, like scheduling haircuts, and also granting preferential access to business interests by mislabeling the meetings as "social calls." Eisenberg addressed the issue by instructing Yevgeny to stop attending meetings between O'Brien and private entities.
When Yevgeny went back in to say that it was unethical for O'Brien to take a taxpayer-funded trip with his wife to address his daughter's ROTC group at Brigham Young University, Eisenberg had heard enough. Can't have the guy in charge of ensuring ethical and legal compliance calling out Donald Trump's minions for ethical and legal infractions! So Yevgeny was "told that future ethics reviews involving Mr. O'Brien's engagements with private entities would be removed from his portfolio and instead vetted through the White House Counsel's Office." Nothing to see here!
But nixing the watchdog didn't magically put a stop to O'Brien's bad behavior. In January, Yevgeny reported multiple incidents of O'Brien and NSC Chief of Staff Alex Gray making inappropriate comments to female staffers.
According to the complaint, LTC Y. Vindman learned, in his capacity as senior NSC ethics official, of allegations that "APNSA Robert O'Brien and NSC CoS Alex Gray engaged in demeaning and demoralizing sexist behavior against … female NSC professionals." The complaint includes specific allegations about APNSA O'Brien and CoS Gray's behavior, which, if true, are unacceptable. For instance, LTC Y. Vindman was told that "NSA [National Security Advisor] O'Brien and the CoS Gray would inappropriately comment on women's looks, 'talk down' to women and exclude women from meetings."
Gross if true!
Here's the performance review Eisenberg wrote in July 2019:
Yevgeny (Yev) is the epitome of an Army officer and lawyer. He is a hard-working, disciplined, tough-minded team player who manifests the Army Values. He is unremittingly honest in delivering legal advice, without concern of repercussions. Yev does the right thing and is approachable and personable. … Yev is a top 1% military attorney and officer and the best LTC with whom I have ever worked. Functioning at the executive level, he advises White House senior staff with skill, tact, and judgment on matters of geostrategic importance. Sought by White House staff regularly, he can do any job in the legal field under unusual and constant pressure and scrutiny. Select now for SSC [Senior Service College] and promote immediately to COL [Colonel]. Absolutely unlimited potential!
And here's how Eisenberg described Yevgeny in April 2020, less than a year later:
During the prior reporting period and early portions of the reporting period, LTC [Y.] Vindman performed his duties satisfactorily. Over time, LTC [Y.] Vindman displayed increasingly poor judgment and failed to learn from his mistakes. On multiple occasions, his unprofessional demeanor made NSC staff feel uncomfortable. Despite express guidance from his supervisor, he continued to add himself to meetings with senior NSC staff where he did not add value. LTC [Y.] Vindman's substandard performance—his lack of judgment, failure to communicate well with his superiors, and inability to differentiate between legal and policy decisions—caused him to lose the trust of NSC senior leadership. … With additional counseling and experience, LTC [Y.] Vindman's performance may improve. He would benefit from additional experience in a slower paced work environment subject to less pressure and scrutiny. In time, he may become a better attorney.
Golly, what happened between July 2019 and April 2020 which might have changed Eisenberg's mind about the Vindman brothers? It's a mystery!
In fact, Yevgeny never got his promotion, and neither did Alexander. The White House sent a letter to the Pentagon accusing Alexander of creating a hostile work environment at the NSC, effectively torpedoing his career. They've both since retired, but the whistleblower complaint stands.
Will anything come of this besides yet another inspector general getting shitcanned if he dares to do his job? Who even knows! But John Eisenberg better hope like hell that Donald Trump gets reelected, because it's not bloody likely that a Biden administration is going to give him cover to assert some magical blanket of executive immunity to blow off a congressional subpoena.
2021 is coming, bitches. Lawyer up.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.