White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien is denying that the dismissal of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council (NSC) was retribution for the testimony he provided in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.
Commenting on the ouster of Vindman and his brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, O’Brien insisted during remarks at the Atlantic Council think tank on Tuesday that the two were “not retaliated against.”
Instead, O’Brien said that “their services were no longer needed” and that he ultimately made the decision to recall both of the officials.
“The president is entitled to staffers that want to execute his policy, that he has confidence in,” O’Brien said. “We’re not a country where a bunch of lieutenant colonels can get together and decide what the policy is of the United States. We are not a banana republic.”
Asked if that happened the Vindmans’ case, O’Brien said, “No, I’m just saying we’re not that country — the president is entitled to a staff he has confidence in.”
O’Brien pushed back against describing the Vindmans’ recalls as firings, stating that “none of the detailees that leave NSC are fired.”
“It’s a privilege to work at the White House, it’s not a right. … The Vindmans had served there for over a year. Their services were no longer needed,” he said. “The president has to have confidence in his NSC staff to ensure that they’re going to execute the agenda he was elected to deliver.”
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