WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A former White House lawyer contends he was fired for reporting concerns about President Donald Trump’s efforts to have Ukraine investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and about alleged legal and ethical breaches by Trump’s national security adviser, Democratic lawmakers said on Wednesday.
Army Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny Vindman filed an Aug. 18 complaint making the allegations with the Pentagon watchdog, the chairs of three U.S. House of Representatives committees said in a letter to acting Pentagon Inspector General Sean O’Donnell.
The lawmakers said Vindman also alleged National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and National Security Council Chief of Staff Alex Gray misused government resources, excluded women from meetings, and made sexist and demeaning remarks to female NSC staffers.
They urged O’Donnell to investigate whether Trump fired Vindman as deputy National Security Council legal adviser in retaliation for filing confidential reports with his superiors containing his allegations.
White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah said in a statement: “These allegations are ridiculous and false.” Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for O’Donnell, said his office “has the letter and is reviewing the request.”
O’Donnell also should investigate whether Trump and his aides fired Vindman’s twin brother, Alexander Vindman, in retaliation for testifying in House proceedings that led to Trump’s impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress last year, the lawmakers said.
Alexander Vindman, then the top NSC expert on Ukraine and an Army lieutenant colonel, served at the White House at the same time as his twin, an Army lawyer. Trump fired both in February and Alexander Vindman retired from the Army.
The Democratic-led House found that Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden, a former vice president and Trump’s opponent in the Nov. 3 election, and his son, Hunter, over unproven conspiracy theories.
Trump denied the charges. The Republican-controlled Senate in January acquitted the president without a trial.
Yevgeny Vindman’s complaint disclosed for the first time that he raised “reasonable and good faith” concerns in a “protected disclosure” to his superiors about a July 25, 2019, phone call Trump had with Zelenskiy.
(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Mary Milliken and Howard Goller)