Marine Fired for Speaking Out Against Chain of Command — Vindman Was Celebrated for Doing Same Thing
Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was fired from his job as commander of a training battalion merely a day after he posted a short video to Facebook where he demanded accountability from senior military leaders on the botched Afghanistan withdrawal, while then-Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was protected and celebrated by Democrats for doing the same thing.
Scheller posted the 4:45 minute video on August 26 at 8:47 p.m. ET, where he recognized he could be fired for his video, but concluded:
I want to say this very strongly. I have been fighting for 17 years. I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders I demand accountability.
Scheller posted the next day that he had been fired as commander of the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at 2:30 p.m. ET — less than 24 hours after he posted his video. He said in a Facebook post:
To all my friends across the social networks. I have been relieved for cause based on a lack of trust and confidence as of 14:30 today.
Scheller announced Sunday he was resigning from the Marine Corps in a new video.
Scheller’s initial video reverberated throughout the country, stoking comparisons to the treatment given Vindman — who helped launch an impeachment against then-President Donald Trump but was protected by House Democrats and the media, and ultimately approved for promotion by the Army and Pentagon to colonel.
Donald Trump Jr. weighed in on comparison between Scheller and Vindman on Sunday. He tweeted, “I remember when ‘military leadership’ wasn’t an oxymoron. It’s no wonder they can’t see the obvious coming anymore. The best bureaucrats and the absolute worst war-fighters are the ones that get promoted and make the decisions.”
I remember when “military leadership” wasn’t an oxymoron. It’s no wonder they can’t see the obvious coming anymore. The best bureaucrats and the absolute worst war-fighters are the ones that get promoted and make the decisions. https://t.co/DFrwd7hvq0
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 29, 2021
According to his own and numerous media accounts, Vindman had listened in on a July 25, 2019, classified phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky, and was upset by what he perceived to be Trump pressuring Zelensky to help him with dirt on then-presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.
Instead of filing a DOD whistleblower complaint, since he was a Department of Defense employee who was detailed to the NSC at the time, Vindman went with his twin brother Eugene Vindman, then an NSC lawyer, to tell NSC General Counsel John Eisenberg about his concerns, but he also then relayed the contents of that call to a friend in the intelligence community, who then launched an IC whistleblower complaint about the phone call.
Fearing the whistleblower complaint would be buried, the “whistleblower” and his allies in the IC then went to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA)’s office. The existence of the complaint was leaked to the media shortly.
After Vindman testified during the House impeachment inquiry of Trump in November 2019, the media demanded to know if he would be protected against retaliation.
A journalist asked at a Pentagon briefing on November 11, 2019:
Q: Alexander Vindman has been in the news. A lot of service members are going to be wondering if his career is toast after testifying? Should I take the risk of whistleblowing if I am witness to fraud, waste and abuse? What would you tell them …?
SEC. ESPER: You know, DOD has protections for whistleblowers. They’re guaranteed law, and — and he should have no – shouldn’t have any fear of retaliation. That’s DOD’s position.
Q: He meaning Vindman?
SEC. ESPER: He and anybody, any other whistleblower, right?
Q: Right, so you’re going to — are you going to be reinforce that message periodically?
SEC. ESPER: I’ve already spoken to the secretary of the Army about that.
Q: You have?
SEC. ESPER: No retaliation.
Vindman continued to serve at the White House until February 2020, when Trump removed him from his term at the NSC. However, Vindman was approved for promotion to colonel but instead retired in June 2020.