Inside Vindman’s ouster amid fears of further retaliation by Trump

There are doubts among officials at the State Department and the Pentagon about whether their bosses would protect them if Trump broadens his purge. Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper have been careful not to break with the president during the Ukraine crisis. Pompeo, in particular, has lashed out at reporters who have asked him about his refusal to defend Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

“You look around and you see the adverse actions taken against people who testified under subpoena and it creates a real air of uncertainty,” said a lawyer for one of the witnesses, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the White House…

“Every career official will tell you it’s not just chilling but frightening,” said Fernando Cutz, who served on the NSC as a senior adviser to then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster before they both left in 2018. “You’re seeing things happen in an unprecedented way that even Nixon didn’t do. . . . The broader message to career officials is that you can’t speak up. Even if you see something illegal, something unethical, you can’t speak up. That’s the message the president wants to send.”