The Vindman twins returned to the Pentagon, where they awaited new assignments and the promotions to colonel which had been recommended by their superiors. “Everyone acknowledged that the reality for Alex would forever be different in the Army,” a person familiar with Vindman’s thinking told me. “They articulated that reality in different ways. If Trump won reëlection, his career would go nowhere.” One superior quipped that Vindman would be manning a radar station in Alaska.

Vindman expected to go to the National War College this fall—a low-profile assignment—then take another foreign posting. But, in a final act of revenge, the White House recently made clear that Trump opposed Vindman’s promotion. Senior Administration officials told Esper and Ryan McCarthy, the Secretary of the Army, to dig for misconduct that would justify blocking Vindman’s promotion. They couldn’t find anything, multiple sources told me. Others in the military chain of command began to warn Vindman that he would never be deployable overseas again—despite his language skills and regional expertise.