AP file photo/National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, right, and Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, arrived to testify in November before the House Intelligence Committee in Washington during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump.
"We must not allow the United States to become a country where standing up to our government is a dangerous act." — Marie Yovanovitch

The start of Donald Trump's paybacks to those he views as enemies or those he thinks are disloyal didn't take long after the spineless GOP-majority Senate acquitted the president last week at the end of his impeachment trial.

First up was Nancy Pelosi, House managers, Mitt Romney and other politicians.

But Trump could only berate them, not fire them like Jim Comey. Not make them radioactive to the point of forcing their retirement, as apparently was the case for Marie Yovanovitch, whose diplomatic assignment — and recall — from Ukraine became a pivotal piece in the narrative of the president's attempted extortion of Ukraine when he sought to get the new president there to announce a bogus investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden in in exchange for tax-payer funded and Congress-approved military aid to fight off invading Russians.

(MORE: Ousted ambassador, amid cheers and a tweet, has her say)

Yovanovitch penned an op-ed in the Washington Post last week about our turbulent times and about leaving a 34-year career working for the State Department — a job she loved.

"We must not allow the United States to become a country where standing up to our government is a dangerous act," she wrote.


Now, according to Friday reports, the Trump administration has reassignment plans for Alexander Vindman of the National Security Council.

Vindman, too, was a crucial Democratic witness in the impeachment proceedings.

"This is America — here right matters." — Alexander Vindman

A decorated Army lieutenant colonel, Vindman amplified a whistleblower's alarm over the president's July 25 telephone call with the Ukraine's leader. In testimony before the impeachment inquiry committees, Vindman explained his actions to alert authorities up the chain of command about the president's inappropriate pressure on the Ukrainian president.

"This is America — here right matters," Vindman told the panel memorably.

Before Vindman's testimony, the only accounts of that call came from that anonymous whistle-blower whose identity has remained largely hidden to this day and from the president himself by way of a partial transcript of the call released by the White House. Trump apparently thought the partial transcript would show he had what he called a "perfect" call. On the contrary, the transcript, in concert with testimony, shows it was anything but perfect.

The White House intends to portray Vindman's reassignment, and perhaps other house-cleaning, as part of a downsizing of the NSC staff, not retaliation.

(MORE: Payback: Trump ousts officials who testified on impeachment)

The move would be cast "as part of a broader effort to shrink the foreign policy bureaucracy," two people familiar with the matter told reporters with Bloomberg News.

Or maybe to make more room for shysters like Rudy Giuliani and other under-the-table friends like the now-indicted Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas?

Meanwhile, Jennifer Williams, a State Department employee assigned to Vice President Mike Pence's staff and who also testified, left the White House last Monday after the vice president approved her request to end her rotation early. Her new rotation will be with the United States Central Command, or Centcom, according to Bloomberg News.

The words of Yovanovitch and Vindman should echo long with us.