U.S. senator lifts hold on military promotions over former White House aide

Senate Armed Services Nomination hearing for Braithwaite, Anderson and Brown in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said on Tuesday she had removed a hold on more than 1,000 military promotions after receiving confirmation that Defense Secretary Mark Esper had not blocked the promotion of an Army lieutenant who was a key witness in the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a former White House aide who provided some of the most damaging testimony during an investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives into Trump's dealings with Ukraine, had been up for a promotion to colonel.

Vindman said last week he was retiring from the Army after what his attorney described as a "campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation" by the president.

"I’m glad the Department of Defense was finally able to set the record straight that Vindman had earned and was set to receive a promotion to Colonel," Duckworth said in a statement announcing the lifting of the hold she had placed on July 2.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Leslie Adler)