On Friday, President Trump took action to punish two of the witnesses Democrats in Congress called to testify against him, firing them from their positions.
As the Washington Post reports, Trump fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from his position on the National Security Council and had him escorted from the White House. Trump then ordered U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland to be recalled.
Both men testified before the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment process, both claiming President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Zelensky was unlawful.
Vindman’s attorney David Pressman confirmed the firing in a statement where he said, “There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House.”
“LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful,” he added.
Trump has "discussed removing Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the IC… Trump has expressed frustration that Atkinson allowed a whistleblower report documenting Trump’s alleged misconduct toward Ukraine to be transmitted to Congress." https://t.co/ggzUxJVNlx
— Cindy Otis (Pre-order TRUE OR FALSE now!) (@CindyOtis_) February 8, 2020
As BizPac Review reports, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi voiced frustration over Vindman’s firing, saying it “goes too far.”
Pelosi on WH removing Vindman from NSC:
I’m stunned by it. I’ll talk to my colleagues. They have concerns about (President Trump’s) interventions with the military.
Pelosi on Vindman:
What a patriotic person. This goes too far.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 7, 2020
Pelosi on Vindman’s expected departure from WH: “I’m stunned by it. I’ll talk to my colleagues about this because I know they have some concern about some of the interventions that the president has with our military. That’s such a shame. What a patriotic person,” per @jeremyherb
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 7, 2020
According to the Washington Post, Trump has been wanting to remove Sondland for some time but was advised against taking any such action during the impeachment process:
Sondland, who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, fell out of favor with the president after his testimony in November alleging that the president pursued an improper “quid pro quo” tying military aid for Ukraine to political investigations. Trump has long wanted to remove Sondland but was counseled against doing so during the impeachment process, according to officials who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal administration deliberations.
Vindman’s twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, was also removed from his job at the National Security Council, where he worked as a lawyer, and was escorted off the grounds Friday afternoon.
“I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States ambassador to the European Union,” Sondland wrote in a statement per BizPac Review.
Before Vindman was fired on Friday afternoon, Trump was asked about him during an interview Friday morning.
“I’m not happy with him,” Trump said per the report. “You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”
The report adds:
Several other officials who testified during the House impeachment inquiry have left the government, including former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; William B. Taylor Jr., her replacement; vice presidential aide Jennifer Williams; State Department official Michael McKinley; special envoy for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker; and NSC official Tim Morrison.
More firings are possible.
The president and his advisers have also discussed removing Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, though no final decision has been made, officials said.
Trump also voiced frustration for Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who previously sided with Trump but ultimately voted to convict him on the impeachment charges.
“I was very surprised & disappointed that Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted against me on the Democrat’s totally partisan Impeachment Hoax,” Trump tweeted. “No President has done more for the great people of West Virginia than me (Pensions), and that will always continue.”
“Every Republican Senator except Romney, many highly religious people, all very smart, voted against the Impeachment Hoax,” he continued. “Sen. Capito was all in (a great person). I was told by many that Manchin was just a puppet for Schumer & Pelosi. That’s all he is!”
….always continue. Every Republican Senator except Romney, many highly religious people, all very smart, voted against the Impeachment Hoax. @SenCapito was all in (a great person). I was told by many that Manchin was just a puppet for Schumer & Pelosi. That’s all he is!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2020