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Two days after his acquittal, Trump ousts two star impeachment witnesses

Stock Markets Feb 07, 2020 09:29PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lt Colonel Vindman testifies at House Intelligence Committee hearing on Trump impeachment inquiry on Capitol Hill in Washington

By Karen Freifeld

(Reuters) - President Donald Trump's administration on Friday ousted the two witnesses who provided the most damaging testimony during his impeachment investigation: Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

Two days after Trump was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate on charges of trying to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, Vindman -- the top Ukraine expert at the White House's National Security Council -- was escorted out of the building, according to his lawyer.

"Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth," said his lawyer, David Pressman.

Hours later, Sondland said he had been fired from his post as U.S ambassador to the European Union.

The two men served as star witnesses during the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives' impeachment investigation last year.

Vindman's twin brother Yevgeny, who worked as a lawyer at the NSC, also was escorted out of the White House, according to Michael Volkov, who represented Vindman when he testified in the impeachment inquiry.

Trump has said he is still upset with Democrats and government officials involved in the impeachment investigation, even after he was acquitted on Wednesday.

"I'm not happy with him. You think I'm supposed to be happy with him?" he said of Vindman on Friday.

An NSC spokesman declined to comment.

Vindman, a decorated combat veteran, testified in November that he "couldn't believe what I was hearing" when he listened in on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenskiy that became the focus of the inquiry.

Trump asked Zelenskiy to launch investigations into both Democratic rival Joe Biden and a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, colluded with Democrats to harm Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Sondland, a wealthy Republican donor and Oregon hotelier who served as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, testified that he was following Trump's orders when he pushed Ukrainian officials to carry out investigations sought by the president.

"I am grateful to President Trump for having given me the opportunity to serve," he said.

The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sondland's removal.

"This is as clear a case of retribution as I've seen during my 27 years in the Senate," said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Biden's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination suffered a serious setback when he came in fourth place at the Democrats' first state contest in Iowa this week.

Vindman's two-year stint at the White House had been due to end in July. An Army spokesperson said both brothers had been reassigned to the Army, but declined to give further information "out of respect for their privacy."

Another senior White House aide who testified over impeachment, Jennifer Williams (NYSE:WMB), left this week for a post at the U.S. military's Central Command, according to Bloomberg News.

Vindman downplayed concerns that he would suffer payback for speaking out when he testified to Congress. "I will be fine for telling the truth," he said.

Two days after his acquittal, Trump ousts two star impeachment witnesses
 

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Comments (21)
Tyler Phillis
Tyler Phillis Feb 09, 2020 9:54PM ET
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Trump is acting like a leader should when subordinates overstep thier authority. The entire Washington establishment has pitted itself against an elected US President. Those who’ve been fired are only the latest casualties...there are more to come.
Adrian White
Adrian White Feb 09, 2020 9:54PM ET
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Neither one of them overstepped their authority. They lawfully complied with Congressional requests to testify, and courageously told the truth. If Trump wants to fire them then he can. But they're not the ones who did something wrong.
Jon Benton
Jon Benton Feb 09, 2020 7:24PM ET
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Anytime you cant admit youre wrong PROBLEM ! Orange a hole
Dave DoggyDogg
Dave DoggyDogg Feb 08, 2020 1:14PM ET
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To put this in real life (not political) perspective, its not a surprise...if someone at your work tries to get you fired, would you want to be around them?
Adrian White
Adrian White Feb 08, 2020 1:14PM ET
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But just because he gave testimony which made Trump look bad, that doesn't automatically mean he "tried to get him fired". He is just an honest man who was compelled to tell the truth. Something admirable and rare in the WH and on Capitol Hill these days.
Tyler Phillis
Tyler Phillis Feb 08, 2020 1:14PM ET
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If you edit your post to remove the words “honest” and “truth” you’ll have a more accurate statement.
Randall Wagner
Randall Wagner Feb 08, 2020 12:06AM ET
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In essence traitors and not the last to fall. The arrogance of the left is stunning. Did you really think that you weren't going down the drain with Trump pulling the plug?
Scott Mitchell
Scott Mitchell Feb 07, 2020 10:11PM ET
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Drain. The. Freakin". Swamp.
Michael McNally
Michael McNally Feb 07, 2020 9:47PM ET
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Both were holdovers from the Obama administration and both are anti Trumpers working for the Democrats.
Adrian White
Adrian White Feb 07, 2020 9:47PM ET
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Michael, did you even read the article? Sondland was was definitely NOT a "holdover from the Obama administration". He was appointed by Trump who in his "great wisdom" decided to appoint Sondland to a post that he had zero experience for, simply because Sondland donated a million bucks to Trump's inauguration. The other star witness is a career military official - not an appointee of Obama.
James Pattison
James Pattison Feb 07, 2020 9:14PM ET
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The next fpur years are going to be even more glorious than the last... best POTUS since President Lincoln
Buzzy Jefferson
Buzzy Jefferson Feb 07, 2020 8:41PM ET
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Joe Biden is not and never was a "political opponent" of the President. Joe doesn't even know what town he's in. President Trump was elected to drain the swamp. Joe and Hunter ARE the swamp. These two traitors weren't paid to insert their political bias into their performance. They worked directly for the White House, and failed. Buh-bye.
Adrian White
Adrian White Feb 07, 2020 8:41PM ET
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Buzzy, please explain how Hunter Biden "worked directly for the Whitehouse". Lol.
Mike ND
Mike ND Feb 07, 2020 8:11PM ET
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Hangem High!! Traitors
Million Dollar
Million Dollar Feb 07, 2020 7:48PM ET
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All i see is a muddier swamp as time goes by. Im still going to see the USA turn into venezuela due to the likes of guys like Trump. Not because he would turn into Venezuela but becauss of the discrediting of the republican party because of the shxt he does
Million Dollar
Million Dollar Feb 07, 2020 7:48PM ET
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Which would result in electing a socialist like warren, sanders or worse
Knate Biro
Knate Biro Feb 07, 2020 7:48PM ET
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Million Dollar The two party system must die
Buzzy Jefferson
Buzzy Jefferson Feb 07, 2020 7:48PM ET
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rrright.. and things are going sooo well in your country.. ;)
 
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