Saturday, February 8, 2020

YOU'RE FIRED: Impeachment Witnesses Vindman, Sondland Removed From Posts

Photo: Al Drago for The Wall Street Journal
Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland had voiced concerns about President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s leader
Two central witnesses in the probe of President Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine were removed from their posts Friday, two days after the president was acquitted in the Senate impeachment trial.
Late Friday, Gordon Sondland said Mr. Trump ordered him removed from his post as U.S. ambassador to the European Union, effective immediately. Mr. Sondland gave some of the most high-profile testimony in the impeachment inquiry. He told House lawmakers that he urged Ukraine to announce investigations that would benefit the president politically, and that his actions were “at the express direction” of Mr. Trump.
Earlier, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official who voiced concerns about Mr. Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s leader, was removed from his White House post and escorted off the grounds.
Democrats said Mr. Sondland’s account backed up the central issue in the impeachment inquiry, but Republicans questioned his memory and truthfulness and said he was overstating the evidence for his conclusion.
“I am grateful to President Trump for having given me the opportunity to serve,” Mr. Sondland said in a statement announcing his dismissal. “Our work here has been the highlight of my career.”
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Mr. Sondland being recalled.
The other dismissed official, Col. Vindman, the NSC’s Ukraine expert, had angered Mr. Trump over his testimony in the House impeachment probe. Col. Vindman is expected to return to the Army, a U.S. official said, though his exact role is unclear.
“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,” said David Pressman, referring to his client Alexander Vindman, adding that he “was asked to leave for telling the truth.”
Asked about Col. Vindman’s dismissal, Mr. Trump told reporters Friday: “Well, I’m not happy with him. You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.” He later retweeted tweets critical of Col. Vindman.
Also dismissed and escorted from the White House was Col. Vindman’s twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, a senior lawyer and ethics official on the NSC who is also an Army lieutenant colonel. Col. Yevgeny Vindman didn’t testify to House investigators. Yevgeny Vindman’s future role in the military wasn’t clear.
Read the rest from the WSJ HERE.

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