The US Ambassador to the European Union and the White House’s top expert on Ukraine have been removed from their jobs after they testified against Donald Trump during the president’s impeachment trial.
Top diplomat Gordon Sondland, who delivered some of the most damning testimony in the impeachment proceedings, issued a statement on Friday saying he was being recalled from his post by the president.
Mr Sondland, a wealthy Oregon hotelier, was a Trump political donor before being named by the president to his ambassador post.
Mr Sondland told the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry in November that the president sought a “quid pro quo” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
It came just hours after Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was escorted out of the White House on Friday where he had worked on the National Security Council (NSC), his lawyer, David Pressman, said.
Lt Col Vindman told the impeachment inquiry that Mr Trump had made an improper demand of President Zelenskiy during a phone call in July.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” he said about the phone call, which was at the centre of the allegations against the president.
More from US
Kobe Bryant crash: Helicopter engines did not fail, say investigators
Facebook’s Instagram and Twitter accounts hijacked
UK’s new ambassador to US named following leaked memos scandal
Apple Watch outsold the entire Swiss watch industry last year
Kesha defamed Dr Luke in Katy Perry rape claim text, judge rules
Christopher Steele: Russia dossier author hits back at Trump’s ‘fake’ claims
He also called the conversation inappropriate.
Speaking about Lt Col Vindman’s removal from the NSC, the foreign policy arm of the White House, Mr Pressman 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.”
The lawyer added that “the most powerful man in the world – buoyed by the silent, the pliable, and the complicit” had “decided to exact revenge” on his client.
During the phone call, Mr Trump asked Mr Zelenskiy to launch investigations into his Democratic rival, former vice president Joe Biden.
Listen to Divided States on Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Spreaker
The president, who had long denounced the impeachment as a hoax, was acquitted this week with a vote in the Senate, controlled by fellow Republicans. The upper house rejected both charges – abuse of power and obstruction of justice.
Asked earlier in the day about media reports that Lt Col Vindman might be fired, Mr Trump told reporters: “I’m not happy with him. You think I’m supposed to be happy with him?”
When journalists further asked how he would pay back those who had given evidence against him, the president replied: “You’ll see.”
Lt Col Vindman’s two-year stint at the White House was due to end in July. According to reports, he will be reassigned to the Defence Department.
Lt Col Vindman’s twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, was also fired and escorted from the White House on Friday, NBC said.
He was working as a lawyer for the NSC, whose spokesman John Ullyot told the network “we do not comment on personnel matters”.
In a speech after the acquittal, Mr Trump attacked the Democrats for launching the proceedings. He was only the third president to be impeached in US history.
“It was corrupt, it was dirty cops, it was leakers and liars,” Mr Trump said. “This should never, ever happen to another president.”