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Trump Fires Sondland And Vindman Over Impeachment Inquiry

Taking swift and harsh action against those who crossed him, Donald Trump on Friday ousted two government officials who had delivered damaging testimony during his impeachment hearings. Trump made the moves just two days after his acquittal by the Senate.

First came news that Trump had ousted Lt. Col Alexander Vindman, the decorated soldier and national security aide who played a central role in the Democrats’ impeachment case. He was escorted out of the White House complex Friday, according to his lawyer, who said he was asked to leave in retaliation for “telling the truth.”

“The truth has cost Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman his job, his career, and his privacy,” David Pressman, an attorney for Vindman, said in a statement. The Army said in a statement that Vindman and his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who also was asked to leave his job as a White House lawyer on Friday, had been reassigned to the Army.

Next came word that Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, also was out.

“I was advised today that the President intends to recall me effective immediately as United States Ambassador to the European Union,” Sondland said in a statement.

Alexander Vindman’s lawyer issued a one-page statement that accused Trump of taking revenge on his client.

“He did what any member of our military is charged with doing every day: he followed orders, he obeyed his oath, and he served his country, even when doing so was fraught with danger and personal peril,” Pressman said. “And for that, the most powerful man in the world — buoyed by the silent, the pliable, and the complicit — has decided to exact revenge.”

The White House did not respond to Pressman’s accusation.

“We do not comment on personnel matters,” said John Ullyot, spokesman for the National Security Council, the foreign policy arm of the White House where Vindman was an expert on Ukraine.

Vindman’s status had been uncertain since he testified that he didn’t think it was “proper” for Trump to “demand that a foreign government investigate” former Vice President Joe Biden and his son’s dealings with the energy company Burisma in Ukraine. Vindman’s ouster, however, seemed imminent after Trump mocked him Thursday during his post-acquittal celebration with Republican supporters in the East Room and said Friday that he was not happy with him.

“You think I’m supposed to be happy with him?” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “I’m not. … They are going to be making that decision.”

Vindman, a 20-year Army veteran, wore his uniform full of medals, including a purple heart, when he appeared late last year for what turned out to be a testy televised impeachment hearing. Trump supporters raised questions about the immigrant’s allegiance to the United States — his parents fled the Soviet Union when he was a child —and noted that he had received offers to work for the government of Ukraine, offers Vindman said he swiftly dismissed.

“I am an American,” he stated emphatically.

Trump backers cheered Vindman’s removal, while Democrats were aghast.

“The White House is running a two for one special today on deep state leakers,” Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, wrote on Twitter.

A Twitter account used by Trump’s reelection campaign, @TrumpWarRoom, claimed Vindman leaked information to the whistleblower whose complaint about Trump’s call ignited the investigation, and “colluded with Democrats to start the partisan impeachment coup.”

Former Trump NSC official Tim Morrison testified that others had brought concerns that Vindman may have leaked something. Vindman, in his own congressional testimony, denied leaking any information.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the firing was another example of how the “White House runs away from the truth.”

“Lt. Col. Vindman lived up to his oath to protect and defend our Constitution,” Schumer said in a statement. “This action is not a sign of strength. It only shows President Trump’s weakness.”

Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, recalled how Vindman in testimony before the House impeachment panel said that he reassured his worried father that would be “fine for telling the truth.”

“It’s appalling that this administration may prove him wrong,” Clinton said in a tweet.

At last fall’s hearing, when the senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, addressed him as “Mr. Vindman,” the Iraq War veteran replied: “Ranking member, it’s Lt. Col. Vindman please.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper was asked what the Pentagon would do to ensure that Vindman faces no retribution. “We protect all of our service members from retribution or anything like that,” Esper said. “We’ve already addressed that in policy and other means.”

Alexander Vindman is scheduled to enter a military college in Washington, D.C., this summer, and his brother is to be assigned to the Army General Counsel’s Office, according to two officials who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pressman said Vindman was among a handful of men and women who courageously “put their faith in country ahead of fear” but have “paid a price.”

“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,” Pressman said. “Lt. Col. Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”

Vindman Fired By Trump And ‘Escorted’ From White House

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, one of the central witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal, has been escorted out of the White House by security, according to a statement from his lawyer.

He had been detailed to the White House to serve on the National Security Council.

“Today, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was escorted out of the White House where he has dutifully served his country and his President. He does so having spoken publicly once, and only pursuant to a subpoena from the United States Congress,” the statement said.

It continued: “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.”

Vindman was a firsthand witness to Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he asked for the country to investigate his political opponents, including former Vice Presiden Joe Biden. That effort led to Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives and recent acquittal in the Senate.

Late on Thursday, reports had broken that Vindman was likely to be forced out of the White House. And when Trump was asked about those reports on Friday, he essentially confirmed them, saying: “I’m not happy with him. You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”

During his testimony to Congress, Vindman memorably tried to assure his family that he would not face backlash for speaking out.

“Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth,” he said.

In a  recent statement from the White House, Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham indicated that the president would be looking for vengeance of impeachment. Regarding the conduct of lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), she said: “Will there be no retribution?”

#EndorseThis: Randy Rainbow Warbles That ‘Quid Pro Quo’

Not that the impeachment hearings weren’t entertaining –especially when Fiona Hill finally took center stage – but as Randy Rainbow watchedhe kept wanting to “kick it up a notch” (maybe with a feather boa on AmbassadorTaylor). The dreary pundits who complain about a lack of pizzazz have no idea.

Now the Broadway singer and satirist offers his own take onthe scandal with “He’s Just A Gurl Who’ll Quid Pro Quo,” with tune lifted fromOklahoma but words and attitude all his own. When he puts on the pink glassesand calls out “Donald Jessica Trump,” then it’s on.

If you’ve never seen a Randy Rainbow video, you have a new treat here. And if you have, well, then you know to just click.

Danziger: Sondland Sings!

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.