Just days after the United States Senate acquitted President Donald Trump, he has sacked two key witnesses in the impeachment investigation against him.
Trump fired Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, just hours after dismissing Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman, a decorated Army lieutenant colonel, according to statements released by Sondland and Vindman’s lawyer.
“The most powerful man in the world – buoyed by the silent, the pliable, and the complicit – has decided to exact revenge,” Vindman’s attorney David Pressman said in a statement, adding his client was “escorted” from the White House.
The move has been seen as an apparent retaliatory decision by the president, as he looks set to clear his administration of people who have testified in the impeachment probe, which investigated Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukraine to pursue investigations that could help his 2020 re-election bid.
Sondland – a political appointee who donated 1 million dollars to the Trump’s presidential campaign – testified publicly that he believed there was a quid pro quo in Trump’s demand that Kiev pursue investigations.
Ukraine expert Vindman – who worked on National Security Council – was one of a number of Trump administration officials that listened in on a July 25 call where Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to do a “favour” and investigate his political rival.
Trump was impeached in December in the House of Representatives.
He was charged with abusing his office to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation of his political rival ahead of elections this year, leveraging military aid to lean on Kiev, and then obstructing the investigation by Congress.
The Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him earlier this week in a vote that was largely along party lines.
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