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Iran Press TV

GOP senators wanted to stop Trump from firing Ambassador Sondland: Report

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 09 February 2020 2:25 PM

Several Republican senators urged Donald Trump not to fire Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union and a star impeachment witness, but the president moved forward an ousted the top diplomat anyway, according to report.

The senators were wary that removing Sondland, who testified before the House of Representatives as part of the impeachment inquiry against Trump, would unleash a wave of political backlash against the president, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

They cautioned the White House against the move, seen by critics as part of a campaign of revenge against impeachment witnesses, especially since Sondland was reportedly planning to leave his post after the Senate trial.

The GOP senators reportedly contacted White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and legislative affairs director Eric M. Ueland to express their dissent.

A source told CNN that the group included Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Martha McSally of Arizona.

Sondland reportedly rejected the request to resign and insisted the White House would have to fire him if they wanted him out.

Sondland's removal came just hours after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, another key impeachment witness, was dismissed and escorted out of the White House, where he worked on the National Security Council as an expert on Ukraine.

Vindman's attorney accused the president of a "campaign of intimidation" after Trump called his client "very insubordinate" on Saturday.

The army officer, who received a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in Iraq, was present during a July 25 phone call during which Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to launch an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden.

Subpoenaed by Congress to testify at the House impeachment hearings about the call, Vindman said the president's conduct was "improper."

The testimony by Vindman and others helped build the case against Trump who was impeached by House Democrats for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The president, however, was acquitted by Senate Republicans this week.

Trump defended his decision to oust Vindman in a tweet on Saturday.

An adviser to Trump also said the firings of the impeachment witnesses was meant to send a message that siding against the president will not be tolerated.

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