Impeachment trial: Trump fires two key figures who testified against him
According to a Trump adviser, the firings were meant to send a message that siding against the President will not be tolerated.
According to a Trump adviser, the firings were meant to send a message that siding against the President will not be tolerated. Trump, the 45th American President, was acquitted by the Senate on Wednesday of charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice, keeping him in office.
Sondland issued a statement saying he would be removed from his post hours after Vindman's lawyer announced that the military officer -- the White House's top
Vindman -- a Ukraine-born US citizen and decorated Iraq war combat veteran -- was escorted out of the White House, his lawyer David Pressman said in a statement, adding that the move was retribution for Vindman's testimony.
Michael Volkov, who represented Vindman when he testified in the impeachment inquiry, said Vindman's twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, was escorted off the White House grounds at the same time.
Sondland -- a wealthy
"I am grateful to President Trump for having given me the opportunity to serve, to Secretary Pompeo for his consistent support, and to the exceptional and dedicated professionals at the US Mission to the European Union," he said, referring to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Vindman and Sondland both had testified in the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry. He testified in November that Trump made an improper demand of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July 25 phone call that became the focus of the inquiry. Vindman said that "I couldn't believe what I was hearing" in the phone call.
Trump asked Zelenskiy to launch investigations into both Democratic rival Joe Biden and a discredited theory beneficial to
During that appearance, Vindman downplayed concerns that he would suffer payback for speaking out. "I will be fine for telling the truth," he said.
Yevgeny Vindman, also an Army lieutenant colonel, worked for the NSC as a lawyer. An Army spokesperson said both brothers had been reassigned to the Army, but declined to provide further information "out of respect for their privacy." A lawyer for Yevgeny Vindman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Representative Eliot Engel, Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the decision to remove Alexander Vindman was "shameful."
A source familiar with the situation told Reuters that Vindman would be reassigned to the Defence Department.
In testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, Sondland said he was following Trump's orders when he pushed Ukrainian officials to carry out investigations sought by the President.
The Ambassador also said he and two other officials - Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Ukraine Special Envoy Kurt Volker - were disappointed in Trump's May order that they work with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine policy at a time when Giuliani was playing a key role in pressuring the Ukrainians for the investigations.
Sondland said he and the other two officials followed the directive. He had also said that "inviting a foreign government to undertake investigations for the purpose of influencing an upcoming