Trump defends removal of impeachment witness

Trump defends removal of impeachment witness

Trump defends removal of impeachment witness

Washington (AFP) – President Donald Trump on Saturday defended his decision to fire an army officer who gave damning evidence against him during the impeachment probe.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was escorted Friday out of the White House, where he worked on the National Security Council as an expert on Ukraine. His lawyer called the move an act of revenge by the president, two days after he was acquitted by the Senate.

Vindman was present during a now famous July 25 phone call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden.

House Democrats who impeached Trump on allegations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress argued that the call was part of a concerted effort to coerce a weak foreign ally at war with Russia into helping him cheat in November’s presidential election.

Subpoenaed by Congress to testify at the House impeachment hearings, the Ukrainian-born Vindman, who received a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in Iraq, said Trump’s actions were “improper.”

That testimony helped build the case leading to Trump becoming only the third president ever impeached by Congress.

Trump attacked Vindman in a tweet on Saturday.

“Fake News @CNN & MSDNC keep talking about ‘Lt. Col.’ Vindman as though I should think only how wonderful he was,” Trump wrote, apparently referring to news outlet MSNBC.

“Actually, I don’t know him, never spoke to him, or met him (I don’t believe!) but, he was very insubordinate, reported contents of my ‘perfect’ calls incorrectly.”

“In other words, ‘OUT’.”

Vindman’s lawyer, David Pressman, said the army officer was “escorted out of the White House where he has dutifully served his country and his president.”

“The truth has cost LTC Alexander Vindman his job, his career, and his privacy,” he said. “He served his country, even when doing so was fraught with danger and personal peril.

“And for that, the most powerful man in the world — buoyed by the silent, the pliable, and the complicit — has decided to exact revenge.”

On Friday, Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union and who also testified against Trump, said he was being recalled immediately.

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