President Donald Trump on Saturday said Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was removed from his post at the National Security Council because he’d been a failure at his job.
On Friday, Vindman’s White House assignment with the NSC was terminated and he returned to duty at the Pentagon. Also on Friday, Gordon Sondland, who as the U.S. ambassador to the European Union was a central figure in the administration’s dealings with Ukraine, announced that he was losing his job, according to Fox News.
Both men were key witnesses who worked with House Democrats in their impeachment inquiry. On Saturday, Trump tweeted his comments about Vindman.
“Fake News @CNN & MSDNC keep talking about ‘Lt. Col.’ Vindman as though I should think only how wonderful he was. 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, &….was given a horrendous report by his superior, the man he reported to, who publicly stated that Vindman had problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information. In other words, ‘OUT’.” Trump tweeted.
….was given a horrendous report by his superior, the man he reported to, who publicly stated that Vindman had problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information. In other words, “OUT”.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2020
In November, as Breitbart reported, Vindman’s then-boss at the National Security Council, National Security Director of Russia and European Affairs Tim Morrison testified to Congress that he had concerns about Vindman’s judgment, that Vindman had a tendency to go outside the chain of command and that he was suspected of leaking sensitive information.
“He did not always exercise the best judgment in terms of the policymaking process,” Morrison said, according to Breitbart.
Vindman’s attorney shot back after Trump’s tweets
“The President this morning made a series of obviously false statements concerning Lieutenant Colonel Vindman; they conflict with the clear personnel record and the entirety of the impeachment record of which the President is well aware,” David Pressman said in a statement, according to Fox News.
“While the most powerful man in the world continues his campaign of intimidation, while too many entrusted with political office continue to remain silent, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman continues his service to our country as a decorated, active duty member of our military,” Pressman said.
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida said Friday there should be no hubbub over the removal of Vindman and Sondland from important positions in the Trump administration.
“If freshening up that team going into the new post-impeachment era is helpful to the country, I’m all for it,” he said, according to Fox News.
In particular, he said Sondland did not impress him during the diplomat’s performance during the impeachment inquiry.
“Whether that meant exceeding the scope of his authority or whether it meant just sort of the bungling of assignments, I do not think he came out of the impeachment looking like some great diplomat,” Gaetz said
“I do not think it’s a surprise to see the president choose to make a change there [and with] Lieutenant Colonel Vindman,” he said.
Gaetz said Trump has the right to be fully comfortable with the people on the NSC.
“There have been a lot of concerns that the NSC may have emanated other leaks,” Gaetz said. “That’s obviously never something you are always able to track down and fully prove in evidence, but I think you want a president, and national security advisor to have full confidence in the NSC.”
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also defended Trump.
Col. Vindman wasn’t “fired” he’s still an Army officer. He was assigned to NSC to serve the President who has a right to have people he trusts on his staff
Sondland was a politically appointee. No point in having a political appointee who no longer has the Presidents confidence
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 8, 2020
Trump was asked Friday about Vindman before the former NSC member was ousted.
“Well, I’m not happy with him. Do you think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not,” Trump said, according to a White House media pool report.
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