Trump removes impeachment hearing witness Ambassador Sondland: US media | News | DW | 08.02.2020
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Trump removes impeachment hearing witness Ambassador Sondland: US media

US President Donald Trump has recalled US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, shortly after removing White House Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman from his role. Both officials testified in the impeachment hearings.

US President Donald Trump recalled US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland on Friday after Sondland testified in the impeachment investigation against Trump.

"I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States Ambassador to the European Union," Sondland said in a statement obtained by US newspaper The New York Times.

US military expert on Ukraine Alexander Vindman was earlier "removed" from the White House, after also testifying in the impeachment investigation.

"Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth," Vindman's attorney David Pressman said in a statement, adding his client was "escorted" from the premises.

Read more: Opinion: Donald Trump's impeachment is not a waste of time

"The most powerful man in the world — buoyed by the silent, the pliable, and the complicit — has decided to exact revenge," Pressman added.

Ovation for Vindman at Democratic debate

Crowds at the Democratic presidential debate cheered for Vindman just hours after he was fired on Friday. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who hopes to run against Trump in November, called for a standing ovation in honor of the military expert. Biden also said that Trump "should be pinning a medal on Vindman, not Rush Limbaugh" after the president awarded the Medal of Freedom to far-right radio host Limbaugh.

Trump, who was acquitted on impeachment charges on Wednesday, indicated earlier on Friday that he would remove Vindman from his role in the National Security Council.

"You think I'm supposed to be happy with him? I'm not," Trump said.

Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman (picture-alliance/M. Brochstein)

Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman

What did Sondland and Vindman say during the impeachment investigation?

Sondman and Vindman, who served as director of European affairs on the National Security Council, were both present during the July 25 phone call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden.

"It is improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a US citizen and a political opponent," Vindman said during the probe.

This testimony, along with Sondland's damaging evidence was key in building the case against Trump. The president was impeached but the Republican-majority Senate acquitted him on Wednesday.

Vindman's twin brother Yevgeny, also a lieutenant colonel who worked as a lawyer in the National Security Council, was fired at the same time, according to US media reports.

Attorney Pressman said Vindman had "dutifully served his country and his president" during his National Security Council tenure.

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ed/dj (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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