U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland arrives to testify before a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 20, 2019.
Loren Elliott | Reuters
President Donald Trump on Friday recalled U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a key witness in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, NBC News reported.
The move was reported hours after it was revealed that Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, another witness in the impeachment proceedings, was recalled from his post as a National Security Council staffer.
David Pressman, a lawyer for Vindman, decried the action as an attempt by Trump to “exact revenge” against officials in his administration who cooperated with House Democrats.
Just two days earlier, the GOP-led Senate voted nearly along party lines to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment that the House passed in December.
A day later, Trump lashed out at his perceived political enemies during a loud and lengthy victory lap.
“So many people have been hurt, and we can’t let that go on,” Trump said during remarks at the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning.
The apparent purge of Sondland and Vindman — and Vindman’s brother Yevgeny, who worked as an attorney at the National Security Council — came a day after Trump’s remarks.
In a statement released Friday night, Sondland said, “I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States Ambassador to the European Union,” NBC reported.
Sondland thanked Trump “for having given me the opportunity to serve,” according to NBC.
“I am proud of our accomplishments. Our work here has been the highlight of my career,” Sondland reportedly said.
Both of the Vindmans had been reassigned to the Department of the Army, a spokesman said Friday.
Sondland stunned lawmakers and Americans in November, when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee that Trump directed his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to pursue a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine.
Trump was impeached by House Democrats on Dec. 18 on articles of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to his dealings with Ukraine. Democrats accused Trump of withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Kyiv while pressuring Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce investigations into his political opponents.
Sondland, one of the so-called three amigos involved in the alleged scheme, said he had worked with Giuliani “on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the United States.”