Vindictive Trump purges critics who implicated him during impeachment


WASHINGTON: Retribution came swiftly to those US President Donald Trump saw as having been insubordinate and disloyal to him in what he calls the “impeachment hoax.”
Lt.Col Alexander Vindman, a decorated American soldier whose riveting testimony implicated Trump in abuse of power charges during the impeachment process, was fired on Friday from the National Security Council, where he was on deputation from the Pentagon, hours after the Republican-majority US Senate exonerated the President.
Such was President Trump’s anger at the perceived betrayal that not only was Vindman escorted off the White House premises by security, but his twin brother Yevgeny, who also worked in the White House as a lawyer, was also removed.
Trump did not spare even his own friend and donor Gordon Sondland, whose appointment as ambassador to the European Union on the strength of a $ 1 million campaign donation did not hold him back from testifying that there was a Trump quid pro quo with Ukraine. Sondland was recalled from Brussels with immediate effect – fired, in other words.
Trump made no secret of his dislike for those who betrayed him (particularly Vindman), having indicated they were going to fired and sarcastically asking media whether they expected him to be happy with Vindman after what he had done – acts which amounted to insubordination in his eyes but which critics say was legitimate internal dissent and whistle blowing expressed through the right channels.
“Fake News @CNN & MSDNC keep talking about “Lt. Col.” Vindman as though I should think only how wonderful he was,” Trump tweeted on Saturday after sacking him, denigrating even his military rank. “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 added, after the firings that was dubbed the Friday Night Massacre.
Trump’s liberal critics and Democrats raged at the Vindman firing (not so much sympathy for Sondland, who is seen as a party flak) while Republicans backed the President, saying it was well within executive right to fire staff for insubordination, with some of the lynch mob going as far as to suggest a court-martial. The Vindmans will return to the Pentagon to resume military service unless they choose to quit the military and take to politic that some liberals are hoping they would do.
“There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House,” Vindman’s lawyer David Pressman said in a statement. “LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”
A decorated combat veteran who won a purple heart in Iraq, Alexander Vindman and his brother Yevgeny, are Ukraine-born immigrants who became naturalized Americans and went on to serve in the U.S military. Detailed to the White House National Security Council as as Ukraine expert, Vindman testified last November that that he was disturbed by Trump’s call for Ukraine to investigate the president’s political rivals.
Sondland, despite being a Trump donor and appointee, later confirmed that the President pursued a “quid pro quo” tying military aid for Ukraine to political investigations.
Washington is now in the throes of “Who’s Next?” — a political parlor game about the next victim of the Trump purge. Several other officials who testified during the House impeachment inquiry have already left the government service quietely – among them, former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; her replacement William Taylor Jr., and vice presidential aide Jennifer Williams – all of whose testimony went against the Trump narrative that what he did was perfectly normal.

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