Trump dismisses 2 prominent impeachment witnesses

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondlan

Washington,  US President Donald Trump has dismissed two prominent witnesses who had testified against him in the impeachment trial, it was reported.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who was the main expert of the National Security Council of the White House in Ukraine, and Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland’s removals on Friday came just two days after Trump was acquitted in the trial he faced in the Senate for his alleged pressure on Kiev to gain political advantage over his election opponents, reports Efe news.

In a statement, David Pressman, one of Vindman’s lawyers, said the testimony had cost the lieutenant colonel his job, adding that he had no doubt that it was an act of political revenge.

At the November 19, 2019 pre-trial hearing in the House of Representatives, Vindman said it was “inappropriate” that Trump had asked Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Vindman said it was inappropriate for the US President to require a foreign government to investigate a political opponent.

The lower house inquiry sought to determine whether Trump intentionally blocked the delivery of military aid of nearly $400 million to Ukraine to obtain a Kiev investigation into Biden and the business of his son Hunter, who worked for Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

Vindman said he thought then Ukrainian attorney general Yuri Lutsenko and Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani “promoted a false narrative” that undermined US policy in Ukraine, adding that the military serves the country and not a particular political party.

The lieutenant colonel then complained about the government’s and Trump’s attacks on public officials, who testified in the investigations prior to the impeachment.

Vindman also said he personally heard the July 25, 2019 call in which Trump asked Zelenski to investigate Biden, a Democratic candidate for November’s presidential elections, and alerted superiors after considering it inadequate.

It was revealed hours after Vindman’s dismissal that Sondland, who said Trump ordered the Ukraine proposal through Giuliani by conditioning military aid to the country to an investigation into the Bidens family.

Sondland announced his dismissal in a statement on Friday released by local media, in which he thanked Trump for giving him the chance to serve the country.

During his statement to the Lower House, Sondland confirmed the existence of “quid pro quo”, a Latin expression that means giving something in exchange for something else and that is at the centre of the investigation.