A handful of Republican Senators Tried to Stop Trump From Firing Impeachment Witness

A handful of senators reached out to the White House to warn the president not to dismiss Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who testified in the House hearings. But Mr. Trump went ahead anyway.

Republican senators tried to stop President Trump from firing Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who testified in the House impeachment hearings, but the president relieved the diplomat of his post anyway, according to people briefed on the discussions.

The senators were concerned that it would look bad for Mr. Trump to dismiss Mr. Sondland and that it was unnecessary, since the ambassador was already talking with senior officials about leaving after the Senate trial, the people said.

The senators told White House officials that Mr. Sondland should be allowed to depart on his own terms, which would have reduced any political backlash.

But Mr. Trump evidently was not interested in a quiet departure, choosing instead to make a point by forcing Mr. Sondland out before the ambassador was ready to go. When State Department officials called Mr. Sondland on Friday to tell him that he had to resign that day, he resisted, saying that he did not want to be included in what seemed like a larger purge of impeachment witnesses, according to the people informed about the matter.

If they wanted him gone that day, Mr. Sondland conveyed to the State Department officials that they would have to fire him. And so they did, ordering him recalled from his post effective immediately.

Mr. Sondland’s dismissal was announced just hours after another impeachment witness, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, and his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, were marched out of the White Houseby security officers and told their services were no longer needed.

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