A group of Republican senators attempted to stop President Trump from ousting U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland this week, though the president removed the now-former diplomat from his post anyway, sources told The New York Times.
According to the paper’s sources, the group of GOP senators – Susan Collins (Maine), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Martha McSally (Ariz.) and Ron Johnson (Wisc.) – thought the ousting of Sondland would look bad, especially since he was already in talks senior officials about leaving his post after the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial.
However, on Friday, State Department officials informed Sondland that he needed to resign by the end of the day.
Sondland pushed back, reportedly saying that if they wanted him gone on Friday, they would have to remove him. The president then recalled him from his post, effective immediately the newspaper reported.
The announcement of Sondland’s ouster came just hours after National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman and his twin brother were removed from their posts.
Vindman and Sondland were both key witnesses in House Democrats’ impeachment hearings, but the Times says that the group of lawmakers only registered concern about Sondland’s ouster, not Vindman’s.
The group conveyed its concerns to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and legislative affairs director Eric Ueland.
A senior official confirmed the lawmakers’ outreach, but the White House declined the Times’ request for comment.
The oustings have been dubbed a “Friday night massacre” by Democrats who view the moves as vindication for Trump after the president was acquitted on Wednesday in the Senate impeachment trial.
Trump addressed Vindman’s removal on Twitter Saturday morning, saying that he never knew or spoke to Vindman.
….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”.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2020
Other government officials who testified in the House hearings have also left the administration recently.