The attorney for Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman accused Donald Trump on Sunday of making ‘obviously false statements’ about the Iraq War veteran hours after he was fired from his White House job.
The president fired Vindman, his twin brother Yevgeny, a National Security Council attorney, and EU ambassador Gordon Sondland in his ‘Friday Night Massacre’ following his failed impeachment trial.
It is widely assumed Vindman was ousted in retribution for his testimony against Trump, however the president took to Twitter to justify his actions, claiming he was ‘very insubordinate’.
Vindman’s lawyer, Ambassador David Pressman, said Sunday: ‘The president this morning made a series of obviously false statements concerning Lt Col Vindman.
‘They conflict with the clear personnel record and the entirety of the impeachment record of which the president is well aware.’
Pressman continued: ‘While the most powerful man in the world continues his campaign of intimidation, while too many entrusted with political office continue to remain silent, Lt Col Vindman continues his service to our country as a decorated, active duty member of our military.’
The statement came in response to tweets by the president defending his firing of Vindman from his post as an adviser on the National Security Council.
‘Fake News @CNN & MSDNC keep talking about “Lt. Col.” Vindman as though I should think only how wonderful he was,’ Trump wrote in a tweet on Saturday morning, purposely conflating MSNBC with the Democratic National Committee.
‘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,’ he continued.
‘In other words, “OUT”,’ Trump concluded. He is spending the weekend at the White House after dramatically firing Vindman and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland on Friday.
The firings came less than 48 hours after the Senate acquitted the president on all impeachment charges.
Sondland released a statement on Friday night which read: ‘I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately’.
The statement continued: ‘I am grateful to President Trump for having given me the opportunity to serve, to Secretary Pompeo for his consistent support, and to the exceptional and dedicated professionals at the U.S. Mission to the European Union.
‘I am proud of our accomplishments. Our work here has been the highlight of my career.’
The bombshell announcement came just hours after Trump fired Vindman from the National Security Council after the Army officer testified against him during the impeachment inquiry.
Vindman was escorted out of the building and told his services were no longer needed, CNN reported.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr tweeted about the purge on Friday evening, quipping: ‘Allow me a moment to thank—and this may be a bit of a surprise—Adam Schiff. Were it not for his crack investigation skills, @realDonaldTrump might have had a tougher time unearthing who all needed to be fired. Thanks, Adam #FullOfSchiff’.
Earlier in the day, Vindman’s attorney, David Pressman, released a statement about his client’s firing from the White House.
‘Today, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was escorted out of the White House where he has dutifully served his country and his President’.
‘He does so having spoken publicly once, and only pursuant to a subpoena from the United States Congress.’
He indicated Vindman was fired for his testimony to the House.
‘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,’ Pressman said.
Earlier in the day, the president did not deny the reports of Alexander Vindman’s imminent dismissal.
‘I’m not happy with him. Am I supposed to be happy with him? I’m not,’ he said to reporters at the White House on Friday who asked him about Vindman.
Vindman, a National Security Council aide, oversaw American policy on the Ukraine in his role on the NSC.
Vindman, who received the Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq, had told officials at the NSC that he intended to take an early exit from that assignment and leave by the end of the month, sources told the newspaper, but Trump wants to make a symbol out of the Army officer now that the president has been acquitted by the Senate.
Vindman testified at Trump’s impeachment inquiry on November 19, while Sondland delivered his damning testimony the following day.
Vindman, a Ukrainian immigrant whose father brought his family to the United States from the former Soviet Union, testified in the House impeachment inquiry after receiving a subpoena from Congress.
Vindman was the first White House aide who was on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to testify in the inquiry.
Dressed in his full Army dress uniform, he told lawmakers that he believed Trump acted ‘improper’ on the call.
At the time of the call, Vindman reported his concerns that President Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, particularly Hunter’s work for the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
‘I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. Government’s support of Ukraine. I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security,’ he told House investigators.
Meanwhile, Sondland’s damning testimony came the following day.
Sondland told lawmakers there was a ‘quid pro quo’ at play in U.S. policy toward the Ukraine.
The ambassador, who Trump put in charge of relations with the Ukraine, said it was his understanding that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s request for a White House meeting with Trump was contingent upon his opening investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election.
Sondland said he was not told why U.S. aid to the Ukraine was put on hold but said he guessed that was part of the ‘quid pro quo.’
Republicans point out the Ukraine did get the aid although Democrats argue that happened only after it was revealed Trump was holding it up.
Trump responded by claiming he ‘barely knows’ Sondland.
Additionally, White House aides are now reportedly weighing to remove or reassign other officials who testified.
Jennifer Williams, who worked for Mike Pence and testified in the House impeachment inquiry, left the vice president’s office for a new position in Central Command.
Her exit came two months ahead of a planned March departure.
Trump also fired a warning shot to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. The West Virginia senator hails from a state the president carried in the 2016 election. Trump has tried to woo Manchin to the Republican Party with no result.
Manchin voted to convict Trump on both charges in the Senate impeachment trial, which the president took note of. He also noted Manchin’s fellow West Virginia senator, Republican Shelley Moore Capito, voted for his acquittal on both charges.
‘I was very surprised & disappointed that Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted against me on the Democrat’s totally partisan Impeachment Hoax. No President has done more for the great people of West Virginia than me (Pensions), and that will always continue,’ the president tweeted Friday afternoon.
‘Every Republican Senator except Romney, many highly religious people, all very smart, voted against the Impeachment Hoax. @SenCapito was all in (a great person). I was told by many that Manchin was just a puppet for Schumer & Pelosi. That’s all he is!,’ he added.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who voted to convict the president on the abuse of power charge, is also expected to feel Trump’s wrath.
On Thursday, during his acquittal celebration at the White House Trump told Sen. Mike Lee – the other senator from Utah – to deliver a message to the people of that state: ‘Tell them I’m sorry about Mitt Romney.’
‘We can say, by far, Mike Lee is the most popular senator in the state,’ Trump said.
When he announced his decision on the president Wednesday, Romney said he expected the Trump to retaliate.
‘I’m aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters I will be vehemently denounced. I’m sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before god demanded it of me?,’ he said during his speech on the Senate floor.
Trump slammed Romney for using his faith to justify his decision during his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning.
He did not mention Romney name but his meaning was clear.
‘I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,’ the president said.
Romney, a devout Mormon, cited his faith as one of the reasons for his guilty vote. He voted to acquit the president on the second charge: obstruction of Congress.
‘The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a senator juror, I swore an oath before god to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before god as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced,’ Romney said.
The White House has indicated the president is in a vengeful mood.