Two days after voting to acquit President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, several Republican senators attempted to stop him from firing EU ambassador Gordon Sondland to no success.
According to a New York Times report Saturday evening, people briefed on the discussion said that the Republican senators were worried about the optics of Trump firing the EU ambassador — who testified in the impeachment inquiry that “we followed the President’s orders” and that “everyone was in the loop” regarding the Ukraine pressure campaign — and argued that his ouster was unnecessary since he had already begun floating the idea of his departure after the Senate trial with senior officials.
The Republican senators reportedly told White House officials that Sondland should have determined his own departure in order to prevent political backlash. According to the Times, the Republican senators included Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Ron Johnson (R-WI).
However, Trump wanted to make a point by forcing Sondland’s ouster. Sondland resisted when he received a call from State Department officials Friday who told him that he needed to resign. People informed about the matter told the Times that Sondland did not want to be seen as part of a purged group of impeachment witnesses.
Sondland told State Department officials that they would have to fire him if they wanted him gone last Friday when he received the call, which Trump responded by recalling him from his post effective immediately.
Sondland’s dismissal came just hours after House impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his twin brother Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman were ousted by the White House earlier Friday.
Read the New York Times’ report here.