Another high-profile witness in President Trump’s impeachment inquiry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, said Friday he’s been recalled.
“I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States Ambassador to the European Union,” Mr. Sondland said in a statement. He expressed gratitude to Mr. Trump “for having given me the opportunity to serve.”
The statement came hours after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, another witness in the impeachment inquiry, was ousted from his White House job with the National Security Council.
Mr. Sondland testified during the House impeachment inquiry that “everyone was in the loop” about an effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden. The allegation was at the heart of Democrats’ impeachment case against the president.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said of the move, “Firing Ambassador Sondland and a hero like LTC Vindman for telling the truth is yet more abuse of power by the president.”
“These self-serving acts won’t stop until Donald Trump is out of office, or Republicans finally decide to stand up against this petty retaliation,” Mr. Wyden tweeted.
Mr. Sondland, a hotel magnate, is a political appointee who donated $1 million to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee through companies he controls.
Tom Fitton, an ally of the president who heads the watchdog group Judicial Watch, approvingly called the personnel moves “cleaning house.”
Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the ousters of Mr. Sondland, Lt. Col. Vindman and his twin brother, Yevgeny, from the National Security Council are “clear political retaliation, the likes of which is seen only in authoritarian countries around the world.”
“In coming forward to testify about this president’s behavior, in speaking the truth, in raising concerns about events that troubled them as guardians of our national security, they carried out an act of selfless patriotism and love of country that most in the White House are incapable of understanding,” Mr. Menendez said. “Those who suggested President Trump’s behavior would improve following his impeachment have been proven wrong. I sincerely hope that all members of Congress condemn this latest reprehensible, yet sadly predictable conduct by President Trump.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, noted that Mr. Sondland is a political appointee. They serve at the pleasure of the president.
“No point in having a political appointee who no longer has the Presidents confidence,” Mr. Rubio tweeted.
He also noted that Lt. Col. Vindman wasn’t “fired,” but is still an Army officer.
“He was assigned to NSC to serve the President who has a right to have people he trusts on his staff,” Mr. Rubio said.