- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 9, 2020

President Trump railed Sunday against a once-friendly West Virginia senator as “Joe Munchkin” and defended his decision to oust Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the White House National Security Council, refusing to forgive and forget after a nasty impeachment battle.

Mr. Trump hoped that Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who has tried to work with Mr. Trump, would vote to acquit him on charges he abused his power in dealing with Ukraine, giving him a bipartisan vote and key talking point.

Instead, he got the opposite, with all 47 Democrats and Sen. Mitt Romney, Utah Republican, voting to convict in a roll call that still resulted in the president’s acquittal.

“They are really mad at Senator Joe Munchkin in West Virginia He couldn’t understand the Transcripts. Romney could, but didn’t want to!” Mr. Trump tweeted Sunday, referring to a rundown of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that served as the linchpin of the impeachment case against him.

Mr. Trump also attacked Sen. Doug Jones, Alabama Democrat, saying his vote to convict will cost him his seat in 2020. And he resumed his attacks on Mr. Romney, suggesting his vote to convict undercut Republicans who opted for acquittal and face tough races this November.

Meanwhile, a Republican ally said the Department of Justice will vet information from Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, whose efforts to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden — Mr. Trump’s potential 2020 foe — fueled the impeachment battle.

“The Department of Justice is receiving information coming out of the Ukraine from Rudy,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “They created a process. Rudy could give information, and they could see if it’s verified.”

He said U.S. officials should be careful about any material from Ukraine because “it could be Russian propaganda.”

But Mr. Graham said it’s important for them to explore whether Hunter Biden had a conflict of interest by serving on the board of Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, while his father handled some diplomacy for President Barack Obama.

“How could Joe Biden really fight corruption when his son sitting on the Burisma board?” Mr. Graham said.

Taken together, the rhetoric suggests Mr. Trump and his orbit are not going to be chastened or change course after the impeachment saga.

The president seems intent on settling scores, moving Friday to transfer Lt. Col Vindman out of the NSC after he testified that Mr. Trump inappropriately pressured Ukraine’s leader to start an investigation Mr. Biden.

Lt. Col. Vindman was escorted Friday from the White House and will be reassigned to the Defense Department, causing some to question if Mr. Trump is being vindictive against a decorated veteran who testified under subpoena. The president confirmed, via weekend tweets, he had ousted Lt. Col. Vindman for being “insubordinate.”

Mr. Trump also recalled his ambassador to the European Union, Gordon D. Sondland, who offered damaging testimony to House investigators.

Mr. Graham said Mr. Sondland is a political appointee who serves at the pleasure of the president and Lt. Col. Vindman’s reassignment to the Department of Defense was justified.

“I don’t think he could be effective at the NSC,” the senator told CBS.

“As much as I support our military people telling the truth when asked — it’s important they do — what have I learned in the last two years? CIA agents, Department of State, Department of Justice lawyers, FBI agents have a political agenda and they acted on it,” added Mr. Graham, referring to probes of the Trump campaign in 2016.

The senator wants to know if Lt. Col. Vindman’s political leanings affected his work, or if he coordinated with the whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry by complaining in writing about Mr. Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.

“He’s never been asked [the question], ‘Did you leak to the whistleblower?’ ” Mr. Graham said. “I want the man to be asked about what he did with the information.”

• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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