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Donald Trump dismisses 2 prominent impeachment witnesses

Vindman said it was inappropriate for the US President to require a foreign government to investigate a political opponent.

SNS | New Delhi |

US President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed two prominent witnesses who had testified against him in the impeachment trial, according to the report.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was the main expert of the National Security Council of the White House in Ukraine, and Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland’s removals on Friday came just two days after Trump was acquitted in the trial he faced in the Senate for his alleged pressure on Kiev to gain political advantage over his election opponents, reports Efe news.

David Pressman, one of Vindman’s lawyers, said in a statement that the testimony had cost the lieutenant colonel his job, adding to that he had no doubt that it was an act of political revenge.

At the November 19, 2019, pre-trial hearing in the House of Representatives, Vindman said it was “inappropriate” that Trump had asked Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Vindman said it was inappropriate for the US President to require a foreign government to investigate a political opponent.

The lower house inquiry sought to determine whether Trump intentionally blocked the delivery of military aid of nearly $400 million to Ukraine to obtain a Kiev investigation into Biden and the business of his son Hunter, who worked for Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment and marked the inevitable and historic end to a bitterly fought, divisive impeachment trial that will reverberate into the 2020 election and shape Trump’s presidential legacy.

The acquittal verdict was the final act of a four-month impeachment process that inflamed the partisan tensions simmering throughout the course of the Trump administration, the friction that boiled over during the State of the Union even though Trump left impeachment out of his speech.

Vindman also said he personally heard the July 25, 2019 call in which Trump asked Zelenski to investigate Biden, a Democratic candidate for November’s presidential elections, and alerted superiors after considering it inadequate.

Sondland announced his dismissal in a statement on Friday released by local media, in which he thanked Trump for giving him the chance to serve the country.

During his statement to the Lower House, Sondland confirmed the existence of “quid pro quo”, a Latin expression that means giving something in exchange for something else and that is at the centre of the investigation.

Earlier on Wednesday, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the Senate’s acquittal of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, saying he remains “an ongoing threat to American democracy.”

The Republican-majority Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump of abuse of power and 53-47 to acquit him of obstruction of Congress.

Earlier this month, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) “has redacted portions of 24 documents pursuant to the Presidential Communications Privilege,” OMB’s deputy general counsel Heather Walsh said in a court filing, cited by US media.

Ukraine’s former president had said that he discussed investments with President Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in 2017, but that he never discussed Ukrainian companies with any US official.

On December 18, President Trump was formally impeached in a historic vote in the House of Representatives.

(With inputs from agency)