Nets Aghast Trump ‘Striking Back’ Against Impeachment Witnesses

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After being acquitted of the impeachment charges against him earlier in the week, President Trump apparently wanted to remove those who gleefully took part in the Democratic Party’s attempt to remove a duly elected president from office. Despite the fact they served at the pleasure of the President, all three of the broadcast networks were aghast that Trump would fire National Security Council Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman, his twin brother, and European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

President Trump is striking back, firing Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council Ukraine expert who testified against him in Congress,” announced CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell in a dire tone. “And this comes just two days after the President's acquittal in the Senate, and it’s raising questions about who's next on the President's list

CBS White House correspondent Paula Reid huffed that the firing came “just hours after President Trump revealed he still holds a grudge against the star impeachment witness.” She then played this soundbite of Trump: “Well, I'm not happy with him. You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I'm not.”

Each of the networks leaned on Vindman’s military career and family history as a crutch in an attempt to add sympathy to their lamenting. “The Vindmans immigrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union as young boys. Alexander Vindman, and Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient, told Congress he urged his father not to worry that he was speaking out against the President,” ABC’s chief White House correspondent Jon Karl gushed on World News Tonight.

The networks also sought comfort in the comments of Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who told the press he planned to defend Vindman from Trump’s “retribution.” Here’s Karl’s version of that information:

 

 

Defense Secretary Esper, David, said, quote, “we protect all our service members from retribution or anything like that,” but I am told this will not end with the Vindman, that the President wants what one person close to him describes as a “house cleaning” of those he believes have been disloyal.

Karl also commented on how the President was out to “settle scores”:

KARL: Earlier today, Kyra Phillips asked President Trump if he was out to settle scores after his impeachment trial.

KYRA PHILLIPS [TO TRUMP]: Your press secretary said your political opponents should pay. Who should pay and how will they pay?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, you'll see. We'll see what happens.

KARL: For Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, the writing was on the wall.

Over on NBC Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson reported that “Key impeachment witness escorted from the White House today, his lawyer says, accusing the President of exacting revenge and having Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman reassigned.”

Critics worry the President is looking for payback now that his impeachment trial is over,” Jackson added before playing a soundbite of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declaring “It's a shame. What a patriotic person. [Transition] This just, really, this just goes too far.” This was the same Pelosi who, just a day earlier, accused the President of being on drugs during his State of the Union address.

Jackson concluded with the breaking news that Sondland was being recalled from his post in Brussels. “And late tonight, we are learning of yet another key impeachment witness who has been pulled from his job,” she reported. “E.U. Ambassador to Brussels Gordon Sondland says late tonight in a statement to NBC News, President Trump is recalling him from his post immediately.”

The transcripts are below, click "expand" to read:

ABC’s World News Tonight
February 7, 2020
6:35:32 p.m. Eastern

DAVID MUIR: Meantime, the other news this Friday night at the White House. The Lieutenant Coronal Alexander Vindman fired and escorted out of the White House. The National Security Council expert testified under subpoena about what he says he heard on this phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine. Tonight, the President has now fired him and his twin brother, who also worked at the White House. Here’s our chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl

[Cuts to video]

JON KARL: Lieutenant Coronal Alexander Vindman was escorted out of the White House today, fired from his job on the National Security Council after testifying under subpoena during the House impeachment hearing. Also shown the door, his twin brother Lieutenant Coronal Yevgeny Vindman, who also works at the NSC.

The Vindmans immigrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union as young boys. Alexander Vindman, and Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient, told Congress he urged his father not to worry that he was speaking out against the President.

(…)

KARL: Earlier today, Kyra Phillips asked President Trump if he was out to settle scores after his impeachment trial.

KYRA PHILLIPS: Your press secretary said your political opponents should pay. Who should pay and how will they pay?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, you'll see. We'll see what happens.

KARL: For Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, the writing was on the wall.

(…)

KARL: Today, Vindman’s lawyer issued a statement saying, quote, “the truth has cost him his job, his career, and his privacy. He followed orders, he obeyed his oath, and he served his country.

[Cuts back to live]

MUIR: All right, Jonathan Karl also live here in the debate hall tonight as well. And Jon, we know Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman is still on active duty in the U.S. Army. And I know the Secretary of Defense today was asked if he'd be protected there.

KARL: Defense Secretary Esper, David, said, quote, “we protect all our service members from retribution or anything like that,” but I am told this will not end with the Vindman, that the President wants what one person close to him describes as a “house cleaning” of those he believes have been disloyal.

 

CBS Evening News
February 7, 2020
6:34:22 p.m. Eastern

NORAH O’DONNELL: Also Breaking tonight, President Trump is striking back, firing Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council Ukraine expert who testified against him in Congress. And this comes just two days after the President's acquittal in the Senate, and it’s raising questions about who's next on the President's list. Paula Reid reports tonight from the White House.

[Cuts to video]

PAULA REID: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was escorted out of the White House today, his lawyer said, just hours after President Trump revealed he still holds a grudge against the star impeachment witness.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I'm not happy with him. You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I'm not.

REID: In a statement, Vindman's lawyer said: “The truth has cost Vindman his job, his career, and his privacy.” The legal team also said Vindman’s twin brother, Yevgeny, a National Security Council lawyer, was also escorted out of the White House today. Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient and Iraq War veteran, is still on active duty and was assigned to the NSC. He was due to leave this July.

In November, he testified about listening in on the call where Mr. Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son.

(…)

REID: Vindman will now return to the Pentagon for reassignment, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he would be welcomed back.

(…)

[Cuts back to live]

REID: For months, the White House has insisted that it wants to downsize the National Security Council. Tonight, President Trump ignored questions about whether Vindman’s ouster is meant to send a message to those who testified against him.

 

NBC Nightly News
February 7, 2020
7:04:29 p.m. Eastern

LESTER HOLT: Also breaking tonight a key witness who testified at the impeachment inquiry into President Trump fired from his job at the White House. And late word, his twin brother has also been ousted. NBC's Hallie Jackson is at the White House with more.

[Cuts to video]

HALLIE JACKSON: Key impeachment witness escorted from the White House today, his lawyer says, accusing the President of exacting revenge and having Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman reassigned.

(…)

JACKSON: It comes three months after the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council was called by Democrats to testify in their impeachment case about that phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian leader.

(…)

JACKSON: The NSC is not commenting on a personnel matter. But Vindman’s lawyer says, “telling the truth has cost him his job, his career, and his privacy,” Adding, the Iraq War veteran, “did what any member of our military is charged with doing every day. He followed orders, he obeyed his oath, and he served his country even when doing so was fraught with danger and personal peril.”

Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient, was supposed to remain on his NSC detail until the summer but could end up back at the Defense Department within days.

(…)

JACKSON: Critics worry the President is looking for payback now that his impeachment trial is over.

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's a shame. What a patriotic person. [Transition] This just, really, this just goes too far.

JACKSON: Vindman was born in Ukraine but his family fled to America when he was a toddler, a journey he referenced during emotional testimony in November with this message to his father.

(…)

[Cuts back to live]

JACKSON: And late tonight, we are learning of yet another key impeachment witness who has been pulled from his job. E.U. Ambassador to Brussels Gordon Sondland says late tonight in a statement to NBC News, President Trump is recalling him from his post immediately.

NB Daily Events Trump Impeachment Conspiracy Theories Labeling Broadcast Television ABC World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News NBC NBC Nightly News Video Hallie Jackson Jonathan Karl Norah O'Donnell Paula Reid Donald Trump

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