Day 1,114: Trump, like a fascist, fires witnesses who testified in impeachment probe
If Donald Trump wants to stop appearing like a wannabe fascist — and there’s zero evidence he does — he should stop acting like one. In his zealous and multi-year quest for near-authoritarian powers, he has surrounded himself with bootlickers and enablers. Additionally, the GOP has repeatedly signed off on his desires.
His latest act: firing witnesses who testified truthfully about the Ukraine scandal.
President Trump wasted little time on Friday opening a campaign of retribution against those he blames for his impeachment, firing two of the most prominent witnesses in the House inquiry against him barely 48 hours after being acquitted by the Senate.
Emboldened by his victory and determined to strike back, Mr. Trump ordered Gordon D. Sondland, the founder of a hotel chain who donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee, recalled from his post as the ambassador to the European Union on the same day that Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran on the National Security Council staff, was marched out of the White House by security guards.
The ousters of Mr. Sondland and Colonel Vindman — along with Mr. Vindman’s brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an Army officer who also worked on the National Security Council staff — may only presage a broader effort to even accounts with the president’s perceived enemies. In the two days since his acquittal in the Senate, Mr. Trump has railed about those who stood against him, calling them “evil,” “corrupt” and “crooked,” while his press secretary declared that those who hurt the president “should pay for” it.
The White House made no effort to portray the ousters as anything other than a response to the impeachment battle now that it has ended. Mr. Trump foreshadowed Colonel Vindman’s fate hours ahead of time. “Well, I’m not happy with him,” the president said. “You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”
The firings serve the dual purpose of punishing those who stood up during the impeachment investigation while also sending a message to those inclined to do so in the future. More punishments for witnesses — and even non-witnesses like former National Security Advisor John Bolton — are a near certainty.
Of course, Vindman and Sondland did something that Trump could not and would not do: raise their right hand and swear to tell the truth about what they knew. They did so after subpoenas compelled them to appear before the House and testify. Meanwhile, Trump hid behind lawyers and used a faux and broad application of executive privilege to prevent others from testifying.
The GOP, yet again, collectively shrugs and buries its head in the sand as a purple heart recipient and an ambassador that Trump personally selected are thrown by the wayside out of anger by a man who sees himself as above the law.
1,114 days in, 348 to go
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