It was revealed on Friday that three members of the Trump administration who made their opposition to the president known during the impeachment process were reassigned. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, were transferred from the National Security Council (NSC) to the Army, while Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, was recalled from his post.
Monday morning on Fox & Friends, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was asked if the American people could expect to see more White House officials fired or transferred in the near future, and she indicated that it was a definite possibility, the Washington Examiner reported.
Conway: “This is typical”
Conway began by noting that, contrary to most media reports, the Vindman brothers weren’t exactly “fired” but had merely been transferred out of a temporary detail, a perfectly normal and common occurrence, and that Sondland — as well as the Vindmans — all served at the president’s pleasure and could be removed or reassigned at any point for any reason.
Of the Vindman twins, Conway said, “They’re working at the Army — where they were. They were detailed to the NSC staff. This is typical. I’ve had detailees on my small staff. This is very typical in a White House to have a detailee for a temporary period of time who then returns to what their full-time job is.”
“In the case of Ambassador Sondland, here is someone who — it was nice of the president to give him that post in the first place,” she said. Conway went on to insinuate that Sondland had been a latecomer to Trump’s side, was never really a team player, and had only received the ambassadorship after making large donations to Trump’s campaign and inauguration. She also noted Sondland’s difficulty in keeping his own story straight during his impeachment testimony.
Additional moves possible
When asked if more removals and reassignments could be expected, Conway replied, “I don’t know. Maybe.”
There was mention of the fact that both the so-called “whistleblower” in the Ukraine controversy and the author of the anonymous 2018 anti-Trump op-ed published in the New York Times were still employed by the administration in some capacity, and Conway said, “Why would you want to be here if you don’t — if you’re spending your time writing books and op-eds instead of trying to at least do what many of us do,” which is to serve the president and his agenda.
Conway added, “Look, I’m always one who’s taken a look at the ‘deep state,’ but I would actually say the ‘shallow state,’ where you have people, certainly in this administration, that are probably holdovers and are also people who don’t believe in President Trump’s agenda” but are working for the president anyway while other people supportive of the president are kept out.
Right-sizing the NSC
While Conway played coy about the possibility of additional administration officials being fired or reassigned away from the White House, Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner reported separately later on Monday that, according to unnamed senior officials, President Trump was making good on his promise to “drain the swamp” by getting rid of at least 70 additional members of the NSC who were holdovers from the Obama era.
It was noted that the NSC had ballooned in size during the Obama years to around 200 members and that National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien made clear several months ago his intention to slim down the NSC to about half that size by transferring personnel and not filling vacancies.
The planned downsizing of the NSC was confirmed to Bedard by the NSC’s senior director for strategic communications, John Ullyot, who said, “This month, we will complete the right-sizing goal Ambassador O’Brien outlined in October, and in fact, may exceed that target by drawing down even more positions.”
The media establishment is trying hard to portray what happened with the Vindmans, Sondland and the NSC as some sort of chaotic and unprecedented retaliation, but in actuality, it is merely a long overdue housecleaning that is entirely within the president’s purview and something that will hopefully continue until all the bad actors and subversive holdovers are gone.