President Donald Trump recalled Gordon Sondland from his post as U.S. ambassador to the European Union on Friday, according to One America News Network (OAN), in spite of objections from Republican senators who thought the move would look like revenge over Sondland’s impeachment testimony.
Sondland told the House in November that he thought President Trump was involved in a quid pro quo to try to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, according to NBC News, although the diplomat later had to admit that he didn’t have direct evidence of such an arrangement.
For his part, Trump asked Sondland to resign on Friday after being acquitted of impeachment charges earlier in the week, but Sondland reportedly said Trump would have to “remove him” if he wanted him gone by Friday.
The president followed up by doing just that, The Hill noted.
Revenge move or wise ouster?
Citing The New York Times, The Hill reported Saturday that a group of GOP senators including Susan Collins (ME), Thom Tillis (NC), Martha McSally (AZ), and Ron Johnson (WI) tried to stop Trump from getting rid of Sondland because they thought it would look like a revenge move on his part.
The senators lodged their objections with acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, but it didn’t do any good. Trump was sure something had to be done about Sondland, and he did it.
Sondland was reportedly negotiating an exit from the State Department before Trump’s ouster, which is another reason why the senators thought the president should hold back. But Trump apparently felt it was important for Sondland to be gone right away.
The power to recall
After Trump moved to oust not only Sondland but also U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman and his twin brother from their National Security Council (NSC) posts on Friday, Democrats predictably seized on the opportunity to label the occasion a “Friday Night Massacre.” (Because, of course, “Orange Man Bad,” and all that.)
But while Dems cry foul over these staffing changes, the reality is that Trump doesn’t need a reason to fire any ambassador, ever. As far as diplomats go, it’s completely up to Trump to decide who he wants to keep and who he doesn’t — and he doesn’t even need a reason, though he had plenty in the case of both Sondland and the Vindmans.
And they aren’t the only ones to recently leave the administration in recent weeks after testifying against the president in Democrats’ failed attempt to remove him from office. According to The Hill: “Jennifer Williams, who worked for Vice President Mike Pence, returned to the Defense Department and former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch retired from the foreign service.”
Democrats may be disappointed about this, but unelected bureaucrats should not be running U.S. foreign policy.
Maybe Trump should have just taken a page from the Obama playbook and fired everyone the previous president had appointed on his very first day.