GOP leader: Trump's retaliation against witness was 'appropriate'

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Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy doesn't think it's a problem that Trump had an impeachment witness removed from his post last week.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy defended Donald Trump's retaliation against impeachment witnesses.

McCarthy (R-CA) was asked at a press conference whether Trump had learned any lesson from the impeachment and whether it was appropriate that he removed former Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, from their posts on Friday.

McCarthy first tried to ignore the question, responding with a diatribe against House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, who he said put the country through a "nightmare."

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Pressed to answer the question of why it was "appropriate for the president to take the action that he did," McCarthy argued that because Vindman remains on the federal payroll, he was not really removed from his position.

"Is it appropriate for the news to say he was fired when he was not, he was reassigned?" McCarthy shot back. "I think that is appropriate."

Vindman was escorted from the White House on Friday, months before his post was supposed to expire, with reports saying he would be reassigned to a new post at a later date. An Army spokesperson said Monday the new post could be the Army War College or a different service college. His detail to the National Security Council was supposed to last two years and end in July.

Sondland was removed from his post as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union. McCarthy did not address his firing.

Both provided damning testimony to the House of Representatives about Trump's Ukraine pressure campaign.

In addition to effectively demoting Vindman and firing Sondland, Trump also removed Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman — a senior lawyer for the National Security Council and Alexander's twin brother — from his post. Yevgeny Vindman was not an impeachment witness but will reportedly be moved to a position with the Army General Counsel's Office.

While the administration has not expressly characterized the removals as retaliation, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted thanking Schiff for helping his father with "unearthing who all needed to be fired."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.