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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry"

Uniting Trumpers, Never Trumpers and Democrats With a New Deputy at the State Dept.

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-biegun1-facebookJumbo Uniting Trumpers, Never Trumpers and Democrats With a New Deputy at the State Dept. United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty State Department Russia North Korea Embargoes and Sanctions Biegun, Stephen E Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

WASHINGTON — When Stephen E. Biegun was sworn in as deputy secretary of state, it was in front of an unusual crowd at the State Department — one that included loyalists to President Trump, but also a mix of Never Trumpers and Democrats.

Denis R. McDonough, President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff and deputy national security adviser, was there that day in December. So was John D. Negroponte, a former director of national intelligence under President George W. Bush who in 2016 refused to vote for Mr. Trump. There were career diplomats, congressional officials and national security experts from both parties who had worked with Mr. Biegun in his various roles in the Senate, the National Security Council and Ford Motor.

Which gave rise to some crucial questions: How had Mr. Biegun navigated Trump world to land such a senior position, No. 2 at the State Department? Could he calm a simmering revolt among career State Department employees who have accused Mr. Biegun’s immediate boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of abandoning veteran diplomats and letting the president’s personal political agenda infect foreign policy?

More to the point, would he even survive?

The job is a risk — Washington is full of people who have catapulted from the Trump administration with reputations diminished — but friends say they are betting on Mr. Biegun.

“If anyone can figure out how to navigate it, I think it can be Steve,” said Stephen J. Hadley, Mr. Bush’s second national security adviser.

It helps, friends say, that Mr. Biegun has the even temperament of a man who thrives in the background. Never one to upstage the boss, be it the president or secretary of state, Mr. Biegun is mild-mannered and deferential, the anti-Pompeo.

While Mr. Pompeo is prone to profanity-laced rants, Mr. Biegun is a Republican of another era who projects calm. “He listens,” said Mr. McDonough, who was Mr. Biegun’s Democratic counterpart when the two men served as the chief foreign policy advisers to their parties’ Senate leaders in the mid-2000s.

While Mr. Pompeo has sought to bring back “swagger” to diplomacy, Mr. Biegun is described as a careful negotiator. And while Mr. Pompeo allowed a shadow foreign policy campaign to undermine the United States Embassy in Ukraine, Mr. Biegun has insisted that, in diplomacy, “politics best stop at the water’s edge.”

John R. Beyrle, who was one of Mr. Obama’s ambassadors to Moscow, said that Mr. Pompeo most likely viewed Mr. Biegun as “somebody who could help ameliorate that almost toxic situation” at the State Department.

“So if there is that vacuum or deficit of trust, which I think there is, Steve is well placed to fill it,” said Mr. Beyrle, who worked with Mr. Biegun on the board of the U.S.-Russia Foundation, which promotes entrepreneurship and education with Moscow.

Notably, Mr. Biegun has described Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador in Kyiv who was ordered back to Washington and accused of being disloyal to Mr. Trump, as “a very capable foreign service officer.”

Since first meeting Ms. Yovanovitch years ago, when they were both working on Russia policy, “my esteem has done nothing but grown for her,” Mr. Biegun told senators at his confirmation hearing in November.

Colleagues say the secret to Mr. Biegun’s success, so far, is that he gained the trust of Mr. Trump by enabling the president’s bromance with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. Officials said the president twice considered appointing Mr. Biegun as national security adviser, but made him the chief envoy to North Korea instead. In that job Mr. Biegun has tried to move talks between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim forward when other administration officials wanted to shut them down.

Mr. Biegun also declined to join the so-called Never Trumper movement in 2016, putting him among a relatively small number of Republicans with high-level foreign policy experience who were not blacklisted by the White House after Mr. Trump won the presidential election.

“He’s friends with Republicans and Democrats, he treats people well, he knows how to operate in Washington, he knows the think tanks, he knows the press, he knows the diplomatic community,” said John B. Bellinger III, the State Department’s former top lawyer who worked with Mr. Biegun on Mr. Bush’s National Security Council.

Born in Detroit to a large family — more than 30 relatives attended his December swearing-in ceremony — Mr. Biegun was in high school in Pontiac, Mich., when a history teacher wrote the word “czar” on the chalkboard in the Cyrillic alphabet. He was immediately fascinated and went on to study Russian at the University of Michigan.

Mr. Biegun lived in Moscow in the early 1990s, when he worked for the International Republican Institute, which promotes democracy with some funding from the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development. But he mostly developed his national security credentials on Capitol Hill — first as a top Republican staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and later to Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, then the majority leader — and at the White House as a top aide to Condoleezza Rice, who was the first national security adviser in the Bush administration.

He traveled to Russia as a vice president at Ford, negotiating new business ventures, but also took time off to briefly advise Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2008. That position, according to colleagues, revealed his ability to maintain patience under pressure and to avoid a condescending tone — even when having to explain the most basic foreign policy axioms to his boss.

In his new job, Mr. Biegun will also remain the lead negotiator with North Korea — a dual role, he has said, that elevates “the priority on North Korea to the deputy secretary position, and I think that’s very important.”

But the diplomacy has fizzled since Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim abruptly left a summit meeting in Vietnam a year ago, unable to agree on a path for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Critics say the Trump administration was too willing to keep the talks going — and the president too eager to meet with Mr. Kim — even as North Korea was busily building up its arsenal.

Mr. Biegun was not only trying to negotiate with the North Koreans, but he was also engaged in a behind-the-scenes fight with Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, John R. Bolton, who believed Mr. Biegun was pursuing a useless mission.

“This idea that they can be coaxed into giving up” their nuclear program “was flawed from the start,” Mr. Bolton said on Monday in remarks at Duke University.

Still, Joseph Y. Yun, a career diplomat who negotiated with North Korean officials until he retired in March 2018, said Mr. Biegun’s new status could convince Pyongyang that the United States was serious enough about restarting the discussions that it had promoted one of its most senior officials to devote to the details.

“It’s a very good signal to North Korea,’’ said Mr. Yun, who retired in part out of frustration with the State Department’s diminished role in the talks. “This will elevate the negotiations.”

Mr. Biegun’s greatest challenge, however, is the diplomatic morass of Russia and Ukraine.

No one senior official has run the policy since Mr. Bolton left the White House as national security adviser in September, and few have been eager to embrace the portfolio.

But Mr. Biegun has told colleagues he is eager to try to resolve Russia’s undeclared war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. The conflict has killed more than 13,000 Ukrainian troops and civilians and threatened Kyiv’s sovereignty since it began in 2014, the same year that Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

Ukrainian officials have anxiously looked to Washington for more help as Kyiv broadens talks with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to ratchet back tensions. Mr. Pompeo visited Kyiv last month to signal continued American commitment to Ukraine. But the country’s leaders have not yet been invited to meet with Mr. Trump at the White House, even though the president has been acquitted of impeachment charges that he demanded that Ukraine announce an investigation into his political rivals before releasing security aid for Donbas.

Eric Rubin, a former ambassador to Bulgaria who is now president of the union that represents career diplomats, noted that during his Senate confirmation hearing, Mr. Biegun committed to work “to bridge whatever divides may exist” at the State Department.

“This is not an easy time for our country or our profession,” Mr. Rubin said. “We wish him well.”

Mr. Biegun faces another source of tension with the 2011 New START arms control treaty with Russia, which drove American and Russian nuclear arsenals to their lowest levels in nearly 60 years. The treaty is set to expire in February 2021, and people who have spoken to Mr. Biegun believe he wants to extend it. But Mr. Trump and his aides have signaled repeatedly that they intend to let the treaty expire unless it can be broadened to include other nations with strategic weapons, chiefly China — and the Chinese are not interested.

In his confirmation hearing, Mr. Biegun summed up his approach in a single line that somehow conveyed both optimism for diplomacy and cleareyed realism about the Trump administration’s view of the world, given its “Make America Great Again” mantra.

“I’ve long thought America was great,” Mr. Biegun said.

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Trump Expected to Name Richard Grenell as Acting Head of Intelligence

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-dni-facebookJumbo Trump Expected to Name Richard Grenell as Acting Head of Intelligence United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Presidential Election of 2020 Office of the Director of National Intelligence Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) Grenell, Richard Espionage and Intelligence Services Coats, Dan Appointments and Executive Changes

WASHINGTON — President Trump was expected to name Richard Grenell, the American ambassador to Germany, to be the acting director of national intelligence, three people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Mr. Grenell, whose outspokenness throughout his career as a political operative and then as ambassador has prompted criticism, is a vocal Trump loyalist who will lead a group of national security agencies often viewed skeptically by the White House.

He would take over from Joseph Maguire, who has served as the acting director of national intelligence since the resignation last summer of Dan Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana. Mr. Grenell, who has pushed to advance gay rights in his current post, would apparently also be the first openly gay cabinet member.

Mr. Grenell did not respond to a request for comment, nor did a White House spokesman. The people familiar with the move cautioned that the president had a history of changing his mind on personnel decisions after they were revealed in the news media.

Under American law, Mr. Maguire had to give up his temporary role before March 12. He could return to his old job as director of the National Counterterrorism Center, but he might choose to step down from government.

Mr. Trump can choose any Senate-confirmed official to replace Mr. Maguire as the acting head of the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies.

Mr. Maguire, a retired admiral, became the acting director in August just as a whistle-blower inside the C.I.A. filed a complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

Since the acquittal of Mr. Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, the White House has been pushing to remove officials seen as disloyal or holding views contrary to the White House, looking for replacements who are more likely to follow the president’s wishes. While it has never been clear how Mr. Trump viewed Mr. Maguire, there is little doubt that the president would like a partisan fighter in the post before any public testimony before Congress.

Mr. Grenell has long been a strong voice on Twitter, posting about the dangers of Huawei, the Chinese company building next-generation telecommunications networks around the globe; the failure of European allies to spend enough on their military and other issues. He is one of the administration’s loudest critics of Huawei, pressuring Germany not to do business with the firm. Mr. Grenell has long been ambitious and has been anxious for a promotion from his diplomatic post. He was in contention to be national security adviser, a post that ultimately went to Robert C. O’Brien.

But Mr. Grenell is also a polarizing figure and his confirmation by the Senate is not assured, one reason the president intents to name him acting director, rather than formally nominating him for the job. A number of Republican senators have privately pushed the administration to nominate a national security professional or politician who is seen as a less divisive figure.

Since the beginning of his administration, Mr. Trump has viewed the intelligence agencies skeptically.

He has at times disparaged American intelligence agencies because he did not agree with their findings, such as the conclusion that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election in an effort to help Mr. Trump win. He told his intelligence chiefs to “go back to school” after they offered assessments on Iran and North Korea at odds with his policy initiatives.

Anxious to avoid a repeat of that hearing, Mr. Maguire’s aides initially pushed for this year’s public hearing to be canceled, a request that lawmakers have rejected.

Tensions between the White House and intelligence agencies only grew during the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Maguire initially blocked the whistle-blower complaint from being forwarded to Congress, following the guidance of administration lawyers. But he eventually helped broker the agreement to provide the complaint to Congress’s intelligence committees, allowing the impeachment inquiry to gain steam.

Mr. Coats announced his resignation in July, effective Aug. 15. Including acting directors, nine people have served as head of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence since the job was created in late 2004 to improve the nation’s ability to fight terrorism. That law made the director of national intelligence the top intelligence adviser to the president.

When Mr. Coats announced his resignation, Mr. Trump initially nominated one of his loyalists, Representative John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas, to be the next top intelligence chief, a job considered to be among the most nonpartisan in Washington. But Mr. Trump quickly dropped those plans after pushback from Democrats and some key Republicans who worried Mr. Ratcliffe’s loyalty to the president and lack of intelligence experience would make him nearly impossible to confirm. There were also concerns that Mr. Ratcliffe exaggerated some of what he included on his résumé.

During his tenure, Mr. Coats was unafraid to defend his employees and push back against some of the president’s claims that contradicted the intelligence agencies. He told intelligence officers in a speech that it was their duty to seek the truth about the world, “and when we find that truth, to speak the truth.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was created after the Sept. 11 attacks to oversee the government’s vast network of 17 spy agencies and to ensure critical national security information was being shared across the government.

At the beginning of the Trump administration, Mike Pompeo, then the C.I.A. director, was the most prominent voice on intelligence matters. When Mr. Pompeo moved to the State Department, his successor, Gina Haspel, took a much less prominent role.

Ms. Haspel’s reluctance to speak publicly thrust Mr. Coats into the public spotlight. His criticism of the Mr. Trump and warnings about Russian interference in the election, drew the ire of the White House.

After Mr. Ratcliffe was dropped from consideration, Mr. Trump promised to announce a new nominee soon. But the list of people with the requisite experience who have not been critical of the president is slim.

The administration considered, and discarded, a number of potential nominees including Pete Hoekstra, the American ambassador to the Netherlands and a former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Representative Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican on the committee.

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John Rood, Top Defense Official, Latest to Leave After Impeachment Saga

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-rood-facebookJumbo John Rood, Top Defense Official, Latest to Leave After Impeachment Saga United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Rood, John C. impeachment Defense Department Anderson, James H

WASHINGTON — John C. Rood, the Defense Department’s top policy official, is the latest member of President Trump’s national security team involved in the Ukraine matter to leave the government.

Mr. Rood, the under secretary of defense for policy, will step down at the end of February, the department’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, said Wednesday.

Mr. Rood was part of the team at the Defense Department that told Congress last year that Ukraine had made the necessary reforms to justify sending the country $250 million in promised security assistance. The certification was widely viewed as undermining a key argument Mr. Trump’s defense team made during his impeachment battle: that Mr. Trump withheld the aid because he was concerned about corruption in Ukraine.

Mr. Trump was impeached by the Democratic-controlled House but acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate. Since his acquittal, the president has moved swiftly to purge administration officials whose presentation of events did not align with his own.

Mr. Rood’s departure, reported earlier by CNN, was not entirely unexpected; he and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper were known to clash frequently early in their careers, and Mr. Esper was expected to fire him when he became Defense Secretary last year. But the dearth of respected national security policy experts willing to work for Mr. Trump has made it difficult for administration officials to fill jobs.

James H. Anderson, the acting deputy under secretary of defense for policy, will be taking over Mr. Rood’s duties until a replacement is appointed by the president, the department said.

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A Presidency Increasingly Guided by Suspicion and Distrust

Westlake Legal Group 15dc-trump-facebookJumbo A Presidency Increasingly Guided by Suspicion and Distrust United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Richard Hofstadter Presidents and Presidency (US) Presidential Election of 2020 paranoia impeachment D'Antonio, Michael

WASHINGTON — President Trump suggested in recent days that he had, in fact, learned a lesson from his now-famous telephone call with Ukraine’s president that ultimately led to his impeachment: Too many people are listening to his phone calls.

“When you call a foreign leader, people listen,” he observed on Geraldo Rivera’s radio show. “I may end the practice entirely. I may end it entirely.”

Mr. Trump has always been convinced that he is surrounded by people who cannot be trusted. But in the 10 days since he was acquitted by the Senate, he has grown more vocal about it and turned paranoia into policy, purging his White House of more career officials, bringing back loyalists and tightening the circle around him to a smaller and more faithful coterie of confidants.

The impeachment case against Mr. Trump, built largely on the testimony of officials who actually worked for him, reinforced his view that the government is full of leakers, plotters, whistle-blowers and traitors. Career professionals who worked in government before he arrived are viewed as “Obama holdovers” even if they were there long before President Barack Obama. Testifying under subpoena was, Mr. Trump has made clear, “insubordinate.”

The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., said on Twitter after the acquittal that the investigation was useful, in its own way, because it made it easier “unearthing who all needed to be fired.” The president and his staff have increasingly equated disloyalty to him with disloyalty to the nation. All of which makes for a volatile eight months ahead as Mr. Trump fights a rear-guard battle with his own government while facing off against Democrats on the campaign trail to win a second term.

“I think he feels like the people are out to get him, going overboard. I mean just put yourself in his shoes,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a staunch ally, told reporters this past week as the president railed on Twitter against Justice Department prosecutors. “There’s just a general frustration that the system is — there’s a double standard in the media and actually in the law.”

In the last week and a half, Mr. Trump has pushed out two witnesses who testified in the House inquiry, stripped a nomination from an official he blamed for being insufficiently loyal and assailed prosecutors, a judge and even the jury forewoman in the case of his friend Roger J. Stone Jr.

His national security adviser has just finished transferring more than 50 career professionals out of the White House and back to their home agencies. The president has brought back two of his earliest and most trusted aides, Hope Hicks and Johnny McEntee, as he retreats into a cocoon of his original 2016 campaign team. And more personnel moves are likely in the days to come.

Mr. Trump’s personal loyalty test now extends not to whether someone has worked in his White House since his inauguration, but to whether someone was part of his 2016 campaign and there from the beginning, according to interviews with more than a half-dozen administration officials and advisers to the president. His decision to turn the Office of Presidential Personnel over to Mr. McEntee, a 29-year-old aide who was once ordered marched out of the White House by John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff at the time, was born out of concern about who is surrounding him, people familiar with the move said.

While some officials cited a lack of responsiveness from officials working in the personnel office, others said that Mr. Trump had taken to blaming them for appointments that he made, on the advice of other advisers. That included Gordon D. Sondland, the Republican donor he appointed ambassador to the European Union who became a key witness in the impeachment inquiry and has now been dismissed. It also included John R. Bolton, his former national security adviser, who plans to publish a book next month revealing Mr. Trump’s machinations about Ukraine.

In private conversations, Mr. Trump has complained bitterly that none of his enemies have been criminally charged, citing James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, and his onetime deputy, Andrew G. McCabe. Mr. Bolton in particular has been a source of his anger in several conversations, according to people familiar with what the president has said. He has accused Mr. Bolton of betraying him, and made clear his anger extends to anyone he believes helped Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Trump’s suggestion that he may bar government officials from listening into his phone calls with foreign leaders would reverse decades of practice in the White House. Presidents traditionally have multiple aides from the National Security Council and State Department monitor foreign leader calls to help interpret their meaning, record any agreements and inform relevant parts of government.

Mr. Trump, however, felt burned early on when transcripts of his calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia were leaked to The Washington Post. During subsequent conversations with foreign leaders, he sometimes kicked out aides for more private talks and in the case of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia even demanded that his own interpreter turn over notes of the discussion.

“He knows that anything even reasonably controversial out of his mouth, on the phone or off, will be reported out and construed in the most evil way possible,” Mr. Rivera, a friend of the president’s who interviewed him for his Cleveland radio show, said on Saturday. “As a result, he indicated to me that he’s dramatically scaling back” the number of people “looped into a state call.”

Going back to his days in the real estate business, Mr. Trump has long considered suspicion a key to success. “Be paranoid,” he advised in a motivational seminar in 2000. “Now that sounds terrible. But you have to realize that people, sadly, sadly, are very vicious. You think we’re so different from the lions in the jungle? I don’t know.”

Nor is presidential paranoia a new phenomenon even as Mr. Trump seems to have elevated it to a guiding philosophy of his White House. From Thomas Jefferson to Franklin D. Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy, other presidents turned at times to unseemly and even ruthless methods against their enemies like illegal wiretapping. Probably no previous presidents were as paranoid as Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon and in the latter case it helped bring down his presidency.

“The paranoid style is an old and recurrent phenomenon in our public life which has been frequently linked with movements of suspicious discontent,” as Richard Hofstadter, the famed midcentury American historian, wrote in his landmark 1964 essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” In Mr. Trump’s case, it connects with supporters suspicious of the elite.

John A. Farrell, a Nixon biographer, said most other presidents managed to contain or disguise their paranoid elements, but it drove Johnson and Nixon to extremes that were ultimately self-destructive. Mr. Trump, he said, sees no need to hide it.

“He has responded to criticism, opposition and other curbs on his power with a vulgar energy and the vile Nixonian strategy that making Americans hate each other is a potent way to seize and secure power,” Mr. Farrell said. “It is no accident that a president acting this way comes from a chain of influences that includes Roy Cohn and Roger Stone.”

Mr. Trump’s advisers and defenders turn to the old nostrum — just because he may be paranoid does not mean people are not out to get him. The relentless investigations against him, the Trump-bashing text messages by F.B.I. officials, the excesses of the surveillance warrant on a former campaign adviser, the longtime lawyer-fixer who turned against him, the whistle-blower who took his concerns to House Democrats, all of it, they said, has contributed to an understandable defensiveness.

“Trump came to office with an almost pathological distrust of others and an irresistible impulse to attack any perceived threat,” said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University who testified against impeachment last year before the House Judiciary Committee. “The well-documented bias in the F.B.I. and Justice Department against Trump fuels his suspicions and tendency to counterpunch. Both his perceptions and his responses became more exaggerated.

“However,” Mr. Turley added, “his suspicions were validated to some degree in these investigations — something that many refuse to acknowledge. He came to Washington with an agenda that was highly antagonistic and threatening to the status quo. It was immediately clear that he faced deep opposition to his agenda.”

As with so many aspects of his personality, the seeds of Mr. Trump’s reaction may lie in his biography. Michael D’Antonio, the author of “The Truth About Trump,” recalled that the future president was raised by a father who taught him that all of life is a battle for power and that he should be a “killer.” Mr. Trump, Mr. D’Antonio said, came to see others as useful for his own purposes or obstacles to be crushed.

“In this way, he’s forcing us all to live in the world that once existed only in Trump’s mind and in his close circle,” Mr. D’Antonio said. “Here, in Trump’s America, we’re to believe that all institutions are corrupt. No one is to be trusted. Those who would speak against him hesitate. Words of protest and revelations that might be made by whistle-blowers are stifled by fear. This is the world Trump has always inhabited and he wants us to live there too.”

Peter Baker reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

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As a Post-Impeachment Trump Pushes the Limits, Republicans Say Little

WASHINGTON — On a day when President Trump congratulated the attorney general for overruling career prosecutors in favor of the lighter prison sentence he sought for a longtime friend, Senate Republicans agreed on one thing: Reining in a president emboldened by the impeachment acquittal they orchestrated is not on their to-do list.

“Kind of immaterial,” Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said on Wednesday, waving off the question of whether the president or his allies at the Justice Department may have interfered with the sentencing of Roger J. Stone Jr., Mr. Trump’s longtime associate.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the Judiciary Committee chairman, said he was not “losing any sleep” over the departure of the four prosecutors who had handled the case and withdrew in protest on Tuesday, having assured himself the president did nothing wrong.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, refused to broach the topic: “I’m not going to have this conversation right now,” he said, ducking into the Senate subway on his way to the Capitol.

In the week since the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Mr. Trump of two impeachment charges, lawmakers in his party have watched as he has purged key players in the case against him, including the ambassador to the European Union and two White House National Security Council aides, and put in motion plans to banish others he considers insufficiently loyal. They have listened as he has called for one of those officials, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, to be investigated by the Pentagon.

They have read his tweets and heard his comments heaping scorching criticism on the Justice Department for “a horrible and very unfair” attempt to put Mr. Stone in prison for seven to nine years based on a conviction for lying to Congress and trying to block witness testimony. Mr. Trump cheered on William P. Barr, the attorney general, for intervening, while castigating the federal judge overseeing the case.

And they have been forced to reckon with the fact that, far from obscuring his actions or offering innocent explanations, Mr. Trump has been open and unapologetic about his efforts to take revenge on his perceived enemies and assist those he considers loyal.

The warning sirens may be blaring from Democrats and Justice Department veterans. But having expressed confidence just last week that the impeachment trial might chasten him going forward, Republican senators now appear unwilling to grapple with the president who emerged: an emboldened Mr. Trump determined to tighten his grip on the levers of power.

Video

transcript

Trump Calls Prosecution of Roger Stone a ‘Disgrace’

President Trump denied that his tweet praising the attorney general for intervening in the sentencing of Roger J. Stone Jr. was political interference.

Reporter: “On Roger Stone, isn’t your tweet political interference?” “No, not at all. He was treated very badly — nine years recommended. If you look at what happened — I want to thank the Justice Department for seeing this horrible thing. And I didn’t speak to him, by the way, just so you understand. They saw the horribleness of a nine-year sentence for doing nothing. You have murderers and drug addicts, they don’t get nine years — nine years for doing something that nobody even can define what he did. Somebody said he put out a tweet, and the tweet, you based it on that. We have killers, we have murderers all over the place, nothing happens. And then they put a man in jail and destroy his life, his family, his wife, his children — nine years in jail. It’s a disgrace. In the meantime, Comey walks around making book deals. The people that launched this scam investigation, and what they did is a disgrace.”

Westlake Legal Group 12dc-trump-videoSixteenByNine3000 As a Post-Impeachment Trump Pushes the Limits, Republicans Say Little Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Stone, Roger J Jr Senate Republican Party impeachment Cornyn, John Collins, Susan M

President Trump denied that his tweet praising the attorney general for intervening in the sentencing of Roger J. Stone Jr. was political interference.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Asked if Mr. Trump appeared to have learned any positive lessons from the impeachment saga that threatened his presidency and prompted her and some others Republicans to criticize his conduct, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska paused on Wednesday to choose her words carefully.

“There haven’t been strong indicators this week that he has,” she said.

In the Oval Office on Wednesday, Mr. Trump insisted he had in fact grown wiser based on the impeachment experience — but not in ways that many in his party were hoping for. “That the Democrats are crooked,” he told reporters when asked about the lessons he took from the episode. “They got a lot of crooked things going. That they’re vicious. That they shouldn’t have brought impeachment.”

On Capitol Hill, Republicans offered up general platitudes about the principle that presidents should stay out of pending legal matters. But none asked for an explanation of Mr. Trump’s handling of Mr. Stone’s case, or suggested his actions warranted further scrutiny.

Instead, after three years of provocations, attacks on political opponents and allies alike, and abrupt policy reversals, Republican lawmakers fell back on a set of neutral responses they have found crucial to navigating the choppy waters of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Privately, many in the party say it is just often not worth it to challenge him in the open. Better to try lobby the White House quietly, like a handful of Republican senators did last week when they tried to intervene to stop Mr. Trump from firing Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who testified in the House impeachment hearings. But their entreaties did not work.

Matters of foreign policy have often prompted more public disagreements, like a planned vote on Thursday to curtail Mr. Trump’s war powers, but they are few and far between.

The handful of moderate Republicans who have broken with the president on matters of consequence — including in recent weeks to criticize his pressure campaign on Ukraine undergirding the House’s impeachment case — are reluctant to to do so again and again.

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, seemed to grow frustrated on Wednesday when reporters pressed her to reconcile Mr. Trump’s recent actions with her assertion last week that he would be “much more cautious in the future” after having been impeached.

“My vote to acquit the president was not based on predicting his future behavior,” Ms. Collins said. She added, “I think the president would be better served by never commenting on pending federal investigations.”

Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who chastised Mr. Trump for his pressure on Ukraine, declined to pass any direct judgment on the president’s actions since.

“The sentencing is in the hands of the courts, which should make an appropriate decision,” he said. “And politics should never play a part in law enforcement. So that’s what I have to say about that.”

Even Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the sole Republican who voted to convict Mr. Trump last week, said he did not have time to get into the particulars of the case, saying he trusted the judge in Mr. Stone’s case to “do what is right.”

“I can’t begin to spend time discussing the president’s tweets,” he said. “That would be a full-time job.”

Democrats have watched with increasing desperation. The House still holds subpoena power, and can use its control of the federal spending process to try to curb some unwanted excesses by the administration. But the chamber just used the Constitution’s most powerful tool for executive accountability, impeachment, and failed to win a conviction.

In the Senate, where Republicans are in control, some Democrats have taken to outright pleading with colleagues to speak up. Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, interrupted a Banking Committee meeting Wednesday morning to implore his colleagues to stop what he called Mr. Trump’s “retribution tour.”

“We cannot give him a permanent license to turn the presidency and the executive branch into his own personal vengeance operation,” Mr. Brown said. “If we say nothing — and I include everyone in this committee, including myself — it will get worse. His behavior will get worse.”

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to convene emergency hearings on the Justice Department matter.

But Mr. Graham ruled it out, saying he had sought an explanation from Mr. Barr’s office about the decision to change the sentencing recommendation for Mr. Stone, and found it satisfactory.

“Should the president stay out of cases? Yeah, absolutely. He should not be commenting on cases in the system,” Mr. Graham said. “If I thought he’d done something that changed the outcome inappropriately, I’d be the first to say.”

“I’m comfortable the system is working,” he added.

Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, chalked the Stone imbroglio up to the president’s social media habits.

“This is a situation where the tweet was very problematic,” he said, hastening to add that tweeting was the president’s right and that all signs he had seen pointed to the situation having been handled properly at the Justice Department.

Other elected Republicans professed a loose command of the facts or sidestepped questions by accusing reporters of distorting them.

Asked whether Mr. Trump had been emboldened since his acquittal, Mr. Cornyn dismissed the idea as a “narrative,” declining to elaborate as he disappeared into a committee room.

Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, said he was “still unfamiliar” with “all the particulars” of the situation around Mr. Stone’s sentencing, but added: “There’s no legal issue here. It’s just a question of propriety.”

Some Republicans did not even bother trying to explain away the president’s actions.

“I do not have an opinion on that,” declared Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.

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Trump’s War Against ‘the Deep State’ Enters a New Stage

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-trump-3-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump’s War Against ‘the Deep State’ Enters a New Stage Vindman, Alexander S United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Appointments and Executive Changes

WASHINGTON — As far as President Trump is concerned, banishing Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman from the White House and exiling him back to the Pentagon was not enough. If he had his way, the commander in chief made clear on Tuesday, the Defense Department would now take action against the colonel, too.

“That’s going to be up to the military,” Mr. Trump told reporters who asked whether Colonel Vindman should face disciplinary action after testifying in the House hearings that led to the president’s impeachment. “But if you look at what happened,” Mr. Trump added in threatening terms, “I mean they’re going to, certainly, I would imagine, take a look at that.”

This is an unsettled time in Mr. Trump’s Washington. In the days since he was acquitted in a Senate trial, an aggrieved and unbound president has sought to even the scales as he sees it. Colonel Vindman was abruptly marched by security out of the White House, an ambassador who also testified in the House hearings was summarily dismissed, and senior Justice Department officials on Tuesday intervened on behalf of Mr. Trump’s convicted friend, Roger J. Stone Jr., leading four career prosecutors to quit the case.

More axes are sure to fall. A senior Pentagon official appears in danger of losing her nomination to a top Defense Department post after questioning the president’s suspension of aid to Ukraine. Likewise, a prosecutor involved in Mr. Stone’s case has lost a nomination to a senior Treasury Department position. A key National Security Council official is said by colleagues to face dismissal. And the last of dozens of career officials being transferred out of the White House may be gone by the end of the week.

The war between Mr. Trump and what he calls the “deep state” has entered a new, more volatile phase as the president seeks to assert greater control over a government that he is convinced is not sufficiently loyal to him. With no need to worry about Congress now that he has been acquitted of two articles of impeachment, the president has shown a renewed willingness to act even if it prompts fresh complaints about violating traditional norms.

“The president is entitled to staffers that want to execute his policies, that he has confidence in,” said Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser, who supervised Colonel Vindman and his brother, Yevgeny Vindman, also an Army lieutenant colonel, who was dismissed last week from the National Security Council staff even though he did not testify in the House hearings. “We’re not a banana republic where lieutenant colonels get together and decide what the policy is.”

The president’s involvement in Mr. Stone’s case generated vigorous protests and calls for an investigation into whether he improperly sought to skew the prosecution in favor of a longtime associate and adviser. Hours after Mr. Trump’s tweets criticizing the Justice Department for seeking up to nine years in prison for Mr. Stone, the department reversed gears and said it would ask for a lesser sentence.

The Justice Department rejected any link to the president’s tweets, while Mr. Trump insisted that he had nothing to do with the case. But the withdrawal of the four career prosecutors working on the case left the unmistakable impression that they thought something improper had happened.

“The American people must have confidence that justice in this country is dispensed impartially,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, wrote in a letter asking the department’s inspector general to investigate. “That confidence cannot be sustained if the president or his political appointees are permitted to interfere in prosecution and sentencing recommendations in order to protect their friends and associates.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly railed against law enforcement agencies for targeting his associates. Among those who have been convicted are Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman; Michael T. Flynn, his former national security adviser; and Michael D. Cohen, his personal lawyer. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them,” he wrote on Twitter shortly after midnight Tuesday morning.

By the evening, he was demanding to know why the Democratic power broker Tony Podesta had not been prosecuted and expanded his attack to Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over Mr. Stone’s case.

“Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure?” he wrote on Twitter, providing a false version of her role as well as his treatment. “How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton?”

Mr. Trump has long suspected that people around him — both government officials and even some of his own political appointees — were secretly working against his interests. His impeachment for trying to coerce Ukraine to incriminate Democrats by withholding $391 million in security aid has only reinforced that view as he watched one official after another testify before the House.

Witnesses like Colonel Vindman testified under subpoena compelling them to talk, but Mr. Trump blamed them for his dilemma. In the Oval Office on Tuesday, Mr. Trump complained at length about Colonel Vindman, accusing him of misleading Congress about the president’s July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart. In fact, Colonel Vindman’s version of the call closely tracked the written record released by the White House, but he did testify that he thought it was inappropriate to ask a foreign country to tarnish the president’s domestic political opponents.

“We sent him on his way to a much different location, and the military can handle him any way they want,” Mr. Trump said. “General Milley has him now,” he added, referring to Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I congratulate General Milley. He can have him. And his brother, also. We’ll find out. We will find out. But he reported very inaccurate things.”

Others involved in the impeachment process may also pay a price. The administration plans to withdraw the nomination for Pentagon comptroller of Elaine McCusker, a Defense Department official who questioned the aid freeze, The New York Post reported. While the Senate has not been notified of such a move, an administration official said it was likely to happen after budget hearings this week.

Ms. McCusker could not be reached for comment, and a Pentagon official referred questions to the White House, which had no comment. Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters that he had “a feeling everything is going to be fine with the nomination.” But friends of Ms. McCusker said she was aware that her nomination was in jeopardy.

Just Monday, Ms. McCusker was the one left explaining the wielding of another Trump administration ax. Appearing before reporters in her role as the Defense Department’s acting comptroller, she sought to describe why the Pentagon was proposing to eliminate the $7 million subsidy to Stars and Stripes, a newspaper for American troops.

“We have essentially, decided that, you know, kind of coming into the modern age, that newspaper is probably not the best way that we communicate any longer,” she told reporters.

Another political appointee who may lose a nomination is Jessie K. Liu, who served as United States attorney for the District of Columbia when her office prosecuted Mr. Stone, Mr. Manafort and other high-profile cases.

She stepped down in December, when Mr. Trump nominated her to be the under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial crimes. But on Tuesday, the White House withdrew her nomination, a person familiar with the matter said.

At the White House, Victoria Coates, a deputy national security adviser, has twisted in the wind amid feverish speculation about whether she would be pushed out. She has been the subject of a whisper campaign suggesting that she is the anonymous author of a book about being a member of the resistance inside the administration — which prompted the literary agents for the actual author to deny the claims.

Mr. O’Brien, Ms. Coates’s boss at the National Security Council, rejected the speculation in an appearance on Tuesday at the Atlantic Council. “This town is amazing when it comes to whispers,” he said, adding he did not know who the author was. “I think writing ‘Anonymous’ is inconsistent with working at the White House or working at the N.S.C., so whoever wrote ‘Anonymous’ probably shouldn’t be there.”

But Mr. O’Brien is presiding over a broader housecleaning at the National Security Council. Since being appointed last fall, he has said he wants to shrink the staff to closer to what it was under President George W. Bush. At the Atlantic Council appearance, he said he would be finished “by the end of the week” reducing the staff of policy professionals to 115 or 120 from the 175 when he took over.

The ousted officials were detailed from elsewhere in the government like the C.I.A., the Pentagon or the State Department and are returning to their home agencies. According to an administration official, the original plan was to use this downsizing as cover to remove Colonel Vindman as well without looking like a reprisal.

But in the end, the president did not want cover. He wanted to send a message — a message that Washington has received.

Helene Cooper and Michael Crowley contributed reporting.

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Mitt Romney Is a ‘Judas’ to Many Republicans. But Not in Utah.

Westlake Legal Group merlin_168184737_3502fd30-4f85-44a9-be2f-cb6b852a1aa3-facebookJumbo Mitt Romney Is a ‘Judas’ to Many Republicans. But Not in Utah. Voting and Voters utah Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Legislatures Romney, Mitt Republican Party Elections, Senate Conservatism (US Politics)

SALT LAKE CITY — Phil Lyman wanted to do something swift and stern.

Within hours of Senator Mitt Romney’s vote to remove President Trump from office on Wednesday, Mr. Lyman, a freshman state representative from southern Utah who keeps an autographed “Make America Great Again” hat in a plexiglass case in his office, was at work drafting a resolution to censure the senator.

“I mean, I respect a guy that will stand up for his opinion, but it’s not without some repercussions,” Mr. Lyman said. “His action warrants an additional action on the part of the State Legislature.”

But just as swiftly came the pushback to Mr. Lyman from Utah’s Republican leadership.

“Censuring Senator Romney for voting his conscience is a tricky place to be,” the speaker of the state House, Brad Wilson, said in an interview.

The governor, Gary Herbert, told The Salt Lake Tribune, “I think that would be just a mistake to go down that road.”

The president of the State Senate, J. Stuart Adams, pleaded for reconciliation. “What I don’t want to do is move into the negative rhetoric I think is coming from Washington, D.C.,” he said at a news conference on Friday.

Barely eight years ago, Mr. Romney was the Republican nominee for president and putative leader of the party. Today, the way many Republicans accept and even encourage the attacks on him from Mr. Trump, who last week accused him of using “religion as a crutch” to justify the impeachment vote, vividly illustrates the turn the party has taken.

Utah Republicans never quite fell for Mr. Trump as hard as the rest of their party did. The state’s political sensibilities, heavily influenced by its Mormon culture, are more agree-to-disagree than salt-the-earth. The president’s coarse language, belittling nicknames and aversion to humility help explain why his approval ratings over all in Utah have been below 50 percent for most of the last three years.

And while they support Mr. Trump as their president — very few Republicans here say they would have voted to convict him as Mr. Romney did — they have refused to join the pile-on they see happening back east on Fox News sets and in social media feeds of the president’s followers, where their junior senator is being vilified as a “coward” and “Judas” who should be expelled from the Republican Party.

Not only does Mr. Lyman’s censure resolution appear to be dead on arrival, but the leader of the State Senate, Mr. Adams, also said last week that he would rather not vote on or debate any action related to Mr. Romney at all. He stressed that anything his chamber took up should be “positive” — a word he used repeatedly as he spoke to reporters at the State Capitol on Friday. He said he preferred something like a unanimously agreed-to statement that affirmed Mr. Trump’s strengths as president.

“It may feel right — you want to swing at someone — but I think it’s better off to do what’s right,” Mr. Adams said in an interview. Though he disagreed with how Mr. Romney voted, he added, “I have respect for what he did.”

Utah is one of the rare places where the few Romney-style Republicans who remain are relatively safe from a challenge from their right, where speaking out against the president can be an act to admire, not an apostasy.

With the most vitriolic condemnation of Mr. Romney coming from outside Utah, there has been something of a rallying effect around the senator.

“Not everyone hates Romney,” read the headline on an opinion article in The Tribune this weekend. “In spite of the loud voices who are busy calling him names, there are many of us out here who are cheering for him,” wrote the author, Holly Richardson, a former Republican legislator.

Salt Lake City’s other major paper, The Deseret News, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, published an editorial arguing against a censure of the senator and has run numerous other supportive pieces, including one declaring that his vote was “what a Christian conscience demands.”

Chris Karpowitz, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University, said the disputes between Mr. Romney and Mr. Trump illustrated two different visions about what it means to be a Republican.

“Sometimes they line up on policy,” Dr. Karpowitz added. “But in terms of style and rhetoric and commitment to what in previous years were thought of as core values, they couldn’t be more different.”

No state as heavily Republican has been so chilly to the president. Though active registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in Utah by more than three to one, Mr. Trump won only 45 percent of the vote in Utah in 2016. Hillary Clinton and Evan McMullin, a former intelligence officer who ran as a third-party candidate, split up the rest of the vote.

Last week, national conservative activists promoted a “Recall Romney” effort online and shared stories about a proposal circulating in the legislature that aimed to give voters the ability to recall their United States senators.

Aimee Winder Newton, a Republican candidate for governor, said that such a move would have worrisome repercussions. “I get that many state legislators are disappointed,” she wrote on Twitter. “But creating a culture of censuring could come back their way.”

In reality, the recall bill was drafted months ago and has little support in Salt Lake City. Its sponsor has said that it has nothing to do with Mr. Romney or impeachment, and is instead meant to bolster the rights of Utahans to hold all senators accountable.

Lawmakers and constitutional experts said the measure would probably not survive a court challenge anyway.

“My strong impression,” said Edward Foley, the director of election law at Ohio State University, “is that this kind of recall would be clearly unconstitutional. After all, the Constitution itself specifies six-year terms for senators, and has no mechanism — other than expulsion by the Senate itself — for a state to end a U.S. senator’s service before the six years are up.”

Mr. Romney is by no means infallible among Utahans. And Mr. Trump is more popular here now than he was four years ago, thanks to a strong economy and his dedication to filling the courts with conservative judges.

Though Mr. Romney is often associated with Utah because of his role in leading Salt Lake City’s effort to prepare for the 2002 Winter Olympics, he had spent most of his life living elsewhere before deciding to run for Senate in 2018 — a liability in a state where many families can trace their lineage back to the mid-19th century, when Mormons arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. His campaign ran into trouble early on with activist Republicans when he lost to a little-known legislator at the state convention, which forced a primary he later won. In the general election he won with almost 63 percent of the vote statewide.

But the objections of grass-roots conservatives who have outsize influence in state conventions had little to do with Mr. Romney’s history of feuding with Mr. Trump. Instead, they bristled at an attempt by Mr. Romney to gather enough signatures to circumvent the convention.

Mr. Romney has worked diligently to cultivate relationships with Republicans in Salt Lake City. After he left Washington the day of his vote on the president, one of his first stops was at the State Capitol to meet Republican lawmakers to explain himself. He spoke at two different meetings, one with House members and another with the Senate leadership.

He delivered a version of the speech he gave on the Senate floor last Wednesday in which he said his oath to God and faith guided him toward “the most difficult decision I have ever faced.” Some legislators questioned his motives, asking why they should believe that he wasn’t just trying to get even with the president. Others worried about Utah suddenly finding itself in the president’s cross hairs and whether it would damage its relationship with the federal government, which controls about two-thirds of the state’s land.

“For a lot of us,” said Speaker Wilson, “the question was: ‘What does this decision mean for your effectiveness as our senator?”

The meeting was intended primarily for legislative leaders, but Mr. Lyman, the author of the censure resolution, was invited as well. In an interview, he said that Mr. Romney had earned his respect for showing up, but not for his vote.

He had only a few seconds to address Mr. Romney as the senator was leaving and used the opportunity to defend Mr. Trump for reducing the size of protected federal land in Utah so it could be used for commercial purposes.

“There’s a lot of talk in politics,” Mr. Lyman recalled telling the senator. “And President Trump actually came out here and did something.”

But even Mr. Lyman’s disappointment with Mr. Romney has its limits. Next to the bookcase in his office at the Capitol where he has his autographed MAGA hat stands another political memento he is proud of: a life-size cutout of Mr. Romney.

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Trump Fires Impeachment Witnesses Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman in Post-Acquittal Purge

Westlake Legal Group 07dc-revenge2-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Fires Impeachment Witnesses Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman in Post-Acquittal Purge Vindman, Alexander S United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry National Security Council Defense Department

WASHINGTON — 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.

Even as he began purging administration officials who testified in the House impeachment inquiry, Mr. Trump assailed a Democratic senator who he had hoped would side with him during the trial but did not and called on the House to “expunge” his impeachment because he deems it illegitimate.

The flurry of actions and outbursts drew quick condemnation from Democrats, who said the president was demonstrating that he feels unleashed, and complicated the politics of impeachment for moderate Republicans who stood by him while arguing that he had learned his lessons and would be more restrained in the future.

“There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House,” David Pressman, Colonel Vindman’s lawyer, said in a statement. “Lt. Col. Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”

Colonel Vindman spoke publicly only once, after being ordered to under subpoena, Mr. Pressman added. “And for that, the most powerful man in the world — buoyed by the silent, the pliable and the complicit — has decided to exact revenge.”

Mr. Sondland took a more measured approach, confirming that he had been dismissed without offering any protest.

“I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States ambassador to the European Union,” he said in a statement hours after Colonel Vindman’s dismissal. “I am grateful to President Trump for having given me the opportunity to serve, to Secretary Pompeo for his consistent support and to the exceptional and dedicated professionals at the U.S. Mission to the European Union.”

Mr. Sondland and Colonel Vindman were two of the most crucial witnesses in the House impeachment hearings. Mr. Sondland, who was deeply involved in the effort to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into Mr. Trump’s Democratic rivals, testified that “we followed the president’s orders” and that “everyone was in the loop.” Colonel Vindman testified that he brought concerns about Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president to National Security Council officials.

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 president continued to assail lawmakers who voted for conviction, targeting Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who bitterly disappointed Mr. Trump by sticking with his party. “I was told by many that Manchin was just a puppet for Schumer & Pelosi,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “That’s all he is!”

Even as Mr. Trump flew to North Carolina to highlight his economic record, he called on the House to “expunge” his impeachment, an idea with no precedent or basis in the Constitution. “They should because it was a hoax,” he told reporters. “It was a total political hoax.” And he accused Ms. Pelosi of committing a crime by ripping up a copy of his State of the Union address. “She broke the law,” he asserted.

The president’s critics had warned that he would feel unbound if acquitted, and some said that the dismissal of Mr. Sondland and the Vindman brothers proved their point, quickly calling it “the Friday night massacre,” as Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, put it.

“These are the actions of a man who believes he is above the law,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the lead House impeachment manager. Mr. Schumer said the White House was running from the truth. “This action is not a sign of strength,” he said. “It only shows President Trump’s weakness.” Ms. Pelosi said, “This goes too far.” At the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. asked the audience to stand in support of Colonel Vindman.

The White House would not discuss the Vindman decision. “We do not comment on personnel matters,” said John Ullyot, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, celebrated the dismissals, offering mock thanks to Mr. Schiff for investigating his father. “Were it not for his crack investigation skills, @realDonaldTrump might have had a tougher time unearthing who all needed to be fired,” he tweeted.

“The president had every right to make the moves that he did today,” Representative Lee Zeldin, Republican of New York, said in an interview. “Moving Lt. Col. Vindman, for example, is a good move based on the fact that there is a lack of trust. He disagrees with the president’s policies.” As for Mr. Sondland, “the president can recall an ambassador at any time with or without cause, and in the case of Gordon Sondland, the guy was a hot mess, anyway.”

Other impeachment witnesses have left with less drama in recent weeks. Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from her post last spring because she was seen as an obstacle to the president’s plans, retired last month from the Foreign Service. William B. Taylor Jr., who replaced her in an acting capacity, was essentially brought back early, as well. And Jennifer Williams, a career official detailed to Vice President Mike Pence’s office, quietly left recently to return to the Defense Department.

Several had already left the government, like Fiona Hill, the Europe policy chief at the National Security Council, and Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, who resigned days before testifying. But others, so far, remain at their posts, including George P. Kent at the State Department, Laura Cooper at the Defense Department and David Holmes at the embassy in Ukraine.

Mr. Sondland began discussions with senior officials about leaving his post shortly after he testified in November, according to two people briefed on the matter. He believed that remaining as ambassador would be untenable given his role in impeachment and hoped to exit gracefully, they said.

A decision on when to step down was put off until after impeachment, but on Friday, State Department officials told Mr. Sondland that they wanted him to resign, the people said. Mr. Sondland relayed to them that he would not step down amid what was clearly a purge of impeachment witnesses and that he would have to be fired, the people said. In response, State Department officials recalled him.

Colonel Vindman’s brother seemed to be collateral damage. Yevgeny Vindman, who goes by Eugene, worked as a lawyer for the National Security Council and had no role in the impeachment hearings other than showing up to sit behind his brother when he appeared in November. He was given no explanation for his dismissal “despite over two decades of loyal service to this country,” said Mr. Pressman, the lawyer. “He deeply regrets that he will not be able to continue his service at the White House.”

Both Vindmans, whose tours at the White House were scheduled to last until July, will retain their Army ranks and return to military service. Alexander Vindman, who had been expecting the move and had begun removing personal items, was told he would go to the Pentagon before moving to the National War College in July as originally planned. Yevgeny Vindman was more surprised and was told he would report to the office of the Army general counsel.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said service members who return to the military would be welcomed back. “We protect all of our persons, service members, from retribution or anything like that,” he told reporters.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has made clear his personal antipathy for both Vindmans. “Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and his twin brother, right?” the president said on Thursday during a rambling hourlong venting session at the White House, his voice dripping with disdain. “We had some people that — really amazing.”

On Friday morning, Mr. Trump retweeted a message from a supporter advocating Alexander Vindman’s dismissal: “Vindman’s behavior is a scandal. He should be removed from the @RealDonaldTrump White House ASAP to protect our foreign policy from his machinations.”

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican who voted to acquit the president but expressed hope that he would learn a lesson from the impeachment, said that witnesses should not be punished. “I obviously am not in favor of any kind of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence,” she said in Maine, according to The Portland Press Herald.

Colonel Vindman has been subjected to virulent attacks on his patriotism on Fox News and social media. The president called him a “Never Trumper,” a term the colonel rejected. Fox aired a segment suggesting his service in the White House might amount to “espionage.” And Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, attacked him on Twitter: “How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?”

With impeachment over, Mr. Trump is debating additional personnel changes. Some advisers are encouraging him to part ways with his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who was involved in freezing security aid to Ukraine, which paved the way for impeachment.

Other advisers are telling Mr. Trump that he should wait to make major changes until after the election in November. Some advisers hope that Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, will join the White House as a senior adviser. Mr. Meadows traveled with the president on Friday to North Carolina.

Mr. Trump denied that Mr. Mulvaney would be pushed out in favor of Mr. Meadows. “I have a great relationship with Mick,” the president told reporters on Friday. “I have a great relationship with Mark. And it’s false.”

Peter Baker and Michael S. Schmidt reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman and Danny Hakim from New York. Lola Fadulu contributed reporting from Charlotte, N.C.

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Trump Fires Impeachment Witnesses Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman in Post-Acquittal Purge

Westlake Legal Group 07dc-revenge2-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Fires Impeachment Witnesses Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman in Post-Acquittal Purge Vindman, Alexander S United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry National Security Council Defense Department

WASHINGTON — 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.

Even as he began purging administration officials who testified in the House impeachment inquiry, Mr. Trump assailed a Democratic senator who he had hoped would side with him during the trial but did not and called on the House to “expunge” his impeachment because he deems it illegitimate.

The flurry of actions and outbursts drew quick condemnation from Democrats, who said the president was demonstrating that he feels unleashed, and complicated the politics of impeachment for moderate Republicans who stood by him while arguing that he had learned his lessons and would be more restrained in the future.

“There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House,” David Pressman, Colonel Vindman’s lawyer, said in a statement. “Lt. Col. Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”

Colonel Vindman spoke publicly only once, after being ordered to under subpoena, Mr. Pressman added. “And for that, the most powerful man in the world — buoyed by the silent, the pliable and the complicit — has decided to exact revenge.”

Mr. Sondland took a more measured approach, confirming that he had been dismissed without offering any protest.

“I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States ambassador to the European Union,” he said in a statement hours after Colonel Vindman’s dismissal. “I am grateful to President Trump for having given me the opportunity to serve, to Secretary Pompeo for his consistent support and to the exceptional and dedicated professionals at the U.S. Mission to the European Union.”

Mr. Sondland and Colonel Vindman were two of the most crucial witnesses in the House impeachment hearings. Mr. Sondland, who was deeply involved in the effort to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into Mr. Trump’s Democratic rivals, testified that “we followed the president’s orders” and that “everyone was in the loop.” Colonel Vindman testified that he brought concerns about Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president to National Security Council officials.

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 president continued to assail lawmakers who voted for conviction, targeting Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who bitterly disappointed Mr. Trump by sticking with his party. “I was told by many that Manchin was just a puppet for Schumer & Pelosi,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “That’s all he is!”

Even as Mr. Trump flew to North Carolina to highlight his economic record, he called on the House to “expunge” his impeachment, an idea with no precedent or basis in the Constitution. “They should because it was a hoax,” he told reporters. “It was a total political hoax.” And he accused Ms. Pelosi of committing a crime by ripping up a copy of his State of the Union address. “She broke the law,” he asserted.

The president’s critics had warned that he would feel unbound if acquitted, and some said that the dismissal of Mr. Sondland and the Vindman brothers proved their point, quickly calling it “the Friday night massacre,” as Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, put it.

“These are the actions of a man who believes he is above the law,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the lead House impeachment manager. Mr. Schumer said the White House was running from the truth. “This action is not a sign of strength,” he said. “It only shows President Trump’s weakness.” Ms. Pelosi said, “This goes too far.” At the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. asked the audience to stand in support of Colonel Vindman.

The White House would not discuss the Vindman decision. “We do not comment on personnel matters,” said John Ullyot, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, celebrated the dismissals, offering mock thanks to Mr. Schiff for investigating his father. “Were it not for his crack investigation skills, @realDonaldTrump might have had a tougher time unearthing who all needed to be fired,” he tweeted.

“The president had every right to make the moves that he did today,” Representative Lee Zeldin, Republican of New York, said in an interview. “Moving Lt. Col. Vindman, for example, is a good move based on the fact that there is a lack of trust. He disagrees with the president’s policies.” As for Mr. Sondland, “the president can recall an ambassador at any time with or without cause, and in the case of Gordon Sondland, the guy was a hot mess, anyway.”

Other impeachment witnesses have left with less drama in recent weeks. Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from her post last spring because she was seen as an obstacle to the president’s plans, retired last month from the Foreign Service. William B. Taylor Jr., who replaced her in an acting capacity, was essentially brought back early, as well. And Jennifer Williams, a career official detailed to Vice President Mike Pence’s office, quietly left recently to return to the Defense Department.

Several had already left the government, like Fiona Hill, the Europe policy chief at the National Security Council, and Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, who resigned days before testifying. But others, so far, remain at their posts, including George P. Kent at the State Department, Laura Cooper at the Defense Department and David Holmes at the embassy in Ukraine.

Mr. Sondland began discussions with senior officials about leaving his post shortly after he testified in November, according to two people briefed on the matter. He believed that remaining as ambassador would be untenable given his role in impeachment and hoped to exit gracefully, they said.

A decision on when to step down was put off until after impeachment, but on Friday, State Department officials told Mr. Sondland that they wanted him to resign, the people said. Mr. Sondland relayed to them that he would not step down amid what was clearly a purge of impeachment witnesses and that he would have to be fired, the people said. In response, State Department officials recalled him.

Colonel Vindman’s brother seemed to be collateral damage. Yevgeny Vindman, who goes by Eugene, worked as a lawyer for the National Security Council and had no role in the impeachment hearings other than showing up to sit behind his brother when he appeared in November. He was given no explanation for his dismissal “despite over two decades of loyal service to this country,” said Mr. Pressman, the lawyer. “He deeply regrets that he will not be able to continue his service at the White House.”

Both Vindmans, whose tours at the White House were scheduled to last until July, will retain their Army ranks and return to military service. Alexander Vindman, who had been expecting the move and had begun removing personal items, was told he would go to the Pentagon before moving to the National War College in July as originally planned. Yevgeny Vindman was more surprised and was told he would report to the office of the Army general counsel.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said service members who return to the military would be welcomed back. “We protect all of our persons, service members, from retribution or anything like that,” he told reporters.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has made clear his personal antipathy for both Vindmans. “Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and his twin brother, right?” the president said on Thursday during a rambling hourlong venting session at the White House, his voice dripping with disdain. “We had some people that — really amazing.”

On Friday morning, Mr. Trump retweeted a message from a supporter advocating Alexander Vindman’s dismissal: “Vindman’s behavior is a scandal. He should be removed from the @RealDonaldTrump White House ASAP to protect our foreign policy from his machinations.”

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican who voted to acquit the president but expressed hope that he would learn a lesson from the impeachment, said that witnesses should not be punished. “I obviously am not in favor of any kind of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence,” she said in Maine, according to The Portland Press Herald.

Colonel Vindman has been subjected to virulent attacks on his patriotism on Fox News and social media. The president called him a “Never Trumper,” a term the colonel rejected. Fox aired a segment suggesting his service in the White House might amount to “espionage.” And Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, attacked him on Twitter: “How patriotic is it to badmouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?”

With impeachment over, Mr. Trump is debating additional personnel changes. Some advisers are encouraging him to part ways with his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who was involved in freezing security aid to Ukraine, which paved the way for impeachment.

Other advisers are telling Mr. Trump that he should wait to make major changes until after the election in November. Some advisers hope that Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, will join the White House as a senior adviser. Mr. Meadows traveled with the president on Friday to North Carolina.

Mr. Trump denied that Mr. Mulvaney would be pushed out in favor of Mr. Meadows. “I have a great relationship with Mick,” the president told reporters on Friday. “I have a great relationship with Mark. And it’s false.”

Peter Baker and Michael S. Schmidt reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman and Danny Hakim from New York. Lola Fadulu contributed reporting from Charlotte, N.C.

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Trump Fires Gordon Sondland Hours After Dismissing Impeachment Witness Alexander Vindman

Westlake Legal Group merlin_164751228_0abe9ffa-8305-4e48-af19-1f4fed3eebc7-facebookJumbo Trump Fires Gordon Sondland Hours After Dismissing Impeachment Witness Alexander Vindman Vindman, Alexander S United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry National Security Council Defense Department

WASHINGTON — President Trump and his aides wasted little time opening a campaign of retribution against those he blames for his impeachment, firing on Friday two of the most prominent witnesses in the inquiry against him barely 48 hours after the Senate acquitted the president.

Emboldened by his victory and determined to strike back, Mr. Trump fired Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, within hours of the White House dismissing Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran who was a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council. Both officials testified to a House committee about the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to help him against his domestic political rivals.

“I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States Ambassador to the European Union,” Mr. Sondland said in a statement just hours after Colonel Vindman’s dismissal. He expressed gratitude to Mr. Trump “for having given me the opportunity to serve.”

Colonel Vindman was escorted out of the White House by security officers on Friday afternoon and told that his services were no longer needed. His twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who also worked on the N.S.C. staff, was fired too and escorted out at the same time. Both will be sent back to the Defense Department.

“There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House,” David Pressman, Alexander Vindman’s lawyer, said in a statement. “Lt. Col. Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”

Colonel Vindman spoke publicly only once, when ordered to under subpoena, Mr. Pressman added. “And for that, the most powerful man in the world — buoyed by the silent, the pliable, and the complicit — has decided to exact revenge.”

Mr. Trump signaled Colonel Vindman’s fate hours ahead of time when he told reporters that a decision would be coming soon. “Well, I’m not happy with him,” the president said of Colonel Vindman. “You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”

The ouster of the Vindman brothers and Mr. Sondland 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 like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, calling them “evil,” “corrupt” and “crooked,” while his White House press secretary declared that those who hurt the president “should pay for” it.

The president continued to go after lawmakers who voted for conviction, targeting Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, one of the Democrats the White House had hoped to win over only to be bitterly disappointed when he voted along with the rest of his party. “I was told by many that Manchin was just a puppet for Schumer & Pelosi,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “That’s all he is!

Even as Mr. Trump flew to North Carolina to highlight his economic record, he called on the House to “expunge” his impeachment, an idea with no precedent or basis in the Constitution. “They should because it was a hoax,” he told reporters. “It was a total political hoax.”

The president’s critics had warned that he would feel unbound if acquitted, no longer restrained by the threat of congressional action, and some said the dismissal of the Vindman brothers proved their point.

“This is shameful of course,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “But this is also what we should now expect from an impeached president whose party has decided he is above the law and accountable to no one.”

Mr. Schumer said the action showed that the White House was running away from the truth. “This action is not a sign of strength,” he said. “It only shows President Trump’s weakness.”

The White House would not discuss the decision. “We do not comment on personnel matters,” said John Ullyot, a spokesman for the N.S.C.

Colonel Vindman was the latest impeachment witness to lose his job, but the first to be dismissed with security guards taking him out of the White House compound.

Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from her post because she was seen as an obstacle to the president’s plans, retired from the Foreign Service last month. William B. Taylor Jr., who replaced her in an acting capacity, was essentially brought back early as well. Jennifer Williams, a career official detailed to Vice President Mike Pence’s office, quietly left recently to return to the Defense Department.

Several who testified had already left the government, like Fiona Hill, the Europe policy chief at the National Security Council, while Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine, resigned days before testifying. But others so far remain at their posts, including George Kent at the State Department, Laura Cooper at the Defense Department and David Holmes at the embassy in Ukraine.

Both Vindman brothers, whose tours at the White House were scheduled to last until July, will retain their Army ranks and return to military service. Alexander Vindman, who had been expecting the move and had begun removing personal items, was told he will go to the Pentagon before moving to the National War College in July as originally planned, according to one person close to the situation. Yevgeny Vindman, who goes by Eugene, was more surprised and told he will report to the office of the Army general counsel.

Eugene Vindman did not testify and had no role in the impeachment hearings other than to show up to sit behind his brother when he appeared in November. He was given “no explanation for his dismissal “despite over two decades of loyal service to this country,” said Mr. Pressman, the lawyer. “He deeply regrets that he will not be able to continue his service at the White House.”

Alexander Vindman, a Ukrainian immigrant who earned a Purple Heart after being injured while serving in Iraq, told the House Intelligence Committee that he was surprised to hear Mr. Trump pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats during a July 25 telephone call. He told lawmakers that he reported his concerns to other N.S.C. officials.

Mr. Trump has made clear his personal antipathy for Colonel Vindman. “Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and his twin brother, right?” the president said at one point during a rambling hourlong venting session at the White House on Thursday, his voice dripping with disdain. “We had some people that — really amazing.”

On Friday morning, the president reposted a Twitter message from a supporter advocating the colonel’s dismissal: “Vindman’s behavior is a scandal. He should be removed from the @RealDonaldTrump White House ASAP to protect our foreign policy from his machinations.”

Ms. Pelosi said she was “stunned” by Colonel Vindman’s dismissal. “That’s such a shame,” she told reporters. “What a patriotic person. This goes too far.”

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican who voted to acquit but expressed hope that Mr. Trump would learn a lesson from the impeachment, said that witnesses should not be punished for giving the House required testimony. “I obviously am not in favor of any kind of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence,” she said in Maine, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Even before the hearing, Colonel Vindman was subjected to virulent attacks on his patriotism on Fox News and social media that caused concern for his personal safety. Mr. Trump called him a “Never Trumper,” a term the colonel rejected. Fox aired a segment in which commentators noted that Colonel Vindman was an immigrant “working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest,” suggesting that might amount to “espionage.”

Colonel Vindman made Mr. Trump and his allies even angrier when he wore his uniform at the televised hearing and made comments that seemed more political than the other witnesses. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, called the colonel “a low level partisan bureaucrat and nothing more.”

The attacks resumed during the Senate trial. Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, wrote on Twitter that Colonel Vindman was no patriot. “How patriotic is it to bad-mouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America’s greatest enemy?” she asked.

She posted another message a few hours later quoting a former commander about Colonel Vindman: “Do not let the uniform fool you. He is a political activist in uniform.” Mr. Trump retweeted the post.

Colonel Vindman’s lawyer fired back at what he called the senator’s “slander” and “cowardice,” saying his client would continue to “serve our country dutifully and with honor.”

In recent weeks, Colonel Vindman was still doing his day-to-day job of coordinating Ukraine policy with career officials at other agencies, but had been largely cut off from political appointees and had not yet met the new national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, who has been in the job since September.

With impeachment over, Mr. Trump is debating whether to make additional changes in the White House staff. Some advisers are encouraging him to part ways with his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who was involved in freezing security aid to Ukraine, which paved the way for impeachment.

Other advisers are telling Mr. Trump that he should wait to make major changes until after the election. Some advisers hope that Representative Mark Meadows, Republican from North Carolina, who is retiring, will join the White House as a senior adviser, though not as chief of staff. Mr. Meadows traveled with Mr. Trump on Air Force One to North Carolina on Friday.

Mr. Trump disputed speculation that Mr. Mulvaney would be pushed out in favor of Mr. Meadows. “I have a great relationship with Mick,” the president told reporters. “I have a great relationship with Mark. And it’s false.”

Peter Baker and Michael Schmidt reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman and Danny Hakim from New York. Lola Fadulu contributed reporting from Charlotte, N.C.

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