Republican Senators Tried to Stop Trump From Firing Impeachment Witness

Mr. Sondland and Colonel Vindman were key witnesses in the House hearings. Mr. Sondland, who was deeply involved in the effort to pressure Ukraine, testified that “we followed the president’s orders” and that “everyone was in the loop.” Colonel Vindman, who was on Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, testified that it was “improper for the president” to coerce a foreign country to investigate political opponents.

Colonel Vindman, a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council staff, and his brother were scheduled to remain at the White House until July but will now be sent back to the Defense Department. Mr. Sondland, a political appointee, will return to the United States and presumably leave government service.

A lawyer for Colonel Vindman said Mr. Trump’s Twitter messages contained “obviously false statements” about his client.

“They conflict with the clear personnel record and the entirety of the impeachment record of which the president is well aware,” said the lawyer, David Pressman. “While the most powerful man in the world continues his campaign of intimidation, while too many entrusted with political office continue to remain silent, Lt. Col. Vindman continues his service to our country as a decorated, active duty member of our military.”

Mr. Trump’s tweets misstated or overstated testimony about Colonel Vindman. Tim Morrison, who supervised him at the National Security Council for just three months, told the House that he had concerns about Colonel Vindman’s judgment and believed he did not always adhere to the chain of command. But when Mr. Morrison said he had originally heard such concerns from his predecessor, Fiona Hill, she disputed his account.

Ms. Hill, who supervised Colonel Vindman for two years, testified that she had a much narrower concern that he did not have “the political antenna” to deal with matters related to domestic politics. “That does not mean in any way that I was questioning his overall judgment, nor was I questioning in any way his substantive expertise,” she said. “He is excellent on issues related to Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, on Russian defense issues.”

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