Trump defends firing Vindman


President Donald Trump defended the ouster of impeachment witness Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman from the White House, calling him "insubordinate."

In a tweet Saturday, Trump said, "Actually, I don't know him. never spoke to him, or met him (I don't believe) but, he was very insubordinate, reported contents of my "perfect" calls incorrectly."

The tweet comes one day after Vindman - who recently testified against Trump's efforts in Ukraine - was removed from his job as a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council.

That's according to Vindman's lawyer, who said he was asked to leave for telling the truth and that Trump - quote - "has decided to exact revenge."

Vindman told lawmakers in the House impeachment inquiry that Trump made an improper demand of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July phone call that became the centerpiece of the impeachment probe.

At the time, Vindman testified how he reassured his Soviet-born father he wouldn't face repercussions for his involvement in the hearings.

A source told Reuters that Vindman would be reassigned to the Defense Department.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper earlier on Friday was asked if he would shield Vindman from any retribution from the president.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY MARK ESPER, SAYING IN RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS ABOUT REPORTS THAT LIEUTENANT COLONEL ALEXANDER VINDMAN WILL RETURN TO PENTAGON:

"We welcome back all of our service members whenever they have serviced, to any assignment they have been given. I would refer you to the Army for any more detail on that. As I said, we protect all of our service members from retribution or anything like that."

Trump on Friday also ousted U.S Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, who provided damaging testimony in the impeachment probe.

In a statement, Sondland said he was advised that Trump intends to recall him - effective immediately.