President Donald Trump is now abusing his power by engaging in a vicious retaliation campaign against the witnesses who came forward to testify against him during House impeachment hearings, drawing forceful condemnation from legal experts. Just two days after being acquitted by Senate Republicans, some of whom expressed hope that he had learned his lesson, Trump conducted a “Friday Night Massacre” reminiscent of the “Saturday Night Massacre that led to former President Richard Nixon’s downfall during the Watergate scandal.
First, Trump fired Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient and war hero who confirmed that Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Zelensky was a quid pro quo. Vindman has been removed from the National Security Council and will be reassigned to the Pentagon. Trump’s vindictiveness knew no bounds either as he also fired Vindman’s brother, who served as the NSC attorney.
Trump then fired Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who also confirmed Trump’s quid pro quo during his own damning testimony.
This rampage is the textbook definition of witness retaliation, which is against the law.
Legal experts responded by condemning his actions.
What normally happens when a public official retaliates against a witness who testified about the public official’s criminal conduct is that the public official goes to prison.
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) February 7, 2020
We truly live in a totalitarian regime now. This isn’t the first use of government retaliation for perceived political “enemies” but now he can proudly display his power. https://t.co/mTgIM2hHOS
— Mimi Rocah (@Mimirocah1) February 7, 2020
Witness retaliation (18 USC 1513, if anyone wants to check it out).
This is the opening act of the Trump Payback Tour. And William Barr will, if anything, enable it. https://t.co/BLk2kPkcMH
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) February 7, 2020
Witness retaliation. https://t.co/dJNioIZqrj
— Jennifer Rodgers (@JenGRodgers) February 7, 2020
I worked for a DOJ that prosecuted people who retaliated against witnesses.
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) February 7, 2020
Trump is sending a message—if you go against him, even if you merely testify truthfully pursuant to a subpoena, he will punish you.
There’s every reason to believe that Trump will abuse his power again. But next time, we may not learn about it. https://t.co/decZx9FbH5
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) February 8, 2020
This is a national disgrace. I will never forgive the people who have let Donald Trump do this to this country. https://t.co/czKvlzKwlW
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) February 7, 2020
With the White House retaliating against Vindman for testifying to Congress and his brother for sharing the same blood, now’s a good time to read about what Sen. Graham says the Senate plans to do to the whistleblower—and the danger that poses for us all.https://t.co/aQIqFErDAs
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) February 7, 2020
“Colonel Vindman’s twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, also an Army lieutenant colonel who worked at the White House, was fired as well and escorted out at the same time.”
Punishing even the relatives of one’s critics is the hallmark of tyrants. https://t.co/IZ8eP6fTpV
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) February 7, 2020
Trump did not learn any lesson from impeachment except that he can do whatever he wants and Republicans will roll over for him. Trump is not only abusing his power openly now, but this will also inevitably give him the ability to abuse it in secret and no one will come forward to reveal his crimes to the country.
These firings should be investigated by the House and new impeachment articles should be drawn up. This kind of behavior from anyone is intolerable, let alone from the president.
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