Lt. Col. Vindman and Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, both key witnesses in the recent Senate impeachment trial, were fired last week — just days after President Trump was acquitted by the Senate. This week we have learned that this is part of a broader plan to change the structure of the National Security Council which included Vindman.
In a controversial move, the Whitehouse has decided to cut the ranks of the NSC by over 100 people. The NSC is a part of the Office of the President and is made up of members of the Cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as various other advisors. The Council’s primary role is to inform and advise the president on issues of national security and foreign policy and has existed since 1947. The current head of the NSC stated that the staffing changes do not have to do with retaliation but rather that “their services were no longer needed.” The NSC had grown to over 200 people and these changes will take the Council size back to where it was under George W. Bush at roughly 100 people. Most of the staff being let go are holdovers from the Obama administration.
The changes, including removing individuals who testified against the president, have been labeled as an act of “revenge” by the democrats. The firings prompted Senator Schumer to call for an investigation by the Inspector General. Politico asked if this move was “payback” towards political enemies and the New York Times called it a “Post Acquittal Purge.” From the NYT,
“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.”
The Right, however, feels that the firings are justified as all the NSC staff serve at the pleasure of the president and must have his trust and confidence. The current head of the NSC Robert O’Brien, speaking at the Atlantic Council on Tuesday, stated that revenge had nothing to do with the firing. Rather, the moves where in order to align the NSC with the policy views of the administration and to cut down on excess staff and bureaucracy. The Hill wrote a piece on O’Brien’s remarks where he stated,
“The president is entitled to staffers that want to execute his policy, that he has confidence in…We’re not a country where a bunch of lieutenant colonels can get together and decide what the policy is of the United States. We are not a banana republic.”Justin Wise
By: Daniel Luster