Trump directs ire at impeachment witness

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US President Donald Trump says he is “not happy” with a White House aide who is expected to be removed after he testified in the impeachment hearings.

Lt Colonel Alexander Vindman will be leaving the National Security Council (NSC) and is being moved to the Pentagon, according to sources.

But the president denied reports that his Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is also on the chopping block.

Mr Trump is said to desire a shake-up after his impeachment acquittal.

What next for Alexander Vindman?

“I’m not happy with him [Lt Col Vindman],” said the president, who was cleared of corruption charges by the US Senate on Wednesday.

“You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.”

“They’ll make that decision,” Mr Trump told reporters as he left the White House for North Carolina on Friday, in a possible reference to Lt Col Vindman’s senior US Army officers.

According to White House sources, Lt Col Vindman had expected a forthcoming transfer. He has been telling colleagues for weeks that he is ready to move to back the defence department, where he still holds active-duty soldier status.

Lt Col Vindman was working at the White House on Friday.

On Friday, US Defence Minister Mark Esper told reporters: “We welcome back all of our service members, wherever they served, to any assignment they’re given.

“And as I said we protect all of our service members from retribution or anything like that.”

What next for Mick Mulvaney?

In his comments to the press, Mr Trump also said reports that Mr Mulvaney would be fired were “false”.

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Media captionWhite House official tells impeachment hearing he “was concerned by call”

“I have a great relationship with Mick,” said Mr Trump.

North Carolina lawmaker Mark Meadows is being tipped by the Washington rumour mill as a replacement for Mr Mulvaney,

Mr Meadows, who is retiring from the House of Representatives where he led the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus, travelled with Mr Trump on Air Force One on Friday.

What did Vindman do to irk the president?

Lt Col Vindman is a Ukraine expert who testified to the House Intelligence Committee in November 2019 that he was “concerned” after hearing Mr Trump’s 25 July 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The call led to Mr Trump’s impeachment in the House for abuse of power in December, after Democratic lawmakers claimed he dangled US assistance in exchange for political favours.

“It was inappropriate, it was improper for the president to request – to demand – an investigation into a political opponent,” said Lt Col Vindman as he adorned his formal military attire.

  • US officer raised alarm over Trump-Ukraine call

When asked how he had overcome his fear of retaliation in order to testify, he answered: “Congressman, because this is America. This is the country I have served and defended… And here, right matters.”

The testimony led to fierce criticism from Mr Trump’s defenders, with some claiming it amounted to “treason”.