Trump defends removal of impeachment witness

first_img“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.””In other words, ‘OUT’.”Vindman was present during a now famous July 25 phone call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden.House Democrats who impeached Trump on allegations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress argued that the call was part of a concerted effort to coerce a weak foreign ally at war with Russia into helping him cheat in November’s presidential election. President Donald Trump on Saturday defended his decision to fire an army officer who gave damning evidence against him during the impeachment probe.Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was escorted Friday out of the White House, where he worked on the National Security Council as an expert on Ukraine. His lawyer called the move an act of revenge by the president, two days after he was acquitted by the Senate.”Fake News @CNN & MSDNC keep talking about ‘Lt. Col.’ Vindman as though I should think only how wonderful he was,” Trump tweeted, apparently referring to news outlet MSNBC. Subpoenaed by Congress to testify at the House impeachment hearings, the Ukrainian-born Vindman, who received a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in Iraq, said Trump’s actions were “improper.”That testimony helped build the case leading to Trump becoming only the third president ever impeached by Congress.Vindman’s lawyer David Pressman on Saturday called Trump’s tweet “a series of obviously false statements concerning Lieutenant Colonel Vindman.””They conflict with the clear personnel record and the entirety of the impeachment record of which the President is well aware,” he said in a statement to US media.”While the most powerful man in the world continues his campaign of intimidation, while too many entrusted with political office continue to remain silent, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman continues his service to our country as a decorated, active duty member of our military.”On Friday, Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union and who also testified against Trump, said he was being recalled immediately.Democratic Senator Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, on Saturday slammed Trump’s “personal insecurities and vindictiveness.””By firing Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and Ambassador Sondland like this, the Trump Administration signaled it won’t tolerate people who tell the truth,” he said in a statement.”This is a dangerous moment for our democracy and the non-partisan institutions charged with defending it and upholding the law.”center_img Topics :last_img read more

Venezuelan protests seek Maduros ouster

first_imgRelated posts:Three steps Venezuela must take Showdown looms for Venezuela, as protest leader Leopoldo López vows new march Cuba’s Christmas surprise for Caracas Former Colombian, Bolivian leaders warn of looming humanitarian crisis in Venezuela CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela’s opposition held a national day of protest Saturday, the opening salvo in its new strategy to oust President Nicolás Maduro.After winning by a landslide in legislative elections last December, only to see its authority hamstrung by the courts, the opposition is counting on the power of the street to force the deeply unpopular Maduro to listen to calls for change.Seventeen years into the socialist “revolution” launched by the president’s late mentor Hugo Chávez, a punishing economic crisis has stoked outrage in the once-booming oil giant, where chronic shortages of basic goods, long lines and soaring prices have become the norm.After weeks debating its plan of attack, the fractious opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), announced it would use not one but all options available to oust Maduro, including a recall referendum and a constitutional amendment reducing the presidential term from six years to four.But with an unfriendly Supreme Court likely to stand in its way, it is placing special emphasis on its call for protests — a potentially explosive path amid the tensions tearing at Venezuela, after anti-government demonstrations in 2014 left 43 people dead.Huge crowds of opposition protesters decked out in the yellow, blue and red of the Venezuelan flag gathered in Caracas Saturday morning, answering the MUD leadership’s call on social media with the hashtag #MaduroResignNow.Maduro was also leading a rally of his own in the capital, though turnout figures for the rival demos were not immediately available.Officially, Maduro’s rally is a protest against the United States’ decision to renew sanctions on several top Venezuelan officials, first imposed a year ago over a government crack-down on opposition leaders.Caracas recalled its top diplomat in Washington Wednesday over the renewed spat.But beneath the anti-U.S. rhetoric that Maduro and Chávez have long relied upon to whip up their leftist supporters, the rally is a clear attempt to counter the opposition’s protests. A handout picture released by the Venezuelan presidency shows President Nicolás Maduro, center, with Vice President Aristóbulo Istúriz, left, and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López during a meeting in Caracas, on March, 9, 2016. AFP/PresidenciaMaduro ‘can’t change reality’The two demonstrations will be held in different parts of the capital, but the security situation is nevertheless tense given the violence of 2014.“We’re not afraid of the game. It’s clear that it’s the people who decide,” said opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara, calling to oust Maduro by year’s end.“The best exit [from the crisis] would be for him to allow a political solution, and the fastest way would be for him to agree to resign,” he said.But Maduro, who took over from Chávez after his death in 2013, shows no willingness to quit without a fight.“You won’t get rid of Maduro,” he said this week. “Maduro isn’t just Maduro, Maduro is the people and the revolution, what part of that don’t you understand?”Cuban President Raúl Castro, one of Maduro’s top Latin American allies, said he was sending his Venezuelan counterpart his “unconditional support.”The protests come against the backdrop of a deep economic morass exacerbated by the crash in the price of oil, which long funded Chávez and Maduro’s lavish social spending.Despite holding the world’s largest crude reserves, Venezuela’s economy contracted 5.7 percent last year, its second year of recession.Political analysts say all the constitutional options to force Maduro from power face likely rejection by the Supreme Court or the National Electoral Council — both of which the opposition accuses the president of packing with allies.But the president can’t ignore the voice of the people either, said analyst Luis Vicente León.“What neither the government, nor the Supreme Court, nor the National Electoral Council can do is change reality. The majority of the population wants change,” he said. “If an electoral process were held today, the opposition would win.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more