Several Republican senators tried to stop President Trump from firing U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, but Trump moved forward and ousted him anyway, The New York Times reported Saturday. The senators were reportedly wary that it would look bad for Trump to fire Sondland—a star witness in the House impeachment hearings—and argued that it was unnecessary given that the ambassador was already considering leaving his post after the Senate trial. The senators told White House officials that Sondland should determine when to leave his post to avoid a wave of political backlash, according to the Times. The Republican senators reportedly reached out to White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and legislative affairs director Eric M. Ueland to convey their dissent. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who drew criticism for explaining her decision to vote against Trump's removal by claiming he had learned his “lesson,” was said to be among the Republicans who intervened to try and save Sondland. Sondland reportedly put up a fight when he was asked to resign and said they would have to fire him if they wanted him out.
Sondland’s departure came just hours after another impeachment witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, were dismissed and escorted out of the White House by security officers. Alexander Vindman’s lawyer accused the president of a “campaign of intimidation” after Trump called his client “very insubordinate” on Saturday. The Republican senators reportedly reached out to White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and legislative affairs director Eric M. Ueland to convey their dissent.