Group of GOP senators tried to stop Trump from Sondland ouster: report

A group of Republican senators attempted to stop President TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE from ousting U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Biden to mark Tuesday anniversary of George Floyd's death Trump impeachment witness suing Pompeo, State over legal fees America's practice of 'pay-to-play' ambassadors is no joke MORE this week, though the president removed the now-former diplomat from his post anyway, sources told The New York Times.

According to the paper's sources, the group of GOP senators – Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: CDC advises vaccinated to wear masks in high-risk areas | Biden admin considering vaccine mandate for federal workers Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Crunch time for bipartisan plan; first Jan. 6 hearing today MORE (Maine), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisEight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division DACA court ruling puts weight of immigration reform on Democrats Senators hail 'historic changes' as competing proposals to tackle military sexual assault advance MORE (N.C.), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallySchumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up GOP group launches million ad campaign pressing Kelly on filibuster Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (Ariz.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines MORE (Wisc.) – thought the ousting of Sondland would look bad, especially since he was already in talks senior officials about leaving his post after the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial.

However, on Friday, State Department officials informed Sondland that he needed to resign by the end of the day.

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Sondland pushed back, reportedly saying that if they wanted him gone on Friday, they would have to remove him. The president then recalled him from his post, effective immediately the newspaper reported.

The announcement of Sondland's ouster came just hours after National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman and his twin brother were removed from their posts.

Vindman and Sondland were both key witnesses in House Democrats' impeachment hearings, but the Times says that the group of lawmakers only registered concern about Sondland's ouster, not Vindman's. 

The group conveyed its concerns to acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE and legislative affairs director Eric Ueland.

A senior official confirmed the lawmakers' outreach, but the White House declined the Times' request for comment.

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The oustings have been dubbed a “Friday night massacre” by Democrats who view the moves as vindication for Trump after the president was acquitted on Wednesday in the Senate impeachment trial.

Trump addressed Vindman's removal on Twitter Saturday morning, saying that he never knew or spoke to Vindman.

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Other government officials who testified in the House hearings have also left the administration recently.

Jennifer Williams, who worked for Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Want to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement Live coverage: House panel holds first hearing on Jan. 6 probe MORE, returned to the Defense Department and former ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchGiuliani hires attorneys who defended Harvey Weinstein The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Former Ukrainian prosecutor says he was fired for not investigating Hunter Biden: report MORE retired from the foreign service.