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

A group of Republican senators attempted to stop President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign: Trump and former vice president will have phone call about coronavirus Esper: Military personnel could help treat coronavirus patients 'if push comes to shove' Schumer calls for military official to act as medical equipment czar MORE from ousting U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandWhite House withdraws nomination for Pentagon budget chief who questioned Ukraine aid hold Juan Williams: Will the GOP ever curb Trump? House wants documents on McEntee's security clearances 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 CollinsGOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Campaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus Senate eyes quick exit after vote on coronavirus stimulus package MORE (Maine), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisNorth Carolina Senate race emerges as 2020 bellwether The Hill's Campaign Report: North Carolina emerges as key battleground for Senate control Campaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus MORE (N.C.), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGOP senator suspending campaign fundraising, donating paycheck amid coronavirus pandemic New bill would withhold pay from Senate until coronavirus stimulus package passes Senate GOP super PAC books more than million in fall ads MORE (Ariz.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonRemembering Tom Coburn's quiet persistence Coronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner GOP seeks up to 0 billion to maximize financial help to airlines, other impacted industries 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 MulvaneyMeadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House Meadows set to resign from Congress as he moves to White House 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 Pence16 things to know today about coronavirus outbreak Pence urges Americans to avoid church services of more than 10 people Watch live: Coronavirus task force holds press briefing MORE, returned to the Defense Department and former ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchAmerica's diplomats deserve our respect House panel says key witness isn't cooperating in probe into Yovanovitch surveillance President Trump's assault on checks and balances: Five acts in four weeks MORE retired from the foreign service.