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

A group of Republican senators attempted to stop President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE from ousting U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandTop Democrat slams Trump's new EU envoy: Not 'a political donor's part-time job' Trump names new EU envoy, filling post left vacant by impeachment witness Sondland Ocasio-Cortez: Republicans are prioritizing big chains in coronavirus relief  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 CollinsCongress eyes tighter restrictions on next round of small business help The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Stagwell President Mark Penn says Trump is losing on fighting the virus; Fauci says U.S. 'going in the wrong direction' in fight against virus GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday MORE (Maine), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisACLU calls on Congress to approve COVID-19 testing for immigrants Poll: Biden, Trump locked in neck-and-neck battle for North Carolina GOP senator: Russia should be labeled state sponsor of terrorism if intelligence is accurate MORE (N.C.), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyACLU calls on Congress to approve COVID-19 testing for immigrants Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names Political establishment takes a hit as chaos reigns supreme MORE (Ariz.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonCongress eyes tighter restrictions on next round of small business help Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday 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 MulvaneySupreme Court ruling could unleash new legal challenges to consumer bureau Bottom line White House goes through dizzying change in staff 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 PenceCongress gears up for battle over expiring unemployment benefits Secret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Overnight Health Care: Experts fear July 4 weekend will exacerbate coronavirus spread | Texas Gov. Abbott will require masks in most of the state | Fauci warns: 'We are not going in the right direction' MORE, returned to the Defense Department and former ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchCheney clashes with Trump Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Bolton book puts spotlight on Pompeo-Trump relationship MORE retired from the foreign service.