By HANNAH BLEAU
The Trump administration has removed 70 Obama holdovers at the National Security Council (NSC), Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard reported on Monday.
President Trump and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien have removed 70 Obama holdovers from the NSC, which previously boasted a staff of roughly 200 people, according to the Washington Examiner:
The news follows Saturday’s CNN report, which indicated “major cuts” to NSC staff in the coming days, citing “two sources familiar with the matter.”
It comes days after the contentious impeachment battle on Capitol Hill — a battle ignited by a complaint from a so-called “whistleblower.” The “whistleblower’s” complaint, regarding Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, sparked the House Democrats’ partisan impeachment inquiry, which ultimately ended in a full acquittal.
The administration removed Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, from his post at the NSC last week. It also removed his twin brother Yevgeny, who worked as a lawyer on the NSC.
While Vindman has denied knowing the identity of the “whistleblower,” he has been suspected of being a leaker in the past. Some Republican lawmakers, such Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), believe the former NSC official leaked details the president’s July 25 phone call to the “whistleblower.”
As Breitbart News reported:
First and foremost, Vindman admitted openly during his testimony before HPSCI last year under questioning from ranking GOP member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) that he leaked the contents of President Trump’s call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to two officials who were not in the White House. Vindman claimed during his testimony then that these two officials he leaked the call to were “cleared U.S. government officials with appropriate need to know.” While Vindman claimed under oath he did not know who the whistleblower was, Schiff intervened saying that answering Nunes’s questions identifying the individuals outside the White House to whom Vindman leaked the Trump-Zelensky call details may out the identity of the whistleblower who filed the original complaint.
The person who filed the complaint has been long been–and was at the time of this hearing–publicly reported to have been CIA official Eric Ciaramella. According to a follow-up report published this week by the outlet that first reported Ciaramella’s identity, RealClearPolitics, Vindman was the person who leaked the call details to Ciaramella.
Vindman’s removal drew a strong reaction from Democrat leaders. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called his firing “shameful” and a “brazen act of retaliation,” and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday wrote a letter to 74 inspectors general, requesting an investigation into “any and all instances of retaliation” against whistleblowers, according to the Hill.
“These attacks are part of a dangerous, growing pattern of retaliation against those who report wrongdoing only to find themselves targeted by the President and subject to his wrath and vindictiveness,” Schumer claimed.
The Trump administration has also identified and will remove the senior official who penned an anonymous “resistance” op-ed and book, according to U.S. Attorney Joe diGenova.