Karl Rove locked horns with Fox News host Juan Williams in a heated debate over the firing of impeachment witnesses Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Ambassador Gordon Sondland.
The former adviser to President George W. Bush pushed back at Williams’ criticism of President Donald Trump for what he characterized as “payback” in firing the officials who testified as Democrats’ witnesses in the impeachment hearings.
(Source: Fox News)
Fox News host Chris Wallace introduced the topic on “Fox News Sunday,” likening the firing to a scene from “The Godfather.”
“The president has a right to have ambassadors and White House staff who he is comfortable with,” Rove responded, defending Trump’s decision to fire Vindman from his National Security post and Sondland, who was the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.
“His tour of duty at the White House ended in July, but he’d supposedly signaled he wanted to leave at the end of February, I would have let him leave at the end of February. But the president has a right to have staff in whom he has confidence,” Rove continued, adding that Sondland responded with a “generous statement” thanking the president.
BREAKING: Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland says he was told today Trump intends to recall him immediately.
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) February 8, 2020
“I understand why he’s angry,” Rove continued, contending that Trump should have just moved on in his post-impeachment acquittal speech rather than strike out in anger at his detractors. “But I understand it, this is something he cares deeply about because he feels personally aggrieved about it, I just wished he would have been able to tone a little bit of that down and tone a lot up on let’s get going, move forward.”
Wallace asked Williams about Rove’s contention that the president has a right to have people he can trust working for him.
“This is not about trust,” the Fox News political analyst replied. “This is about payback.”
“This guy is a decorated soldier and, as far as we know, truth-teller,” he said of Vindman, adding that Trump acted in disregard of “all laws that protect whistleblowers or people who speak truth about when they see corruption or malfeasance in government.”
“I think he’s going after Vindman… in order to scare other people into silence in the future,” Williams said, adding that Trump has “silenced” his critics as they are afraid of him.
Rove fired back at Williams’ “outrageous” remark.
“The law was broken? The whistleblower law? I’m not aware of it, not even the attorney for Vindman made that outrageous suggestion,” the former Bush Deputy Chief of Staff said.
“The president has a right to have staff whom he has confidence and trust in. Vindman had every right to come forward and say what he did,” Rove said. “He said I had problems with that conversation. Well, guess what? That conversation on its face is not what the Democrats alleged it was. They alleged there was a quid pro quo and the president never says you gotta do this or I’m not going to do that, that’s ridiculous!”
“I think there’s no question, Karl, that that call was not perfect,” Williams shot back.
“Well, ok, so great!” Rove exclaimed. “We are going to impeach the president of the United States for not meeting our perfect standards!”
The two sparred over questioning the judgment of others before Wallace cut in to move to another topic.
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