Note: this piece was originally published in the Washington Post, and was written by Checks & Balances member George Conway.
With essentially no pretense about why he was doing it, the president brazenly retaliated Friday against two witnesses who gave truthful testimony in the House’s impeachment inquiry. He fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. And he also fired a third man, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, merely for being the brother of the first. Trump essentially admitted his retaliatory motive on Saturday, when he tweeted that he sacked Vindman in part for having “reported contents of my ‘perfect’ calls incorrectly.”
If this were a criminal investigation, and Alexander Vindman and Sondland had given their testimony to a grand jury, this Friday Night Massacre could have been a crime. At the very least, it ought to be impeachable: If Richard M. Nixon was to be impeached for authorizing hush money for witnesses, and Trump himself was actually impeached for directing defiance of House subpoenas, then there should be no doubt that punishing witnesses for complying with subpoenas and giving truthful testimony about presidential misconduct should make for a high crime or misdemeanor as well.
But it’s really not about this one day, or this one egregious act. It’s about who Trump is, who he always was and who he always will be. It’s about the complete mismatch between the man and the office he holds.