President Donald Trump's decided to have Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman escorted from the White House even though he knew it would look bad politically, according to a report from the New York Times.
One source tells the Times that the administration had originally planned to provide plausible deniability about Vindman's dismissal by executing a broader downsizing of the National Security Council.
"The original plan was to use this downsizing as cover to remove Colonel Vindman as well without looking like a reprisal," the Times reports. "But in the end, the president did not want cover. He wanted to send a message -- a message that Washington has received."
Since being acquitted by the Senate last week, Trump has sought to push out any administration officials who served as witnesses during the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry, and has also inserted himself directly into the DOJ's sentencing recommendations for Roger Stone, a longtime ally who was convicted last year on charges of perjury, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice.
Trump also suggested that the military should look into disciplining Vindman, a key witness who testified about his concerns over the president's efforts to shake down the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponents.