California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell said it’s an “abuse of power” for the president to remove an ambassador “for political reasons” during a Thursday interview on CNN.
Swalwell’s comments on “New Day” with host John Berman come after former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch said during a closed-door impeachment hearing on Oct. 11 that after stepping down from her position in May, she was told President Donald Trump wanted her removed from the position due to a lack of trust, according to the New York Times.
“It’s an abuse of power to remove an ambassador for political reasons because you don’t like what they’re doing. Period,” Swalwell began in reference to Yovanovitch, adding later that “it’s an extraordinary abuse of power if you remove an ambassador the way the president did.”
Yovanovitch, however, said in her Oct. 11 testimony that the decision to remove an ambassador should be up to the president, though she felt he was influenced by other people in his political circles.
“I thought that this was a dangerous precedent, that … people who don’t like a particular American ambassador could combine to, you know, find somebody who was more suitable for their interests. It should be the State Department, the president, who makes decisions about which ambassador,” according to a transcript released Nov. 4 by CBS.
“And, obviously, the president did make a decision,” she added, “but I think influenced by some who are not trustworthy.”
Swalwell continued to list other examples of what he believes to be other examples of abuse of power by the president.
“It’s a gross abuse of power if you ask a political ally like the Ukrainians to investigate your opponent. It’s a gross, extreme abuse of power if you leverage a White House meeting. … It’s an extraordinary abuse of power if you remove an ambassador the way the president did, ask for investigations, leverage a White House meeting and $300 million in taxpayer dollars,” he continued.
North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows tweeted the clip of Swalwell Thursday, calling the California representative’s comments “unserious and utterly baseless.”
“This statement inadvertently gives you an inside look at how unserious and utterly baseless the Democrats’ impeachment case against [Trump] is. They think it’s an ‘abuse of power’ to remove someone who explicitly serves at the pleasure of the president,” he tweeted.
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