The White House will not be pleased — expect a tweet from President Donald Trump at any moment — with the opening statement of European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland in front of the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry hearings on Wednesday morning.
Sondland, as opposed to previous witnesses, stated that “there was a quid pro quo” in regard to a meeting between the American and Ukrainian presidents and a Volodymr Zelensky promise to investigate corrupt Ukrainian firm Burisma.
The quid pro quo, according to Sondland, was transmitted by presidential personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
But Sondland also made clear that Trump himself never spoke to him — Sondland — about any military aid.
After Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) opened Wednesday’s hearing by whining over White House legal defense strategies, Ranking GOP Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) then told Sondland, “You are here to be smeared.”
Sondland’s opening statement recounted his view that the entire inquiry process was “less than fair.”
But the unfairness, he explained, had to do with White House and State Department intransigence on documents.
That was the first hint Sondland was going south on the GOP.
The ambassador was adamant that he, Ambassador Kurt Volker, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry — the so-called ‘Three Amigos” — “did not want to work with Rudy Giuliani.”
But, said Sondland, the president insisted.
The E.U. envoy then lobbed a verbal grenade straight into the Republican seats.
Sondland said without qualification that the White House demanded, as communicated by Giuliani, “a quid pro quo” in regard to a meeting of the presidents and a Zelensky public pronouncement that he would investigate Burisma.
Sondland admitted he later came to realize that that request involved the Bidens.
His testimony contradicts the GOP message and the words of previous witnesses.
He did admit the president said repeatedly that he wanted “no quid pro quo.”
But Sondland now apparently thinks otherwise.
Sondland quite literally testified that Trump told him "𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴. 𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗻𝗼 𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗱 𝗽𝗿𝗼 𝗾𝘂𝗼."
It is actually the opposite of a contradiction.
This is fake news. Be vigilant, everyone. The fake news is on fire today. https://t.co/p8r4H42wTz
— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) November 20, 2019
This is the essential question: was it appropriate for the Trump administration to be inquiring about a potentially serious conflict of interest from a previous administration?
Everyone so far agrees the Burisma-Biden issue raised concerns. Why can’t we ask about it? https://t.co/d65tAqg2EY
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) November 20, 2019
The most important quote out of this hearing so far:
Sondland: "I've never heard from President Trump that the aid was conditioned on the investigations." He reached this conclusion on his own.
So, in short, yet another witness who can't testify to the Democrats' accusations.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) November 20, 2019
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) November 20, 2019
Watch for the tables to turn now as the Dems go on offense and the GOP goes on defense.
GOP members will try to trip up Sondland and will likely go after Sondland’s reputation for exaggerating his own place in the scheme of things.
The president will react to Sondland’s currying favor with the Democrats — and it won’t be pretty.
This article has been updated to include additional tweets.
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