Trump Ambassador: Yes, There Was A Quid Pro Quo

Donald Trump's Ambassador to the European Union provides yet more evidence to support impeachment of the President.

The morning session of today’s impeachment hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which lasted well into the afternoon, featured a single witness, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. No matter how the President or his supporters may choose to characterize him, Ambassador Sondland, who for the moment at least continues to serve, Sondland was a Trump supporter during the campaign who was essentially given his position as a political reward, which is typical for Ambassadorships. In addition to helping to raise money for the campaign, Sondland paid a million dollars for tickets to the President’s Inauguration and related events. In any case, as part of his portfolio, Sondland was also responsible for Ukrainian matters along with a group of other Trump officials that included Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Given his background, one might have expected that Sondland would remain loyal to the President but instead, he chose to be loyal to the truth, and it tuned out to be a truth that could be quite injurious to the President:

Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified Wednesday more bluntly than he had before that President Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, sought to condition a White House invite for Ukraine’s new president to their demands that his country publicly launch investigations that could damage Trump’s political opponents.

“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ ” Sondland said in sworn testimony. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

Trump’s U.S. ambassador to the European Union — a longtime Republican donor who gave $1 million to the presidential inaugural committee and was confirmed by the Republican Senate — gave the House Intelligence Committee an account of the president’s culpability in leveraging the power of the Oval Office for his own political gain.

Sondland said he and senior administration officials “followed the president’s orders” — coordinating with Trump’s personal attorney to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations.

The much-anticipated testimony by a top Trump political appointee provided perhaps the most dramatic moments yet in the ongoing impeachment inquiry and ratcheted up the pressure on Trump, who earlier this fall called Sondland “a really good man and great American.”

In brief remarks to reporters outside the White House, Trump distanced himself from Sondland, saying, “This is not a man I know well.” He noted that Sondland testified that the president had denied to him there was a quid pro quo.

That means it’s all over,” Trump said.

But Democrats said Sondland’s testimony pulled back the curtain on the extent of the Ukraine pressure campaign, implicating not just the president but Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

“We now can see the veneer has been torn away,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters during a break in the testimony, arguing that the situation as described by Sondland “goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery, as well as other potential high crimes or misdemeanors.

“I think a very important moment in the history of this inquiry,” he added.

Sondland identified Giuliani as Trump’s conduit, saying he communicated the “topics important to the president.” One of those was having Ukraine announce an investigation into a widely discredited conspiracy theory that the country was involved in peddling misinformation in the 2016 presidential election. Another was getting Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation into Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company where a board position had been held by the son of former vice president Joe Biden

Sondland said the work he and others carried out with Giuliani seeking a Ukrainian announcement of the investigations was done “at the express direction of the president of the United States.”

He also said “there was no secret” about the work within a much larger circle of Trump’s Cabinet.

More from The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — An ambassador at the center of the House impeachment inquiry testified on Wednesday that he was following President Trump’s orders with the full knowledge of several other top administration officials when he pressured the Ukrainians to conduct investigations into Mr. Trump’s political rivals, detailing a “clear quid pro quo” directed by the president.

Gordon D. Sondland, a wealthy Republican megadonor appointed by Mr. Trump as the United States ambassador to the European Union, told the House Intelligence Committee in sworn testimony that he reluctantly followed Mr. Trump’s directive to work with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, as he pressured Ukraine to publicly commit to investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and an unproven theory that Democrats conspired with Kyiv to interfere in the 2016 election.

“We followed the president’s orders,” Mr. Sondland said.

In explosive testimony that amounted to an act of defiance by an official who has been described by other witnesses as a point man in the effort to extract from Ukraine the investigations Mr. Trump wanted, Mr. Sondland tied the senior-most members of the administration to the effort — including the vice president, the secretary of state, the acting chief of staff and others — saying they were informed of it at key moments.

Yet as striking as his account was, Mr. Sondland appeared on Wednesday as a highly problematic witness, one who has had to revise his account several times based on testimony from others, repeatedly claimed not to have recalled key episodes, and conceded before the committee that he did not take notes that could give him certainty about precisely what happened. Still, the revelations he offered were stunning.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed off on parts of the pressure campaign, Mr. Sondland testified, and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, was deeply involved. They understood, as he did, that there was a “clear quid pro quo” linking a White House meeting for President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to a promise by him to announce investigations into Mr. Trump’s political rivals, he said.

“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a quid pro quo?” Mr. Sondland said. “As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

“Everyone was in the loop,” he said. “It was no secret.”

And Mr. Sondland testified that he grew to believe that there was another linkage being made by Mr. Trump, between vital military assistance approved by Congress for Ukraine and a public commitment by its president to investigate Mr. Trump’s political adversaries. Mr. Sondland said he informed Vice President Mike Pence of his concern about that connection during a Sept. 1 meeting in Warsaw.

Almost two months after House Democrats began their impeachment inquiry, Mr. Sondland’s account came as close as investigators have gotten to an admission from an official who dealt directly with Mr. Trump. But it came with the blemishes of Mr. Sondland’s shifting accounts that have evolved since the committee first deposed him in October, opening him up to criticism from Republicans who claimed he was unreliable and not credible.

Still, Democrats quickly seized on Mr. Sondland’s testimony as a bombshell.

“It goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery, as well as other potential high crimes and misdemeanors,” Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, told reporters during a brief break in the hearing.

While Republicans will seek to dismiss Sondland’s testimony on the ground that he could not state with specificity that he received direct orders from the President that there was a linkage between military aid and progress in U.S./Ukrainian relations and the investigations that Trump was demanding, his testimony makes clear that this is exactly what was going on. Rather than hearing it from the President, it’s clear that this was the guide stone of Administration policy toward Ukraine and that it was made clear to both the Ukrainians and to the small group, which referred to themselves as the so-called “three amigos” that included Sondland, Ukrainian Ambassador William Taylor, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Sondland also corroborated the testimony of previous testimony in his testimony about the extent to which American foreign policy in Ukraine was placed in the hand of someone who was not a formal member of the Administration, President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani. It was Giuliani, Sondland said, who made it clear that that there would be no progress on Ukraine issues until the leaders of Ukraine agreed to follow his wishes with regard to an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden and the debunked conspiracy theory regarding Ukrainian interference in the election. More importantly, it was made clear that Trump would not agree to any policy regarding Ukraine. This is the most direct link that has been drawn between the President and the existence of a quid pro quo, which essentially amounts to the crime of bribery as well as the violation of several other statutes that should form the basis for impeachment of the President of the United States.

To say that this is groundbreaking testimony is by no means an understatement. We now have a public acknowledgment that there was a direct link between aid to the Ukrainian government and the agreement by that government to conduct investigations into the President’s political enemies. In one sense, this isn’t exactly news since it has been self-evident from the day that the whistleblower’s complaint was made public In another sense, though, it is intensely important because we now have live witnesses corroborating what that complaint said. To say that the walls are closing in is an understatement. Whether that will ever be enough for Republicans to do what is right and put their country before their party is quite another.

Here is Ambassador Sondland’s opening statement:

Gordon Sondland Opening Sta… by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Impeachment, Law and the Courts, Politicians, U.S. Constitution, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Sondland brought the BOOM. Pretty funny to hear the Hannity’s of the world trying to spin today as a win for the President.

    “Let the Democrats impeach all they want…Hannity said. None of the hearsay, none of the interpretations matter. And Sondland blew it out of the water, because he is now the greatest fact witness for the President of the United States, because he’s the only one that actually talked to him.”

    Two things that continue to amaze me…
    First; this was all brought about by crazy conspiracy theories. Trump might as well be getting impeached for bribing people to search for Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.
    Second; Trump could have lived out the life of a 2-bit gangster in NYC, defrauding old people and cheating on his taxes, if only his petty jealousy of our first black president hadn’t set him up to go down in flames like this.

    32
    3
  2. Kathy says:

    My advice to the GOP senators: they can’t primary all of you.

    And I will repeat: are you ok with a Democratic president doing this kind of thing? because by absolving Trump, no matter how mean he Twits, you’re guaranteeing similar, or worse, malfeasance from the other side

    11
  3. David M says:

    The quid pro quo is more evidence for it actually being bribery and extortion, but I still hold the view that Trump asking the Ukrainians officials to announce an investigation into his domestic political rivals and trying to help Russia cover up their interference in the 2016 election are enough to impeach and remove.

    12
    1
  4. mattbernius says:

    I’m going to be the Debbie Downer — while I think this was a vindicating catharsis for Democrats and those who oppose the president, I ultimately think nothing has changed in the calculus.

    This thread from John Harwood of CNBC strikes me as being an accurate representation of the current calculus for Republicans:
    https://twitter.com/JohnJHarwood/status/1197268889387896838

    Ultimately, my suspicion is that Giuliani will be set up to take the fall. The only question is whether or not he’ll testify. If he does (or if Bolton does) then all bets are off. But my suspicion is both will be able to avoid being called.

    Prediction: Without any other surprising revelation, or major shift in polling, the Republicans will hold rank (including people like Will Hurd who might be temporarily leaving the party, but know that they can’t got out on their own to support impeachment if they want to maintain a political career), and this goes to the Senate and there’s an acquittal. The only real question that remains is the effect of that on Democrats going into the 2020 election.

    5
    1
  5. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I literally saw a screenshot of Fox News announcing the big story of Sondland: He CONFIRMED that Hunter Biden’s position appeared Improper!

  6. Moosebreath says:

    @Kathy:

    “My advice to the GOP senators: they can’t primary all of you.”

    Umm, why not? It’s not like there are any rules which prevent it.

  7. Kathy says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Well, those running in 2020 are vulnerable, but not all of them, and it’s unlikely all primary challenges would succeed.

    Those running in 2022 and 2024 are safe for now, obviously, and might be safe 2 and 4 years hence, depending on how long-lasting the deplorable base turns out to be.

  8. David M says:

    @mattbernius:

    Matt is correct, it will be next to impossible to make Republicans care about this. Because of that, there’s no sense in wrapping up these hearings anytime soon, especially given there don’t seem to be any shortage of crimes to investigate

    10
    1
  9. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:

    Ultimately, my suspicion is that Giuliani will be set up to take the fall.

    One other thing, it’s not entirely clear if (based on his media appearances today) Giuliani (a) believes that this is the case, or (b) cares.

    He might turn out the be willing scapegoat.

  10. Teve says:
  11. Mike in Arlington says:

    @mattbernius: They may have started to throw Giuliani under the bus already.
    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/giuliani-republican-lawyer-castor-ukraine

  12. Kathy says:

    @mattbernius:

    Unfortunately that’s very likely.

    One might hope Sondland’s testimony will open the floodgates, but hope, alas, tends to do poorly against probability.

  13. mattbernius says:

    @Mike in Arlington:
    Oh, there was a bunch of setting that up yesterday and today.

    Which gets to why I posted that based on his media appearances and tweets today either (a) G. doesn’t realize this is happening, or (b) doesn’t care.

  14. inhumans99 says:

    @mattbernius:

    Matt, I agree with you that it does matter how long this goes on, because anyone with an R in front of their name will not go against President Trump. That being said, I think this will move the needle, if ever so slightly, towards causing independents to either vote in 2020 for whomever ends up being the Democratic candidate or just staying home and not voting again for President Trump (and at this point, I would rather they stay home and not vote if they are not fans of Warren, Biden, etc. instead of punching the ballot again for President Trump).

    I also think the needle will have moved slightly towards accelerating the trend of some states that lean R into becoming purple states that no longer guarantee anyone with an R before their name a win in that state (we already saw some surprisingly well known folks who are GOPers get booted out of office in 2018 in places like TX, and I do not think this was a one-off thing and is likely to become more common going forward).

    The funny thing is that despite all of the evidence coming out to show that yes indeed, our President is behaving like a thuggish mafia boss, I can’t help but feel it is the historic event happening in South Korea that will ultimately cause congress to eventually turn on him.

    I suspect what is more worrying to anyone with brains instead of trains in the GOP is not Trump’s desire to get an announcement from Ukraine regarding Biden’s son, but rather his pulling out of helping our allies the Kurds and letting ISIS reform (and there is some evidence this is happening as I type this out) and South Korea basically saying to President Trump go ahead and take your ball (American Troops) and go home we will just reach out to China for help (and surprise (but not really), China seems ready to step in to assist SK if needed).

    A pretty staggering amount of people died in the Korean conflict, including a lot of American soldiers, and now after many decades of being a presence, a buffer between SK and NK, we have forced SK to give up on turning to the U.S. for help and stepping into China’s embrace. THIS should have many Vets’ blood boiling with rage at the GOP and their letting this happen under the control of a Republican President in the White House. All because our President wants to shake down SK for more money, such a shame and a profound waste of all the blood and treasure spilled during the Korean conflict.

    Really, this is what should cause his base to start to turn against him, a lot of reliable older voters are also veterans and they should be on the verge of tears that our President let SK fall into China’s hands all for the sake of money (money which we do not need to keep our troops fed, armed, and clothed, the U.S. allocates plenty of existing funds in our budget towards those ends already). This is beyond shameful that it happened under a GOP controlled White House and Senate.

    James, if you get a chance to see this, I am honestly curious how you feel about it…I am happy to accept that I just wasted a lot of time and words into articulating why the Kurd/SK betrayals should be what does the President in but if you feel what I am talking about is honestly and truly a nothing burger I am prepared to accept that. I may not always agree with everything you write in your posts, but I suspect that if you think it is a nothing burger than that is unfortunately probably how the GOPs base sees the Kurd/SK stories.

    13
  15. DrDaveT says:

    @David M:

    it will be next to impossible to make Republicans care about this

    I keep thinking that there has to be some way to tie a Senate exoneration to explicit pre-approval of any comparable actions by future Democratic presidents. Make it clear that Republicans are consenting to turnabout. There’s no way to object to that without making it obvious what you are.

    3
    1
  16. the Q says:

    The wingnuts are OJ jurors…doesn’t matter what evidence is presented…the Juice, er The Donald is innocent.

    The wingnut takeaway from Sondland testimony? He cleared Trump and this is a witch hunt. In the afternoon, he admitted that Trump said “I don’t want nothing” and “no quid pro quo” with regard to Ukraine. In the afternoon, the Republican counsel pointing out that Sondland had failed to mention this bit of information in his opening statement.

    And with that, wingnuts can disregard the hours of testimony and boil it down to what Trump actually said about quid pro quo and Sondland’s confirmation.

    2
    1
  17. grumpy realist says:

    @mattbernius: Somehow I don’t think Giuliani will submit to being sacrificed for Trump….

  18. EddieInCA says:

    As long as there is a Fox News, Trump is safe from being removed from office. If you watch, if anyone watches, Fox News on a regular basis, you will quickly see that regardless of the actual evidence, information will be presented as “Trump good. Democrats bad”. Every single issue is framed that way. Even when Fox stalwarts like Chris Wallace, Ken Starr and Judge Napolitano present a damning piece of evidence, the “journalists” (Hemmer, Bream, McCallum, etc) push back in a manner most friendly to Trump.

    Wallace: Today was a horrible day for Trump. Sondland admitted the quid Pro Quo they’ve been denying.
    Henmer: But the Democrat’s don’t have Trump actually saying that to Sondland so its all in Sondland’s head. Lets move on.

    6
    3
  19. Jax says:

    @DrDaveT: They’re counting on the fact that Dems will always take the higher road and bail them out of their crap. That’s why they’re ok with this. They know we wouldn’t ever do it. (sigh)

    2
    1
  20. Moosebreath says:

    @Kathy:

    “Well, those running in 2020 are vulnerable, but not all of them, and it’s unlikely all primary challenges would succeed.”

    They don’t all have to. If only a few of them succeed, it scares the others enough to stay in line. As Republicans proved with the Tea Party challenges in 2010.

    “Those running in 2022 and 2024 are safe for now, obviously, and might be safe 2 and 4 years hence, depending on how long-lasting the deplorable base turns out to be.”

    I see no reason to believe that Republican primary voters will become any more sane until they lose multiple Congressional elections in a row. The streak is 1 so far.

    2
    1
  21. Scott F. says:

    @Jax:
    I don’t think any Republican is thinking Dems will take the higher road, since most of them have fully bought the mythology that it’s the Democrats who have been, for some time, subverting norms and abusing power. It’s the left that is truly evil, so the Republicans are being forced to fight back with fervor despite their scruples. Obama was “the most divisive President” in the country’s history, so it is only right that a Republican get in there and give the left what’s for.

    As seen in the post about AG Barr’s speech to the Federalist Society, the “resistance” to Trump, regardless of his behavior and substantiated corruption, is to go against the will of the people. The people knew Trump would be destroy the system and they elected him to destroy the system.

    The mental gymnastics needed to hold such beliefs are truly remarkable. I’d be impressed if I weren’t terrified.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    but instead, he chose to be loyal to the truth

    I’m not sure that’s an accurate characterization, as opposed to loyal to keeping his own arse out of jail. However. Relying on future Republican witnesses to be loyal to the truth seems futile. Relying on them to join the rush to leave the sinking ship seems a much more realistic basis for hope.

    4
    1
  23. Teve says:

    The Hill
    @thehill
    · 6m
    Rep. Devin Nunes: “The American people sent us to Washington to solve problems, not to wage scorched-earth political warfare against the other party.”

    Kaili Joy Gray
    @KailiJoy
    ·
    8m
    President Obama says mooooooo

    8
    1
  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattbernius: You are spot on. To this day I don’t care about Watergate, the WH plumbers, or any of the dog and pony show back in the day. It’s simply an article of faith for me that this was how politics worked at the time, and I suspect that Trump’s supporters have the same resolve that I do.

    (For what it’s worth, I also did not follow the dog and pony show that featured the stained blue dress. I read the news summaries and such but never cared about the issues surrounding it. And I pretty much feel the same way about this one, and it’s qualitatively worse by a significant degree, but since the nation, under the rules that we run by, voted Trump into office, the nation gets what it voted for.)

    1
    1
  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve:

    I literally saw a screenshot of Fox News announcing the big story of Sondland: He CONFIRMED that Hunter Biden’s position appeared Improper!

    Funny you should mention Fox News. From @mattbernius’ link:

    “Not in a way that helps Ds. They had a window for messaging and it closed about 3 weeks ago.
    “The numbers are all moving the other way now. Watch Fox News and see what most Rs are hearing tonight.” [emphasis added]

  26. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist: I’m not a lawyer so let me ask you. Why can’t Giulani be subpeoena and forced to testify. He’s not a Government employee. He says he Trump’s private lawyer but he’s not conducting personal legal services. So what is his excuse for not obeying the subpoena?

  27. Kathy says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I made two assumptions. One is that at least some GOP Senators honestly dislike Trump. The other, far more shaky, is that some of them have a spine.

    The problem is that when the man at the top is a coward, those beneath who court his favor have to outdo him in cowardice.

  28. JKB says:

    “No, other than my own presumption”, Amb Sondland under cross-examination

    1
    11
  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    That’s what you’ve got?

    Wow.

    13
    1
  30. Guarneri says:

    “Donald Trump’s Ambassador to the European Union provides yet more evidence to support impeachment of the President.”

    No, he provided an unsubstantiated opinion, diametrically opposed to his direct testimony that Pres. Trump affirmatively told him he was not seeking a quid pro quo.

    Not much of a lawyer, are you?

    3
    21
  31. MarkedMan says:

    Like most people here I don’t think a single Republican Senator will vote to convict. Short of a serious or fatal health event I think there is only one other way Trump leaves office early: Mitch McConnell tells him he can pardon his family and then resign, and Pence will then pardon Trump. Mitch will further promise he will do everything in his power to keep the Feds from going after Trump’s business. I think that scenario became slightly less unlikely today (although still far from likely).

    Think about it. Mitch wants to hold the Senate. Every single R Senator up for re-election next year guarantees huge anti-Trump turnout the minute they cast a vote not to convict. Mitch would like to avoid that vote, but the Dems are going to impeach, full stop. The only way to avoid that vote is to get Trump out of office before it happens.

    1
    1
  32. MarkedMan says:

    Ah, I see the Trumpers have finally arrived. And here is the death of this thread in 3,2,1…

    4
    2
  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    It is not how politics worked at the time. I was in DC during Watergate, living right in NW, working at a Democratic law firm as a library/documents guy. I can tell you that people were shocked and they were shaken and appalled, and not just Democrats. I voted for Nixon in 1972, I also demonstrated for impeachment when the story came clear.

    Cynicism helps evil.

  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:
    Oh, why bother. Whatever, Drew. Whatever.

    8
    2
  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Hannity’s over. They’ve been told what to think.

    12
    2
  36. inhumans99 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I know right, JKB is the guy who looks at the 3 houses that did not burn down in a wildfire and goes geez, why is everyone so emotional, look at these homes standing proud, while 500 families are weeping and sobbing around him as they sift through the ashes of their homes that actually burned down to their foundation by the wildfire. He just does not get it, but you know what….my long ass post about President Trump’s betrayal of South Korea might really prove to be the straw that breaks the camels back. Not a good look for Republicans to have China embracing one of our long-time allies.

    I think our President’s lack of foreign policy acumen might be what starts to cause the GOP to genuinely be concerned that our President might accidentally hand over the keys to the U.S. to China letting them dictate our economy, who we can marry, who we can worship, etc., simply because he saw something on Fox News that set him off. I am not joking when I say that the GOP really may not want to deal with another 4 years of constantly being driven to the brink of WW III only to have things calm down when cooler and calmer voices prevail.

    Seriously, if the GOP wants to spend another 4 years dealing with someone stuck in terrible two’s mode have at it, but me personally, just the thought of having to deal with a 2 year old for 4 years is exhausting.

    4
    1
  37. Mister Bluster says:

    …he provided an unsubstantiated opinion…

    I’m sure Guarneri and JKB are spearheading the drive to get Rudy to be a witness and testify before the committee to clear this up.

    6
    1
  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mister Bluster: @inhumans99:
    I mean, wasn’t that kind of embarrassing? That’s what the trolls had? It’s like they’re zombies, and they’ve already been bisected at the waist, but they’re down there on the ground gnashing their teeth and waving their impotent claws. No longer worth wasting a bullet on.

    8
    2
  39. Mister Bluster says:

    Who could be embarrassed at the notion that Rudy is formulating and executing United States foreign policy without any input from Trump? Certainly not the GOP.
    That’s what this means right? Sondland can only presume that what Rudy says is from Trump even though Trump told Sondland to talk to Rudy.
    Oh yeah. If Trump is not directing Rudy what to tell Sondland and his amigos, which is what JKB and Guarneri want us to believe, by what authority is the President’s personal lawyer, not a government employee, dictating United States foreign policy?

    4
    1
  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Say what you will, that’s what Fox was going with tonight, too. Also, Trump’s declaration that the testimony exhonorated him.

    And I’m sorry you don’t like my beliefs. I’ll try to conform them to yours in the future.

  41. Michael Reynolds says:

    And I’m sorry you don’t like my beliefs. I’ll try to conform them to yours in the future.

    That’s all I ask.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @inhumans99: While I agree with you on the importance of Trump’s breathtakingly stupid move, my prediction is that the Mighty Rightwing Wurlitzer will use the following talking points:
    1) Moon is probably the most progressive of the left wing presidents in a generation
    2) His family is from North Korea (apparently they were dislocated during the war and didn’t/couldn’t go back)
    3) He’s been looking for an excuse to disengage from the US since he was elected.

  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Given his background, one might have expected that Sondland would remain loyal to the President but instead, he chose to be loyal to the truth, and it tuned out to be a truth that could be quite injurious to the President:

    Just feel the need to point out that Ambassador Sondland has, shall we say, a convenient relationship with the truth, in that he adheres to it when it is convenient. It doesn’t mean he is now lying but this is what, his 3rd or 4th attempt at the truth? I’m betting he left stuff out, maybe that trump did in fact explicitly demand the QPQ? That he will suddenly recall when his memory is again refreshed by the testimony of others that contradicts his own in some way.

    @mattbernius: It’s always been about the 2020 election, it is all that really matters. trump is merely a symptom of the prion disease that has infected the entire GOP.

  44. Zachriel says:

    @Guarneri: Trump affirmatively told him he was not seeking a quid pro quo.

    After he got caught. Gee whiz. Who uses “quid pro quo” in a telephone conversation except someone trying to act as if he’s not guilty of a quid pro quo?

    10
    1
  45. Teve says:

    Hey you know that bank that got robbed yesterday? I specifically told my getaway driver this morning that I did not rob that bank. What more could you want from me?

  46. Tyrell says:

    Sondman had a “perception” of a rumor. This is actually worse than the Mueller fiasco.
    “It’s all for nothing. All for nothing”

    2
    9
  47. mattbernius says:

    @Guarneri:

    that Pres. Trump affirmatively told him he was not seeking a quid pro quo.

    That your defense hinges on taking a serial liar (who just last night claimed that he’s responsible for the construction of an Apple factory built three years *before* he was elected while standing next to Apple’s CEO) at his word is just chef’s kiss.

    I look forward to you extending the same courtesy to members of the opposition in the future.

    7
    1
  48. KM says:

    @MarkedMan:
    The problem with that logic is why would Mitch *ever* trust Trump to honor the deal and vice-versa? These are men who thrives on screwing people over for the evulz.

    Trump has been vocal about his zero-sum dealmaking “logic” so something like that would never appeal to him – he’d want the “treacherous” GOP punished for not dying to save him and he doesn’t give a shit if they keep power. *Donald’s* losing power (and possible his freedom) and that’s all he cares about. A Presidential pardon won’t spare him from everything so what’s the point of the deal?

    Mitch meanwhile is holding the tiger by the tail. Trump out of office is not Trump gone. He’ll still be tweeting and agitating and riling up Cult45 against the treacherous GOP that forced him out. Retaining the Senate will be a hell of a lot harder when the Trumpkins start sabotaging them or running their own Donald-approved candidates. He also is keenly aware Trump never keeps his word and backstabbing is a given.

    No, this is the hill they die on, one way or another. Any chance of a “good” resolution went out the door months ago. Karma will be wearing stilettos when she kicks them in the ass….

    5
    1
  49. Kathy says:

    “I’m completely innocent of bank robbery, your Honor. I never once called my bank heist a robbery.”

  50. MarkedMan says:

    @KM:

    why would Mitch *ever* trust Trump to honor the deal and vice-versa? These

    As I mentioned above, I don’t think this is likely, rather that it has become less unlikely. But given that, let me explain why I think such a move on Mitch’s part would work.
    1) Trump has a history of backing down when threatened by tough and powerful people, from the days of his first bankruptcy to his bootlicking Kim.
    2) Trump is getting weaker and weaker by the day and he and Mitch both know it. More and more of his inner circle and their aides are willing to defy Trump’s direct orders and testify. This is not a one time thing – it is going to continue on, over and over. Both Trump and Mitch realize that as Trump throws more and more of his lackeys under the bus during this current escapade, more and more people will break and testify to avoid being prosecuted themselves. Both Trump and Mitch know Trump will have less and less leverage as time goes on.
    3) I suspect Trump hates being President and desperately wants to believe he can go back to being a “business magnate” and conning goofballs out of their retirement money
    4) So why would Trump believe Mitch will honor the deal? A) Because he wants to believe it, B) because he doesn’t really have much of a choice and C) Because he knows Mitch wants the Trump stuff to end too.
    5) Why does Mitch believe Trump will honor the deal? Actually, he probably doesn’t. But once Trump is gone, he’s gone and he has no further legal power, so there’s that. However, Mitch understands that the choice is not between a Donald Trump inside the tent and pissing out verus outside the tent and pissing in, but a rabid Adderalled Trump lurching around spraying piss on everyone and everything in sight. That’s going to happen whether Trump is President or not.

  51. grumpy realist says:

    @Guarneri: Do you believe princes in Nigeria who are trying to get their money out of the country, too?

    Gullible chump.

    4
    1
  52. Mike in Arlington says:

    @grumpy realist: Yeah, but that stripper was totally into him.

    2
    1
  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Zachriel: Wait! Trump didn’t actually say quid pro quo in the phone conversation? That settles it! He’s innocent!

  54. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Guarneri:

    his direct testimony that Pres. Trump affirmatively told him he was not seeking a quid pro quo.

    Trump told him that AFTER he had been caught. AFTER the whistleblower’s report went to the ICIG. Being caught in a crime is not an adequate defense.
    Don’t feel bad…you’ve been brainwashed by decades of Fox News.

    4
    1
  55. DrDaveT says:

    It was only hearsay: he heard Trump say it. To him.