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Gordon Sondland Is in Full Burn-It-Down Mode in Today’s Impeachment Hearing

Gordon Sondland, the U.S ambassador to the European Union, arrives for testimony before the House Intelligence Committee

Gordon Sondland, the American Ambassador to the European Union, is at the center of today’s public impeachment hearings. And if earlier hearings have been (wrongly and unnecessarily) criticized for lacking “pizzazz,” well, Sondland showed up with pizzazz aplenty.

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When Sondland first testified in the closed-door hearings, he said that he didn’t know about any stipulations attached to the aid the U.S. was scheduled to give to Ukraine–meaning, no quid pro quo as Trump keeps insisting.

Then just a few weeks later, after a number of other witnesses had contradicted him in their testimonies, he suddenly remembered that–oh yeah!–there was a quid pro quo. So he returned to Congress with four new pages of newly recovered memories, presumably because he realized that he was on his way to becoming just the latest Trump ally to go to prison for lying to Congress.

As he testified today, he not only made it explicitly clear that yes, there was a quid pro quo (otherwise known as bribery, extortion, etc.–take your pick), but he says everyone knew about it.

Sondland says Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky, announcing an investigation into Burisma (the Ukrainian energy company where Hunter Biden served as a board member), and that the aid money was dependent on that announcement.

That’s the exact thing Trump, Giuliani, and everyone else has been saying never happened, and now Sondland is saying everyone knew that was what was going on. From Giuliani to Mike Pence to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sondland is throwing everyone under the bus. There aren’t enough buses for Sondland’s whole testimony to fit under.

Unsurprisingly, Sondland paints himself in a very positive, innocent light. He says he didn’t really understand the implications of Trump’s demands and that the aid package could be part of that quid pro quo, which also involved a meeting between the two presidents that Zelensky was reportedly eager for. He says he didn’t even realize the Bidens were tied to Burisma. He says he was only concerned with doing “what was necessary to get the aid released, to break the log jam.”

Even now, he’s blaming the White House and the State Department for the gaps in his memory, since they have apparently refused to turn over some unclassified documents he’s requested.

It’s not surprising that ignorance is Sondland’s only believable defense. He’s not an experienced diplomat. He owns a bunch of hotels and got this position after donating a million dollars to Trump’s 2016 campaign. Now he’s part of the “three amigos” who, along with Rudy Giuliani, are reportedly determining our entire foreign policy with Ukraine.

Way to drain that swamp!

(image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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