Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified Wednesday on Capitol Hill about President Trump’s alleged ‘quid pro quo’ with the newly-elected Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky; his testimony was considered explosive by the Democrats and the mainstream media because Sondland characterized the exchange between presidents in his opening statement. However, the media ignored the rest of his testimony after that point.
Ambassador Gordon Sondland is the current U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine. A Trump appointee, he gave a lot of money to the president’s campaign and arguably bought his way into the administration. On Wednesday, Sondland took part in the House impeachment inquiry by bringing his insider information to the table, saying in his opening statement that the president had been involved in a quid pro quo agreement with President Zelensky:
“was there a quid pro quo?… the answer regarding the White House call is yes,” Sondland said in his opening statement.
The mainstream media took this statement as the only thing from Sondland’s testimony that mattered, as many networks rejoiced and even said that Sondland’s testimony proves that every fantasy about Trump’s corruption is “true.”
But that wasn’t the entire testimony. This was just the opening statement, which was likely written by Sondland’s four Democratic lawyers who are all party donors. But the point here is that Sondland had a lot to answer for after that testimony, and Republicans and Democrats alike began questioning him.
To start, Republican Jim Jordan questioned Sondland on the notion that the quid pro quo happened as the ambassador said it did in his opening statement.
“When did it happen?” Jordan asked.
“When did what happen?” Sondland replied.
“The announcement,” Jordan said. “When did President Zelensky announce that the investigation was going to happen?”
“It never did,” Sondland replied.”
“They got the meeting, not in the White House, but in New York City,” Jordan continued. “When did the meeting happen again?”
“It never did,” Sondland said.
“Do you know who was in the meeting?” Jordan went on.
“In what meeting?” Sondland asked.
“The meeting that never happened,” Jordan replied. “Do you know who was in that meeting?”
Sondland began to laugh, and facetiously said “the people who weren’t there.”
This first example of questioning by representative Jordan proves several things: 1) it proves that there was not a quid pro quo, or a ‘this for that,’ because the Ukrainian president never announced that he was going to reopen the investigation, and 2) that everyone was not in “the loop” about the quid pro quo, as assured by Sondland in his opening statement, because there was no meeting between White House staff and the president and the Ukrainian officials with President Zelensky. Having to go off script and answer questions under oath, Sondland began to admit the things that Republicans have known all along: that the quid pro quo never existed in the first place.
But that’s not all. Republican Mike Turner got a turn at Sondland, in which he attacked his presumptions of what happened by comparing them to what actually happened, saying that Sondland’s testimony was made up.
“No one on this planet told you that president Trump was tying aid to investigations, yes or no?” Turner asked Sondland.
“Yes,” Sondland replied.
“So you really have no testimony today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations?” Turner went on.
“Other than my own presumption,” Sondland said.
“Which is nothing,” Turner said.
This exchange between representative Turner and ambassador Sondland was significant because Sondland had no external evidence other than his own presumption that the president was tying aid to investigations into the Bidens and Burisma. This means that Sondland hadn’t heard from anyone about these investigations, hadn’t witnessed anything, and ultimately saw the whole exchange play out in the opposite way than what he presumed would happen; Ukraine got the aid, and no investigations were played out.
This was just another episode of Democratic ignorance. Even though Sondland declared that there was a quid pro quo in his opening statement with regards to the White House call on July 25th, his answers to congressional questioning were not consistent with what he opened the day’s inquiry with.
What does this mean for Sondland? This most probably means that Sondland lied in his opening statement. We all were listening when he said that there was a quid pro quo with regards to the White House call, but when questioned about his statements afterward, he said that there was no quid pro quo because there was no linkage between aid and investigations of the Bidens. Also, a quid pro quo could not have happened because there were no investigations launched into the Biden family, and Ukraine ended up getting the aid anyway. From this standpoint, Sondland, just like all other “witnesses” so far, have not proved a crime against the president. From the evidence that has been uncovered, it doesn’t seem like any witness can prove Trump’s guilt.