Food I'm So Done With Mashed Potatoes. What's the Alternative?

19:30  20 november  2019
19:30  20 november  2019 Source:   epicurious.com

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Every other witness prior to Ambassador Gordon Sondland, however credible they may be, were second- or third-hand witnesses to the central question of the impeachment question. Of the witnesses allowed to testify in the inquiry, only Sondland could answer two crucial questions.

Gordon Sondland looking at the camera© Provided by MediaDC: Washington Newspaper Publishing Company, Inc.

1. Did President Trump order the withholding of congressionally approved aid to Ukraine and a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky in exchange for their public commitment to investigate the Bidens and Burisma Holdings?

2. Did Trump do so with the specific intention of affecting the 2020 election?

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The other witnesses, especially Ambassador Bill Taylor, made the answer to the first question abundantly clear. Trump clearly signed off on a quid pro quo, given the amount of corroborating witnesses confirming that he relayed to his associates that he wanted the investigation and the efforts exerted to withhold the aid.

Despite the other witnesses' lack of proximity to Trump, they effectively coerced Sondland into amending his story enough that he admitted that Trump laid out a clear quid pro quo, but specifically as it pertains to the White House meeting. During Democratic questioning, he further conceded that he deduced the aid was part of the quid pro quo. Sondland has also been careful to claim that Trump wanted an investigation into Burisma and the 2016 server conspiracy theory, not necessarily Joe or Hunter Biden.

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But as Trump's defenders have noted, presidents initiate completely appropriate quid pro quos. After all, the central point of Trump's fulmination was Joe Biden's withholding of Ukrainian aid in exchange for the firing of Viktor Shokin. But that quid pro quo was in our national interest, as our global allies have long worked to purge corruption from Ukraine to prevent Russian aggression from heading westward.

So the key question here has always been what Trump's intentions were, and of the witnesses allowed to testify, no one can answer that question better than Sondland. On that front, Sondland's latest testimony is damning.

Sondland didn't say that Trump explicitly stated that his intention was to influence the 2020 election, but his recollection of conversations with Rudy Giuliani all but confirm that. Giuliani, according to Sondland, repeatedly wanted an announcement of an investigation, not necessarily the investigation itself. If Trump really just wanted to weed out corruption in Ukraine, why would he need a public announcement? Zelensky just going ahead and doing it would work just fine.

The logical deduction is that Trump wanted an announcement because it would make Biden look bad as he fought in the Democratic primary, leaving him with a more electorally vulnerable candidate like Elizabeth Warren. That would mean that Trump leveraged the powers of the presidency for his own personal political gain.

The only people who can refute that Trump intended and did abuse his power are those who he refuses to let testify. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Rudy Giuliani have the capacity to exonerate Trump by elucidating his motives, but Trump hasn't let them speak thus far. If Trump continues to stonewall the inquiry, consider it a concession.

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