Opinion: Ambassador Sondland's slick move - - PressFrom - US
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Opinion Ambassador Sondland's slick move

18:26  22 november  2019
18:26  22 november  2019 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

AP source: 2nd US official heard Trump call with Sondland

  AP source: 2nd US official heard Trump call with Sondland A second U.S. embassy staffer in Kyiv overheard a key cellphone call between President Donald Trump and his ambassador to the European Union discussing the need for Ukrainian officials to pursue “investigations,” The Associated Press has learned. The July 26 call between Trump and Gordon Sondland was first described during testimony Wednesday by William B. Taylor Jr., the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Taylor said one of his staffers overhead the call while Sondland was in a restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that triggered the House impeachment inquiry.

Gordon Sondland , the U. S . ambassador to the European Union, testified before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the impeachment Ambassador Gordon Sondland implicated President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the effort to persuade Ukraine to announce

Gordon Sondland , the U. S . ambassador to the European Union, said he "followed the president' s orders" to work with Trump' s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was pushing Ukraine to carry out two investigations that would benefit Trump politically as he runs for re-election in November 2020.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

a person standing in front of Gordon Sondland et al. posing for the camera© Provided by MediaDC: Washington Newspaper Publishing Company, Inc.

By many accounts, Gordon Sondland delivered the most consequential testimony of the House Democrats' rushed public impeachment proceedings. Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testified in the impeachment hearings Wednesday. He grabbed headlines with a carefully worded opening statement that 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?' As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes."

Media reaction was instantaneous. Here was a key participant confirming a quid pro quo in the Ukraine affair, something President Trump has long denied. Sondland's statement, many reports said, was a "bombshell." A "blockbuster."

Staffer who overheard Trump call with Sondland testifies in closed hearing

  Staffer who overheard Trump call with Sondland testifies in closed hearing David Holmes, an aide to Ambassador Bill Taylor, overheard a July 26 call between Trump and Gordon Sondland about UkraineHolmes is a counselor for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in Kiev, according to the embassy's website.

Gordon Sondland ' s opening statement for public impeachment hearing offers key admissions. In previous testimony, Sondland said he couldn't recall exactly what he said in that meeting and in another meeting with Ukrainian officials the same day.

Последние твиты от Ambassador Sondland (@USAmbEU). Official Twitter of the U. S . Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland . Follow @US2EU for updates from the U. S . Mission.

Now, with a little hindsight, Sondland's words appear to be something very different: an attention-grabbing and enormously clever gambit to get Sondland out of a jam in which he might have been accused of lying to Congress.

Here's what happened:

Another witness, William Taylor, who is the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, gave a deposition to the committee on October 22 and testified publicly on November 13. At his public testimony, Taylor said he had learned something since his deposition that he believed he needed to tell the committee. On July 26, Taylor said, the day after President Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, a member of Taylor's staff in Kyiv overheard a phone conversation between Sondland and Trump. According to the staffer, Trump asked Sondland about "the investigations," and Sondland replied that the Ukrainians were "ready to move forward."

David Holmes testimony: State department aide confirms Trump-Sondland call about Ukraine investigations

  David Holmes testimony: State department aide confirms Trump-Sondland call about Ukraine investigations David Holmes, the state department aide who overheard President Donald Trump's conversation with the US ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, said that Sondland told Trump that the Ukranian President would do "anything you ask him to," and that he confirmed the Ukrainians were going to "do the investigation.""Sondland told Trump that (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky 'loves your ass,'" Holmes said, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by CNN. "I then heard President Trump ask, 'So, he's gonna do the investigation?' Ambassador Sondland replied that 'he's gonna do it,' adding that President Zelensky will do 'anything you ask him to.

Sondland ’ s bombshell testimony leaves Trump’s Republican allies scrambling. The bombshell testimony from Sondland alleging that the president attempted to leverage an invite for Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky in exchange for an investigation into his political opponents forced the

The U. S . Ambassador to the European Union arrived at the Capitol to testify before lawmakers in an impeachment hearing. Sondland says Pence knew his concerns on delayed Ukraine aid. AIDS Memorial Quilt to head to California, archive moves to D.C.

As Taylor spoke, members of the committee instantly recalled that Sondland had given a deposition to the committee on October 17 and had not said a word about that conversation with the president. On top of that, Sondland had already had to amend his deposition in light of other testimony. At his deposition, Sondland said he "never" thought Trump had attached any precondition to U.S. aid to Ukraine. Then, after others testified that Sondland had in fact told Ukrainian officials that there was such a precondition, Sondland submitted a long written revision of his deposition.

By that time, Sondland's credibility was a big question mark. "After today, Mr. Sondland is going to have some explaining to do," Democratic Intelligence Committee member Raja Krishnamoorthi said after the Taylor testimony. "Sondland lied under oath to Congress," said Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego. "He clearly lied to the committee," one anonymous Democratic representative told The Hill. "They should pursue charges against him."

Ken Starr: Sondland testimony will be remembered as 'one of those bombshell days'

  Ken Starr: Sondland testimony will be remembered as 'one of those bombshell days' Former independent counsel Ken Starr claimed that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee would prove to be monumental moving forward. During his Wednesday morning testimony, Sondland affirmed a quid pro quo agreement for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to secure a meeting and phone call with President Trump. But, he also reiterated the fact that he has no direct evidence to tie those claims to the aid that Trump had held up.

Sondland , the U. S . ambassador to the European Union, had described for investigators a conversation in which the president said he didn’t want anything from Ukraine in return for supplying aid to that country. But Sondland said repeatedly that in fact, the primary focus for Trump and his lawyer

Ambassador Sondland ’ s bombshell makes it tough for Trump apologists like Rep. Andy Biggs. As the impeachment hearings progress it is getting more and more difficult for apologists and evidence deniers like Arizona’s Rep.

The Los Angeles Times published a story headlined, "Is Gordon Sondland credible enough to be a good impeachment witness for either side?" The New York Times ran a similar story with the headline, "Why Discrepancies in Gordon Sondland's Testimony in the Impeachment Inquiry Loom Large." MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell said, "William Taylor now is essentially saying Gordon Sondland lied under oath to Congress."

So when Sondland entered the hearing room Wednesday, he had, as Rep. Krishnamoorthi said, a lot of explaining to do. So what did he do? He didn't explain at all. Instead, he produced the biggest, shiniest object he could find: a brand-new allegation that there was indeed a quid pro quo at the heart of the Trump-Ukraine affair. "Was there a quid pro quo?" he asked. "Yes."

There was more. "Everyone was in the loop," Sondland said. "It was no secret." Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, Chief of Staff Mulvaney – they were all involved.

It was great stuff. A bombshell! In an instant, the talk about Sondland lying to Congress vanished. Democrats were absolutely delighted that Sondland, once thought to be a witness friendly to the president, had given them so much good material. The media coverage went along. Sondland's testimony was damning, it was devastating, and – of course – it was a "turning point" in the impeachment proceedings.

Jordan slams Sondland for omitting Trump’s ‘no quid pro quo’ claim from statement

  Jordan slams Sondland for omitting Trump’s ‘no quid pro quo’ claim from statement Rep. Jim Jordan blasted Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland for omitting President Trump’s apparent claim that he wanted “no quid pro quo” with Ukraine from his opening statement, during his testimony at Wednesday's impeachment hearing.The story of the Trump-Sondland exchange emerged as a key moment for Republicans defending Trump's role in the Ukraine issue. While not mentioning it in his opening statement, Sondland eventually said under questioning that Trump told him "I want nothing, I want no quid pro quo" -- apparently concerning whether military aid and more was tied to his requests for politically advantageous investigations from Ukraine.

The U.S. Ambassador to the European Union arrived at the Capitol to testify before lawmakers in an impeachment hearing. Schiff: Sondland ' s testimony 'very important moment'.

The U.S. Ambassador to the European Union arrived at the Capitol to testify before lawmakers in an impeachment hearing. Schiff: Sondland ' s testimony 'very important moment'.

Except it wasn't. Less than an hour after Sondland delivered his opening statement, the whole thing began to fall apart. It started with ostensibly friendly questioning from Intelligence Committee chairman and impeachment leader Adam Schiff.

"You've testified that your understanding, it became a clear understanding, that the military assistance was also being withheld pending Zelensky announcing these investigations, correct?" Schiff said to Sondland.

"That was my presumption," Sondland said. "My personal presumption based on the facts at the time. Nothing was moving."

"And in fact, you had a discussion, a communication with the Secretary of State in which you said that logjam over aid could be lifted if Zelensky announced these investigations, right?" Schiff said.

"I did not recall saying the logjam over aid," Sondland responded. "I recall saying the logjam. I don't know that -- "

"That's what you meant, right, ambassador?" Schiff said.

"I – I – I meant that whatever was holding up the meeting, whatever was holding up our deal with Ukraine, I was trying to break," Sondland said. "Again, I was presuming."

Later, Republican lawyer Steve Castor asked Sondland, "I want to turn back to your [inaudible] would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations, correct?"

Trump impeachment based on unreliable presumptions, rumor and innuendo – Not facts

  Trump impeachment based on unreliable presumptions, rumor and innuendo – Not facts The House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearing Wednesday posed a conundrum. Better yet, let’s call it a riddle. When is a “quid pro quo” not a “quid pro quo?” The answer is … when it’s “presumed.” require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified that there was a “quid pro quo” between the U.S. and Ukraine, even though President Trump made it crystal clear to Sondland that there was no “quid pro quo.

Sondland ’ s testimony advances likely impeachment charge of obstruction. Gordon Sondland , ambassador to the European Union, arrives after a break to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 20. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post).

Ambassador Sondland was a skilled dealmaker, but, in trying to satisfy a directive from the President, found himself increasingly embroiled in an effort to press the new Ukrainian President that deviated In February, Ambassador Sondland traveled to Ukraine on his first official trip to that country.

"Correct," said Sondland.

"And you acknowledge that this is speculation, right?"

"It was a presumption," said Sondland.

As the hearing dragged on, Sondland's admissions of presumption multiplied.

"I made the presumption..."

"I presumed it..."

"Again, that was my presumption..."

"I've been very clear as to when I was presuming, and I was presuming..."

And more. Much more.

Republicans got the message. "Ambassador Sondland, you honestly have used the words 'presumed,' 'presumption,' 'presuming,' some form of the verb 'to presume' repeatedly today," said GOP Rep. Brad Wenstrup. Referring to an earlier moment when Sondland agreed that he had reached a "two plus two equals four" conclusion, Wenstrup continued: "You see, in mathematics, two plus two does equal four. But in reality, two presumptions plus two presumptions does not equal even one fact."

Finally, another Republican lawmaker, Mike Turner, hammered the message home. "Is that your testimony today...that you have evidence that Donald Trump tied the investigation to aid?" Turner said. "Because I don't think you're saying that."

"I've said repeatedly, congressman, I was presuming," Sondland said.

"So no one told you," Turner said. "Not just the president. Giuliani didn't tell you, Mulvaney didn't tell you, nobody – Pompeo didn't tell you, nobody else on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying aid to these investigations, is that correct...No one on this planet told you that President Trump was tying aid to investigations. Yes or no?"

"Yes," said Sondland.

"So you really have no testimony today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations?"

"Other than my own presumption," said Sondland.

By that point, Sondland's quid pro quo offering was in tatters. But it didn't really matter, at least from a media standpoint. The notion that Sondland's testimony was a bombshell quickly hardened into conventional wisdom. "There's no question that Gordon Sondland's blockbuster testimony is still sending shock waves through Washington," ABC News reported. Amid all the talk of damning testimony, Democrats seemed to forget their doubts about Sondland's credibility. Ambassador Sondland had delivered, big time.

Gordon Sondland won’t quit over sexual misconduct claims .
Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador at the center of the impeachment drama, insists he will not resign over past sexual misconduct claims by three women, according to a report. The envoy to the European Union said Wedmesday through an associate that he has no plans to step down over the allegations, which he denies. “No intention of resigning,” Sondland’s associate told Politico. Three women aired claims this week to ProPublica of what they called Sondland’s inappropriate activity between 2003 and 2011 during his time as a hotel mogul in Portland, Ore., before President Trump appointed him to the plum ambassador post.

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