Tomorrow’s Testimony— A Path to Redemption or A Descent Into the Darkness
Gordon Sondland will testify before Congress on Wednesday. Will he opt for the role of impeachment anti-hero or acquiesce to a corrupt president’s will?
According to an Axios report on Monday about this week’s public impeachment hearings Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee will attempt “to create as much distance as possible between President Trump and the witnesses and make the case that Trump himself never specifically ordered a halt on aid to Ukraine with the intention of forcing a political investigation.”
GOP members of the committee hope that Tuesday’s testimony of Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine and that of former NSC official Tim Morrison will exonerate President Trump of any wrongdoing.
They also intend to influence Wednesday’s testimony of the Democrat’s marginally cooperative, star witness, Gordon Sondland. They know that Sondland, even if he lies again by the process of omission, will further corrupt their painstaking, hardly effective efforts to distort the obvious.
Malcontented GOP manipulators hope to argue that Sondland only spoke with Trump a few times about Ukraine. They want to paint the EU Ambassador as a Trump fanboy, “eager to please” an honorable chief executive. They’re also going to “focus on the idea that Sondland’s knowledge was ‘presumed’ and the president never directly linked the two”.
With Trump’s hush, hush, secret language blessing they’re simply going to throw Sondland under the Presidential Motorcade. It was all his fault! Sondland, desperate to please his benevolent overlord, either cooked up the whole devious scheme himself or misunderstood the President’s true motives. He was either a clueless dolt or a brownnosing, albeit misguided, evil mastermind.
That being said, as of November 8, 2019, the President no longer knew Gordon Sondland. Just over ten days ago, while speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Trump said, “I hardly know the gentleman”, the gentleman who donated a million dollars to his inaugural fund and the unqualified gentleman who Trump appointed Ambassador to the European Union.
Just five days later Trump’s selective amnesia worsened. At a press conference Fox News’ correspondent John Roberts asked the president about Ukraine Ambassador Bill Taylor’s bombshell, public testimony.
Earlier that same day Taylor told members of the Intelligence Committee that one of his aids overheard an unsecured cell phone conversation between the President and Ambassador Sondland. The aid, later identified as David Holmes, claimed that Sondland called Trump from a restaurant in Ukraine. He told President that “he (Ukranian President Zelensky) will do anything you ask him to.”
Trump’s response Roberts’ inquiry, “I know nothing about that. First time I’ve heard it.”
This President is apt to forgetfulness but I don’t think that’s why he took a mysterious, unscheduled trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday, nor is it the reason he’s no longer “familiar” with Gordon Sondland and their preceding conversation.
A corrupt President and corrupted members of Congress fully intend to humiliate and discredit Mr. Sondland this Wednesday. How does Sondland respond? He’s still a political appointee in the era of Trump. Perhaps Republican legislators and a beleaguered chief executive expect it’s time he took one for the team. America First, Gordon Sondland second.
If he opts to be the dishonorable fall guy, he might want to consider the fate of Paul Manfort, a broken man still languishing in prison, waiting for a Trump pardon that will never come.
It’s unlikely that even a sycophantic Sondland would face Manfort’s dire repercussions. Still, he might want to consider the fate of Jeff Sessions, Trump’s former Attorney General. Trump spent the better part of a year publicly humiliating Sessions before eventually firing him. Now Session’s, running for his old Senate seat in Alabama, finds himself groveling in public before the feet of the man who all but destroyed his reputation.
In some ways Sondland is fortunate that he’s caught between the Intelligence Committee’s rock and the White House’s hard place. In light of sworn depositions from other witnesses, he amended his original testimony. He admitted that Trump did require a quid pro quo from President Zelensky.
A smoking gun transcript of Holme’s deposition was also just released.
If Sondland opts to protect Trump during Wednesday’s public hearing he will contradict his own words and those of several, credible witnesses. He would perjure himself under oath. His consequence; probably criminal liability and irreparable damage to his reputation.
If he elects the high road and tells the entire, unedited truth, he evolves into the unlikely, impeachment anti-hero. His consequence; Trump insults him via Twitter and GOP loyalists no longer like him.