According to federal law, any public official who “directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act” is guilty of bribery.
Republicans have been trying to shrug off the Democrats calling what Trump and his allies did over last Spring and on the infamous July 25th phone call bribery. Today, Ambassador Gordon Sondland agreed that it was indeed bribery. Sondland earlier in the day offered an opening statement that included admissions that contradicted his earlier testimony. In the questioning from lawyers and congressional members from both sides of the aisle it became clear that Sondland had fessed up to things that other witnesses had contradicted, but was still trying to walk a fine line and hold everyone essentially blameless. In other words, Sondland decided he wasn’t going to be the fall guy for Trump or anyone else. But, at the same time, he was going to try to seemingly play dumb when convenient and when it could protect his boss, President Trump.
By the time it got to Congressman Patrick Maloney’s turn to ask some questions, it was obvious that Maloney had enough of Sondland’s dance and was prepared to end it.
Rep. Maloney and Sondland went back and forth until Maloney finally pinned the Ambassador down. Sondland tried to split hairs between “Burisma” and “The Bidens.” He essentially tried to claim that he made no connection between the two, while everyone else in his world knew loud and clear that they were synonymous (and apparently Sondland is the only person in the Western Hemisphere with no access to Google despite being fluent on apps like “Whatsapp”). Sondland also tried to play dumb when convenient, or knowing everything when it benefited him seemingly. Maloney did get Sondland to generically agree that it is wrong to ask a foreign government for an investigation into one’s political opponent.
Finally Maloney was able to get Sondland to also admit that it was Donald Trump that would benefit from an investigation into Joe Biden. Not the United States, not anyone else. Just Trump and his re-election prospects.
When Sondland finally admitted to this being a bribe that solely benefited Trump, applause erupted from the spectators in the room.
Sondland tried to bite back at Maloney saying he had been “very forthright” in his testimony. Maloney quickly shut that down.
“You’ve been very forthright? This is your third try to do so sir. Didn’t work so well the first time, did it? We had a little declaration come in after that, remember that? Now we’re here a third time, and we got a doozy of a statement from you this morning. There’s a whole bunch of stuff you don’t recall. With all due respect, sir, we appreciate your candor but let’s be really clear on what it took to get it out of you.”
Check out the full fiery exchange between Rep. Maloney and Gordon Sondland below:
Republicans have effectively confused Sondland's allegations. But this exchange with Maloney lays out how devastating it is.
And how it took three attempts at testimony to get there. pic.twitter.com/JO0YVLFKNy
— Zach Wolf (@zbyronwolf) November 20, 2019
While Sondland was testifying, Trump tried to twist his testimony for his own benefit. Trump tried to use a moment when Sondland recalled a September 9th phone call between him and the POTUS where Trump allegedly said he wanted “no quid pro quo” even though Sondland couldn’t identify why Trump said that, as he was never asked if he wanted one. Perhaps it was because on that same day, it was announced to the intelligence committee, where Trump allies Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan sit, that the whistleblower had “credible and urgent” evidence (as determined by the Inspector General) that there was a quid pro quo and the Democrats began their investigation.
Coincidence or a CYA attempt by Trump?
A majority of Americans now think that Trump should be removed from office over this scandal as the GOP’s ever changing defenses of Trump keep getting rebuffed and discredited. That number could significantly increase after today’s testimony.
Featured image via screen capture from the above video