The testimony of Ambassador Gordon Sondland during Wednesday’s impeachment hearing is already being described as a “bombshell.” Sondland not only further incriminated Donald Trump, he also implicated senior members of Trump’s team including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and even Vice-President Mike Pence. Be careful Trumpsters. The bus is running over everyone.
However, perhaps the most damning comments of the morning came from Trump himself as he staged his latest performance of “Chopper Talk” on the White House lawn. Trump stopped to read from his hand-written notes a portion of what he characterized as exonerating testimony by Sondland. It was a mere two sentences, out of context, from over two hours of questioning. But Trump presented it as if it wrapped up the whole case against him. It surely did not.
Trump was allegedly quoting Sondland’s recollection of a conversation they had. Sondland said that he asked Trump what he wanted from Ukrainian President Zelensky. And Trump says he replied that…
“I say to the Ambassador in response, ‘I want nothing, I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky, President Zelensky, to do the right thing.'”
First of all, saying that “I want nothing,” immediately followed by an order to “do the right thing,” is by definition a quid pro quo whether you say so or not. Particularly when “the right thing” was previously established as a demand that Zelensky make a public statement that he would investigate the 2016 election and Burisma/Biden, if he wanted U.S. aid. To deny the obvious conditionality of that is like denying that water is wet.
What’s more, in a previous episode of “Chopper Talk,” Trump himself told a national television audience exactly what he wanted from Zelensky:
REPORTER: Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call? Exactly.
TRUMP: I would think that if they’re honest about it they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens.
After dodging the question yesterday, @realDonaldTrump says after his phone call with Pres. Zelensky, he hoped Ukraine would “start a major investigation into the Bidens.” He adds: “Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens.” pic.twitter.com/O3bA2spazQ
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) October 3, 2019
The bottom line here is that Trump did seek Zelensky’s agreement to investigate the Biden’s, and he did make U.S. aid contingent on that. But now Trump wants people to believe Sondland’s out of context soundbite, rather than what he plainly said himself. If we accept Trump’s presentation of Sondland’s testimony as complete and factual, then we have to conclude that he’s calling himself a liar. Which, ironically, would be the first truthful thing that Trump has said in a very long time.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.