Tag Archives: Gordon Sondland

Why do they deny hearing what the witnesses have said?

The much-anticipated public hearing on the impeachment inquiry being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee produced a serious exercise in frustration and futility.

At least for me it did.

The Intel Committee took into the public domain what it had heard in private about whether Donald Trump sought a “favor” from Ukrainian government officials who could dig up some dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The term of art has become “quid pro quo,” the Latin phrase that translates to “something for something,” or “this for that.”

It is the basis for the pending impeachment of the president of the United States.

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged in the press briefing room that there was a quid pro quo, and then he told us to “get over it.”

Then came the testimony before the House panel from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who said that “yes,” the president sought a quid pro quo. He heard him seek it in real time and told the committee what he heard from the president. He said everyone was “in the loop” regarding the quid pro quo.

The memo of Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president even mentions the “favor, though.”

Why, then, do Republicans on the House committee and others on Capitol Hill keep saying there was “no quid pro quo”? What are they not hearing? Did they cover their ears when Sondland testified to that knowledge at the House hearings? Did they not hear Mick Mulvaney’s assertion of a favor and his scolding us to “Get over it”?

I know these are rhetorical questions. They won’t produce any answers. They simply serve to symbolize the futility and frustration that this impeachment inquiry has produced … so far.

Maloney channels Jordan

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney got rough and tough today with Gordon Sondland. The New York Democrat asked the U.S. ambassador to the European Union “who would benefit” from an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Sondland was a witness at the impeachment inquiry hearing being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee. So, Maloney asked the question. He asked it repeatedly. Maloney’s voice became brusque. He bristled at Sondland’s initial semi-response.

I watched the exchange today and, to be honest, it made me uncomfortable. Then I recalled what I have witnessed from the get-go from a member of the Republican lineup on the committee, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Jordan was brought onto the committee to act — as I see it — as the designated hatchet man for the GOP House minority. He has been roughing up witnesses throughout the impeachment inquiry process, not to mention tossing insults at his Democratic committee colleagues, including Chairman Adam Schiff.

So, was Maloney totally out of line today? Maybe at some level. Sondland said he had testified in good faith to the committee, but Maloney wasn’t taking that bait. He mentioned that Sondland’s initial closed-door testimony didn’t go well and that he had to issue a clarification of what he said initially.

“I appreciate your candor,” Maloney said in a near-shout at Sondland, “but look what it took to get it out of ya.”

As a spectator with an admitted bias about these proceedings, I am left to suggest only that Sean Maloney was channeling his colleague Jim Jordan. He was dishing out just a little of what Jordan has been delivering all along.

Sondland brings it, but won’t change many GOP minds

Gordon Sondland brought it today to the House Intelligence Committee.

He said Donald Trump linked aid to Ukraine with a personal political favor. Sondland said everyone within earshot knew it. He has confirmed what has been reported for months: that Trump asked a foreign government for personal political help and put our nation’s security at risk by withholding weapons slated for Ukraine, which uses them in its war with Russian-backed rebels.

There. That said, I have some bad news to offer. The U.S. ambassador to the European Union’s testimony today likely did not change many — if any — Republican minds on whether to impeach the president, let alone remove him from office.

This is the huge hurdle facing those in the House who want to impeach the president. No matter how many witnesses they trot out to implicate Trump in what I believe are impeachable offenses, the Republicans who serve in the House and Senate remain locked in to their fealty to a president who likely doesn’t give a rat’s tush about any of them individually.

What might move the needle? I suppose these lawmakers will need to hear from their constituents back home. Perhaps there might be enough of their “bosses,” the voters in their states or congressional districts, who will express appropriate outrage at what the nation is hearing in these public impeachment inquiry hearings.

I am left simply shaking my head.

Gordon Sondland told the nation what many of us knew already. That Donald Trump’s transactional philosophy has put the nation in peril. Why? Because he was interested in digging up dirt on political foes and doesn’t give a flying crap about corruption in Ukraine. 

Ambassadorships: political payola

The name of Gordon Sondland is about to become a household name.

He is the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. He has testified to House Intelligence Committee members that Donald Trump sought a quid pro quo — a political favor — from the government of Ukraine.

I want to mention Sondland because the media keep reporting that the ambassador “earned” his appointment from Trump because of his political friendliness with the president. As if that’s news? It isn’t.

Sondland is among an interminable list of ambassadors who have zero diplomatic experience. The nature of ambassadorial appointments makes them political payoffs. That’s what they have been since the beginning of the republic.

Perhaps there ought to be a monumental reform in the criteria that presidents use in nominating these individuals to the diplomatic posts. I would love to see ambassadorships awarded to career diplomats, individuals who have spent a lifetime in public service, who know something about the country where they would be stationed to operate on behalf of the United States of America.

That’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

I have known precisely one individual who received a presidential appointment as a U.S. ambassador overseas. The late Teel Bivins of Amarillo got the nod from then-President George W. Bush to become our ambassador to Sweden. Bivins was a state senator from Amarillo.

Did the newly named ambassador have any knowledge of Sweden? No! He had never even set foot in the country. He got the appointment because he had worked diligently on Bush’s winning presidential campaign in 2000. He ventured to early primary states to raise lots of money on Bush’s behalf. Plus, Bivins also was close to President George H.W. Bush, the father of the man who sought the office of president.

Bivins, though, did surround himself with competent staff. He had many career diplomats working for him.

To be sure, presidents of both parties have selected high-profile politicians to serve as envoys to major U.S. allies, such as Great Britain, Japan or China.

My point is that Sondland’s political standing is nothing new or unique as we start to examine his role in the Ukrainian matter that is threatening to result in Donald Trump’s impeachment by the House.

I am hoping the media can let go of this idea that Sondland’s political chops somehow make a big deal out of his EU ambassadorship. They don’t. It’s the norm.