At this point, Republicans who are still defending the President are basically Wile E. Coyote barreling full speed ahead through thin air, not yet realizing they’ve run out of cliff.
Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to the European Union, who was appointed to his plum assignment by Trump after donating $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, and cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered Deep State or Never Trump, testified before Congress today. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican member of the Intelligence Committee, greeted Sondland, saying, “Ambassador Sondland, you are here today to be smeared.” Nunes assumed that Sondland’s testimony would be beneficial for Trump, and therefore that Democrats would smear Sondland. (Project much, Devin?)
Unfortunately for Rep. Nunes, we all know what happens when we assume.
Just last month, Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the President’s most ardent supporters, said, “If you could show me that Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.”
Today, Ambassador Sondland said this under oath in his opening statement: “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.”
Ambassador Sondland also had this to say in his opening statement: “Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election, DNC server, and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew these investigations were important to the President.”
That was, to put it mildly, not what Republicans wanted to hear.
“But,” Republicans have claimed, panting a little from dragging those heavy goalposts, “this doesn’t prove corrupt intent. President Trump cares passionately about rooting out corruption in Ukraine.”
First of all, if you believe that, I have a Trump University degree to sell you. Second, Sondland said this under oath today: “He [Zelensky] had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it.”
Read that last sentence again. These investigations could go on for a year, and it would be difficult to unearth a more damning statement. Trump didn’t care about corruption in Ukraine. He tried to extort a foreign government into damaging an American citizen—his political opponent. Actual investigations weren’t expected or necessary. Only a public statement that would cast doubt over Joe Biden’s candidacy, and help Trump’s reelection prospects.
It doesn’t get more corrupt. There’s not a better example of abuse of power.
If you don’t believe me that Sondland’s testimony today was terrible for Republicans, just look at this reaction shot of Devin Nunes afterward:
I especially enjoy the helpless hand gesture from Stephen Castor, the GOP’s attorney.
The Articles of Impeachment haven’t been put to a vote yet. There’s still time for House Republicans to redeem themselves. I’m not holding my breath. But if I had a Republican representative, he or she would be hearing from me.
Make sure yours hears from you.