Mutually Assured Destruction: Sondland Confirms Quid Pro Quo and Claims Wide Circle Of Knowledge

European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland sent shockwaves around Washington after he not only confirmed what he deduced as a quid pro quo demand but that a wide circle of top officials were fully informed for the effort. Sondland did not directly implicate Trump who he recounted denied any quid pro quo to him in a call on September 9th. However, he offered compelling testimony that he was told to speak to Rudy Giuliani who pursued such a quid pro quo. His testimony suggested knowledge of these efforts by Vice President Michael Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and others. Pence and Pompeo immediately issued direct denials of that meetings or communications with Sondland ever occurred. What was striking is that Sondland made it clear that he would not go down alone. His testimony reflected a type of mutually assured destruction strategy for a wide circle of officials.

Sondland reasonably assumed that Giuliani was pursuing a strategy at the behest of the President and that the demand for investigations “reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements.”

He declared effectively that he would not be a scapegoat. He testified that “At all times, I was acting in good faith. As a presidential appointee, I followed the directions of the President.” He then added that he kept a wide range of officials in the loop: “They knew what we were doing and why. Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.’

He denied understanding any quid pro quo for much of the period under review and declared that “by the 8th of September, it was abundantly clear to everyone that there was a link.”

The Democrats had another good day with members advancing a consistent and coherent narrative.

On Pence, Sondland testified that “I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations. He added “I recall mentioning that before the Zelensky meeting . . . During the actual meeting, President Zelensky raised the issue of security assistance directly with Vice President Pence. The Vice President said he would speak to President Trump about it.”

Pence has denied the account and said it “never happened.

On the other hand, the Republicans also scored from points. They drew their own timeline that noted that Sen. Ron Johnson spoke with Trump in late August and Trump angrily denied the suggestion of a quid pro quo. That was before the whistleblower complaint was sent to Congress. Then on September 9th, Sondland reported that Trump also angrily denied a quid pro quo to him. That later conversation can be questioned since it was the same day as the confirmation of a congressional review of the whistleblower complaint. However, the only two direct statements by Trump on quid pro quo were express denials. Then six days later, the aid was released without any announcement of investigations.

Moreover, various witnesses have testified that the Bidens were not mentioned in meetings and that much of the discussion centered on a call for investigations into the 2016 election fraud and Burisma. Again, some have raised legitimate questions over whether people like Sondland should have known that investigating Burisma meant investigating the Bidens.

I still have serious concerns over the narrowness of this impeachment and the thin (and at points conflicted) record. In particular, the recent effort to pound these facts into a case of bribery remains highly dubious in light of the case law on the meaning of that crime. Nevertheless, the witnesses are painting a damning picture of the work of Giuliani and supporting a narrative of an abuse of power in the withholding (even if briefly) of military aid.

161 thoughts on “Mutually Assured Destruction: Sondland Confirms Quid Pro Quo and Claims Wide Circle Of Knowledge”

  1. “I don’t debate with dishonest people.”

    YNOT, is that why you restrain from talking to yourself?

    1. It’s crazy. Excruciating to watch. These people must be so hideously embarrassed to be up there on international television, exposed like this.

      I don’t understand how Democrats keep continuing, how the Democrat media keeps this up. How are they not humiliated?

      1. they simply don’t see it that way, that’s why

        in their minds, insubordination and sabotage are patriotism

        with delusional and selfish thinking like that, civil war becomes ever more likely

        1. My God, how could they not. I’m doing a whole-body-cringe watching this unfold. They are getting humiliated, exposed for total frauds.

          And then I turn on CNN and it’s news of how quid-pro-quo has been proven. It’s like they aren’t watching the testimony at all. Are they cutting and pasting? How could any reasonable person think their case has been proven, having seen this?

          1. How could any reasonable person think their case has been proven, having seen this?

            While our ability to reason is one of our greatest strengths, human reasoning can be flawed, especially when we are highly motivated to use reason to support our team. However, psychology research provides us with a few ways to overcome these flaws, like making accuracy goals an important part of our identity, being curious about the other side, or embracing complexity and nuance. These strategies may help open ourselves up to the facts—even when they are inconvenient.

          2. Karen S – it is the lens you are looking though when you watch the event. CNN is anti-Trump so all crimes have been proved.
            This happened to me when I watched the OJ trial. I was watching it gavel-to-gavel. However, what was reported to the casual observer at night was not the same trial as I was watching. After watching the trial, I did not see the State make it’s case, so I was not surprised at the verdict, I was just surprised they took as long as they did.
            I was watch The Five and only one of the people said they had watched the whole hearing that day (they got the short straw). I have been watching it or going back and watching it on YouTube and the Democrats can make whatever claims they want, they are not laying a glove on Trump.
            The funniest was Fredo Cuomo trying to prove, on live TV, that you could overhear a conversation on a cellphone if the speakerphone was off. You cannot.

            1. I couldn’t stand when they asked OJ to put on the gloves in evidence.

              If I forget to oil my gloves after a show, and they go into the box sweaty, they come out a stiffened crinkled ball. I had to work oil into them, and get the leather supple again, in order to get them on, and they’re my own gloves. I cannot believe they would pull leather gloves out of the evidence bag and expect them to be soft and supple, and fit their owner. Or that they would expect someone accused of murder to even try to get them on, especially over examination gloves. They are designed to have a bit of grip to them. That was a devastating prosecutor mistake.

              Relatives of Ron Goldman once told me that damning evidence was not admitted in court.

              1. Karen S – that would be the opinion of the Goldman family. There was exculpatory evidence that was not used, either.

    2. “The A-Damn Schiiiffff Hearsay Fest”

      Whatever will historians do with that act of fabrication, malice and treason?

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