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Politics

'Schiff Show' Roundup: Sondland Testimony a 'Bombshell' Dud

Sondland "assumed" there was a quid pro quo but had no evidence to back up his claim.

Thomas Gallatin · Nov. 21, 2019

“I think today’s testimony is among the most significant evidence to date,” proclaimed House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) at the midpoint break of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony. “We now can see the veneer has been torn away,” he added. And what was this bombshell “evidence” that Schiff insists confirms that President Donald Trump is guilty of an impeachable offense? Sondland’s opening statement, in which he asks, “Was there a quid pro quo? The answer is yes.”

That is what sent Schiff spiking the football. However, following the break it became clear that Sondland’s “bombshell” was in fact a dud. “Did the president ever tell you personally about any preconditions for anything?” Republican counsel Stephen Castor asked Sondland. “No,” Sondland answered. Castor drilled down further, asking how Sondland knew Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani were engaged in a quid pro quo. Sondland responded that he “assumed” it and that it was “no secret.”

Sondland claimed, “Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky.” However, under further questioning, Sondland admitted that he was never directly told by anyone that Trump had tied conditions of investigating the Bidens with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelelnsky’s desired visit with Trump; rather Sondland “presumed” this was the case. Sondland also believed that “in the absence of any credible explanation” for the military aid being withheld, it was due to the fact that Ukraine had not made any public announcement of an investigation into Burisma and Ukraine’s own 2016 election meddling.

Ohio Republican Jim Jordan blasted Sondland for omitting in his opening statement what he had previously testified to in his earlier closed-door hearing — that Trump had explicitly answered his question on Ukraine, “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. I just want Zelensky to do the right thing and do what he ran on.”

Overall, it was another day where nothing new was learned. However, Schiff finally got what he wanted — a witness explicitly testifying that there was a “quid pro quo.” Expect the Democrats to be writing up articles of impeachment soon.

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