Gordon Sondland has a real problem. The founder and former chairman of Provenance Hotels and the merchant bank Aspen Capital donated $1 million to Donald Trump’s campaign. He bought himself a substantial ambassadorship. He also bought himself a whole load of trouble.
He testified before the House’s Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearing – twice. Then, he had to amend his testimony twice. Now, he has been called back to testify a third time. Hopefully, he will be honest this time or less forgetful.
After his original and second testimony, Sunderland did not mention that he spoke directly to the American president during the Trump-Ukraine scandal. The EU ambassador went to eat with the U.S. acting ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor’s, Jr.staff at an outdoor cafe. Taylor had gone to the front of the Ukrainian-Russian war.
While they were still at the table, Sunderland took out his phone and called the president of these United States. The president spoke very loudly, to the point that Sunderland held the phone away from his ear. Staffer David Holmes was sitting at the table with Ambassador Sondland and clearly overheard what Trump said.
Sondland had no compunction about using a less-than-secure application “WhatsApp” to communicate from his phone in a Ukrainian restaurant to the White House. So, what is WhatsApp? It is a free messaging application that lets this billionaire and others send their messages or make phone calls to other WhatsApp people. The EU ambassador stood by his president and refused to turn over these messages to the House Intelligence Committee a report showed.
All this time, he was in an outdoor cafe with the employees coming and going. The Russians and the Ukrainians should have nipped his call within minutes if not seconds. Kyle Griffin the senior producer of MSNBC’s The Last word with Lawrence O’Donnell tweeted about ‘Waiters were coming and going as Gordon Sondland called Trump from the outdoor section of a Kyiv restaurant.” They discussed Zelensky’s “willingness to conduct the investigations,” aka find fake dirt on the former vice president and top presidential contender in 2020 Joe Biden and his family:
This was in Holmes’ opening statement, which had been made available to the press and the public, according to The Washington Post:
‘Ambassador Sondland replied, “yes, he was in Ukraine,” and went on to state that President Zelensky “loves your ass.” I then heard President Trump ask, “So, he’s gonna do the investigation?” Ambassador Sondland replied that “‘he’s gonna do it,” adding that President Zelensky will do “anything you ask him to.”‘
The committee members were interested in how Sondland acted in Kyiv. Keep in mind, this was the day after the Trump-Zelensky phone conversation. POTUS wanted Zelensky to publically open an investigation into his top Democratic presidential race contender Joe Biden and his family:
‘[— T]he day after Trump called Zelensky and exhorted him to investigate former vice president Joe Biden — will be scrutinized in public testimony Sondland is scheduled to give this week at the impeachment inquiry.’
Sondland arrived in Kyiv and ditched an itinerary that the embassy had arranged for him. The president planned to meet with the person who became prime minister of Ukraine, Volodor Zelensky and two of his top aides.
There were two additional staff members at the table who could also hear the conversation, and they would be able to vouch for Holmes’s testimony to the committee. They were embassy staffer Suriya Jayanti, who was Sondland’s control officer of his schedule. She went with him everywhere. The other aide, Tara Maher, was also his personal assistant during his stay.
Lawmakers’ inquiry could lead to impeachment, which would mean the U.S. House thinks the president is no longer fit to serve and should be removed from office. A guide to how impeachment works.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
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