It was the testimony that was supposed to bring an end to the Trump administration as we knew it, finally completing Democrats’ three-year mission to undo the results of the 2016 presidential election.
Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified Wednesday that President Donald Trump criminally leveraged the power of the Oval Office to pressure a foreign entity to investigate political opponents at home by tying military aid and a White House meeting with the Ukrainian president to an investigation into the Biden family in a quid pro quo.
“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,” Sondland declared in his opening statement, affirming the Democrats’ latest conspiracy theory seeking the removal of the president.
At first glance, it was a day of damning testimony for the president, and the media ran wild with headlines spelling out Armageddon for the Trump White House.
“Sondland Delivers for Democrats With Bombshell Testimony,” reads a headline in U.S. News and World Report. “Sondland’s bombshell testimony blows holes in Trump’s Ukraine defence,” reads another in The Guardian. “Sondland’s bombshell testimony leaves Trump’s Republican allies scrambling,” declares the Washington Post.
The “bombshell testimony” Sondland offered, however, failed to explode anything on the Trump administration. Sondland, who has already changed his testimony multiple times since sitting down behind closed doors for a private deposition, admitted to lawmakers Wednesday that his accusations of a clear quid pro quo were based entirely on assumptions about Trump and the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
“Mr. Sondland, let’s be clear: no one on this planet—not Donald Trump, Rudy Guiliani, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo—no one told you aid was tied to political investigations, is that correct?” Republican Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio asked.
“That’s correct,” Sondland said.
In fact, Sondland confirmed to the committee that Trump explicitly told Sondland that Trump did not want a quid pro quo on anything regarding Ukraine.
“I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo,” Sondland says Trump told Sondland.
Sondland admits Trump told him “I want no quid pro quo.” Also admits his opinion that there was quid pro quo is based on a “presumption” – and is directly contradicted by Volker and Morrison. Reasonable people having different conclusions isn’t compelling evidence to impeach. pic.twitter.com/aYaxH7O2xc
— John Ratcliffe (@RepRatcliffe) November 20, 2019
During his public testimony on Capitol Hill, Sondland also accused Vice President Mike Pence, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, without any hard evidence and relying on personal recollection, of being aware of the president and Giuliani’s alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine after Sondland raised his concerns over the apparent situation.
Pence, Perry, and Pompeo each denounced the claims as false, refuting Sondland’s testimony that meetings ever took place in which Sondland confronted the vice president and senior cabinet officials of a quid pro quo.
Sondland’s “bombshell” testimony, based on presumptions and new accusations without evidence, have been further contradicted by several prior witnesses who appeared before the committee. On Friday, former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, one of the Democrats’ star witnesses who testified last week, admitted that she had no information that Trump was involved in any criminal activity whatsoever.
On Tuesday, Sondland’s charges of a quid pro quo were flatly disputed by former State Department Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former National Security Council Staffer Tim Morrison, both of whom resigned their government posts before sitting for their private depositions in the committee.
Volker and Morrison were each asked point-blank whether there was any bribery or extortion, i.e., quid pro quo, pushed by the White House on Ukraine.
“Did anyone ever ask you to bribe or extort anyone at any time during your time in the White House?” asked ranking Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California to each witness.
“No,” they each said, without hesitation.
"Did anyone ever ask you to bribe or extort anyone at any time during your time in the White House?"
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) November 19, 2019
Sondland’s appearance on Capitol Hill also gave credence to a potential congressional investigation of the Biden family’s shade business dealings with Ukraine.
Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company known to be highly corrupt, making $50,000 a month while his father, Joe Biden, served as vice president at the time and controlled U.S. policy towards Ukraine.
When pressed on whether the situation appeared to be a conflict of interest by Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, Sondland agreed.
“Clearly it’s an appearance of a conflict of interest,” Sondland told the committee.
WATCH: Ambassador Sondland admits Hunter Biden serving on the board of Burisma had the appearance of a conflict of interest. Yet Adam Schiff refuses to allow this Committee to call Biden as a witness. pic.twitter.com/6OSIpYWoPo
— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) November 20, 2019
Certainly, testimony from a witness who has already changed his story multiple times and offered claims based only on personal recollection of events contradicted by other witnesses made for quite an explosive day for the Trump White House in the Democratic impeachment saga.