The biggest takeaway from today’s impeachment hearing — which I hope you were watching — was a piece of new information shared by Ambassador William Taylor: That about a week ago, he got news from a staffer that they had directly overheard a phone conversation between Gordon Sondland and President Trump in which Trump asked Sondland how “the investigations” were going, referring to what he had requested from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
That was the day after the call that Trump insists was “perfect” and did not contain a quid pro quo of any kind.
But Taylor recited it in detail, and it reverberated throughout not just the hearing, but across the media and even social media. After Taylor’s aide overheard the conversation, Taylor testified, he asked Sondland what Trump thought of Ukraine. Sondland reportedly responded that Trump “cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pushing for.”
Almost simultaneously with today’s hearings, Trump was holding a joint press conference with war criminal Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, and he was asked about the revelation from Taylor. Trump immediately resorted to his favorite answer — he never heard of it.
I know nothing about that, first time I’ve heard it. The one thing I’ve seen that Sondland said was that — He did speak to me for a brief moment and I said no quid pro quo under any circumstances. And that’s true. The other, I’ve never heard this. In any event it’s more second-hand information but I’ve never heard it. I don’t recall — no, not at all, not even a little bit. The only thing, and I guess Sondland has stayed with his testimony that there was no quid pro quo, pure and simple.”
But that’s not true at all. Sondland has revised his testimony, and in the three-page written testimony he submitted to House investigators after his in-person closed-door hearing, he said that he had told an aide to Zelensky that “the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”
That’s quid pro quo, or in English, bribery and extortion.
CBS News reports that the aide to Taylor is one David Holmes, who is now expected to appear in a closed-door hearing on Friday before the Intelligence Committee.
We’ll see how much Donald Trump remembers after that.
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