Sondland’s Dilemma

I’ve been reflecting on how how much it must suck to be Gordon Sondland right now. Sondand is a college dropout who made tons of money in real estate and hotels, and eventually he co-founded a bank. He got Trump’s attention by donating $1 million to his inaugural committee. When he was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the European Union, he appeared to have bought his way into the Masters of the Universe Big Leagues. But now he looks more like a poor schmuck who is in over his head.

The story told by Ambassador William B. Taylor in the open hearing yesterday described Sondland making a call to Trump on a cell phone in a restaurant. Trump was either on speakerphone or was yelling loud enough that everyone at the table could hear him. This phone call, if corroborated, would establish a direct link between Trump and the push to have Ukraine President Zelensky investigate the Bidens. This is kind of a big deal.

Republicans did point out that Taylor’s story — which he got from one of his aides — was second-hand. But then there’s this —

Further, it seems to me that if this call were made on an unsecure cell phone in a public restaurant, it might be possible to obtain a record of it without having to go through Bill Barr. Further, the staffer in question, David Holmes, will testify to a closed door hearing tomorrow. One assumes that if his information seems solid, he’ll be invited to a public hearing.

See also: Russian spies likely intercepted ambassador’s cell phone call with Trump

And, sooner or later, Sondland is going to be asked about it. Keep in mind that the federal statute of limitations for perjury is five years, and if convicted a person could serve up to five years in prison. If he has to testify under oath about that phone call, what will he do? He can always claim he doesn’t remember making the phone call, but no one in the world is going to believe that. If the phone call story is true, Sondland can tell the truth about it and go back to his cushy billionaire life, sadder but wiser. If he chooses to lie for Trump, his future will depend on Trump’s re-election.

We’ll see soon enough how smart this guy really is. His using a cellphone in a restaurant to call Trump tells us that maybe he’s not that smart. But while he’s not exactly Brutus struggling with whether to joint the assasins, and Trump sure ain’t Julius Caesar, Sondland might think on these lines:

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

If all you knew about the Ukraine scandal was what was said in yesterday’s hearing, you might think Republicans made some points. One, that Zelensky said he didn’t feel pressured; and two, that the funds were released without Zelensky announcing an investigation of the Bidens. But we know from the released transcripts of the closed hearings that future witnesses will have those points covered.

In Other News

Matt Bevin has conceded in Kentucky. What I expected.

Trump is preparing to take over private land to build his wall. This could get … interesting.

Two are dead, at least four are wounded in California school shooting.

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The “Sideshow Bob” defense of Trump

Devin Nunes is bravely defending Trump. That’s bad news for the president

FILE – In this July 10, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump is joined by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, second from right, as he arrives at Melsbroek Air Base, in Brussels, Belgium. Sondland, wrapped up in a congressional impeachment inquiry, was a late convert to Trump, initially supporting another candidate in the Republican primary and once refusing to participate in a fundraiser on his behalf. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)