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.

Stuff to Read

How Adam Schiff Avoided a Circus

How America Ends (deep)

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)

12 thoughts on “Sondland’s Dilemma

  1. "I've been reflecting on how how much it must suck to be Gordon Sondland right now."

    Heh.  There must be a good mantra to use in connection with that reflection!

    I think Gordon may have quite a bit to worry about.  It has always seemed like something sketchy went on with that inaugural fund and, eventually, someone will figure out what it was.  Rachel Maddow was on the case for awhile, but I don't believe she ever got to the bottom of it.


  2. Sondland put it on speakerphone to show off what I bigshot he is that he can call Trump directly. Sondland has 'remembered' additional testimony once. (On the advice of his lawyers, I suspect) His lawyers are going to let Sondland know that he got away with 'I just remembered.' once and the new DOJ in 2020 might not forgive him for three, four or five episodes of poor memory. Sondland has burned his bridges with Trump. (Is Songland smart enough to remember how Trump humiliated Chris Christie and Mitt Romney?) Sondland needs to come clean on exactly and completely what Trump and Rudy were doing. Everything!

    If the truth Sondland knows conforms to what we generally know, Rudy and Trump were playing fast and loose on international turf in getting Trump reelected. Rudy will be implicated in crimes and Barr will be courting obstruction charges himself if he ignores credible evidence that Rudy broke the law. 

    A wild card is one of the three stooges who is up on charges for making illegal foreign contributions to the GOP who is going to talk. If Sondland and that guy have the same testimony about Rudy, that gets dicey. Will others sense the water rising in the sinking ship?

  3. If I were in Sondlings shoes I'd be inviting Jesus into my life about now. It's time to pull the ripcord, buddy!

    Loose lips sinks ships!

  4. tRUMP is no Julius Caesar!  And certainly not Brutus, either!!!

    Orange Julius, yeah.  Especially along with burgers, hotdogs, and fries – SUPERSIZED, OF COURSE!!!!!

    Oh man, Ol' Gordy is as screwed as a sex-worker after a 24-hour shift!

    And you have to be a special kind of "Teh STOOOOOPID" to whip out your cell-phone in a Uki restaurant, and call the presiDUNCE (Collect?  Nah, tRUMP's too cheap!).  Hell, Ol'Gordy might as well have connected Putin in on that call, because you know Pooty-poot heard every word!

    No pity for this lying moron!  Or the lying moron who received the call, either.  And what kind of nit/half/dim/fuck-wit would take a call from a bribery co-conspirator from the country you're trying to bribe?  Besides tRUMP, of course!

    And just think:  All of this was after only ONE DAY of public testimony!

    Buy popcorn futures, folks!


  5. Sondland comes across as a bit of a boob, well in over his head. His memory suddenly got better when it was to his advantage. Josh Marshall made the point that, when Sondland was testifying, basically making sh$t up, his lawyer would poke him in the ribs, and he got his testimony back on the straight and narrow. Or something to that effect.

    I think he's someone who was reasonably good at waltzing through life, a minor bs artist, and now he's skating on the edge of a very big abyss probably without realizing it.

    I kind of wonder what he had in mind by pitching himself for the ambasador's job to the EU, what was his motivation.

  6. I can't remember who the author is but the book's title is "Everything Trump touches dies".  We see it happening.  I am not a drinker but when Trump gets impeached, I will break out the champagne.  Just saying my prayers that the Senate will wake up and smell the coffee and throw him out.

    • Rudy Giuliani says he believes President Donald Trump will remain loyal to him but jokes that he has “very, very good insurance” should the president decide, as a reporter says, to “throw him under a bus.”

    Boy, that Giuliani is such a cut up. I really can appreciate his type of humor. He's knee slapping funny at times.

  7. An organization that has police powers must be able to police itself.  The Republican Party cannot police it's leader or it's base.  There is considerable reasonable doubt if they can even attempt to police Russian aggression.  The Republican Party leader got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and another hand full of cookies.  Records and witnesses abound.  Yet his own party thinks it proper to provide cover and defense when the interests of the United States are in jeopardy.  

    At least Trump did make sure the first cookie went to Putin.  Putin had no objection that aide to Ukraine was delayed and might have even been cancelled by procedures.  His interests in that area are expansive.  It has cost the Ukrainian citizens a reported 13,000 lives so far to resist Russian control. This is a serious statement with great sacrifice that Russian incursion is unwelcome.  You would think that the Republican Party in this country could make a statement and sacrifice a bit to make a similar statement. A statement that  Russian incursion and control into the United States is unwelcome.  Instead they defend and obscure while  their party leader feeds Putin cookies.

  8. OT – Much has been made of the similarities of the Nixon impeachment inquiry and the Trump impeachment. Nixon's deeds came out in the year after his reelection – he resigned 18 months into his second term. The GOP was aware they had two and a half years to rehabilitate their reputation. This is happening less than a year from the election – the actual trial in the Senate may happen in the election year! They have NO time to rehabilitate their reputation after (and by) removing the president. This is do-or-die.

  9. Pingback: Holy Bleep | The Mahablog

  10. In How America Ends Yoni Appelbaum points out Americans have seen polarization and violence in our politics many times before. Since we're a nation of immigrants with a system of government designed to foster debate, that's probably going to be the state of affairs for a long time. Having grown up in the Chicago area, it seems that compared to the politically motivated violence of the 1960's and 70's, some of which I witnessed first hand, what's going on now is relatively tame.

    The far right's previous peak was during the Nixon administration, and we know how that ended. The Trump administration is even more a house of cards. Most of Nixon's men were smart, if evil. Trump's are a collection of incompetent freaks, like Trump himself. Roger Stone, an actor in both administrations, being found guilty on all charges will probably mean some of the Mueller report will be unredacted and back in the news. There might be a tectonic shift in our society, but America won't end.


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