Sondland Day

And the answer is … Sondland doesn’t want to risk going the way of Roger Stone. He showed up this morning and threw pretty much the entire Trump administration under the bus.

Updates to come. Comments welcome.

Update: Sondland is still testifying. What a morning, though.

I want to highlight part of Devin Nunes’s opening statement:

When the Democrats can’t get any traction for their allegations of a quid pro quo, they move the goalposts and accuse the President of extortion, then bribery, and as a last resort, obstructing justice.

This was followed by Sondland’s opening statement:

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 says he eventually put two and two together and realized the military aid was also being withheld pending the announcement of investigations into the Bidens and Barisma.

This afternoon, Trump stood on the South Lawn and read from some oversized notes:

Close your eyes and imagine Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas giving this same “speech.”

Nunes’s cross-examination was all whackjob, all the time — Barisma, Bidens, Steele Dossier, a black ledger, and whistleblower whistleblower whistleblower. The purpose of this stuff is, of course, to give partisans an excuse for ignoring the facts. And, sadly, it probably will work.

Update: This is what Trump was referencing in the video above:

“I finally called the president. I believe it was on the 9th of September; I can’t find the records and they won’t provide them to me,” Sondland told the House committee. “But I believe I just asked him an open-ended question, Mr. Chairman. ‘What do you want from Ukraine? I keep hearing all these different ideas and theories and this and that. What do you want?’ ”

“And it was a very short, abrupt conversation,” he continued. “He was not in a good mood. And he just said, ‘I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky’ ” — that is, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — “to do the right thing.’ Something to that effect.”

Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Wednesday, Trump seized on that testimony as exculpatory. Reading from handwritten notes, he reiterated what Sondland had said and declared the testimony the final word on the matter.

So, Trump is quoting himself saying no quid pro quo as proof there was no quid pro quo.

Update: See also Aaron Blake, 5 takeaways from Gordon Sondland’s blockbuster testimony.