Get ready to rumble… The impeachment inquiry holds its main event today as Gordon Sondland will testify and things could go either way, as his equally feared and unpredictable testimony could be problematic for Democrats, Republicans – or both.
Impeachment inquiry’s most anticipated witness testifies today
As the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry begins its fourth day of testimony, the most anticipated witness will take the stand, European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland.
More than any other witness, Sondland is the most entangled in the alleged efforts by President Donald Trump to enlist Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s dealings in the country, which includes the successful push by Biden to get Ukraine’s top prosecutor fired by threatening to withhold $1 billion in US aid.
Why Sondland is a problem for Democrats and Republicans
Previously in a closed-door session, someone told investigators that President Trump had directly told him there were to be “no quid pro quos of any kind” with Ukraine.
He further testified that he did not recall holding any conversations with the White House regarding withholding military assistance from Ukraine in return for the countries help with Trump’s political campaign.
However, where the problem comes in is that Sondland turned around and amended his testimony, saying, “I now do recall” holding the discussion with Ukraine about anticorruption investigations.
This flip-flopping presents a problem for both sides, as neither one can build a consistent narrative one way or the other on the conduct of the president.
Why Sondland’s testimony is so important and problematic
Sondland is an especially important witness, because more than any other so far, he has had direct conversations with the president.
Sondland has been unpredictable and investigators are unsure whether he is a Trump ally or not. He was appointed to his ambassador post after making a substantial donation to the Trump campaign in 2016 and had no prior political experience.
Both sides are wary of the way Sondland has answered questions. His unpredictability and seeming inability to recall many key moments has frustrated Democrats.
However, later seem to recover his recall of some moments and that is leaving both sides nervous.
Sondland amended previous testimony in a three-page addendum to his deposition which now recalled “quid pro quo.”
Officials who worked with Sondland gave him the nickname of a “free radical” and referred to him as the “Gordon problem.”
Today the “Gordon problem” is one both Democrats and Republicans are going to have to deal with in his testimony.