House Intelligence report on the impeachment inquiry is definitive, detailed, and utterly damning

On Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee released its report on the results of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. As might be expected following weeks of compelling, detailed, and convincing testimony, the report is … compelling, detailed, and convincing in presenting the case against Trump. The report indicts Trump “personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government” for soliciting interference from a foreign government to assist in his reelection. It makes an equally blunt case that Trump withheld both a White House meeting and military assistance from Ukraine as part of his effort to force that country’s participation in his scheme. 

Donald Trump used his high office not just to benefit his own presidential campaign, but to harm political rivals; and he did so at a cost to this nation and to others. He put himself above the law, and above the best interests of the United States. This is the very definition of an impeachable offense.

The report, especially in the executive summary, takes the form of a narrative and does a masterful job of arranging the various elements of testimony into a cohesive set of events. For example, when Trump sat down to make his call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he did not do so “cold,” but only after first participating in a call with Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland. In that call, Sondland assured Trump that, after months of pressure, much of it directed by Rudy Giuliani, Zelensky was on board with the scheme to announce investigations that would cast doubt on Biden, suggest that Hillary Clinton faked the entire theft of materials from the DNC, and exonerate Russia of interference in the 2016 election.

In listening to the testimony of various witnesses, or seeing the daily reports on the impeachment hearings, it was sometimes difficult to see the relationship between these events. But in the Intelligence Committee report, the connections are drawn: Giuliani and others applied pressure to Ukrainian officials over a period of many months.

Setting up Trump’s July 25 request for a political favor was an effort that began at least as early as April, when Giuliani, Lev Parnas, and others directly conspired to remove U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch from her position—with the knowledge and cooperation of Trump. Sondland then stepped in ahead of Trump’s call to confirm that Zelensky understood Giuliani’s demands. After that conversation, Sondland spoke with Trump to let him know that everything was arranged. By the time Trump called Zelensky, he felt comfortable demanding the announcements he wanted as a political favor—because he thought it was already in the bag.

If the effort to extort Zelensky into making announcements that Trump could use to his benefit began well before the July 25 phone call, it certainly did not end there. Giuliani met in person with Zelensky’s top assistant and repeated the insistence that Ukraine issue the announcement Trump wanted. Giuliani, Sondland, and Ambassador Kurt Volker then communicated through a series of texts and conversations to detail what they were demanding of Ukraine and make a clear report to Trump. 

In what may be the ugliest moment of the whole affair, Ukraine offered up a draft statement that included mention of the country fighting against corruption, but did not include specific language on the two conspiracy theories Trump was supporting. At that point Volker, Sondland, and Giuliani actually rewrote the proposed statement to include Trump’s conspiracy theories and sent this revision back to Zelensky’s assistant. No other moment makes it more absolutely clear that this was not about fighting corruption. It was about giving Trump ammunition against political opponents.

Ukrainian officials expressed well-grounded concern over what Trump was asking, and even Volker—who drafted the proposed revisions to the Ukrainians’ statement—was forced to admit that they were stepping over the line. Even then Sondland continued to press for the announcements that Trump wanted, and continued to communicate his progress to Trump.

Meanwhile, it was clear that Ukrainian officials were aware of Trump’s hold on assistance almost from the moment it began. Defense Department official Laura Cooper reported that the Ukrainians asked about the hold on the same day that Trump spoke with Zelensky, and that there were multiple questions about why the assistance was not flowing over the following two months.

It was at that point, as the report puts it, that Trump’s scheme “unraveled.” Zelensky was prepared to make the public announcements that Trump was demanding, but three House committees had already announced an investigation specifically targeted at how Trump and Giuliani were acting to “improperly pressure the Ukrainian government.” That same day, the inspector general of the Intelligence Community sent Congress a letter informing it of the whistleblower report. Even Republican senators were demanding information on the hold on military assistance.

Trump had finally convinced Ukraine to play ball … but it was too late. Trump was forced to lift the hold on the aid to Ukraine in an effort to prevent further investigation. Even so, Zelensky was still going to go through the deal at his end until Ambassador William Taylor urged him to step back.

As might be expected, a large part of the report is dedicated to what the Intelligence Committee describes as Trump’s "unprecedented effort to obstruct an impeachment inquiry," which included withholding documents, ordering witnesses not to testify, and repeated attempts to threaten and intimidate those witnesses who did come forward. Those efforts included not just direct orders to ignore congressional subpoenas—orders that Trump knew put everyone in the White House in position for possible contempt charges—but going after even longtime military personnel, nonpartisan State Department officials, and members of the White House staff in the most personal, political, and threatening way. And it included Trump making over 100 public statements about the character of the whistleblower.

All of that was exactly what the public hearings and transcripts of closed-door hearings had already revealed. But it’s certainly not everything that’s in the report. For example, Mike Pence gets more attention than might be comfortable for anyone expecting him to fill a Trump-shaped hole. Pence, like Rick Perry and Mick Mulvaney, appears to have been aware of Trump’s extortion efforts over the whole course of events.

Also coming in for a good deal of scrutiny is handy tool and editor of The Hill John Solomon. Solomon’s efforts to assist Trump and Giuliani go back to at least March. His repeated editorials provided a direct outlet for Giuliani to present his conspiracy theories against Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, and he was also an active participant in the smear campaign against Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Everything that Solomon claimed about Yovanovitch, which was then used to justify the ambassador’s removal, was apparently cooked up between Solomon, Giuliani, and Parnas. 

Trump was also directly connected to that effort.

Phone records show that in the 48 hours before publication of The Hill opinion piece, Mr. Parnas spoke with Mr. Solomon at least six times. … On March 20, 2019, the day The Hill opinion piece was published, Mr. Parnas again spoke with Mr. Solomon for 11 minutes. Shortly after that phone call, President Trump promoted Mr. Solomon’s article in a tweet.

And then there’s Devin Nunes. In what might be the most extraordinary fact to emerge from any report ever produced by a House Intelligence Committee, it’s made absolutely clear that while Nunes was sitting as the ranking member of the committee, he was also directly involved in all aspects of the scheme he was pretending to investigate. Nunes was involved in the scheme to smear Yovanovitch, working directly with Giuliani, Parnas, and Solomon in the effort—and it wasn’t just a chance encounter. Nunes talked with Giuliani four times in a single day prior to the publication of Solomon’s article. Nunes’ staff also got in on the act, dealing with both Giuliani and Parnas as the effort to remove Yovanovitch continued. Nunes’ next appearance at a committee hearing should be before the Ethics Committee.

At 300 pages, the House Intelligence Committee report on the impeachment of Donald Trump is going to be, like some earlier documents, subject to prolonged scrutiny before it coughs up every connection and trail of evidence. But even at first reading, it is damning as hell.

In his efforts to gain an incremental edge in 2020 by insisting that Ukraine back a pair of already long-disproven conspiracy theories, Trump damaged America’s ability to work with allies abroad, invited further aggression on the part of Russia, and placed global stability at risk. That’s not the end of it. In defense of those actions, Trump used his position both as executive and head of the Republican Party to further divide the nation, damage federal institutions, and engage in active obstruction of the investigation in violation of Congress’ oversight authority.

Though Trump has constantly tried to bring down the scope of the impeachment to a single phone call, the report makes clear that the effort to subvert the government of Ukraine into becoming an instrument in Trump’s ratf#cking of the 2020 election was lengthy, extensive, and definitive. In fact, the report does a good job of showing that the call was not an exception, but an integral piece of that scheme—one that was set up by events that came before, and that was followed up by an extended effort to extract the interference that Trump demanded.

That call was “perfect,” in a way. Because it perfectly shows that Trump was at the center of the scheme and cannot claim ignorance of anything that was being demanded of Ukraine.

Hill: Sondland said he had ‘agreement’ with Mulvaney exchanging Trump meeting for ‘investigations’

It seems evident that Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland is still walking a fine line in what he is choosing to "remember" about his own role in the months-long campaign to force the Ukrainian government to announce investigations of the Democratic National Committee, its servers, and the family of potential election challenger Joe Biden. Specifically, his memory lapses are centered around any mention of the name "Biden," even as numerous other witnesses acknowledge that the sole interest Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump had in an investigation of Ukrainian energy company Burisma was in whether Biden's son Hunter could be accused of wrongdoing.

But it's also become apparent from testimony that White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, still serving as head the Office of Management of Budget from his White House perch, was the official who enforced Trump's pressure campaign against Ukraine.

There is no plausible way Mulvaney did not know his act was intended as extortion for the personal benefit of Donald Trump. In testimony today, Dr. Fiona Hill testified that Sondland told her, directly, that his arrangement to exchange a much-sought meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky was an arrangement with Mick Mulvaney himself.

Describing the meeting between herself, John Bolton, other American officials, and Ukrainian officials that Bolton would quickly end after Sondland telling the Ukrainians that Trump's desired investigations were the prerequisite for their desired meeting, Dr. Hill testified that Bolton had been attempting to "parry" Ukrainian inquiries about such a meeting, since scheduling such meetings is not among his abilities or duties:

Hill: And as Ambassador Bolton was trying to move that part of the discussion away, he was going to try to deflect it onto another wrap-up topic, Ambassador Sondland leaned in, basically to say 'Well, we have an agreement that there will be a meeting, if specific investigations are put underway.' And that's when I saw Ambassador Bolton stiffen. [....]

Q: And did Ambassador Sondland say who his agreement on this White House meeting was with?

Hill: In that particular juncture I don't believe so. Later, which I'm sure you'll want to talk about, he did say more specifically.

Q: And what did he say later?

Hill: He said he had an agreement with chief of staff Mulvaney that in return for investigations this meeting would get scheduled.

Q: And was he specific at that point, later, about the investigations he was referring to?

Hill: He said the investigations into Burisma.

That confirms yet again that chief of staff Mick Mulvaney worked directly on Trump's behalf to refuse a government act—a presidential meeting with the leader of an at-war Ukraine—until Ukraine agreed to assist Trump in an inquiry into Biden. Sondland's claim that he was unaware of the Burisma-Biden connection is implausible; today's other impeachment witness asserted that Sondland himself confirmed Trump was only interested in the "Bidens." It is even more implausible that the man working most directly with Trump in ordering the government to enforce Trump's conditions was unaware of why he wanted them.

Mulvaney withheld government assistance to Ukraine in order to secure Ukrainian cooperation in implicating, through a public "investigation," a Trump political opponent. Trump making the request is a crime; Mulvaney using his office to put pressure on Ukraine to comply with that request is a separate, equally severe crime.

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Mike Pence all of a sudden can’t recall if he talked with Sondland about Ukraine aid being withheld

Ambassador Gordon Sondland lied, Vice President Mike Pence's office said in a statement released after Wednesday morning's impeachment hearing. Sondland testified that he had discussed the delay in aid to Ukraine with Pence, "that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations. I recall mentioning that before the Zelensky meeting," in Warsaw on September 1.

Pence's chief of staff was unequivocal. "The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations." And the statement went on at length to say that "Sondland was never alone with Vice President Pence on the September trip. […] The alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador Sondland never happened."

That might have been just a tad bit overstated, now that Pence himself has made time to weigh in. Now it's "I don’t recall any discussions with Ambassador Sondland before my meeting with President Zelensky that had to do with investigations."

"I don't recall" is a pretty far cry from "never happened."

Sondland’s testimony gives direct, firsthand confirmation of quid pro quo and worse

The public appearance of U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland has been anticipated as one of the most consequential events of the House impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, and on Wednesday it lived up to expectations. Starting with his opening statement, Sondland confirmed that there was a quid pro quo, that Donald Trump’s personal attorney was shaping policy in Ukraine to the detriment of America’s national interests, and that everyone—from Trump to chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Vice President Mike Pence—was fully aware of the efforts to extort investigations into Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton out of Ukraine.

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Sondland testified that he knew the investigations were important to Trump, that he spoke with Trump as many as 20 times, and that he also spoke with Rudy Giuliani. He also testified that it wasn’t just everyone in the White House who was “in the loop” when it came to what was being demanded of Ukraine; the Ukrainians understood this as well.

In describing what Trump wanted before he would deal with the incoming Ukrainian government, Sondland made it clear that it wasn’t actual investigations that Trump required. What was wanted was the announcement of investigations. A public announcement—by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, on a platform visible to Americans—was the price Trump set for a phone call with Zelensky, for releasing the hold on U.S. military aid to Ukraine, and for a White House meeting, which still has not happened.

In his opening statement, Republican Devin Nunes warned Sondland that Democrats on the committee were “out to smear him,” but it was Republicans who repeatedly attacked Sondland throughout the day. They called him an unreliable witness and spent a large amount of time complaining that Sondland did not make a particular brief conversation with Trump part of his opening statement, going so far as to suggest that leaving those few sentences out of the statement meant that Sondland was biased against Trump.

But the conversation that Republicans returned to again and again through the day was one that happened after Trump was caught—after the Ukraine scheme had been outed by the whistleblower. After Trump’s hold on military assistance had become publicly known. After senators had begun calling the White House to ask what was going on. After Congress had opened a formal investigation. That conversation doesn’t exonerate Trump. It only speaks to his knowledge that the jig was up.

Throughout the day there were two walls that Sondland attempted to maintain. One was his claim that he personally didn’t make the connection between repeated calls to investigate Burisma and generating political dirt against Joe Biden. That’s despite the fact that at several times Sondland noted that he had learned about other aspects of the Ukraine story from the media, and despite the fact that Sondland was working directly with Rudy Giuliani, and despite the fact that Giuliani had been talking about the Burisma-Biden connection for months before Sondland became involved. That claim is by far the least believable position Sondland took on Wednesday.

The other distinction that Sondland attempted to maintain was a claim that Trump never directly told him that the release of military assistance to Ukraine was tied to getting the investigations into Biden and Clinton announced. Even though Sondland not only behaved as if the military assistance depended on the investigations and told others that this was the case—including expressing this to Ukrainian officials—throughout his testimony he maintained that he had only “presumed” that this connection existed after getting no other explanation for the hold.

After Sondland’s testimony, it’s clear that the central allegation—that Donald Trump misused the power of his office to gain a personal political favor at the expense of not just Ukraine, but the United States—has been demonstrated several times over. It’s been heard from the people who were on the ground in Ukraine. It’s been heard from the people who were listening to Trump’s call to Zelensky. It’s been heard from the people who were in charge of handling policy. Now it’s been heard from a man who was in direct, regular conversation with Trump and with everyone else in the White House.

It was a quid pro quo. It was extortion. It was bribery. Most of all, it was a high crime directly involving the abuse of office. It was, and is, impeachable.

It took Sondland three tries, but he finally confirms Trump would benefit from Biden investigation

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York, was apparently tired of Gordon Sondland’s games in the sharpest questioning he’s yet faced from Democratic members of the House in the impeachment hearings into Donald Trump, after repeated back-and-forth in which Maloney was attempting to elicit a simple answer to a simple question.

"Who would benefit from an investigation of the Bidens?" Maloney asked repeatedly.

"I assume President Trump would benefit," Sondland eventually answered.

"There we have it!" Maloney replied. "Didn’t hurt a bit, did it?" Sondland tried to put on an indignant front, saying that he has been very forthright and “resents” the implication that he’s not been forthcoming in his interactions with the committee.

Mistake. Maloney pounced. “Fair enough, you’ve been very forthright. This is your third try to do so, sir. Didn’t work so well the first time, did it? We had a little declaration come in after, you remember that? And now we’re here a third time, and we got a doozy of a statement from you, there’s a whole bunch of stuff you don’t recall.  So all due respect, sir, we appreciate your candor, but let’s be really clear what it took to get it out of you."

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Maloney: Who would benefit from an investigation of the Bidens?

Sondland: I assume President Trump would benefit.

Maloney: There we have it. See. Didn't hurt a bit, did it? Didn't hurt a bit. But, let me ask you something.

Sondland: Mr. Maloney, excuse me, I have been very forthright and I really resent what you are trying to do.

Maloney: Fair enough, you’ve been very forthright. This is your third try to do so, sir. Didn’t work so well the first time, did it? We had a little declaration come in after, you remember that? And now we are here a third time and we have a doozy of a statement from you this morning. There's a bunch of stuff you do not recall. All due respect, we appreciate your candor, but let's be clear on what it took to get it out of you.

So, my question is, when the president is putting pressure on the Ukrainians, withholding a meeting to get this investigation that you and I agree would benefit him politically, what kind of position does that put the Ukrainians in, sir?

Sondland:  A terrible position.

Maloney: A terrible position, why?

Sondland: Why does it put them in a terrible position? [...] Well, obviously they are not receiving ultimately what they thought was coming to them. And they are put in a position that jeopardizes their security.

Maloney: A position that jeopardizes their security, and they are being asked to do an investigation to help their security, essentially, that would benefit the president politically. In other words, you might say they are being asked to give him a personal benefit in exchange for an official act. Is that a fair summary.

Sondland: In your hypothetical, that’s correct.

Maloney: It's not a hypothetical, sir, this is real life. Were they asked to give him a personal benefit in exchange for an official act?

The latest in the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump: Sondland testifies #9

Gordon Sondland has been at the center of the impeachment hearings since they started last Wednesday, but he hasn’t actually been in the room to testify until this Wednesday. Now it’s time to hear from the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who previously gave a closed-door deposition, only to issue an amendment—but subsequent testimony has suggested Sondland has a lot more amending to do.

Witness after witness has described Sondland’s part in pushing Donald Trump’s extortion of Ukraine forward, pressing Ukrainian officials for the “investigations” Trump wanted into his political opponents and coordinating that effort among others in the Trump administration. And where most of the witnesses so far were not in direct contact with Trump himself, Sondland was, including the July 26 phone call overheard by witnesses that Sondland didn’t mention earlier. That’s one of many things he’s going to need to explain.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 9:00:43 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

Sondland’s testimony ends, but not before he confirms what we already knew: That there was a quid pro quo. More testimony to come later this afternoon. 

Daily Kos will be following the proceedings all day.

Watch live:

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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 8:27:58 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Krishnamoorthi nicely points out that the conversations that the Republicans love — the “no quid pro quo” conversation — came after the whistleblower complaint, after Congress had opened an investigation into the hold on assistance, and after Trump had started getting calls from Senators asking what was going on.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 8:30:41 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Sondland chuckles over Trump’s efforts at pretending not to know him.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 8:32:09 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Nunes runs through a series of statements … none of which were actually made by Democrats. 

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 8:33:59 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Nunes, like every other Republican today, continues to defend Trump with a conversation that happened after he was caught in his Ukraine scheme. That’s the best evidence they have.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 8:36:27 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

Now say it under oath, jackass.

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How much did Gordon Sondland and Mick ‘Get over it’ Mulvaney talk? Maybe more than we know

According to Gordon Sondland in his impeachment inquiry testimony Wednesday afternoon, he only had one formal meeting with acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, “and it had nothing to do with Ukraine.” Rather, “most of our communication were the stream of emails which others were on generally, and I may have seen him at the White House casually and said hello and kept in touch.”

Former National Security Council official Fiona Hill’s closed-door deposition also suggests that those casual contacts might have amounted to more than Sondland implied. According to Hill, Sondland “was certainly meeting with Mulvaney on a regular basis.” In fact, according to Hill, “I could be wrong, but there were often times when he said he’d been in to see the president when other staff indicated to me that they did not believe that he had”—instead, those were times he had been seeing Mulvaney.

In other words, the “formal” in “formal meeting” is doing a lot of work when it comes to how much Sondland was talking to the guy who did a press briefing in which he asserted that of course Trump had withheld aid from Ukraine to get the investigations he wanted, and, “Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.”

The latest in the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump: Sondland testifies #8

Gordon Sondland has been at the center of the impeachment hearings since they started last Wednesday, but he hasn’t actually been in the room to testify until this Wednesday. Now it’s time to hear from the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who previously gave a closed-door deposition, only to issue an amendment—but subsequent testimony has suggested Sondland has a lot more amending to do.

Witness after witness has described Sondland’s part in pushing Donald Trump’s extortion of Ukraine forward, pressing Ukrainian officials for the “investigations” Trump wanted into his political opponents and coordinating that effort among others in the Trump administration. And where most of the witnesses so far were not in direct contact with Trump himself, Sondland was, including the July 26 phone call overheard by witnesses that Sondland didn’t mention earlier. That’s one of many things he’s going to need to explain.

Daily Kos will be following the proceedings all day.

Watch live:

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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:33:33 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner Republicans continue to pretend that Trump gets a clean bill of health because Zelensky—sitting side by side with Trump, under the lights and on camera—didn't complain that he was being pressured into corrupt acts? Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:40:59 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Republicans Rep. Stefanik is the first to give Sondland a “thank you for your service.” Which is sad. After all, this is a man who has worked for the United States for … well, about a year. And only has a $200K kitchen upgrade, a Jacuzzi pool, and a lot of private plane travel to show for it. 

Stefanik is one of several Republicans to bring up the investigation into Burisma held under the Obama administration, without pointing out that what Joe Biden did in Ukraine was explicitly designed to support that investigation. 

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:42:56 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

How desperate are the Republicans? 

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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:50:45 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Over the last two days, Will Hurd has had an opportunity to leave Congress on a high note as an exemplar of dignity and integrity.

But then he didn't. And even he seems embarrassed by it.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:57:59 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Castro replays the Mulvaney press conference and it’s shocking both on the basis of recalling what Mulvaney said and on the “hey, we can do that?” front.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 8:01:14 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Sondland continuing to pretend that he didn’t know what Trump and Giuliani were really asking him to do even though he was neck deep in trying to make it happen.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 8:02:36 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Ratcliffe now arguing that it doesn't matter if Trump gave a #$%# about Ukraine. Because "everyone can have an opinion."

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 8:13:51 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Just about every Republican coming up this afternoon has entered into the record a statement from someone — from Perry to Mulvaney — that disparages Sondland’s testimony. But of course, none of these people are willing to show up and testify.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 8:17:11 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Maloney has been one of the stand-out questioners in these hearings, but man, he had to work for that answer.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 8:19:21 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Maloney gets Soundland to agree that this whole scheme placed Ukrainians in “a terrible position.” 

The latest in the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump: Sondland testifies #7

Gordon Sondland has been at the center of the impeachment hearings since they started last Wednesday, but he hasn’t actually been in the room to testify until this Wednesday. Now it’s time to hear from the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who previously gave a closed-door deposition, only to issue an amendment—but subsequent testimony has suggested Sondland has a lot more amending to do.

Witness after witness has described Sondland’s part in pushing Donald Trump’s extortion of Ukraine forward, pressing Ukrainian officials for the “investigations” Trump wanted into his political opponents and coordinating that effort among others in the Trump administration. And where most of the witnesses so far were not in direct contact with Trump himself, Sondland was, including the July 26 phone call overheard by witnesses that Sondland didn’t mention earlier. That’s one of many things he’s going to need to explain.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:30:54 PM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

Ongoing coverage can be found here.

Daily Kos will be following the proceedings all day.

Watch live:

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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 6:43:57 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 6:46:18 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

As important as their testimony has been, there's no way this inquiry should end without charges of perjury against Sondland, Volker, and Morrison. They all not only lied to Congress, they continued to do so when given an opportunity to correct their testimony.

The ongoing pretense that they failed to understand that Burisma = Biden and 2016 election = Hillary Clinton is just too much to ignore.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 6:46:58 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Nunes skips out on talking in the afternoon round … even Nunes is tired of hearing Nunes repeat the same things.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 6:53:26 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Jim Himes taking the “everyone was in the loop” and running with it, showing that Sondland, Volker, and the Giuliani connection were at the center of a scheme that extended across the White House. 

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:00:16 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Conaway yields to Gym Jordan so that Jordan can have extra, extra time to scream at Sondland. This stunt—with Jordan yelling about a meeting that never happened—is the final fallback position for the GOP. Jordan attacks Sondland for not including a conversation that happened after the whole thing had become public, after the whistleblower, after Congress had already opened an investigation.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:01:09 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:04:07 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Even Democrats keep hopping right past the "asking for an investigation into the 2016 DNC server" as if that was not also an investigation into a political rival. Both of the investigations that Trump requested were equally wrong. And the 2016 investigation is easily more dangerous to U.S. interests.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:05:50 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Sewell rightly points out that Sondland’s argument over the statement that he was part of an “irregular” group,  is really an argument with the actual Ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:10:06 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Republican Rep. Turner continues the Republican smear against the witness who was warned by Devin Nunes that Democrats would try to smear him. Badger, Turner, badger away.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:11:02 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Turner accuses Sondland of giving “made up testimony.” 

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:14:53 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

On Sep 9, Trump was "in a bad mood" when Sondland called, because the whistleblower complaint was out, the hold on assistance had become public, and Congress was investigating the hold on assistance. That conversation was Trump admitting he was caught, not evidence of innocence.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:15:35 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Schiff does what he’s done at several points in this inquiry — calmly bring things back to center and point out the ridiculous hurdles that Republicans keep erecting.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:18:36 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Republican Rep. Wenstrup says sure, Russia tried to influence the election … then spills out a bucket full of conspiracy theory all over the hearing room floor. Then he goes into a word salad.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:20:17 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Conaway resumed the Republican attempt to unmask the whistleblower, then argues that Sondland has been bullied — presumably to make his testimony suspect.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:23:55 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Speier resorts to reading the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Act into the record in response to Republican attempts to out the whistleblower — and ends up getting applause in a Pinocchio-off. 

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:25:29 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Speier makes it clear that the withholding of State Department documents has reduced the ability of Sondland to give accurate testimony.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 7:29:52 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Republican Chris Stewart continues the GOP argument of “we’re too stupid to understand this stuff.”

The latest in the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump: Sondland testifies #6

Gordon Sondland has been at the center of the impeachment hearings since they started last Wednesday, but he hasn’t actually been in the room to testify until this Wednesday. Now it’s time to hear from the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who previously gave a closed-door deposition, only to issue an amendment—but subsequent testimony has suggested Sondland has a lot more amending to do.

Witness after witness has described Sondland’s part in pushing Donald Trump’s extortion of Ukraine forward, pressing Ukrainian officials for the “investigations” Trump wanted into his political opponents and coordinating that effort among others in the Trump administration. And where most of the witnesses so far were not in direct contact with Trump himself, Sondland was, including the July 26 phone call overheard by witnesses that Sondland didn’t mention earlier. That’s one of many things he’s going to need to explain.

Daily Kos will be following the proceedings all day.

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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 5:55:42 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Castor keeps returning to the Sept 9 conversation, saying it was “exculpatory.” But he’s already admitted this conversation came after the White House was aware of the whistleblower complaint, after the news of the hold on Ukrainian military assistance became public, after Senators were calling Trump to complain about the hold.

After he knew he was caught.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 5:57:07 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

For the tenth time, at least, Sondland claims he didn’t connect “Burisma” and “Bidens.” It’s bulls#it. It was bulls#it when Volker said it, bulls#it when Perry said it, and bulls#it today.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 5:58:33 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Nunes trying to make the case that having the whistleblower testify “would have made things easier” for Sondland. In a way that no one, not even Nunes, can possibly define.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 6:01:12 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Hey, it almost seems like someone is attacking Sondland here. Those darn Demo… err, Republican counsels.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 6:03:20 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

GOP counsel Castor now seems to be making the case that everyone in the White House  was a flipping idiot who couldn’t keep their requests straight from one day to the next. Which may be true. But isn’t exculpatory.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 6:05:35 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Castor keeps asking questions that he doesn’t seem to know the answer to … when he should really know the answer.

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 · 6:36:02 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner As important as their testimony has been, there's no way this should end without charges of perjury against Sondland, Volker, and Morrison.