It’s day four of the House’s open impeachment hearings, and testimony from President Trump’s ambassador to the European Union is trending higher on Twitter’s worldwide charts than beloved K-pop boy band BTS.
Gordon Sondland, a million-dollar donor to President Trump’s inaugural fund, dropped “a real bombshell,” Michigan Democratic representative Dan Kildee said today. Or alternately, he dropped “supposed bombshells,” according to California Republican representative Devin Nunes. Either way, three reverberating statements from Sondland already seem to have inspired President Trump and his associate Rudy Giuliani to distance themselves from the key witness.
“Was there a quid pro quo?”
In a startlingly direct opening statement, Sondland posed the question and said, “as I testified previously, [. . .] the answer is yes.” According to Sondland, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were aware of the Ukraine pressure campaign.
“Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.”
Sondland testified that if anyone opposed his or other Trump advisers’ efforts to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation into the 2016 U.S. presidential election and Burisma (a company with ties to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son), nobody stepped in to stop it: “No one decided to talk to us,” Sondland said.
“Because the president directed us to do so.”
According to Sondland, efforts to pressure Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation into Burisma, the Bidens, and the 2016 election—all in exchange for the release of U.S. aid money and a meeting at the White House—came at President Trump’s “express direction.”
Sondland is one of three witnesses testifying today before the House Intelligence Committee. You can read his opening statement to investigators here and watch the full testimony in the embedded video below.