Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee this morning can be boiled down to three sentences:
“Trump absolutely tried to extort the President of Ukraine for political dirt on the Bidens.”
“I’m not willing to go to jail to save a criminal presidency.”
“I paid a million dollars for this?”
Yep, Sondland bought an ambassadorship with a $1 million donation to Trump’s inauguration and bought into a scheme that landed him in the hot seat before Congress on international television. This is buyer’s remorse of historic scale.
While many speculated that Sondland would “plead the fifth,” he went John Dean on Trump. Dean, White House Counsel to Richard “I am Not a Crook” Nixon, sensed he was being set up as a scapegoat for the Watergate scandal, and sang to the Senate Watergate Committee on June 25, 1973. It was the beginning of the end for what used to be the gold standard of criminal presidencies.
Now we have Trump, whom Sondland said injected his personal lawyer, Rudy Ghouliani, into U.S. foreign policy and absolutely demanded that Ukraine play ball or fight the Russians with rocks and sticks. It was a quid pro quo. It was extortion. It was what Trump ordered, and everybody knew that, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Everybody knew. Now, so does everybody else.
Somewhere, in a quiet place offstage, former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton’s handlebar mustache is curling toward his ringing ears.