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Sondland’s testimony blocked: Add obstruction to the Articles of Impeachment

[Trump and Sondland, AP Photo]

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

Add obstruction to the Articles of Impeachment.

Sondland, you’ll recall, is the US Ambassador to the EU, a job he’s qualified for because he owns hotels and contributed heavily to Trump’s campaign.

He was also heavily involved in setting up the Ukraine phone call. Last week Congress produced text messages to and from Sondland which bolstered the case the House Democrats are making against Trump. His testimony on Capitol Hill is going to be bad for Trump.

He was scheduled to testify voluntarily, so I imagine Schiff will now subpoena him, but it seems clear that Trump’s intransigence is going to be the status quo going forward, as if that weren’t already obvious.

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Recall that Schiff and Pelosi announced a standard by which the House would draw adverse inferences from any stonewalling. That means that refusals to answer would be considered to have been answered in the least favorable light to the refuser; refusals to cooperate could themselves be considered impeachment-worthy.

The WSJ is reporting that in the five hour gap between when Bill Taylor texted Sondland [“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”], Sondland evidently called Trump on the phone. I think it’s also clear that Sondland spoke to a lawyer, probably Lisa Kenna, before he finally replied to Taylor, because neither Sondland nor Trump are capable of the resulting legalese Sondland texted to Taylor.

 

 
Recall that this Sondland-Taylor exchange took place weeks after the whistleblower complaint was filed. The White House, Barr etc, were on notice that a cover story was needed.

I’m harping on this because I see mainstream news accounts pretending that Sondland’s “no quid pro quo” text is somehow exonerating when it’s more the opposite.

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