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Watching Ambassador Sondland provide testimony that is devastating to Trump

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

Gordon Sondland is smiling and confident looking right now but today is going to be brutal for him, I think.

It’ll be interesting to see how Nunes, Jordan, and Ratfcliffe deal with Sondland’s far less equivocal testimony than he’s previously given. I imagine they attack him as a liar. The problem with that approach is that the only thing that would explain why Sondland would suddenly decide to lie now is an entirely new conspiracy.

The obvious answer to why he’s telling the truth now and lying/omitting then is that his original testimony conflicted with numerous other witnesses and thus potentially perjurious.

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His opening statement is here.

The statement includes new emails and texts, some which implicate Pompeo and Pence.

Nunes is waxing crazy on things that have nothing to do with Sondland. If you knew nothing about any of this you’d be justifiably confused right now.

Devin Nunes is the Clarence Thomas of the House, someone who speaks a language so wholly different than everyone else that a Ken Burns-length documentary is necessary to understand how he became this person.

Neal Katyal analyzes Sondland’s statement in this Twitter thread.

 

 
“We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani.” lol

Sondland still trying to have it both ways though; didn’t know it was improper at the time.

Sondland says he learned in July that aid was suspended and was adamantly opposed. Sought explanation and never got one.

Much of this is self-serving and glosses over the many instances where he had initially testified to x instead of y.

“They [practically everyone] knew what we were doing and why.”

Sondland basically implicated everyone in every aspect, but especially Pompeo.

In response to Sondland updating Pompeo about his efforts to secure the public announcement of investigations so that the “logjam” on foreign aid would be freed, Pompeo replied “Keep banging away.

Sondland’s recollection of that phone call to Trump and subsequent text to Taylor (no quid pro quo) is weird. I suspect Jordan is going to hone in on his conversation with Trump b/c that’s where Trump says “no quid pro quo.”

To me that phone call indicated Trump’s heightened awareness of his own legal jeopardy. Trump had undeniably set in motion this extortionate scheme but when someone asked him point blank on a phone to characterize it he resorted to a legal phrase flatly denying it.

Crucial, and what I and others have been saying for weeks…

 

 
Ken Starr changes his mind…

 

Nunes is going with the sleazy rhetorical trick of asking unanswerable questions and strawmen
Did you ever hear President Trump admit to murdering a mailman?
No
A bank teller?
No
A synchronized swimmer?
No

Also…

 

 
Sondland doesn’t know how his “channel” could be considered the “irregular” one since everyone was in on it. But this is too cute by half because the strategy to ask for investigations into the Bidens and 2016 was hidden from most and indeed, affirmative steps were taken to hide that and the withholding of aid. When Sondland says “everyone” knew he’s talking about the executive level; the people at the ground level tasked with carrying out foreign policy aren’t included in that definition of “everyone” though, and the “irregular channel” strategy conflicted with what had been foreign policy to that point.

So both Volker and Sondland say they didn’t immediately grasp the significance of Burisma, which I take to mean they’re bad at their jobs, because the general news-following public knew it. I certainly did.

I mean, even if you didn’t grasp the significance of Burisma, aren’t you curious enough to Google it like Tim Morrison did? If the President and Giuliani want an investigation into Burisma and you don’t have the vaguest clue as to why, and you decline to take the two minutes it’d take to Google it…. you are bad at your job.

They don’t make The Best People like they used to.

Jim Jordan now back to pretending that attempted crimes aren’t actual crimes, which is their main defense.

Jackie Spieier with zinger of the day, in response to a particular claim earning “Three Pinocchios” “Well the President has Five Pinocchios on a daily basis, so let’s not go there.” Audible laughter.

Stewart conflating proper withholding of aid with improper. Even the former isn’t a “common occurrence,” and Sondland hasn’t been an ambassador long enough to shake his head in agreement.

Easy to see why Sondland was attractive to Trump as someone whose dignity he could trample on. He’s a slippery opportunist whose confidence far exceeds his ability, as is obvious by this testimony where he remembers maybe 30% of the events he was directly involved in. There’s a quality gulf between his testimony and everyone else who has testified.

The problem with Jordan’s theory that Trump was concerned with corruption generally, besides being an untrue post-hoc rationalization, is that it’s counteracted by so many other facts that Jordan isn’t bothering to try and resolve. He’s very skilled at building a narrative that *sounds* agreeable, but he’s basically trying to convince us that the house was never on fire because the basement survived. So long as you don’t leave the basement you might agree.

Maloney just ripped that smug asshole’s head off.

How much did ASAP Rocky pay Sondland for this product placement that decades from now will confuse historians?

Devin Nunes closing ramblings now. His tone seems so disconnected from the proceedings, but then so does Sondland’s grinning amusement with it all. Nunes finishes with Hunter Biden, like Lynyrd Skynyrd might close with Freebird.

Schiff strolling through the actually important points from today while Sondland fidgets like a high school delinquent waiting for detention to be over.

Schiff making a smart point about Trump’s character–that he wasn’t led by the nose by Giuliani or Sondland or anyone with respect to any of the key decisionmaking questions here. They’re all on here.

Schiff’s close yesterday was fantastic and so is this.

Sondland’s inability to hide his bratty contempt here is noteworthy.

“Getting caught is no defense.” Schiff gavels to applause, which was definitely not for Sondland.

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