Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) handily dismantled the Democrats’ entire case for impeachment Wednesday, getting U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland to admit that “no one on this planet” told him that financial assistance to Ukraine was tied to corruption investigations.
“After you testified, Chairman [Adam] Schiff ran out and gave a press conference and said he gets to impeach the president of the United States because of your testimony and if you pull up CNN today, right now, their banner says ‘Sondland ties Trump to withholding aid,’” Turner said during Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. “Is that your testimony today, Ambassador Sondland? That you have evidence that Donald Trump tied the investigations to the aid? Because I don’t think you’re saying that.”
After Sondland’s “bombshell” opening testimony, the chyron on CNN stated: “SONDLAND: ‘YES’ THERE WAS QUID PRO QUO IN UKRAINE SCANDAL.”
“I’ve said repeatedly Congressman, I was presuming,” Sondland replied sheepishly.
“So, no one told you?” Turner asked. “Giuliani didn’t tell you? Mulvaney didn’t tell you? Pompeo didn’t tell you? Nobody else on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying aid to these investigations, is that correct?”
“I think I already testified,” Sondland responded.
“No, answer the question,” Turner fired back. “Is it correct? No one on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying aid to the investigations? Because if your answer is ‘yes,’ then the chairman is wrong and the headline on CNN is wrong.”
“No one on this planet told you that President Trump was tying aid to investigations, yes or no?” Turner pressed.
“Yes,” Sondland responded.
“So, you really have no testimony today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations?” Turner pressed.
“Other than my own presumption,” Sondland replied.
“Which is nothing,” Turner fired back.
??? STORY OF THE SONDLAND HEARING ???
Courtesy of @RepMikeTurner ➡️
Q: No one else on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying aid to these investigations, is that correct?
A: Yes. pic.twitter.com/GqV6vwZ0a1
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) November 20, 2019
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) later blasted Sondland for omitting a key detail from his lengthy opening statement. While not mentioning it initially, Sondland eventually admitted to Republicans that Trump had told him “I want nothing, I want no quid pro quo” regarding military aid or requests for corruption investigations in Ukraine.
“It was a very short, abrupt conversation,” the ambassador said. “He was not in a good mood. And he just said, ‘I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing.’ Something to that effect.”
“You can’t find the time to fit that in a 23-page opening statement,” Jordan fumed.
Sondland maintained that he didn’t omit it from his opener on purpose but that he had limited space.
Jordan went on to press Sondland about a proposed White House meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that would have allegedly been tied to Ukraine announcing an investigation related to a natural gas company where former Vice President Joe Biden’s son was on the board.
“When the chairman asked you about security assistance dollars, you said there had to be a public announcement from Zelensky,” Jordan said. “So I’m asking you a simple question, when did that happen?”
“Never did,” Sondland replied.
“They got the call on July 25th,” Jordan continued, meaning the infamous phone call between Trump and Zelensky that sparked the “whistleblower” complaint. “They got the meeting, not at the White House but in New York on September 25th, they got the money on September 11th.”
Before departing on a scheduled trip to Texas, Trump told reporters that the ambassador’s testimony should exonerate him of any claims of wrongdoing.
“I just noticed one thing and that would mean it’s all over,” Trump said on the White House lawn before reading from handwritten notes taken during Sondland’s testimony. He went on to read Sondland’s comments about their conversation verbatim, only disputing the ambassador’s claim that he wasn’t in a good mood that day. “I’m ALWAYS in a good mood,” the president insisted. “I don’t know what that is.”
After Trump’s comments, the AP put out a [now deleted] tweet claiming that Trump was “contradicting his own ambassador” when he said he “wanted ‘nothing’ from Ukraine.”
This is what Trump wrote down for speaking with the press just now.
He quotes what Sondland recalled Trump saying word-for-word: "I want nothing! I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelinksy to do the right thing."
And now here's the AP tweet blatantly lying: pic.twitter.com/xoMMps2oIS
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) November 20, 2019