No, Gordon Sondland, You Cannot Have A F*cking Hug!
Gordon Sondland should have saved his money and stayed in Oregon. If that idiot had just kept it zipped up and not blown his million dollar wad all over Trump's inauguration (routed through shell companies, natch), then he wouldn't be at the center of this impeachment maelstrom. And we wouldn't be forced to talk about the time he hired a woman to be "my new hotel chick," then ambushed her without his pants inviting her to "have some fun" with Little Gordo. Allegedly.
VOMIT. NOT ALLEGEDLY.
Three women went on the record with ProPublica and Portland Monthly to describe EU Ambassador Sondland's sexual advances and subsequent career retaliation when those advances were rejected. Because for Gordon Sondland, there is always, always, always a quid pro quo.
The first woman is the owner of Portland Monthly, Nicole Vogel, who recalled seeking investment from Sondland in 2003.
"Can I just have a hug first?" Sondland said before moving in to try to kiss Vogel when she went to leave the hotel room he was "showing her" after their pitch meeting.
"Ooh Gordon, you're a married man, and you'd just break my heart," Vogel said, trying to extricate herself from the situation.
After their next meeting, Vogel spent the 10-minute car ride home with "her own hand on top of his so he couldn't move it any farther up her thigh." She says Sondland then abruptly announced he was withdrawing his commitment to finance Vogel's magazine, which went on to be successful without him.
Sondland's lawyer Jim McDermott issued a statement denying the claims, and describing Vogel as "a source angry that I long ago declined to invest in her magazine, the same magazine now presenting its owner's outlandish claims as if the reporting is somehow objective." In fact, Vogel's friends confirm her contemporaneous account of Sondland's unwanted advances, and Vogel has recently hurt her own bottom line by pulling her publication from Sondland's Provenance Hotels.
Also, there's the hug thing, which seems to be his signature move.
To wit, after a flirty business lunch in 2008, Sondland told hospitality consultant Jana Solis, "You're hired. Congratulations. You're my new hotel chick." Which is how all appropriate businessmen who aren't serial harassers talk, totally.
Sondland denies slapping Solis on the ass on the way out of the restaurant and saying, "I look forward to working with you." He also denies inviting her to his house to evaluate his art collection, and meeting her at the pool sans pants.
"I get out to the pool house, and he is now naked from the waist down," Solis remembers. "He said something about, 'I thought we could chat.' And I said something, trying to keep his ego intact — not that he needed that, not that it wouldn't have been anyway — I said something like, 'I can't have that conversation.'"
Solis remembers apologizing, saying she was sorry if she'd given Sondland the wrong impression. She wanted to preserve the business relationship and not jeopardize her senior position at a job she loved. Also, he was her ride home: "I thought, 'I need to keep myself intact and get out,'" she recalls. "So that's what you do, apologize."
"So he's like, 'Well, I just thought we could have some fun, but you know, it's cool.'"
Sondland put his pants back on. Then he drove her back to downtown Portland, but not before, in Solis' memory, he made one more request: "Can I have a hug?"
No, it's not cool. At all.
After a third encounter, confirmed by her then-husband, where Solis was so desperate to get away from Sondland's physical advances that she literally fell over the back of the couch, Sondland called her office and screamed at her about "insurance issues tangential to her job." A co-worker who heard the exchange confirms this, and that Solis was transferred off the account afterward.
The third woman, Natalie Sept, was a recent college graduate seeking a position on the Portland film board which Sondland chaired. After a networking dinner, Sondland suggested they continue the conversation at a nearby bar. When Sept returned from the ladies room, she found Sondland beckoning her to sit next to him in a large booth.
"When I come back, he is sitting on the booth side of this big table," she recalls. "He says, 'Come sit next to me.' And I thought, 'Oh my god, this isn't good.' So I said, 'Oh, I forgot, I have to go home.'"
Sept says she apologized for cutting the evening short. Sondland paid the tab and then offered to walk her to her car. "He keeps insisting, and I'm nervous and afraid and I don't want to make a scene, so I say, 'OK, fine,'" Sept says.
At her car, Sept says, Sondland leaned in for a hug.
"So I give him a quick hug and he holds onto my shoulders and looks at me and pushes himself into me and tries to kiss me."
Sept says she pushed him to the side, got into her car and sped off.
She didn't get the job.
But Sondland did! And he's still there, representing you and me as the ambassador to the European Union. Because if that guy didn't resign after bumbling into a corruption scandal that dwarfs Watergate, you know he's not going to let allegations of serial sexual harassment slow him down.
What Sondland needs is good defense! But this, very much, ain't it, chief.
The lawyer, Jim McDermott, also wrote that the three women are trying to undermine Sondland's latest testimony. "Given the timing of your intended story, a reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that you are attempting to affect Ambassador Sondland's credibility as a fact witness in the pending impeachment inquiry," McDermott wrote. "Given the politically charged climate in which current events are unfolding, some might consider this to be veiled witness tampering."
Whatever, perv. Cry harder! And no, Gordon, YOU CANNOT HAVE A FUCKING HUG.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.