Can You Read Gordon Sondland's Ukraine Testimony Without Punching A Baby? A Wonkette Self-Control Test!
Lord grant us the confidence of a rich, white Boomer businessman who knows jack shit about foreign policy but has a cool million to buy an ambassador gig and thinks he's God's gift to international relations. Gordon Sondland's opening statement to his House testimony today is out and ... THIS FUCKIN' GUY. He literally touts his qualifications to represent America's interests to the European Union by bragging that, "My successful business background and results-oriented focus made me, in my view, well-suited to bring the fresh perspective to US foreign policy that President Trump had sought." Thank you for your unbiassss view of you, your excellency!
In fact, Sondland's perspective was so "fresh" that The New York Times reports he told random people they could drop by any time at the White House, resulting in a group of Romanian officials showing up uninvited, and Fiona Hill testified that he jeopardized national security by using his personal cellphone for government business and handing out cell phone numbers of government employees. But it's not like he had an unlicensed server in the basement of the official residence he's in the process of renovating with a million taxpayer dollars, so ... it's all good.
And for those of you wondering why an ambassador to the EU, of which Ukraine is not a member, was running point on Ukraine, well, Sondland has an answer for that one, too.
As the US Ambassador to the EU, I have always viewed my Ukraine work as central to advancing US-EU foreign policy. Indeed, for decades, under both Republican and Democrat administrations, the United States has viewed Ukraine with strategic importance, in part to counter Russian aggression in Europe and to support Ukraine energy independence. My involvement in issues concerning Ukraine, while a small part of my overall portfolio, was nevertheless central to my ambassadorial responsibilities. In this sense, Ukraine is similar to other non-EU countries, such as Venezuela, Iran, and Georgia, with respect to which my Mission and I coordinate closely with our EU partners to promote policies that reflect our common values and interests.
We cannot imagine the dick-kicking Adam Schiff is giving this guy right now, but he so richly deserves every minute of it. (And the bipartisan Kumbaya about "good friends from both sides of the aisle" might be more credible without the reference to "Democrat administrations," asshole!)
From the jump, Sondland was hot to assert that he's a man of integrity, insisting, "I have no interest in pursuing higher office or taking political shots. Simply put, I am NOT here to push an agenda. I am here to tell the truth." Which is big talk from a guy who hoped to become secretary of State once Pompeo wandered off to become the next senator from Kansas. Particularly since Sondland went on to swear 20 minutes later that he wasn't trying to ensure that there was no written record when he texted "call me" and "I suggest we stop the back and forth by text," he just loooooves gabbing on his Obamaphone.
"I simply prefer to talk rather than to text. I do this all the time with family, friends, and former business associates," he said with a straight face. Allegedly.
Former National Security Advisor John Bolton may have referred to his Ukraine work as "whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up," but Gordon Sondland would like the esteemed members of Congress to know that the real drug dealer is Rudy Giuliani and maybe also Donald Trump.
Let me be clear: Mr. Giuliani does not work for me or my Mission and I do not know what official or unofficial role, if any, he has with the State Department. To my knowledge, he is one of the President's personal lawyers. However, my understanding was that the President directed Mr. Giuliani's participation, that Mr. Giuliani was expressing the concerns of the President, and that Mr. Giuliani had already spoken with Secretary Perry and Ambassador Volker.
NO DRUG DEAL! NO DRUG DEAL! RUDY GIULIANI IS THE DRUG DEAL!
So if it looks like he participated in an illegal scheme to outsource American foreign policy to the president's lawyer in service of his electoral prospects, well, that's because he totally did. But he did it UNWILLINGLY, "taking direction from the President, as I must," and out of love for America. And what would you have him do, not break the law and walk away from that ambassadorship he paid good money for? C'mon be serious!
We were also disappointed by the President's direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani. Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the President's personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of US foreign policy towards Ukraine. However, based on the President's direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening US-Ukrainian ties and furthering long-held US foreign policy goals in the region; or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President's concerns.
"We" would be the self-styled "three amigos," Kurt Volker, Sondland, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. The guys who were so worried about corruption in Ukraine that they presented that country's president with a list of Americans, at least two of whom had donated to Perry's campaigns, to put on the board of the state-owned natural gas company. The ones who decided to take national security directives from the president's personal lawyer -- in violation of the law -- rather than from the secretary of State, which might just have given them "chain of command" cover for it.
Then Sondland went on to tell approximately one million more lies. He pretended that all Trump wanted was for President Zelenskiy to make a "public statement setting out its reform priorities," and that all he meant when he said "potus wants the deliverable" was a generalized pledge to root out corruption. Because he thinks we're all goddamn idiots!
This was the "deliverable" referenced in some of my messages – a deliverable/public statement that President Trump wanted to see or hear before a White House meeting could occur.
UH HUH. Except later Sondland admitted he knew exactly which magic words Trump wanted in the "anti-corruption" statement, saying, "Mr. Giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election (including the DNC server) and Burisma as two anticorruption investigatory topics of importance for the President." He failed to mention his own text on August 17 confirming, "Do we still want Ze to give us an unequivocal draft with 2016 and Boresma?" To which Volker replied in the affirmative.
And while Sondland is insulting your intelligence, he'd like you to believe that he spent four months pressuring Ukraine to specifically investigate one company called Burisma, without ever once Googling it, reading an article about it on the front page of the New York Times, speaking to Rudy Giuliani about it on the phone or electronically, seeing Rudy Giuliani scream about it on national television night after night, or looking at Giuliani and Victoria Toensing's bullshit dossier that was making its way around the State Department.
Although Mr. Giuliani did mention the name "Burisma" in August 2019, I understood that Burisma was one of many examples of Ukrainian companies run by oligarchs and lacking the type of corporate governance structures found in Western companies. I did not know until more recent press reports that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma.
But of course! The president wanted the "deliverable" of a statement about Ukrainian companies run by oligarchs and lacking the type of corporate governance structures found in Western companies.
Bill Taylor former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch's replacement, texted Sondland on July 21 that "President Zelenskyy is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics," and on September 9 that "As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." But he never put it together that Burisma was Hunter and Joe Biden. Would you believe it never once crossed his mind?
NO, US NEITHER.
And speaking of Ambassador Bill Taylor, we're guessing he may have one or two things to say about this one when he testifies to Congress next week.
I knew that a public embrace of anti-corruption reforms by Ukraine was one of the pre-conditions for securing a White House meeting with President Zelensky. My view was, and has always been, that such Western reforms are consistent with US support for rule of law in Ukraine going back decades, under both Republican and Democrat administrations. Nothing about that request raised any red flags for me, Ambassador Volker, or Ambassador Taylor.
Because Bill Taylor is not one of the "three pendejos." And he repeatedly raised red flags in those very texts we just flagged. So Gordon's attempting to borrow some integrity from the career public servants who spent decades honing their expertise instead of just throwing cash at the president to use for his inaugural party. Zero points will be awarded for praising Marie Yovanovitch after the fact, having kept silent while she was unceremoniously shoved out by Rudy Giuliani and his Chucklefuck cronies.
There was so, so much more. But then Mick Mulvaney held that batshit press conference to confess to ALL THE CRIMES and ALL THE QUID PRO QUOS, after which all hell is reported to have broken loose in the congressional hearing room. (Evan will be posting about it momentarily!)
Sondland told the truth about one thing though.
My exchange w/ Sondland earlier: Q: Can you say definitively there was no quid pro quo? A: I’m not giving any comm… https://t.co/LZngzfu0ST— Geoff Bennett (@Geoff Bennett) 1571319989.0
You made that bed, Gordon. And now you have to lie in it.
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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.