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Monday, December 09, 2019

Trump Would ‘Love’ For Sondland To Testify — But Won’t Let Him


Donald Trump said on Tuesday that U.S. Ambassador the European Union Gordon Sondland was a “really good man and great American” and that he only wished he could let him testify before Congress about Trump’s questionable actions with regard to Ukraine.

Trump’s comments come just after the State Department abruptly cancelled a planned congressional hearing with Sondland on Tuesday morning. The ambassador had been scheduled to give transcribed testimony for the House impeachment inquiry about his role in Trump’s growing Ukraine scandal.

House Democrats have since said they will subpoena Sondland for his testimony and related documents.

Sondland, a wealthy hotel owner who donated $1 million to Trump’s 2017 inauguration before being rewarded with his current appointment, is a key figure in the brewing Ukraine controversy, which centers on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. During that call, Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate his 2020 election rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Both a whistleblower complaint and subsequently released text messages between Sondland and another diplomat raised questions about whether Trump was withholding military aid funding to Ukraine to force Zelensky to agree to such an investigation.

“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, to testify,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “[B]ut unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s [sic] rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see.”

He then partially quoted one of the previously released text messages (Trump called it a “tweet”) that Sondland sent to Bill Taylor, the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, in which Sondland appeared to defend Trump’s decision to cut off aid to the former Soviet Republican in an effort to get Ukraine’s government to investigate his political rivals.

“Importantly, Ambassador Sondland’s tweet, which few report, stated, ‘I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s [sic] of any kind,'” he wrote. “That says it ALL!”

The full conversation between Sondland and Taylor took place on Sept. 9. At the time, Taylor texted Sondland, concerned about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” he wrote.

Sondland responded, saying he believed Taylor was “incorrect about President Trump’s intentions.”

“The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s [sic] of any kind,” he wrote. He then suggested the two “stop the back and forth by text.”

CNN has since reported that Sondland called Trump “before replying that there was no quid pro quo AND [before] telling Bill Taylor to stop texting on the subject.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), typically a staunch defender of Trump, revealed last week that Sondland had approached him prior to sending the Sept. 9 text messages to Taylor and expressed concerns that Trump was indeed blocking security aid to the Ukraine as part of an alleged quid pro quo scheme.

Johnson said he called Trump immediately afterward to ask if this was true. Trump denied the allegation.

This is not the first time Trump has claimed he would “love to” do something he arguably has no intention of doing. Back in 2014, he promised that if he ran for president he would “absolutely” make his tax returns public, saying “I would love to do that.” He has since pushed back on all congressional efforts to obtain those documents.

In August, he said he would “love to give” to the press corps a “very beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un” he had just received. The press was never given that letter, though Trump did tweet a photo of an earlier letter from the North Korean dictator in July.

And in February, he claimed he would “love to be able to produce” a peace deal “between Israel and Palestinians,” a task that he entrusted to son-in-law and presidential adviser Jared Kushner. Kushner has accomplished nothing on that front since being handed the task nearly three years ago.

Published with permission of The American Independent.


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