Gordon Sondland grew up on Mercer Island and maintains his legal residence at the Theodore Hotel in downtown Seattle, but now spends most of his time in Brussels as the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, a position he secured for himself with a $1 million donation to President Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration.
On Wednesday, though, Sondland was neither in Seattle nor Brussels; he was in Washington, D.C., testifying before the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings. Having given earlier testimony that was, at best, dissembling and, at worst, perjury, this time Sondland was forthright in his statements. The ambassador said President Trump tried to pressure Ukraine into opening an investigation of his chief political rival, former Vice-President Joe Biden, by blocking a White House visit from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and withholding crucial military aid in Ukraine’s war with Russia. And not only did he pull Sondland into this scheme, but people at the highest levels of the administration knew about it, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence.
In Sondland’s words, “Everyone was in the loop.”
Because he is seen as a Trump ally who had direct contact with the president, Sondland may be the most pivotal witness in the impeachment process. Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, said Sondland’s description “goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery, as well as other potential high crimes or misdemeanors.”
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