Like any Trump scandal, the sheer number of names and variables involved in the president’s campaign of influence in Ukraine doesn’t exactly cater to simplicity. To help keep track of who thinks it’s okay for Trump to demand personal favors from foreign leaders and who’s already copped to the quid pro quo in Ukraine, Intelligencer is providing a daily rundown of the Trump impeachment hearings’ most important characters. Week two quickens the pace of the proceedings, with four witnesses testifying on Tuesday, three on Wednesday, and two on Thursday.
Witnesses say that the ambassador to the E.U. served as one of the point men — along with Rudy Giuliani and Rick Perry — on pressing Ukraine on behalf of the president to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings, with the understanding that military aid would be withheld until an investigation was announced.
Who Is He According to Team Trump?
A major donor to the Trump campaign who turned out to be a major pain for the Trump administration.
Level of Devotion to Trump
Sondland — a hotelier with no diplomatic experience prior to his nomination as the U.S. representative to the European Union — owes his position to the president in a way that the other witnesses of the public impeachment hearings do not. But that doesn’t mean the president will share that sense of allegiance. Sondland initially claimed that there was no quid pro quo in Ukraine, but after Bill Taylor testified that Sondland repeatedly told him that American aid and a White House meeting were dependent upon an investigation into the Bidens, Sondland “refreshed [his] recollection” and amended his statement. Given the turnover of the Trump administration and the president’s desperate need for a fall guy (or two), Sondland may need to prepare his return to the hotel business.
His Bombshell Revelation
Save for Marie Yovanovitch, most of the witnesses have testified with a buddy; on Wednesday morning, Sondland will be on his own. Expect a major departure in professionalism between the previous hearings involving career diplomats and Sondland, who has found himself in historic trouble less than 18 months into his career switch.
Sondland’s testimony will likely be the most dramatic questioning of the House impeachment hearings. If he does not significantly revise his closed-door testimony, Democrats will grill him on the gaps between his account and that of pretty much every other witness called in the inquiry. If he does revise his account, Sondland is the most likely candidate to publicly implicate the president in the quid pro quo.