1 Sondland: There Was A "Quid Pro Quo" Involving Ukraine
There were several witnesses during yesterday’s edition of the Trump Impeachment Hearings, but there's only one that everyone – including President Trump – is talking about: Gordon Sondland. The U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Sondland insists that there was a "quid pro quo" involving Ukraine. More than that? Sondland testified that "everyone was in the loop." Sondland stressed that he, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and then-special Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker worked with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani "at the express direction of the President of the United States." Other highlights: As we’ve told you before, it’s been said that Giuliani was involved in some unofficial diplomacy in Ukraine. And yesterday, Sondland noted that neither he, Volker nor Perry were anxious to work with Giuliani.Sondland acknowledged that President Trump never told him directly that planned U.S. military aid to Ukraine was conditional. The critical aid was delayed as the Trump administration pushed for investigations of Democrats. As part of that, Sondland testified that the $400-million in aid only started moving once the White House got word about the whistleblower...and that an investigation was coming. Sondland also testified that Trump wanted the Ukrainian leader to publicly "announce" investigations. He said the Ukrainian president "didn't actually have to do them, as I understood it." Sondland had been put in charge of overseeing U.S. policy on Ukraine. He said the "loop" he mentioned included Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and now-former National Security Adviser John Bolton. California Democrat Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence committee, argued that Sondland's testimony "goes to the heart of the issue of bribery." Ranking Republican Member Devin Nunes disagreed, calling the impeachment hearings a “three-card monte,” then yielded to Schiff “ for storytime hour.”
2 Trump Lashes Back At Sondland Testimony
According to sources, President Trump's legal team is chalking up testimony from the U.S. ambassador to the European Union as a "draw." CNN reports that a member of Trump's legal team doesn't believe Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony will do much to sway public opinion on impeachment. But as Trump himself sees it? Sondland’s testimony clears him of any wrongdoing in the impeachment inquiry. Speaking to reporters at the White House – with a notepad in hand – Trump recounted Sondland's testimony where he asked Trump what he wanted from Ukraine. “I WANT NOTHING. I WANT NOTHING. I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO,” he offered from hand-written notes. And later, he took to Twitter writing that the Sondland testimony had exonerated him, writing: "Impeachment Witch Hunt is now OVER!
3 Dem Presidential Hopefuls Scramble To Separate Themselves From Pack
Democratic presidential candidates are working hard to separate themselves from the pack. During their latest presidential debate in Atlanta last night, 10 Democrats were pressed about a wide range of issues. Hot topics included climate change, Medicare-for-All and the possible impeachment of President Trump. Dems agreed that no one is above the law. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders insisted that Trump must be held accountable. Former VP Joe Biden said it is time to start bringing the American people together. But also: South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said his city may look small but argued that the usual way of doing business in Washington, DC is not working.Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren defended their Medicare-for-All plans against criticism that the proposals would be too expensive. Biden said the best way to reform healthcare is to build on Obamacare. Meantime, Biden called climate change the top "existential threat to humanity." Dems also agreed that abortion rights must be preserved. Democrats ripped Trump's foreign policy. California Senator Kamala Harris said Trump "got punked" in negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. She argued that Trump is the greatest threat to U.S. national security. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said Trump is conducting foreign policy on Twitter. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker argued that Trump's China policy is "not looking too good." Biden said Trump has "no idea what he is doing" in foreign policy. But in the end? Senator Warren spoke the longest at last night's event with over 13 minutes. Mayor Buttigieg came in second with about 12 minutes of speaking time, slightly more than former Vice President Joe Biden. Businessman Andrew Yang spoke the least during the two-hour debate, at just under seven minutes. The candidates will get a better crack next time – the next debate will knock the field down to six.