Yesterday morning, Palmer Report pointed out that there was a major discrepancy between Fiona Hill’s reported testimony about John Bolton’s interactions with Gordon Sondland, and media reports about Sondland’s planned testimony. We didn’t know where it was headed, but now we have our answer – and it involves Sondland hiding from Bolton in the White House basement. No, really.
Fiona Hill testified that John Bolton overheard Gordon Sondland plotting Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion, and angrily confronted him over it. But Sondland has leaked to the media that he’s planning to testify that Bolton never confronted him about Ukraine at all. This felt like a clumsy attempt on Sondland’s part at pretending no one warned him that what he was doing was illegal. Now the details of the Sondland-Bolton confrontation are leaking out.
NBC News is reporting that John Bolton and Gordon Sondland jointly met with Ukrainian officials in July. Sondland told Ukraine during this meeting that Donald Trump’s decision on whether to meet with new Ukrainian President Zelensky would depend on whether Zelensky was willing to promote the fake Biden scandal. At this point Bolton ended the meeting. Sondland then tried to regroup with the Ukrainian officials in the White House basement, but Bolton figured out what was going on, and sent Hill to spy on them. Yes, in the basement.
In addition to being incredibly incriminating and cartoonishly surreal, this storyline is important because it can be corroborated. NBC says that other officials, including Rick Perry and Kurt Volker – the latter of whom has already given cooperative testimony to the House impeachment inquiry – were also in the initial meeting where Gordon Sondland made the offer to Ukraine. This storyline also makes clear that Fiona Hill witnessed Sondland’s basement meeting herself, and that she wasn’t merely reciting Bolton’s account during her testimony.
This all adds up to Gordon Sondland having no choice but to come clean during his testimony today. If he tries to lie about his role in Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal, the House impeachment inquiry will have him nailed for felony perjury, and he’ll go to prison after Trump is gone. Sondland has to fess up today, fully cooperate, and hope that it’s enough of a show of good faith to keep him from ultimately being indicted for conspiring with Trump against the United States.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report