Nicolle Wallace said during her MSNBC show this afternoon that if John Bolton testifies in Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings, it could make the difference in whether the Republican Senate ends up convicting Trump. Wallace is very often correct in general, and she may be correct here. But I think there’s a witness who could end up being even more devastating to Trump than Bolton would be. And unlike Bolton, this witness is actually scheduled to testify.
I’m talking about Gordon Sondland. Yes, he’s a Trump ally. Yes, he’s a stooge. Yes, he’s already changed his story. And yes, the latest iteration of his story still doesn’t appear to be the whole truth. But this is precisely the kind of witness who can take a president down, because he was the one running Trump’s Ukraine extortion plot.
John Bolton is considered an important witness in part because he can give a first-hand account of some of what he heard and saw Sondland doing. But Gordon Sondland can give a first-hand account of his own actions. Sondland took marching orders directly from Trump in the Ukraine scandal. Sondland went to the Ukrainians and tried to extort them on Trump’s behalf. Sondland was the scandal – which means he can give up everything about the scandal.
The tricky part is that Sondland is indeed a total mess. He’s a hotel magnate who bought his way into politics, stupidly carried out a criminal plot against the United States at the direct instruction of the President, boxed himself in by initially lying under oath, and is now desperately flailing around in an attempt at avoiding prison.
But House Democrats wouldn’t be putting Gordon Sondland out there to publicly testify this week unless they were confident that he’s ready to fully come clean about everything. More to the point, the order of the scheduling this week suggests that the Democrats are in fact expecting Sondland to do precisely that. If that does happen, it could put Senate Republicans in the position of not being able to defend Trump without destroying their own personal reelection prospects – which is the only thing that could motivate them to go ahead and oust Trump.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report