But it was mostly a dud, with Sondland referencing a hoped-for Ukraine meeting in the White House (that never happened) for Ukrainian statements on corruption (that never happened), rather than a cutoff of U.S. military aid to Ukraine — at least according to Sondland’s “own presumption.” He even mentioned a “quid pro quo,” but that was focus grouped out to “bribery” days ago. (Sondland, like most major ambassadors, should be an expert in quid pro quos, given that it is a hallowed and bipartisan American tradition to sell off the most prestigious European ambassadorial slots to the most generous campaign donors.)
Two Inconvenient Truths
(1): Joe Biden Smears Joe Biden
Trump sent lethal military aid to Ukraine and never fired any prosecutor; the Obama administration, led by Joe Biden, got a Ukrainian prosecutor fired and forbade sending lethal aid to the Ukrainians. Those facts eroded any argument that Trump endangered the Ukrainians in a way Obama had not.
In that regard, Trump did not smear Joe Biden; Joe Biden smeared Joe Biden when he bragged in front of the Council on Foreign Relations that, as tough-guy Joe, he quashed Ukrainian investigations by leveraging U.S. aid — with the sort of language that Schiff could only have hoped Trump had used:
I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.
(2): Schiff and Vindman Contradict Their Testimonies
Lt. Col. Vindman and Adam Schiff, both on the record (the former under oath) have stated that they did not know the identity of the whistleblower — the font of the entire impeachment inquiry.
Yet when asked for the identity of the second person to whom Vindman (possibly illegally) had leaked a classified presidential call, Vindman refused to answer — with Schiff jumping in to state that neither was going to reveal the whistleblower’s identify.
That was a circumlocutional admission that they both probably had lied and of course knew who the whistleblower was — contradicting their prior testimonies.
Meanwhile, back to the debates last night. Where were the messages of moderation, practical solutions, or blue-collar pragmatism? Instead, as VDH points out, viewers heard more about wealth taxes, Medicare for All, and Trump the Ogre.
Read more here.