Axios says EU Ambassador Sondland will testify next week:
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is expected to testify next Wednesday before the House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine, despite being blocked by the State Department from appearing at a closed-door deposition this week, 4 congressional sources tell Axios.
Why it matters: One source familiar with the rescheduling tells Axios that after the State Department pulled the plug on Sondland’s testimony, Republicans close to Trump encouraged the president to let the ambassador come before the committees. Trump’s allies believe Sondland’s testimony will be helpful to their side.
“Republicans are looking for any silver lining they can get,” the source said. “Sondland could be a silver lining … He donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural. He’s a Trump guy. Whereas [former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie] Yovanovitch is a career person.”
I read this crack in the stone wall as a sign of panic. The polling is terrible for Trump, new facets of the scandal are exploding in Republicans’ faces every day, and elected Republicans are tired of tap-dancing around the question of whether it’s appropriate for a president to shake down foreign governments for oppo research.
Sondland is a good little Trumpster, as we know from his text exchange with diplomat Bill Taylor, who laid out the truth of the situation when he wrote, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
Sondland panicked when he saw that and called Trump, and someone, almost certainly NOT Trump, fed him the policy manual response about “no quid pro quo’s [sic] of any kind” — hours later.
My guess is Trump’s handlers put a hold on Sondland’s appearance earlier this week because they had to assure themselves that he would play ball, and now they have. The administration is so desperate to generate positive talking points that they’re willing to take the risk that Sondland will crack under questioning.
Maybe it’s time for the Dems to bring Mr. Berke back.