Impeachment TV: Mr. Sondland Goes to Washington
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Twenty third son of a Biden was the blower in the intelligence community sparked a a political scandal involving president trump. The president of the United States wanted dirt on his political rival another country to dig it up for him the very next day. September twenty Fourth Democratic Speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi called for an impeachment inquiry of the president in short order. We got the so-called transcript. We got the the whistleblower complaint. We got piece after piece of a puzzle that featured more names more texts more phone calls but it wasn't until last week that this impeachment inquiry it became a public facing televised event and the event of this event. The one that everyone has been waiting for today's testimony of EU ambassador. Asadollah Gordon Silent. Today we devote our entire show to his televise testimony and what it means for the story. There are so many characters in this story. Taylor Kent Ivanovich Williams Vinson Volker Morrison. But it's Sunland who was on the phone with the president while nudging urging Ukraine our show today in three acts. Mr Sunland goes to Washington from WWLTV Washington. It's Today explained explained. I'm Sean Romney's firm. Stay with us at one third AMIGO. We'll go one former special envoy to Ukraine. Kurt Volker me go to energy secretary. Rick Perry Amigo Three Ambassador to the E. See You Gordon Sunland Amigo Qatar. Say Andrew procup. He takes it from here. Sunland is a luxury hotel magnate and and he's been a longtime Republican donor. I expect that few Americans have heard my name before these events so before I begin my substantive testimony Moni please let me share some of my personal background. What seems to have happened? Is that around. Twenty Sixteen sunland wanted a to upgrade his status sunland decided to donate a million dollars to trump's inauguration committee and he was rewarded awarded for this by being nominated by trump to be the US ambassador to the European Union and assumed that post in twenty eighteen. How does he go from being ambassador to the EU to getting involved in Ukraine sideline claims that Ukraine was always part of his mandate? But what really seems to have happened. Is that after the most recent. US Ambassador to Ukraine. Maria Vich who testified last week in the inquiry was ousted from her post. Sunland took on a rather outsized role in. US diplomacy toward Ukraine crane. And he did so alongside two other people. Kurt Volker who testified on Tuesday and Rick. Perry the Secretary of Energy and Sunland John Lynch famously named them. The three Amigos House. Did you know you're part of the three Amigos goes I am. I'm a proud part of the three Amigos Volker. His fellow Amigo turned over an extensive set of text messages related to communications communications within about Ukraine throughout twenty nineteen and in these texts. Sunlen plays a starring role. He is often the the one who is most blatantly pushing for a quid pro quo with Ukraine. The texts made clear. That sunland was a lot more are involved in this than you might think. The ambassador to the European Union would be so Democrats were really eager to hear what he had to say when he went behind closed doors in October. So what did he initially say behind closed doors. His initial story was that it was mainly because of Rudy Giuliani. That samland himself had little role and he was also vague on the topic of weather that military aid to Ukraine was being linked to this. Push as well so the problem for Saad. Lynn is that other witnesses notably Bill Taylor. Also National Security Council staffer to Marson. went on to testify defy within weeks. That seemed to be a lot more heavily involved in all of this then he was fully explaining and is this when he starts to sort roll back his initial testimony. Yes so after the other witnesses testify sandline made the rather unusual move of submitting being an addendum. He said that actually he now does recall that on September first. He told a top adviser to the Ukrainian president that they probably wouldn't get their military aid unless they agreed to the investigations. Trump wanted. What's going on when he's rolling this back? Is he afraid of being caught in the perjury situation. Going to jail. Maybe Simelane was definitely the witness. That Democrats had the most doubts about his credibility because has his testimony seemed to conflict so much with that of other witnesses and documents and this is sworn testimony so yes onlin really would be risking a possible criminal criminal prosecution and he may have paid attention to the trial of Roger Stone which just wrapped up the longtime trump adviser who was just convicted of of lying to Congress and sworn testimony. The stakes were pretty high for Saad. Lind's testimony in the public setting on Wednesday both because of the doubts about his credibility and because Sunlen is currently the only witness on Democrats Democrats lineup to have had several conversations with president trump. Personally about this topic so everyone was wondering what would Gordon Saad Todd. Let's say The stage is set ambassador ambassador. Gordon Sunland has a seat in front of the cameras. He talks about his early life. His Passion for politics is supportive. Republicans even some Democrats and then he thinks like a soprano that in a minute from WVU ex. And the VOX media podcast network when our program continues Quick note here in the past week today explained. We've talked about isis and and noise and a far right party in Spain. That's actually called. Vox Oxen and the rise of far-right parties across Western Europe and even the world and and certainly impeachment and impeachment and impeachment. We've talked about impeachment a lot but I want to tell you about are sort of cousin. podcast reset it's all about technology and how it's changing our lives. It's from recode and vox and the past week they have talked talked about. SMS texting and how a bunch of people sent texts on like Valentine's Day. Two thousand nine hundred nine but they didn't get delivered until this month and how that caused some some serious consternation for some people who were like no longer in relationships with the people who the texts finally got sent to very complicated and interesting they talked about. Got A big AIRBNB scam. They talked about white. Google has your health records. Google has partnered with one of America's large hospital networks and gained a bunch of access assed millions of health records. Does that freak you out. If so listen to reset right now from recode and vox check it out wherever you listen to your podcasts. They cover for other things than the impeachment inquiry. Is this Ukrainian life. I'm Sean Ramos firm each our show. Of course we do an episode about the news bring you all sorts of sounds about that new songs archival audio interviews. Today's Today's show Mr Sandland goes to Washington. We are breaking down the long awaited testimony from the EU ambassador. We've now arrived at to act to song of Samland and no one really knew what he would say what he plead the fifth. Would he contradict his prior testimony. Would he reveal new information. Our story continues with boxes. Andrew Andrew procup Andrew. How did ambassador Sunland Open up today? So Sandline Gay testimony. That was very bad to the Republican. Defenses of this overall. He said that there was absolutely a quid. Pro Quo involving a White House meeting being withheld from the Ukrainians until they committed to investigations. He said that he was following. The president's orders in talking to Rudy Giuliani. About all this and helping try to get the Ukrainians to go along with. What Giuliani was pushing and he really really really wanted to make clear that this was not just him? Gordon solid that there was lots of involvement from others in the trump administration the station from the State Department to the White House to the vice president's office so he was basically throwing everyone under the bus. Okay let's talk about everyone who got run over one by one. Starting with Giuliani. So sunland said that he and the other Amigos worked with Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president and we did not want to work with Mr Giuliani simply put. We were playing the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refuse to work with Mr Giuliani we would lose a very the important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the president's orders and and he also explained that Mr Giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House. Visit for presidents Alinsky. Mr Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the two thousand sixteen election. DNC Server and worry SMA. Mr Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States. And we knew the investigations were important to the president so as we already knew. Giuliani is key to all this and Sunland is saying. I didn't want how to work with this guy but basically had to after. He made it clear that he was not a big fan of Giuliani nor his later work he moved onto Mike Pompeo and the State Department one. You have to say about the State Department's involvement in Ukraine so sunland wanted to make clear that he regularly updated secretary very of state pompeo and advisers close to Palm Peyot on what he was telling the Ukrainians that he was really trying to get president's. Alinsky you to commit to these investigations and Sunlen brought receipts. He read out quotes from emails. He sent to Pompeo and pompey's aids aids these emails show that the leadership of the State Department. The National Security Council and the White House were all informed learned about the Ukraine efforts for May twenty third two thousand nineteen until the security aide was released on September eleventh. The two thousand and nine thousand nine hundred and we should note here. That pompeo was actually on the phone. Call Between Trump Dolinsky on July twenty fifth when when trump himself made these same demands twos Alinsky and framed it as investigating the Biden's so pompeo new with this was all about and Sunlen presented did a good deal of evidence suggesting that his involvement was deeper than we previously knew and this is significant because this house impeachment inquiry isn't going to hear from Secretary of State. Mike Pompeo. Yeah yes so. While a host of State Department officials have shown up to testify. Complying with subpoenas POMPEO has not agreed to testify and more than that he has decreed that the State Department should not hand over any documents to the house house impeachment inquiry and after Sunlen testimony. Today that looks a whole lot more like it could be something like obstruction rather than just the ordinary political stonewalling. It seems that Pompeo may not want to hand over evidence that relates to his own personal knowledge of of what was happening here. Where did go once? He was done with Giuliani and pompeo. So the Sunland bus made a brief stop over. Ver- White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney but the bus made a particularly interesting stop after that when he went over Vice President Mike Pence Sandland explained that on September. First when he and Mike Pence were both in Warsaw and had a meeting with Zilenski. Simon said that before the meeting. He told pants that he was worried. That trump was holding up the security assistance unless Ukraine committed to the investigations. And he said that pence kind kind of nodded in response. But did it really engage much with the topic and the Democratic Questioner Attorney. Daniel Goldman said and vice president. Pence just nodded his head again. I don't recall any exchange or where he asked me any questions I think he was sort of a duly noted. Well he didn't say Gordon. What are you talking about? He did not it. Didn't say what investigations he did. Not so again. This speaks to the broader point. That saw was trying to express. which is that everyone's in the loop that this was not the the freelancing of one ambassador and perhaps the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani but that people at the highest levels of the administration in the State Department in the National Security Council in the vice president's office in the White House they'll knew about this and they were all going along with it and that of course means that president trump knew about it? Silence Treatment of president trump is a bit more complicated in my view. Sunland claimed that trump never directly told him that the hold up in military aid for Ukraine was linked to the the demand for investigations. Rather sunland continued to insist that this is something he just presumed that as Daniel Goldman the Democratic Questioner. Put it that. It was something that he figured out sort of logically. Like a math problem problem. And you you understood. Ukrainians received no credible explanation. Is that right. I certainly didn't couldn't give them one. So this is this kind of a two plus two equals four and he kept returning to that metaphor. This was not something trump told him it was rather something that became very clear to him him something that seemed obvious so he did not present the smoking gun of president. Trump told me me that he was withholding the military aid for Ukraine unless they did the investigations rather it was something that was unspoken by the president in his telling and after you get Giuliani and Pompeo and Mulvaney and pens and trump. I guess there's no where else to go but rocky. Yeah what triggered. My memory was someone's reference to a sap rocky mentioned Asef Rocky then all of a sudden it came back to me. The whole thing sort of came back to me and Shinde sap rocky. I was talking time rocky. Smoking while I'm strolling down roost. ooh Yes so this related to another phone call between San Linden trump. That sound Lennon initially did not recall but that another witness has now testified to overhearing and this occurred on July twenty sixth in restaurant in Keiv and soundlink online called trump. The other way this this call testified that sunlit told trump. It hadn't worked out free sap rocky just yet but you can tell the card fashions you tried in the end up rocky was in fact released and returned to the US about a week later which meant that is at rocky. He was freed about a month before the military aid for Ukraine was freed long live as Apparati. Rip PM's came. I say for the fans. Aw We've arrived at the third and Final Act of our show. It's been a journey. We've been at it since September almost completely the whole time with one guy you know who senior correspondent at. Vox Act three the the final act quid pro cup. So the funny part was that when Devin newness gave his opening statement he talked a lot about how this this is a carefully orchestrated media smear campaign but then things took a turn with Sahib's opening statement and the Republicans it can seem to have realized that his testimony was not so friendly to trump after all so the GOP decided to shift gears and in the end they we're the ones trying to really attack solid so republicans had to come up with this plan on the spot because they had no idea whether the sunlen testimony would go their way or not. Was it effective. They did come up with some aspects of what Sandra said that were somewhat helpful to them for instance since sidelines saying that he only presumed that trump was linking the military aid to the investigations but overall all the bigger picture is that this was not good testimony for Republicans and for president trump and the president was watching along taking notes in giant Black Sharpie. He brought them outside to the South Lawn to address the press under helicopter. What did he have to say? So trump picked out just one piece of what Sunland said that he thought was helpful to him toward the end of the saga on September. Ninth Sunland says he called trump and it was a very short abrupt conversation. He was not in a good mood so he's going. What do you want? What do you want to hear all these years is what you want right? And according to Saad land trump responded. I want nothing I want. Nothing nothing I want no quid pro quo. Well how do the right thing. Trump seem to think that this gets him off the hook even though it comes very late in the process it comes. After months of quid pro quo demands on the Ukrainians. And it happened. Just as news of the scandal was threatening threatening to get out so it's unclear how much of an exoneration it really is. But at least in this one instance silence says is that trump said he wanted no quid pro quo andrew. It occurs to me as this public facing impeachment inquiry the televised testimonies wind down this week. That that this is probably the most engaged. The country's been in our national politics since the hearings of Brad Kavanagh and who knows maybe the most engaged. We'll all be until the two thousand election. How did American democracy look up there on the TV over the course of the past two weeks you know? It's bidden hidden encouraging in some respects despite the polarization and dysfunction in our politics impeachment. Investigators here have managed to shake loose a lot of useful and relevant factual information. And I think that is kind of the takeaway here here that you know the executive branch is not simply one monolith. That's defending president trump. That there are people working there who who are willing to speak up when they see something that they feel is wrong or even if they don't think it's wrong that are willing to provide information Russian and testimony about what they know. Despite the efforts on the part of the president to obstruct what's and impede this inquiry it has resulted in genuine information. And revelations and it's been good for informing the public overall about just what their president has been up to full andrew pro. Thank you for being our guide through this saga that is Ukraine explained. It's been my pleasure. Our Program Camp was produced today by McCarthy Hassenfeld with me Ulema Shah and Domino Assadi. Our executive producer is Irene. Noguchi or engineer is a theme Shapiro. Our our fact Checker is Olympia. Extreme and our music consultant is the mysterious brake master cylinder. Special thanks this week to ball cells professor of government at Georgetown University in Washington. DC Lie contributed to our episode on Spain. That ran earlier this week. Our email today explained at. Vox Dot Com our twitter today. Underscore explained and today explained is produced in association with Stitcher. Vox Media Podcast Network Management Oversight for our program by our boss. Mr Ezra Klein who has never publicly acknowledged his early hip hop work as client Yaohua triggered. My memory was someone's reference to asap. Rocky I'm Sean Rotherham back tomorrow with another explanation of today thanks.