The decade's most triggering comedy
President Trump kicked off Thursday with an early morning tweet celebrating the “GREAT day” he and the Republican Party enjoyed on Wednesday as a result of the impeachment inquiry — though by the mainstream media coverage, he added, you probably couldn’t tell it.
“The Republican Party, and me, had a GREAT day yesterday with respect to the phony Impeachment Hoax, & yet, when I got home to the White House & checked out the news coverage on much of television, you would have no idea they were reporting on the same event,” Trump tweeted early Thursday. “FAKE & CORRUPT NEWS!”
While Trump didn’t elaborate on what he meant by a “great day” in the impeachment inquiry, a series of posts by the president on Wednesday provide some context for his declaration. In various tweets and retweets on Wednesday, Trump highlighted responses from Ambassador Gordon Sondland — one of the only witnesses who had direct contact with Trump on Ukraine — who asserted that Trump told him unequivocally that he wants “no quid pro quo,” “nothing” from Ukrainian President Zelensky, only that he “do the right thing.”
“Impeachment Witch Hunt is now OVER!” Trump tweeted Wednesday along with a quote of Sondland’s statement.
“It was a very short abrupt conversation, he was not in a good mood, and he just said, ‘I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing,’ something to that effect,” said Sondland. “So I typed out a text to Ambassador Taylor and my reason for telling him this was not to defend what the president was saying, not to opine on whether the president was being truthful or untruthful, but simply to relay I’ve gone as far as I can go. This is the final word that I heard from the president of the United States.”
“Later, Ambassador Sondland said that I told him, ‘Good, go tell the truth!'” Trump wrote after quoting Sondland’s testimony. “This Witch Hunt must end NOW. So bad for our Country!”
….”I WANT NOTHING! I WANT NOTHING! I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO! TELL PRESIDENT ZELENSKY TO DO THE RIGHT THING!” Later, Ambassador Sondland said that I told him, “Good, go tell the truth!” This Witch Hunt must end NOW. So bad for our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2019
The president also highlighted another unequivocal assertion from Sondland about any conditions imposed on Ukraine related to the investigations into the Bidens-connected Ukrainian-based energy company Burisma or the 2016 election.
“You testified, ‘President Trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the investigations?'” Rep. Elise Stefanick (R-NY) asked the ambassador.
“That’s correct,” he replied.
The moment was tweeted out by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and retweeted by Trump:
With every question that @RepStefanik asks, Democrats’ sham impeachment gets weaker and weaker.
Q: “You testified, ‘President Trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the investigations?'”
Ambassador Sondland: “That’s correct.” pic.twitter.com/ZnKsoBp6PD
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) November 20, 2019
Another response from Sondland pointed out by Trump via a retweet of a post by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) was Sondland agreeing with Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) that “no one on this planet — not Donald Trump, Rudy Guiliani, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo — no one told you aid was tied to political investigations.”
“Mr. Sondland, let’s be clear: no one on this planet — not Donald Trump, Rudy Guiliani, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo — no one told you aid was tied to political investigations, is that correct,” asked Turner.
“That’s correct,” said Sondland.
“Game over,” concluded Meadows.
Wow.@RepMikeTurner: “Mr. Sondland, let’s be clear: no one on this planet—not Donald Trump, Rudy Guiliani, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo—no one told you aid was tied to political investigations, is that correct.”
Gordon Sondland: “That’s correct.”
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) November 20, 2019
When Sondland first began his testimony, the mainstream media portrayed it as severely damaging to Trump due to Sondland’s opening remarks in which he said there was a “quid pro quo” imposed related to Ukraine. But that alleged quid pro quo, he explained, was pushed by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and for a meeting and call with the White House, not military aid.
As Trump highlighted, when Republicans had a chance to ask Sondland questions, the ambassador made clear that neither Trump or anyone in the administration ever told him that the military aid was tied to the investigations. Sondland repeatedly stated that he came to “presume” that to be the case on his own, while Trump himself told him explicitly that there were no conditions.
“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” Sondland said. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.” That “quid pro quo,” he explained, came from Giuliani. “I’ve never heard from President Trump that the aid (to Ukraine) was conditioned on the investigations,” he told committee members.