Sondland confirms ‘quid pro quo,’ points finger directly at Trump

Wednesday is Gordon Sondland’s time in the barrel. President Trump’s ambassador to the European Union is the sole witness in Wednesday morning’s House impeachment hearings, and there is a lot at stake — for Trump, for Democrats, and for Sondland, who faces legal jeopardy if he lies to Congress. Sondland already revised his sworn Oct. 17 deposition once, acknowledging “I now recall” telling a Ukraine presidential adviser Sept. 1 that U.S. military aid was tied to Ukraine announcing specific investigtations sought by Trump.

“The evidence gathered to date points to Sondland as the witness who, more than any other, could tie President Trump directly to the effort to persuade Ukraine to launch investigations that might benefit him politically,” The Washington Post notes. On Wednesday, Sondland “could solidify the case against Trump. … Or he could stand by his statements and face withering questioning from Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee over inconsistencies between his testimony and that of a growing number of witnesses.”

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“Republicans — especially in the White House — are exceedingly uncomfortable with Sondland, and unsure what he will say,” Politico reports. Their strategy Wednesday will be to “try to paint Sondland as a political hack who was carrying out what he thought Trump wanted, but not what the president told him directly,” believing that if “they can inject enough doubt about Sondland’s credibility, they can undermine some of the larger arguments about the substance.” Democrats, Politico says, hope to “show that Sondland was, in fact, the agent Trump was using to carry out his ‘shadow foreign policy,'” but they have their doubts about his value as a witness, too.

Both sides have reason for concern, but especially Republicans, Michael Smerconish said on CNN Wednesday morning. Watch below. Peter Weber

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