Donald Trump’s supposed concern about corruption took another big hit during Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony in the impeachment inquiry hearings Wednesday morning. Turns out, even the investigations Trump was pressuring Ukraine to do into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son weren’t so much real investigations as the public appearance of investigations. In other words, Trump wanted to be able to point to suspicions around Biden more than he wanted to know what Biden and his son did or did not do.
Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman nailed that point down with Sondland at length: Sondland’s marching orders on Ukraine were coming directly from Trump and from Rudy Giuliani—Sondland agreed it was “correct” that “Mr. Giuliani spoke for the president”—and what Giuliani wanted was the public announcement of an investigation.
Goldman: Now, from Mr. Giuliani, by this point, you understood that in order to get that White House meeting that you wanted President Zelensky to have, and that President Zelensky desperately wanted to have, that Ukraine would have to initiate these two investigations, is that right?
Sondland: Well, they would have to announce that they were going to do it.
Goldman: Right, because Giuliani and President Trump didn't actually care if they did them, right?
Sondland: I never heard Mr. Goldman, anyone say that the investigations had to start or had to be completed. The only thing I heard from Mr. Giuliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced in some form, and that form kept changing.
Goldman: Announced publicly?
Sondland: Announced publicly.
Sondland went on to claim that he’d been told that the public announcement was needed because Ukraine had a history of committing behind the scenes to do things and then backing out, but he confirmed that he had never heard that an actual investigation was required after the announcement.
Because, again, it wasn’t about finding the reality of corruption. It was about creating the appearance of it to damage Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy.
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