Reaction to the Oct. 17 testimony of the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland before the joint House committee investigating the impeachment of President Donald Trump was mixed.
Sondland testified behind closed doors, and little of his response to questions from House members has leaked. But the early press reviews aren't good.
After viewing Sondland's prepared testimony, the Washington Post expressed disbelief at key claim: that Sondland was unaware of Rudy Giuilani's efforts to condition the release of $391 million in U.S. aid to the Ukrainians' agreement to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
"If Sondland and others were indeed ignorant of Giuliani's intentions, though, it was apparently a willful brand of ignorance," the Post wrote. "The reason is the timeline. In the weeks leading up to that May 23 White House briefing, Giuliani's and even Trump's interest in spotlighting the Bidens' actions in Ukraine were hardly a secret. Giuliani's, in particular, were big news."
The New York Times quoted one member of the joint House panel who wasn't impressed with Sondland's testimony.
"Some lawmakers who heard it said that Mr. Sondland's story appeared meant to insulate him from blame," the Times reported. "As she emerged from the first two hours of questioning, Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California and a member of the Intelligence Committee, called his remarks 'a lot of C.Y.A.'"
Perhaps the most unintentionally revealing moment came as Sondland and his legal team approached the Capitol in the morning. Here's a Twitter except showing the irritated reaction of Sondland's Washington, D.C. attorney, Robert Luskin. (Sondland's personal attorney, Jim McDermott, is behind Sondland's left shoulder.)
The NBC reporter, having endured Luskin's shove, asked Sondland if he was testifying in order to salvage his reputation. Sondland, apparently in error, replied: "I don't have a reputation to salvage."