On Oct. 17, Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union and the founder and former chairman of Portland-based Provenance Hotels, testified before a joint House committee conducting the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Sondland testified behind closed doors, so much of what he said remains unknown. But the statement he released that day was an artful attempt to distance himself from the question of a quid pro quo in the Ukraine controversy and to cast blame for the affair on Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
Here are excerpts from national coverage of Sondland and his testimony.
"[Sondland] painted himself and his fellow diplomats as ignorant of Giuliani's desire to push for specific Ukraine investigations that could carry political benefits for Trump. The implication: Maybe Giuliani did something wrong, but we didn't really know about it. That's extremely difficult to swallow." —The Washington Post, Oct. 17.
"'He's a divining rod for people with political power,' an associate of [former Oregon Gov. Ted] Kulongoski's says of Sondland. 'If you walk into a crowded room and you're looking for the most powerful person, look for Gordon, because you know he's tall and he'll be within five feet of them.'" —Fortune, Oct. 17
"His opening statement was damning for Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. It also appeared deeply dishonest about his own role in trying to extort Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to pursue investigations that would be of propaganda value to the president. Sondland is desperately spinning to distance himself from this whole debacle, suggesting he knows he's at the center of something reprehensible. What I can't comprehend is how anyone could think that working for Trump would end up any other way." —Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times, Oct. 18
On Oct. 22, former Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor testified. His testimony further soured perceptions of Sondland's statements.
"Yeah, I think there is asymmetry on what we heard today and what Sondland had to say….There were some things that seemed a little at variance here." —Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) to CNN, Oct. 22
"Mr. Taylor's testimony directly contradicted repeated assertions by Mr. Trump and his Republican allies that there was never a direct linkage involving investigations into Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that employed Hunter Biden, the former vice president's son, or other Democrats. It also raised questions about the veracity of the testimony of other prominent impeachment witnesses, including Mr. Sondland." —The New York Times, Oct. 22