The explosive testimony this morning by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland has seemingly won the former Portland hotelier a new fan: U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon).
"Gordon Sondland, welcome to the resistance," Blumenauer declared this morning on Twitter.
That phrasing could be tongue in cheek: It's often used by online wags to joke about right-wing figures abandoning President Donald Trump. It could also be sincere: It's often used by highly-placed political pundits to praise right-wing figures abandoning President Donald Trump.
That's what Sondland did this morning: He testified to a House committee that he was following an implicit White House directive to link foreign aid to Ukraine with an investigation of Trump's political opponents.
That testimony quickly reversed partisan opinions of Sondland, a Trump donor and appointee. The president said he barely knew Sondland, and Republican representatives spent the morning grilling and deriding him. Democrats, meanwhile, were pleased by the direct implication of Trump.
In October, Blumenauer called for a boycott of Provenance Hotels, where Sondland served as CEO. Blumenauer said Americans should boycott Provenance properties—including six hotels in downtown Portland—until Sondland testified in a congressional impeachment inquiry.
So was Blumanauer's greeting sincere?
"I think that's probably up for interpretation," says his spokesman, Sean Ryan. "I can't speak to his intention."
Ryan tells WW that Blumanauer quietly dropped his call for a boycott weeks ago, after Sondland agreed to testify.
"From his point of view, this has been over for weeks. The minute [Sondland] testified, it was a done deal. He's moved on."
UPDATE, 2:12 pm: Blumenauer's boycott demand made its way into congressional testimony today, when U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) asked Sondland about it.
"We have countless emails, apparently, to my wife," Sondland replied. "Our properties are being picketed and boycotted. As I understand it, [protests] are going on as we speak." (A small crowd of demonstrators did protest outside of three Provenance hotels on Tuesday evening.)
Conaway condemned Blumenauer's tactics. "Mr. Blumenauer should not be using the vast influences that we have to bully you and your businesses," Conaway told Sondland. "That's a shame. I'm hopeful that my colleagues will join me in saying, 'Mr. Blumenauer, you really shouldn't be using your congressional influence to try to bully and threaten a witness before these proceedings."
Sondland thanked Conaway for his words of support.