The Nov. 20 testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, reverberated around the world.
"Sondland's bombshell testimony blows holes in Trump's Ukraine defence," The Guardian wrote. The New York Times called Sondland's narrative "explosive."
The former Portland hotelier, who got his position after a $1 million contribution to President Donald Trump's inauguration, recovered from an earlier bout of amnesia to deliver a withering description of the president's attempt to trade U.S. military aid to Ukraine for his own personal political benefit.
"Was there a quid pro quo?" Sondland asked rhetorically. "The answer is yes." He added, "Everyone was in the loop," from Trump on down, and produced emails to prove it.
The spectacle of a Trump loyalist turning on his patron was remarkable. But perhaps even more unusual was the twinkle in Sondland's eye as he undercut the president's claims of innocence. A private, low-profile player in Portland, Sondland smiled giddily as he stuck a knife in his boss's back on national television.
Here are four exchanges that generated laughs:
• When U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) said former National Security Council staffer Tim Morrison referred to the "Gordon Problem," Sondland nodded: "That's what my wife calls me," he said. "Maybe they're talking. Should I be worried?"
• Krishnamoorthi also referred to the nickname given to Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani—the self-styled "three amigos" who executed a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine.
"You were part of the three amigos, but what I'm really concerned about, Ambassador Sondland, is that the president and the good folks over here, my Republican colleagues, are now casting you as the one amigo," Krishnamoorthi said. "The one lonely amigo they're going to throw under the bus."
"I lost my amigos?" Sondland replied, smiling.
• Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman asked Sondland about a July 26 telephone call in which Sondland allegedly told Trump that Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky "loves your ass." Sondland called the vernacular he and the president used "Trumpspeak." So, Goldman asked, did Sondland actually use those words?
"Yeah, that sounds like something I would say," Sondland admitted, laughing. "That's how President Trump and I communicate. A lot of four-letter words. In this case, three-letter."
• But Krishnamoorthi noted Sondland's stock in the White House had plummeted. "On Oct. 8 of this year, the president tweeted that you are 'a really good man and a great American,'" Krishnamoorthi said. "And, of course, on Nov. 8, one month later, he said, 'Let me just tell you, I hardly know the gentleman.'"
"Easy come, easy go," Sondland responded.
Sondland then jetted back to his post in Brussels. The House Intelligence Committee concluded hearings and is now preparing a report for the House Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether to draft formal articles of impeachment.