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Gordon Sondland revealed something huge that hardly anyone noticed: CNN commentator

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During his testimony Wednesday, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland told the world that the “quid pro quo” is exactly what President Donald Trump intended. Further, he told Americans that everyone was “in the loop” on the bribery effort to get Ukraine to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his family. It was only once that promise was made and the whistleblower came forward that the Ukraine military assistance was released to Ukraine.

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While those revelations dominated the news, CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote that there was one key piece of evidence that seemed to go unnoticed.

“He had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it,” Sondland told the committee. Trump wasn’t interested in an actual investigation. Nor was Trump or his team interested in the corruption they only recently claimed was so important.

“To be clear, [that] means that in order for [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky to get the White House meeting he so coveted, he needed to simply announce that Ukraine was looking into Joe and Hunter Biden — despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by either of them — as well as the whereabouts of the hacked Democratic National Committee server,” wrote Cillizza.

Staff lawyer Daniel Goldman asked for clarification if Giuliani and Trump didn’t actually care if Ukraine did the investigations.

“I never heard, Mr. Goldman, anyone say that the investigations had to start or be completed,” Sondland testified. “The only thing I heard from Mr. Giuliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced. … President Trump presumably, communicated through Mr. Giuliani, wanted the Ukrainians on-record publicly that they were going to do those investigations.”

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The president and Republicans on the committee have claimed that Trump was so concerned about Ukrainian corruption that he never addressed it publicly, tweeted about it, or made moves to address corruption outside of the issue of Biden or an imaginary 2016 Democratic server that somehow exists in Ukraine.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman made similar claims when he testified this week.

“I think it demonstrates that both on that call, before and after, the president was not just pursuing an anti-corruption agenda on Ukraine,” said Lawfare Executive Editor Susan Hennessey after reading his deposition. “What the president was doing was putting his political interests over the national security interests of the United States, and his own staff was alarmed by it at the time.”

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Read the full take from Cillizza at CNN.com.


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Republican Kevin McCarthy gets taken down by former top GOP colleague

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was attacked by a former Republican colleague who alleged McCarthy and his fellow members of Congress have allowed the House GOP to become the official shill for the White House.

In a profile for the New York Times, former Oversight Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) shamed the GOP House for the way that a once-respectable institution has fallen.

“Congress no longer operates as an independent branch of government, but as an appendage of the executive branch,” said Davis. “He is made for that role.”

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Former senator reveals to Maddow how one brave Democrat can reveal key document in impeachment trial

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Near the end of Wednesday's impeachment trial, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that an agreement had been made to allow senators to read supplemental testimony from Vice President Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams.

The document will remain classified, despite claims that there is no classified material in the document, only evidence that is damning to the president.

"In terms of this document potentially being improperly classified, which is something that has been raised in writing by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and raised on the floor of the Senate tonight by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)," MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow noted. "Obviously, it was the vice president's office that said it was classified, they are getting publicly criticized for that. If it has been improperly classified and it should be something that the public can see, who adjudicates that?"

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Florida Republican Matt Gaetz admits Trump’s legal defense was ‘like an 8th grade book report’ — only worse

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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) admitted that President Donald Trump's team of lawyers weren't quite the legal eagles that he thinks they might be, said Politico reporter Andrew Desiderio.

Questioned about his take on the way the case is unfolding in the Senate, Gaetz said that the House presented it like it was going to be on "cable news." For many that may be an insult, but it appears to Gaetz that was a compliment.

Desiderio said that Gaetz then lamented that the White House presented their case more like “an 8th-grade book report.”

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