Wednesday night, a Washington Post report detailed suspicious questions about the calls EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland had with President Donald Trump about Ukraine.
According to the report, the timeline Sonaldand reported doesn’t seem to match up with his usual course of business in calling the president. For example, if Sondland’s account is correct, it would mean he spoke to the president between 12:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.
Either way, Trump still has serious problems, another Post report from Aaron Blake explained Thursday.
“The most obvious problem with that call actually having taken place Sept. 7 is that Sondland’s testimony would again be wrong. He said he ‘vividly’ remembered the call being in response to [Ambassador Bill] Taylor’s ‘frantic’ missives. That wouldn’t be true of a call that took place before Taylor’s texts,” The Post explained.
Even if the timing of the call is off, like it happened on Sept. 7 instead of Sept. 9, nothing really changes. Trump’s panic was still evident as the scandal broke to the public.
“Trump had plenty of reason to deny the quid pro quo even on Sept. 7,” wrote Blake. “That’s because just two days earlier, The Post’s editorial board reported it was’reliably told that Trump was attempting to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.’ Trump was also reportedly told about a whistleblower complaint about his Ukraine dealings in late August; we learned this week.”
If the call was on Sept. 7 instead of Sept. 9, there are two other witnesses who testified about the president’s behavior. Taylor said former White House aide Tim Morrison told him about the call in “real-time.”
“According to Mr. Morrison, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland that he was not asking for a quid pro quo, but President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself,” testimony revealed.
Morrison testified that Sondland told him Trump insisted Zelensky must, himself, announce the investigations, not a Ukraine prosecutor.
“He related the president told him there was no quid pro quo, but President Zelensky had to do it, and he should want to do it,” Morrison testified.
When Taylor spoke to Sondland on Sept. 8, he reiterated Trump wanted Zelensky to make the statement himself and in public.
Regardless of when the call took place, if there were two calls or just one, Trump was very clear military aid would come after the announcement about Biden. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria announced that he was the one chosen to interview Zelensky. He flew to Kyiv, and the interview was just days away when the whistleblower report became public, and Congress announced an investigation. Trump then quickly released the aid.
“Where they diverge, though, is in what else Trump said. Sondland said Trump simply said he wanted Zelensky to ‘do the right thing,’ but Morrison and Taylor said Trump explicitly talked about his demands. Both say Trump demanded that Zelensky himself would announce the investigations. Taylor said Trump was explicit about which investigations,” The Post continued.
Republicans are scrambling to come up with new excuses. First, they denied any “quid pro quo,” they then claimed there was “quid” and “quo” but no “pro.” Finally, they’ve settled on the idea that there was quid pro quo, but it happens all the time, so it doesn’t matter. They’ve ignored Trump’s motivations, The Post explained, even though he made it clear he wanted more than “nothing.”
“But the Morrison and Taylor recollections of the Sept. 7 call indicate Trump was demanding far more than just Zelensky doing ‘the right thing;’ he was demanding Ukraine do his specific investigations,” The Post closed. “And if that’s really the call Sondland remembered, it’s even less exonerating than Republicans have argued it was.”