The GOP wanted Sondland to be Trump's Ukraine 'fall guy' -- then it blew up in their faces: NYT columnist
EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland founded a hotel chain with an outpost in Palm Springs (AFP image)

According to New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, Republican hopes that they could turn E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland into "fall guy" for Donald Trump's Ukraine scandal ended up being a disastrous miscalculation.

Following testimony given by the millionaire Trump appointee that was televised nationally where he clearly stated that the president was using foreign aid to get political dirt on possible 2020 presidential election foe Joe Biden, the NYT columnist claims the GOP now has a "Gordon problem."

"Over the first three days of testimony in the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, Republicans have tried out a number of defenses. After the Wednesday testimony of Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, almost all of them have been incinerated," she wrote. "Throughout the proceedings, Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has glowered, sneered and repeated some of the same conspiracy theories that Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, wanted Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to substantiate."

Pointing out that "Others have repeated the refrain of “no quid pro quo.” Some have tried to dismiss the claims against Trump as mere hearsay. A few have suggested that Sondland and Giuliani were working on their own," Goldberg said Sondland's testimony about that and other GOP conspiracy theories was "demolished by Sondland’s explosive testimony on Wednesday."

"In recent days, there have been signs that Sondland was being set up as a fall guy in the Ukraine scandal. Testifying Tuesday, another Republican witness, Tim Morrison, until recently the top Russia expert on the National Security Council, referred to the “Gordon problem,” suggesting he was an oft-ignored nuisance. But Sondland seems to have decided that he would not go easily under the proverbial bus," she explained.

"Republicans will likely cling to the fact that Sondland said he never heard directly from Trump about a linkage between security aid to Ukraine and investigations; Sondland said he put it together because, as he repeated several times, 'two plus two equals four,'" she continued. "Unfortunately for Republicans, Mick Mulvaney, who was reportedly directed by Trump to put the hold on Ukraine aid, has already said, on television, that the aid was frozen as part of a quid pro quo for investigations."

As Goldberg points out, Sondland's testimony was so damning that Ken Starr, the former special prosecutor who investigated Bill Clinton, stated on Fox News, "This obviously has been one of those bombshell days,” which has now put Republicans regretting he appeared as a witness.

"At this point, all they [Republicans] can do is obfuscate," Goldberg suggested. "About the push for investigations, Sondland said, 'Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.'"

"This administration is rotten to the core and fundamentally disloyal to the country it purports to serve. So is every politician who still tries to explain its corruption away," she concluded.