Say what you will, Gordon Sondland is no moron. He was politically astute enough to know that a million buck donation to Trump’s inaugural fund would assure that extended all-expenses-paid European vacation he wanted, but realistic enough to say, when on his way to his deposition NBC’s Goeff Bennett asked him, “Are you hoping to salvage your reputation today?” said “I have no reputation to salvage.” And yet, after all of that, it’s kind of odd to realize that the next one to two years of Sondland’s life may literally hinge on the meaning and application od the word official.
Cast your mind back to January of this year. The Democrats were sworn in, and shortly thereafter the new Democratic chairs were sworn in. And what was the first thing that several of those new House committee chairs did? They held votes authorizing them to release “official” transcripts of precious committee hearings over to Robert Mueller. Because if Mueller or one of his war hawks wanted to use the committee testimony to impeach a witness in front of the grand jury, it required a certified official transcript of the testimony to do it. Accept no substitutes.
Because that one single word, official, may spell the difference for Sondland between hundreds of thousands of dollars, and possible incarceration, or a much more carefree life post Trump. Gordon Sondland absolutely buried Trump today. And if he’s believed, it’s the kind of testimony that can move the public needle on impeachment, and give the GOP Senate caucus pause. And as Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney noted today, while they appreciated his candor and honesty today, it took three freakin’ tries to get to the truth. And that’s a problem, because his previous testimony, as well as his written revision, were taken under oath. Maloney basically accused him of perjury.
Which is why it was so important for Sondland to make the Democrats believe him today. But in doing so, he absolutely infuriated His Lowness, and His Lowness does not take disappointment well. There is a scapegoat required, as well as a sacrificial lamb to keep the rest of the wavering witnesses in line, and why not kill two birds with one stone?
It all comes down to that word official. The Democrats have already released a copy of Sondland’s closed door deposition testimony, as well as his written revision, to the public. But is it a certified, official transcript of his testimony and revision, or simply a copy released to the public? That is the $64,000 question, and the answer could shape Gordon Sondland’s future.
Because Donald Trump at long last has his Roy Cohn. And William Barr has already clearly displayed that he is ready to prostitute not only his personal and professional dignity, but that of his office in order to conduct purely political investigations as reprisals. There would be no better way for Donald Trump or the GOP to blow Sondland out of the water as a reliable witness than for Tubby the Ewok to indict and try him for perjury. It would not only ruin Sondland as a witness, it would be chilling intimidation to other potential witnesses before the committee.
Is the publicly released copy of Sondland’s deposition an official copy of the transcript, or not? If it is, then Barr can convene a grand jury, show the video of Sondland’s testimony to congress, and use the copy of his testimony in closed session to impeach his testimony and attempt to secure an indictment. If it is not an official copy, then it’s useless to Barr with the grand jury, and Schiff can simply decline to hold a vote to release an official copy of the transcript to Barr for his witch hunt. I don’t know which one the current publicly released document is, but I do know that right now, the word official may well be the most important word in Gordon Sondland’s dictionary.
To know the future, look to the past. before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clockwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen