As the clock ticked toward 4 p.m., Ambassador Gordon Sondland looked like he needed a double scotch and a full body massage.
After a full day of hearings, what I am hearing is that President Trump ordered military aid withheld until Ukraine ordered an investigation into corruption, which included the energy company Burisma, and Joe and Hunter Biden.
Sondland said he “presumed” Trump wanted the aid withheld, that he acted on orders of the president as transmitted by Rudy Giuliani, and that “everyone was in the loop.”
Sondland was the howitzer, the big gun expected to deliver the “bombshell” the CNN chipmunks kept chirping out. (Looking at you, Wolf Blitzer.)
Problem: Sondland said Trump told him — once — he wanted nothing in return, specifically there was no quid pro quo. Republicans seized on that as if it were the Holy Grail.
Problem: Ukraine president Zelensky says he did not feel pressured.
Sure, you can question the veracity of what it said, but it was said.
I believe Trump did what he is accused of. One of my best friends, who is a conservative Republican, does not believe Trump did it.
“Really?” I asked.
“What have they got?” he replied. A bunch of hearsay and contradictory testimony from several witnesses. My friend is smart, politically acute, and fair-minded. In his view, the Democrats did not prove their case.
I think they did, but so what? Is pressuring a foreign government, even for personal benefit, a crime serious enough to warrant removing a president from office?
Is circumstantial evidence enough? Is hatred of Trump reason enough?
Let’s assume the intelligence committee votes to impeach the president and the House agrees. The matter then goes to the U.S. Senate for trial.
Let’s say the Senate decides to put the president on trial.
What will the outcome be?
The Senate is controlled 53-47 by Republicans and you would have to believe in unicorns and fairies to believe they would unseat their president, whose approval rating among Republicans is north of 80%.
The only people who can remove Trump are American voters, who will turn out — pro and con — in massive numbers next November.