Ambassador’ing Is Hard, But Gordon Sondland Was A ‘Comical’ Bumbler

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland arrives for a closed session before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees October 28, 2019 at the U.S. Cap... WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland arrives for a closed session before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees October 28, 2019 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Sondland returned to give additional testimony in the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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November 8, 2019 3:56 p.m.
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When he wasn’t pushing Ukraine to open investigations that would benefit President Donald Trump’s reelection chances, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland was breaching security protocols, showing up unprepared at diplomatic events, and generally making a bit of a mess.

That’s according to former National Security Council senior director Fiona Hill, a transcript of whose testimony to the House impeachment inquiry was released Friday.

“I mean, some of it was comical, but it was also, for me and for others, deeply concerning,” Hill testified at one point.

Though she butted heads with the EU ambassador over his role in the Ukraine pressure campaign, Hill testified, Sondland clearly had sway in the administration.

He had frequent meetings with White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, claimed that President Donald Trump put him personally in charge of Ukraine issues — though the country isn’t in the European Union — and built up a friendly rapport with diplomats all over Europe.

But he had some bad habits.

“Ambassador Sondland would frequently give people my personal cell phone to call up and demand meetings with [National Security Adviser John] Bolton or with me,” Hill testified.

“All kind of officials from Europe,” she testified, were “literally appearing at the gates of the White House.”

Hill said she received “endless” messages from officials (from a redacted country) who Sondland told were supposed to meet with her.

It wasn’t just Sondland’s careless digital habits — “Sondland was using his own personal cell phone at all times,” Hill testified — or his improv meeting-scheduling.

Hill also said Sondland skipped briefings that he should have gone to, given his work responsibilities, and met with officials (again, representing a redacted country) “that we had derogatory information on that he shouldn’t have been meeting with.”

Sometimes, Hill said, Sondland would show up in other ambassadors’ countries “without really much foreknowledge.”

“In some cases they were pleased, and in other cases they were not,” she said.

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