Stating he wanted to “get back to the facts of the matter here,” House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-CA) used the beginning of his questioning time Wednesday to quiz Gordon Sondland on various Republican conspiracy theories, remarkably ignoring the very damning testimony Sondland had given minutes earlier.
Despite acknowledging that Sondland “may not know about them” — referencing the various conspiracy theories involving Ukraine and the 2016 election — Nunes proceeded to grill the ambassador to the European Union about allegations that Democrats conspired with Ukrainian operatives to damage President Trump when he was a candidate in 2016.
“I want to walk through some of those examples of why the President may be very upset with Ukraine and think that they’re a country that’s out to get him as I think both you have said that and Ambassador (Kurt) Volker have said that from that May 23 meeting,” Nunes said.
“The first question I have is were you aware of the anti-Trump efforts by DNC operative Alexandra Chalupa?” Nunes asked, parroting a nearly identical line of questioning he used with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and other witnesses on Tuesday.
“I’m not aware of it,” Sondland said, a response he used for nearly every question Nunes posed. Nunes then proceeded to explain the conservative talking points involving the DNC allegedly coordinating with Ukraine to support Hillary Clinton’s presidency. He did the same for other conspiracy theories surrounding the “black ledger,” the Steele dossier and Burisma wiring millions of dollar to Hunter Biden, before suggesting that Democrats and Vindman were attempting to hide the identity of the whistleblower. Vindman’s testified under oath at least twice that he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is.
Nunes’ use of his time was transparent. As House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) outlined in a press briefing following the Democrats’ initial questioning of Sondland, the ambassador’s testimony just minutes before is being considered the “most significant evidence to date.”
Sondland testified that he knew he was pursuing President Trump’s interests while conducting key aspects of effort to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into Trump’s political rivals. Sondland also testified that there was a quid pro quo tied to the investigations and top officials in the administration were aware of the effort.