Of all the testimony today, this one stood out the most. We all knew Sondland lied under oath in previous sessions but nobody stood up and called him out. This changed when Sondland pulled an arrogant move on Re. Sean Maloney. Here’s the transcript of the tense exchange.
Maloney: You said it’s wrong to investigate political opponents. We’ve agreed on that today, haven’t we, sir?
Maloney: And yet, of course, that’s what we know the president was asking for. Let me ask you something. Who would have benefited from an investigation of the president’s political opponents?”
Sondland: I don’t want to characterize who would have and who wouldn’t have.
Maloney: I know you don’t want to, sir. That’s my question. Would you answer it for me?
Sondland: Restate the question.
Maloney: Who would benefit from an investigation of the president’s political opponent?
Sondland: Well, presumably, the person who asked for the investigation.
Maloney: Who’s that?
Sondland: If the president asked for the investigation it would be he.
Maloney: Well, it’s not a hypothetical is it, sir? We just went around the track, didn’t we? The president asked you about investigations, he was talking about the Bidens. When he asked you about the Biden investigation, who was he seeking to benefit?
Sondland: He did not ask me about the Biden investigation. I’ve said that about nineteen times, Mr. Maloney.
Maloney: Sir, we just went through this. When he asked you about investigations, which we all agree now means the Bidens. We just did this about thirty seconds ago. It’s pretty simple question, isn’t it? I guess I’m having trouble why you can’t just say…
Sondland: When he asked about investigations I assumed he meant company.
Maloney: I know what you assumed, but who would benefit from an investigation of the Bidens?
Sondland: They’re two different questions.
Maloney: Just asking one. Who would benefit from an investigation of the Bidens?
Sondland: I assume President Trump would benefit.
Maloney: There we have it! [Audience cheers and laughs] See? Didn’t hurt a bit, did it? Didn’t hurt a bit. Let me ask you something…”
Sondland: Mr. Maloney, excuse me. I’ve been very forthright and I really resent what you’re trying to do.
Maloney: Fair enough. You’ve been very forthright. This is your third try to do so, sir. Didn’t work so well the first time, did it?… And now we’re here a third time and we got a doozy of a statement from you this morning. There’s a whole bunch of stuff you don’t recall, so all due respect sir, we appreciate your candor, but let’s be really clear on what it took to get it out of you.
My question is, when the president’s putting pressure on the Ukrainians with holding a meeting to get this investigation that you and I agree would benefit him politically, what kind of position does that put the Ukrainians in sir?
Sondland: A terrible position.
Maloney: A terrible position. Why?
Sondland: Why does it put them in a terrible position?
Sondland: Well, obviously, they’re not receiving ultimately what they thought was coming to them. And they’re put in a position that jeopardizes their security.
Maloney: A position that jeopardizes their security. And they’re being asked to do an investigation to help their security essentially that would benefit the president politically. In other words, you might say they’re being asked to give him a personal benefit in exchange for an official act. Is that a fair summary?
Sondland: In your hypothetical, that’s correct.
Maloney: It’s not a hypothetical, sir. This is real life. Where they asked to give them to give a personal benefit in exchange for an official act.
Sondland: Sir, I am not going to go around in circles with you. Please be clear on what you’re asking me.
Maloney: My time’s expired, sir, thank you for your appearance.