Wendy R. Sherman

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, during a break in his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, D.C., in November 2019.

Ambassador Gordon David Sondland is an ebullient man — a hotelier who, like President Donald Trump, has a showman’s spirit. 

Like Trump, Sondland is a marketer, whether building his hotel brand or successfully hawking his home state, Oregon, as a site for movies and television. What he is not is a seasoned diplomat ready to represent the United States to the European Union. And he is certainly not the policymaker or implementer of U.S. policy with regard to Ukraine. He is a fixer, a kibitzer, someone who wants to fly close to the sun and be in the presence of power. And he might not even understand that he has now been badly burned.

In his testimony Wednesday, Sondland not only confirmed his inadequacy as a diplomat — he also acknowledged he never took notes, he repeatedly could not recall critical conversations — but, at the same time, he unequivocally linked the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, to an attempt to bribe the president of Ukraine for his own political and personal purpose. Neither Sondland, nor Trump, nor the many officials Sondland implicated — Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — have acted in the pursuit of the national security of the United States.

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