Lawmakers spar over upcoming Sondland testimony

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE's allies and critics on Sunday took differing views of the implications of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandGOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' Top Democrat slams Trump's new EU envoy: Not 'a political donor's part-time job' Trump names new EU envoy, filling post left vacant by impeachment witness Sondland MORE's testimony in the House's impeachment inquiry, with Democrats saying Sondland's upcoming appearance will show that Trump solicited a bribe and Republicans disputing his statements about a quid pro quo.

Sondland is scheduled to testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. 

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) told ABC’s George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosColbert implores Pelosi to update 'weaponry' in SCOTUS fight: 'Trump has a literal heat ray' Murkowski: Supreme Court nominee should not be taken up before election Cruz says Senate Republicans likely have votes to confirm Trump Supreme Court nominee MORE that Sondland’s public testimony will demonstrate that Trump solicited a bribe.


“Sadly, my friend [Rep.] Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartAtlanta Wendy's 911 call the night of Rayshard Brooks's death released Tyler Perry offers to pay for funeral of Rayshard Brooks Current, former NHL players form diversity coalition to fight intolerance in hockey MORE [R-Utah] is going to get his wish this week when we get testimony from Ambassador Sondland, who at the president's instruction told the Ukrainians either go to a microphone and announce an investigation of the Bidens or there will not be military assistance,” Maloney said.

Rep. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesMany Democrats want John Bolton's testimony, but Pelosi stays mum SEC's Clayton demurs on firing of Manhattan US attorney he would replace Democrats face tough questions with Bolton MORE (D-Conn.), meanwhile, was asked by Fox News’s Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceGOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power Trump mocks Biden for calling 'a lid' before 9 a.m. Trump claims Fox anchor Chris Wallace won't ask Biden 'tough questions' at debate MORE whether it would “blow a hole in your case” if Sondland testifies there was no quid pro quo conditioning military aid on an investigation.

“I don’t think it blows a hole in the case. ... There is ample evidence that there was a corrupt deal being cooked up,” Himes responded.

Asked by Wallace if Sondland could be considered a credible witness after already changing his testimony once, Himes said, “That’s a good question,” adding, “It was not lost on Ambassador Sondland what happened to the president’s close associate Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneThe agony of justice Our Constitution is under attack by Attorney General William Barr Justice IG investigating Stone sentencing: report MORE for lying to Congress. My guess is Ambassador Sondland is going to do his level best to tell the truth.”

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocratic senator calls for 'more flexible' medical supply chain to counter pandemics The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon GOP chairman to release interim report on Biden probe 'in about a week' MORE (D-Conn.) told CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperThe media's misleading use of COVID-19 data Julia Louis-Dreyfus: 'We can't spend much time grieving' Ginsburg Pence aide dismisses concerns rushed vote on Trump nominee will hurt vulnerable senators MORE that Sondland “clearly didn't tell the truth in his initial testimony. I don't know why he decided to ultimately come clean.”

“But he did so, and I think over the weekend Sondland has to decide whether his primary loyalty is to America or to the president of the United States,” Murphy added.

Sondland's testimony is highly anticipated, both because of what has been released from his own closed-door deposition and based on other witnesses' statements about his role in Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

Sondland revised his closed-door testimony before it was released by the committee to say the president’s dealings with Ukraine likely amounted to a quid pro quo. He has also been at the center of testimony from other officials, who said he had pushed — on behalf of Trump himself — for Ukraine's president to launch two investigations that could help Trump politically.

William Taylor, the chargé d’affaires for Ukraine, testified on Wednesday that one of his staffers had overheard Trump asking Sondland about the “investigations” in a July phone call, a new piece of evidence Democrats immediately seized on.

But Republicans largely dismissed the possibility that Sondland's testimony could benefit the Democratic case.

Stewart told Stephanopoulos that the evidence against Trump “was crumbling” after the first week of testimony.

“I think the longer these [hearings go] on, I think the less the American people are going to support impeachment because I think that the evidence just doesn’t support it,” Stewart said.

Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanHouse panel pulls Powell into partisan battles over pandemic Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus MORE (R-Ohio), meanwhile, continued to insist that the fact that the military aid was eventually released without an investigation being announced was proof there was no quid pro quo, regardless of what Sondland testified.

Jordan told CBS's Margaret Brennan that the EU ambassador "said there was never any quid pro quo in the text message responding to others on that text chain," although Sondland has since said the message in question was dictated by Trump.

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse GOP slated to unveil agenda ahead of election House panel details 'serious' concerns around Florida, Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin elections Scalise hit with ethics complaint over doctored Barkan video MORE (R-La.), meanwhile, disputed the claim Sondland reportedly made to State Department official David Holmes that Trump cared only about Ukraine in relation to investigating former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Fox News poll: Biden ahead of Trump in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Ohio MORE and his son Hunter Biden.

“[President Volodymyr] Zelensky got elected on a platform of rooting out corruption, which we’re glad about, but nobody really knew if he was going to follow through, and because of Ukraine’s history of corruption, the law required that before any taxpayer money go to Ukraine, the president had to ensure they’re rooting out corruption,” he told Wallace on Sunday.