Lawmakers spar over upcoming Sondland testimony

President TrumpDonald John TrumpComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Congress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff MORE's allies and critics on Sunday took differing views of the implications of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandTrump aide asked cabinet agencies to identify anti-Trump appointees: report Congress looks to strengthen hand in State Department following impeachment Trump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment 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 StephanopoulosKatie Hill: 'Biphobia' led to resignation from Congress While Klobuchar surges, Warren flounders The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders, Buttigieg do battle in New Hampshire MORE that Sondland’s public testimony will demonstrate that Trump solicited a bribe.


“Sadly, my friend [Rep.] Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartHouse Republicans boycott public Intelligence panel hearing Trump considering Utah GOP lawmaker for top intelligence post: report  GOP lawmaker offering bill protecting LGBTQ rights with religious exemptions 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 HimesHouse Republicans boycott public Intelligence panel hearing Democrats criticize Medal of Freedom for Limbaugh as 'slap in the face' Twitter users invoke Merrick Garland after McConnell, Graham comments on impeachment trial MORE (D-Conn.), meanwhile, was asked by Fox News’s Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceFox News to host Klobuchar town hall next week Conway: Reported sexist Bloomberg remarks 'far worse' than what Trump said on 'Access Hollywood' tape Candidates make electability arguments, talk Bloomberg as focus turns to more diverse states 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 StoneComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Attorney General Barr is in a mess — and has no one to blame but himself Maxine Waters: Gang members have 'more integrity' than 'street player' Trump 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 MurphyKerry responds to Trump accusation he violated Logan Act: 'Another presidential lie' Overnight Health Care: Senate panel to hold hearing on US coronavirus response | Dems demand Trump withdraw religious provider rule | Trump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan backlash Democratic senators urge Trump administration to request emergency funding for coronavirus response MORE (D-Conn.) told CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperDemocrats ramp up attacks on opponents in final pitch before New Hampshire George Conway: 'Verdict of history' will be on Romney's side Buttigieg says Democrats must 'galvanize,' not 'polarize' voters 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 JordanTrump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify Booker, Merkley propose federal facial recognition moratorium Ex-Ohio State wrestler claims Jim Jordan asked him to deny abuse allegations 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 ScaliseScalise after Democrat asks for examples of Sanders supporters 'being bad': 'I can think of an example' Bottom line Pelosi's staff huddles with aides in both parties on 'surprise' medical billing 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 BidenPoll: Bloomberg stalls after Vegas debate Bloomberg campaign: Vandalism at Tennessee office 'echoes language from the Sanders campaign and its supporters' Democratic strategist says Biden 'has to' get second place in Nevada 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.