Lawmakers spar over upcoming Sondland testimony

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE's allies and critics on Sunday took differing views of the implications of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandConservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' Democrat suggests Republicans took acting classes based on ability to 'suspend disbelief' Gaetz: We didn't impeach Obama even though 'a lot of constituents' think he abused his power 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 StephanopoulosBooker on Harris dropping out: 'Iowa voters should have the right to choose' Judiciary Democrat says House should focus on Ukraine, avoid Mueller report in articles of impeachment Impeachment can't wait MORE that Sondland’s public testimony will demonstrate that Trump solicited a bribe.


“Sadly, my friend [Rep.] Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartGOP lawmaker offering bill protecting LGBTQ rights with religious exemptions House GOP wants Senate Republicans to do more on impeachment How House Republicans have stayed unified on impeachment 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 HimesPelosi faces tough choices on impeachment managers This week: Impeachment inquiry moves to Judiciary Committee Juan Williams: Trump has nothing left but smears MORE (D-Conn.), meanwhile, was asked by Fox News’s Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Fox's Chris Wallace calls out Trump for the 'most sustained assault on freedom of the press' in US history Comey, Schiff to be interviewed by Fox's Chris Wallace 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 StoneDOJ backs ex-Trump campaign aide Richard Gates's probation request Schiff says investigators seeking to identify who Giuliani spoke to on unlisted '-1' number What if impeachment fails? 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 MurphyRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy On The Money: Trump, China announce 'Phase One' trade deal | Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records | House panel schedules hearing, vote on new NAFTA deal Schumer: Trump 'sold out' on China trade deal MORE (D-Conn.) told CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperCNN Pelosi town hall finishes third in cable news ratings race, draws 1.6M Defense secretary fires Navy chief over SEAL war crimes case Democrats look to next steps in impeachment 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 JordanGOP lawmakers jockey for positions as managers Democrats approve two articles of impeachment against Trump in Judiciary vote Democrats object to Meadows passing note to Jordan from dais 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 ScaliseGOP lawmakers jockey for positions as managers Fox's Chris Wallace calls out Trump for the 'most sustained assault on freedom of the press' in US history McCarthy: I don't think there's a need to whip the impeachment vote 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 BidenNew York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Graham invites Giuliani to testify about recent Ukraine trip Booker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications 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.