LIMA — The public testimony of Ambassador Gordon Sondland rocked the nation Wednesday, further dividing the battle lines on a controversial impeachment proceeding, and Rep. Jim Jordan spent his allotted time defending the actions of President Donald Trump.
Jordan’s defense leaned on Sondland’s testimony concerning a Sept. 9 call with the president when Sondland said he had asked Trump to clarify what he wanted from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“You said to the president of the United States: ‘What do you want from Ukraine?’” Jordan said. “The president: ‘I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. I want Zelensky to do the right thing. I want him to do what he ran on.”
Jordan said the statement clears Trump of wrongdoing. Trump later repeated the phrase during a short interview with the national press as he carried a sheet of paper with the phrase written on it in large-print permanent marker.
“This is as clear as it gets, but these guys (Democrats) want to keep stirring it up based on no direct evidence whatsoever,” Jordan said.
The state department has blocked the testimony of a number of federal officials despite House subpoenas. Sondland also testified Wednesday that a number of records he sought from the state department to clarify his communication with the White House were not delivered.
Due to not being able to obtain the records, Sondland estimated his call with the president took place on Sept. 9, which coincides with when House committees announced the initial investigations to find whether Trump was pressuring Ukraine for political motivations. The White House had known about the whistleblower complaint at that time.
In an earlier round of questioning, Jordan also said that the absence of the “quid” or “quo” coming to fruition clears Trump.
“(Ukraine) get(s) the call. They get the meeting. They get the money. It’s not two plus two. It’s 0-for-3,” Jordan said.
Jordan is referring to an earlier comment made by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who explained that a “presumption” of Sondland was due to Sondland being able to connect that “two plus two equals four.”
Sondland stated that he had, at some point, presumed the hold up of military aid dollars were due to the lack of a public announcement by Zelensky. During Wednesday’s hearing, Sondland said Trump was pushing for Zelensky to announce investigations into Burisma and the 2016 elections.
Jordan also spent some of his time talking about a Sept. 5 meeting when Sen. Chris Murphy and Sen. Ron Johnson met with Zelensky. Jordan alleged since Zelensky didn’t mention feeling pressure at that meeting then, the whole impeachment proceeding is a sham.
Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, and David Hale, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, also testified Wednesday evening.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.