A problem for those in charge

To date, most of the highly anticipated public testimony in the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump has been anything but persuasive. Much of it has consisted of witnesses describing what other people told them occurred. One by one, “star” witnesses have had to admit that they have little first-hand knowledge of matters being probed.

But this week, Democrats hoped that would change. Another “star” witness, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, was to testify.

Sondland indeed does have some first-hand, personal knowledge — but there is a catch. In previous testimony, he has differed greatly from several of those who have leveled accusations against the president. And in response to several questions, Sondland has said bluntly that he simply does not remember occurrences to which others have sworn.

Associated Press reporters compiled a list of some of the discrepancies.

For example, several witnesses have claimed Sondland has a close relationship with White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Some have testified to conversations Sondland allegedly had with Mulvaney regarding Ukraine.

The AP found that, “Sondland suggests he knows Mulvaney well enough to wave and say hello — and that’s about it. He doesn’t recall any sit-down meeting with him on Ukraine or any other subject.”

Just days ago, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified that she asked Sondland for advice after she came under verbal attack from some people close to the president. “I honestly don’t recall” having any such conversation, Sondland has said. And, the AP added, “When asked if he’d be surprised if someone else had said that he did that, he replied, ‘Probably, yeah.'”

So Sondland may not turn out to the the “star” witness Democrats had hoped. Given the reliance they have placed on him — and the many things others have claimed he said and did — that could be a problem for those in charge of the impeachment inquiry.


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