You know how some days, there’s just nothing going on, no news to discuss, everything is super boring and how on other days, the universe just fucking opens up a firehose on you? This is one of those firehose days, friends.
Today’s witness in the public impeachment hearings is one Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon “Call Me” Sondland.
A quick reminder of who this guy is: like President Dear Leader, Sondland is a hotelier who has been a long-time Republican donor. In fact, he gave close to $1 million to the Trump Inauguration Committee and then lo and behold, he became the Ambassador to the European Union. Something to keep in mind as we go forward: UKRAINE IS NOT IN THE EUROPEAN UNION. So what the fuck is this dope doing in the middle of this story?
So. Sondland, despite being the Ambassador to the European Union, was one of the so-called “Three Amigos,” who acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told George Kent, the actual Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, would be handling Ukraine for here on out.
Sondland is also the guy who in the text messages that Ambassador Kurt Volker released
some one million years 47 days ago told Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor when Taylor was becoming alarmed that the military aid promised to Ukraine hadn’t been released that there is “no quid pro quo” before adding “call me.”
Sondland then came and testified to Congress, and then had to come back and “amend” his testimony after other people came forward with, shall we generously say “additional details” that helped jog his memory. Some of the of the things that Sondland left out of his testimony, for instance, was that there was a meeting he was in with the Ukrainians and John Bolton where he brought up the investigations, and John Bolton was like NOPE. SHUT IT DOWN. and stormed out of the meeting.
The other blockbuster revelation that Sondland had amnesia about was that he took a phone call with President DO ALL THE CRIMES at a restaurant in Ukraine where President Going Deaf was screaming in the phone so loudly, Sondland had to hold the phone away from his head, allowing his fellow State Department employees to hear what the Idiot-in-Chief was yelling. And he was yelling about the “investigations.”
The point is, Sondland was not entirely forthcoming in his previous testimony and his accounts have been contradicted a number of times since and there was a lot of speculation that he might have to plead the Fifth today.
Sondland (who is still testifying while I type this) did not plead the Fifth today.
No, Sondland has brought the matches, Pookie, and he’s going to burn this motherfucker down.
A few choice, delicious nuggets from his opening statement, which you should read in its entirety:
Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the President.
Unfortunately, President Trump was skeptical [about Ukraine]. He expressed concerns that the Ukrainian government was not serious about reform. He even mentioned that Ukraine tried to take him down in the last election. In response to our persistent efforts to change his views, President Trump directed us to “talk with Rudy.” We understood that “talk with Rudy” meant talk with Mr. Rudy Giuliani, the President’s personal lawyer.
Over the course of the next several months, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and I were in communication with Mr. Giuliani. Secretary Perry volunteered to make the initial calls with Mr. Giuliani, given his prior relationship. Ambassador Volker made several of the early calls and generally informed us of what was discussed. I first communicated with Mr. Giuliani in early August. Mr. Giuliani emphasized that the President wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing Ukraine to look into corruption issues. Mr. Giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election (including the DNC server) and Burisma as two topics of importance to the President.
We kept the leadership of the State Department and the NSC informed of our activities. That included communications with Secretary of State Pompeo, his Counselor Ulrich Brechbuehl, and Executive Secretary Lisa Kenna within the State Department; and communications with Ambassador John Bolton, Dr. Fiona Hill, Mr. Timothy Morrison, and their staff at the NSC. They knew what we were doing and why.
There was a September 1 meeting with President Zelensky in Warsaw. Unfortunately President Trump’s attendance at the Warsaw meeting was cancelled due to Hurrican Dorian. Vice President Pence attended instead. I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations. I recall mentioning that before the Zelensky meeting.
I know that members of this Committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a “quid pro quo?” As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.
Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election. Mr. Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians. Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these prerequisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements.
Within my State Department emails, there is a July 19 email that I sent to Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Perry, Brian McCormack (Perry’s Chief of Staff), Ms. Kenna, Acting Chief of Staff and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney (White House), and Mr. Mulvaney’s Senior Advisor Robert Blair. A lot of senior officials.
Here is my exact quote from that email: “I Talked to Zelensky just now… He is prepared to receive Potus’ call. Will assure him that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will ‘turn over every stone’. He would greatly appreciate a call prior to Sunday so that he can put out some media about a ‘friendly and productive call’ (no details) prior to Ukraine election on Sunday.” Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney responded: “I asked NSC to set it up for tomorrow.”
Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret. Everyone was informed via email on July 19, days before the Presidential call. As I communicated to the team, I told President Zelensky in advance that assurances to “run a fully transparent investigation” and “turn over every stone” were necessary in his call with President Trump.
And in conclusion:
Rick Perry, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, MIKE PENCE, and Donald Trump: I invite you to enjoy the underside of that bus.
We can discuss Sondland’s actual testimony more tomorrow once it’s complete, but trust that Devin Nunes’ face says it all. SOUND ON:
I had to do it. The Nunes face and expression demanded it. pic.twitter.com/ypULFzmGWQ
— Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) November 20, 2019
If I could embroider, I’d put this on a pillow and send it to the White House:
….to see. Importantly, Ambassador Sondland’s tweet, which few report, stated, “I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.” That says it ALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2019
Even Fox News is hinting that Nancy Pelosi should be measuring the Oval Office for drapes (and call the fumigator):
Chris Wallace: Sondland "took out the bus and ran it over President Trump, Vice President Pence, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney. He implicates all of them."
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) November 20, 2019
Ken Starr? Do you have something to add?
Ken Starr: "There will be articles of impeachment, I think we've known that … It's over … This is his position, we now know that the president, in fact, committed the crime of bribery … Articles of impeachment are being drawn up if they haven't already been drawn up." pic.twitter.com/82NOwczpej
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 20, 2019
Oh, and lest I forget, it was just reported this morning before the hearing that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was hoping to leave the administration before President Corruption could ruin his political career. GEE, WHY???
As for yesterday’s testimony, as I noted in yesterday’s post, Special Envoy to Ukraine and Three Amigo Kurt Volker; National Security Council Aide Tim Morrison; State Department employee detailed to Vice President Pence on Eurasia matters Jennifer Williams; and National Security Council Ukrainian expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman spent a combined 9 hours testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. It was LONG and A LOT.
For me — and I believe many Americans — the biggest takeaway from yesterday’s hearings is also probably the least substantively important. But I was absolutely APPALLED at the way the Republicans on the Committee treated a FUCKING WAR HERO who was testifying simply because he felt it was his duty to do so as an American.
Quick reminder: Lt. Col. Vindman, who happens to be of Jewish descent, immigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union with his family when he was 3-years-old. He and his two brothers all joined the military, and he was injured in 2004 in an IED attack in Iraq. He earned a Purple Heart for this. After serving his tour in Iraq, Lt. Col. received his master’s degree in Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian studies from Harvard, and he became the White House’s Ukrainian expert in the National Security Council. He testified that he was alarmed by that same meeting referenced twice above which John Bolton went all Deal Breaker on …
… and he listened into The Phone Call which also alarmed him enough that he took it to the White House lawyers.
So these GOP fuckers, because they can’t counter Lt. Col. Vindman’s testimony on the facts decided to besmirch him, instead. They suggested that Lt. Col. Vindman was some sort of dual agent for Ukraine, they attacked him for wearing his uniform to the hearing (which he is required to do, btw) and for having the gall to ask them to refer to him by his title. The most disgusting suggestion came from the Republican’s counsel who spent a very long time asking Lt. Col. Vindman if the Ukrainians offered him a job in the Ukrainian government as a defense minister. Lt. Col. Vindman confirmed that they did, that he considered it a joke, but that HE MADE SURE TO REPORT IT TO HIS SUPERIORS AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AGENCIES. BECAUSE HE’S A PATRIOT. And while this was certainly designed to suggest that Lt. Col. Vindman has some sort of dual loyalties to the United States and Ukraine based on his heritage, there is also an ancient and insidious tradition of implying that Jews harbor dual loyalties and therefore can never be true Americans. While that was not explicitly stated, it underlined the entire line of questioning.
But the questioning that literally had me SCREAMING at my television came from Utah Representative Chris Stewart. Stewart noted that he, too, is from a military family and pointed out that he was wearing his own father’s military medals. Then, he had the audacity to give Lt. Col. Vindman shit for wearing his uniform to the hearing and wondered why he demanded to be referred to by his title. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, STEWART?
Chris Stewart challenged Vindman for wearing his uniform as Stewart wore a medal his father earned…#ImpeachmentHearings pic.twitter.com/rrnqUKcvKL
— May Brian (@mabri1741) November 19, 2019
They also tried to attack Lt. Col. Vindman based on something one of the other witnesses, Tim Morrison said about him regarding having some concerns about Lt. Col. Vindman (which Vindman countered with glowing reports from other witnesses). Whatever. That’s not what’s important. What is important is that the White House’s official Twitter account tweeted this during the hearings:
Tim Morrison, Alexander Vindman's former boss, testified in his deposition that he had concerns about Vindman's judgment. pic.twitter.com/xwHOt4bsHS
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 19, 2019
FUN REMINDER: Lt. Col. Vindman is still an employee in the White House.
And I REFUSE to even dignify Dummy Jr.’s attacks on this patriot — but obviously that little turd who has never served anyone or anything other than his own overblown sense of importance tweeted a bunch of complete bullshit at Lt. Col. Vindman. Seriously, fuck you, DJTJ. You’re worthless and I can’t wait for the comeuppance the universe is clearly saving up for you.
As for the other testimony:
Kurt Volker previously testified that he didn’t push the Ukrainians for an investigation into the Bidens. So yesterday, somewhat hilariously, his defense against perjury was that he didn’t realize when people were saying “investigate Burisma” they meant “investigate the company on whose board Hunter Biden is sitting on because we want to smear Hunter’s dad Joe ahead of the election.” Somehow, the special envoy to Ukraine had been perfectly shielded from the fact that Hunter Biden was on Burisma’s board of directors.
Volker also suddenly remembered a meeting with Ukrainian officials where Gordon Sondland brought up the need for investigations that John Bolton SHUT DOWN. But, see, when he heard “investigations,” he thought it meant “into Burisma only” and also, too, he wasn’t paying much attention and he was probably talking to other people or something.
As for Tim Morrison, the Jonah Ryan of these impeachment hearings …
… he testified that while he didn’t think the President did anything wrong or illegal in The Phone Call, he was worried about its “political” implications. Because of this somewhat ridiculous reasoning that he could not adequately explain, he gave the White House lawyers the heads up that they might not want the transcript of The Phone Call to leak, which is one of the reasons they hid it on that other server. He was also asked if he took his concerns about The Phone Call to his boss John Bolton.
Jonah Morrison said that he did and Bolton told him to “TELL THE LAWYERS.” Which I also want embroidered on a pillow.
As for Jennifer Williams, she didn’t actually say much because the Republicans wanted to spend all of their time attacking a war hero, instead. But she did say what she heard on The Phone Call was “improper” and “unusual,” which very neatly sums up this entire administration, honestly.
ALRIGHT. More Sondland to come tomorrow, once we pry all these bodies out from underneath this bus.
In Other TV News
This is more music news than TV news, but our girl Lizzo led the Grammy nominations with 8. Here’s our own Bobby with her back in 2015.
The night this picture was taken (Feb. 2015), I leaned over to @natehankz during @lizzo 's performance and asked "WHY ISN'T SHE THE BIGGEST STAR IN THE WORLD?!"
Today, she leads the Grammy nominations, the first new artist to do so since Kanye West in 2004. We do not deserve. pic.twitter.com/e3EReFQh9A
— Bobby Hankinson (@bobbyhank) November 20, 2019
AGT: Champions has released the acts competing this season. PUDDLES PITY PARTY FOR THE WIN:
BravoCon was this past weekend, and I would be completely lying if I said I didn’t consider going. Here’s everything I missed.
Leah Remini is being awarded the International Documentary Association’s first Truth to Power Award for her work on Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. Good.
I’m sure I knew this somewhere in one of the rarely opened file cabinets in my brain, but Princess Diana is going to be a big part of season four of The Crown and will be played by Emma Corrin.
Noah Hawley, the creator of Fargo and Legion, is going to write and direct the next Star Trek movie.
This is just a delightful piece about our one true queen: RuPaul, where she blows your mind with the truth of the matter: we are all in drag.
“A superficial aspect of drag is mainstream. Like, the ‘Ooh, girl’ or ‘Hey girlfriend!’ or ‘Yaaas.’ That’s mainstream culture,” he says. “But true drag really will never be mainstream. Because true drag has to do with seeing that this world is an illusion, and that everything that you say you are and everything it says that you are on your driver’s license, it’s all an illusion. Most people will never in their lives understand what that is. Because they don’t have the operating system to understand that duality.
“I love that scene in The Matrix where you see the countless [rows] of people living their lives in a pod, but they’re dreaming about this other world. That is such a powerful picture. I think most people have the ability to understand that but dare not go there. Because then they would be forced to deconstruct their whole belief system and build another one. Building a new belief system and then maintaining it is a tall order. A lot of times it means you have to leave your family and friends behind. Because they’re not gonna get it.”
True story: I saw RuPaul perform here in Houston in 1986 when I was NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS years old (let’s just say older than 10 and younger than 15) at a teen club called Club NRG. It changed my life.
- Blue’s Clues and You! has been renewed at Nickelodeon.
- Love After Lockup and Life After Lockup have been renewed at We TV.
- Vikings: Vallaha, a spin-off of Vikings, is in development at Netflix.
- Private Dickersons, a couples comedy, has been bought by NBC.
- Every Other Weekend, a single moms comedy, has been bought by Fox.
- Ghosts, a British comedy, is being adapted by CBS.
- Midnighters is in development at The CW.
- Turn of the Screw is in the works at Quibi.
- The Elric Saga is being shopped around as a TV series.
- Sierra Teller Ornelas has signed an overall deal with Universal TV.
- Holly Hunter is going to co-star in the Ted Danson comedy from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock because the universe has decided to give me a very good day.
- Adam Lamberg will return as Gordo on the Lizzie McGuire reboot which is apparently very big news to Millennials. For this Gen X’er, it means nothing.
- Mira Sorvino and Rory Culkin are joining the horror series Emma on Quibi.
- Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci have been added to the cast of Yellowjackets on Showtime.
- Jonathan Banks has been set to play former National Intelligence Director James Clapper; Richard Thomas has been set to play former acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration Chuck Rosenberg; and Seann Gallagher will play Jim Rybicki in A Higher Loyalty on CBS. (Or CBS All Access — still unclear.)
- The series finale of Madam Secretary will feature guest stars members of the World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s Soccer team, Crystal Dunn, Allie Long, Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger, Cicely Tyson, Tyne Daly, and Peter Frampton.
- Denée Benton, Louisa Jacobson, Taissa Farmiga, Blake Ritson, and Simon Jones are joining The Gilded Age on HBO Max.
- Ingrid Oliver, Ruth Madeley, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Bianca Simone Mannie, Anna Chancellor, and James Fleet are joining the cast of The Watch on BBC America.
- Juan Pablo Raba is going to co-star in Coyote on Paramount.
- Chord Overstreet will guest star on The Bold Type.
Mark Your Calendars
- Better Call Saul is returning on AMC on February 23.
- A.J. and the Queen will debut on Netflix on January 10.
- V Wars will debut on Netflix on December 5.
- The SpongeBob Musical: Live on Stage! will air on Nickelodeon on December 7.
- Everything’s Gonna Be Okay will debut on Freeform on January 16.
- Steven Universe: The Future is Here will debut on Cartoon Network on Dember 7.
- Project Blue Book will return on History Channel on January 21.
- John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch will premiere on Netflix on December 24.
- The Interrogator — a new docuseries about a Houston homicide detective — will debut on ID on December 5.
- Fuller House will return for its final season on Netflix on December 6.
- Brain Games will debut on Nat Geo on January 20.
- The Explosion Show will debut on Science Channel on January 1.
- The First 48 will return on A&E on January 1.
- Alaska PD will premiere on A&E on January 1.
- 60 Days In will return on A&E on January 2.
- Robin Roberts Presents: Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story and Beyond the Headlines: The Kamiyah Mobley Story with Robin Roberts will premiere on Lifetime on January 18.
- Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer and Beyond the Headlines: The Watts Family Tragedy will premiere on Lifetime on January 25.
- Poisoned Love: The Stacey Castor Story will premiere on Lifetime on February 1.
- The Neighbor in the Window will premiere on Lifetime on February 8.
- You Can’t Take My Daughter will premiere on Lifetime on February 15.
Stumptown: Dex celebrates a tense Friendsgiving. 9 p.m., ABC
Mad About You: Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt are back for a reboot — but only if you have Spectrum for cable. Series premiere. Spectrum.com
Chicago series: Fall finales across the board. 7 p.m., NBC
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: One-hour season finale. 9 p.m., FXX
Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator: The guy who created hot yoga is a total sex monster, FYI. Netflix
- Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Dolly Parton, Kacey Musgraves
- Late Night with Seth Meyers: Adam Driver, Jonathan Groff, Hozier, Jon Theodore
- The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: John Heilemann, Alex Wagner
- The Late Late Show with James Corden: Julie Andrews, Kristen Bell
- Jimmy Kimmel Live: Garth Brooks, Mike Birbiglia
- The Daily Show: Alicia Menendez
- Conan: Dax Shepard
- Lights Out with David Spade: Michael Rapaport, Liza Treyger, Tony Rock
- Watch What Happens Live: Carson Kressley, Teresa Giudice
- A Little Late with Lily Singh: Ginnifer Goodwin, Chase Bernstein
|FOX||The Masked Singer
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