FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast: Sondland Ties Trump, Top Officials To Quid Pro Quo

The FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast team reacts to Gordon Sondland’s testimony on the fourth day of public impeachment hearings.
30:36 | 11/21/19

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Transcript for FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast: Sondland Ties Trump, Top Officials To Quid Pro Quo
Hello and welcome to the fight dirty politics podcast I'm deal injury and we are in the middle of the fourth day of public impeachment hearings. We've just finished hearing US ambassador to the European Union Gordon solemn and take questions from the ranking members of the intelligence committee and their wars. Someone is the first witness we've heard from who had direct contact with president try and he testified that there was a quid pro quo involving a White House visit by the Ukrainian president. And investigations into Trump's political rivals. He also testified that he came to believe there was a quid pro quo involving military aid as well. So we're gonna get into you that other. And here we need to do that our senior director climb on the bureaucratic tape Galen back out it back added we live another -- we live Israel actually risen it's important. In fact my dad his rhetoric it's and all Zaheer Abbas is managing editor Mike account Harry and very toughness. It is wolf we've been living in itself a lot. I'm glad body heat it. And also joining us is senior writer and legal reporter a million times and about how the car and Annette. Good to have you so just to stipulate here the other lawmakers on the intelligence committee are questioning the ambassador as we speak. But we've learned a lot so far most of the facts of the day I think. Have been dissected by both sides sauropod casting now so that we don't run up against tonight's debate and also if anything happens. During those lawmaker questions that we need to update you on we will certainly do that later. But let's get into the meat of all of this up until now we've heard from people who either. On the one hand listen to trumps call with the president of Ukraine or hide secondhand knowledge of Trump's wishes with reports. This is the first time we're hearing from somebody with direct contact so familiar what did Solomon clarify about trumps policy toward Ukraine. That the other witnesses haven't been able to. A somber end it was the person who is actually SC SC took great claims declare I had a lot of conversations with trapped about many things including these investigations. I and Allen was very clear in his testimony that out of it was obvious to him and the other people who were Ian. This channel of communication around me Ukraine investigations. That this was coming. From triumph that trump wanted to these investigations. This wasn't as Giuliani. Spare pushing for investigations and it wasn't clear how trump was involved. This ways a directive from track and so that was that was big and that's very clear from lat silence and. And how. Do we don't like what was the evidence that he provided that these were actually tried switches because I think Republicans were kind of going act. Ask him about you know how do you know what you know you came to these conclusions. Where is the actual connection where trump said directly acts or why. Well someone tells us the trump said basically do liberty sets right. The exact quote it is talked to talk dirty witch which then Micah brings up the exact quoted because. The Iowa the GOP counsel then kind of had this I would say odds line of questioning. That was kind of about. I do know how to describe it. Whether or not trump was actually directing him to talk to Giuliani regardless. Simon said trump told him talk to Giuliani on all matters relating to Ukraine. Ands. Got very much the impression from Giuliani that. Military aid was contingent on. These investigations. Happening. I think it's an interest in people have been bringing this up is. The idea that yes someone says that he never necessarily heard it for despite Taylor's testimony he never. Heard it directly from trump that he needs do these investigations decent very much the understanding was there. And a lot of people bring in bringing up Michael Collins congressional testimony from from months ago where he said chump is very sappy about. Always kind of placing an intermediary. Between himself and that potential. Legal gray area in this case the F but cool gray area. Abuse of power gray area so. That's I think it was interesting about the sun Oakland. Testimony is that he's basic is that the you know Republicans trying to say Willie never heard it from trump their fortune exist. We know from pre from Collins testimony it comes to be believed and I Lincoln's point. People mostly did believe them. That this is kind of a pattern of practice return. So it doesn't seem like this is as close as we're going to gat Ian these hearings to. The wishes of president trump someone talking about what he understood through Giuliani. And like is that enough basically. With so let let me take the first question first. I think it is probably as close as we're Pennington on lasts and it's not planned right now mimic correct me if I'm wrong but I must Giuliani testified unless. Mold they need testifies must Pompeo testifies. And I think this is as close as it. And that's not worth it right the difference here look. It's beyond a shadow of doubt by now that. US officials. Were acting to extract. A quid pro quo from Ukraine right. On a White House meeting. Even to some extent on a White House call. And non I'm military that's beyond doubt that there's there's testimony to that a fact there are contempt contemporaneous. Text messages and emails that preferred of that right. In exchange for an announced investigation into. Or his mother tries and now elections by then what's ultimately add it is signed someone is dead the nearest to Trump's. Direct orbit. But anyone who has testified so far time Republicans and indicates that. Even he's not that direct and so he's not meeting with trump every day for example what is true. But some in sort of just brings all of that much closer to to Trump's torts that basically happened. Is it enough you know probably not right now I'm I think there's still enough wiggle room in there for. GOP partisans. And and trump defenders to. You know sort of rationalized standing by trot which is sort of how Parsons the parks. Yeah Amelio at what did you make. How close that's got to the president. I actually thought the sort of the most. Interesting new information to come out its test me. Had to do you read the way he implicated all of these other high level people. In that administration. Is talking about Pompeo knowing what was happening Bolton is happening. Basically and in the seem to be in a lot of Tomlin being like. Well. All of these people did and nobody told I was doing anything wrong I was just acting at eight everybody knew about it so wise tactic that the problem here it anchors and a sense of like. Mrs. Scotland's trying to say. I act right here. I am. By you know is something it hadn't been as clear his previous test me you know what we found out about it the quicker violent. Connections to try that wasn't that was new based on what you testified before obvious that certain power here it out. In an openness adding. That as. You know all of those people are coming happen it would seemingly Pompeo was sort of involved at various points that hadn't been clear before obviously. Bolton it was eons and it these meetings. Objected according to witnesses but then. There is this part and silent opening statement he said it opens office contacted him. To get to. August. I'm and to all as well he's neighbor coming up I was thinking first of all. It's really striking the people who aren't. Crying. I'm Ian could lead to. It is potentially change the calculus. For salmon meet again I think it's unlikely very likely that these people. Duke and test. And why has an unlikely exactly. Some might because I'm they've refused. And the White House has said don't testify. And for the most part you know the Democrats to challenge that in court that would take time Democrats basically sat and act game. At least our time ten fight it out in court and make the case. This week have. I am there has asserted. We hear a small group of witnesses alt national meany blitzer said well I will testify. If they get a subpoena and court tells me I have to comply with the subpoena. Ask and so if the Democrats are gonna try to force the issue and it's less likely that any of that is actually play out quarry and ultimately be forced to testify and Maldini so officers act that act. And house at he's he's to cooperate with the White House and testify but it's interesting that lake is to answered it. At least publicly suggest. A little bit more that they might be willing to testify and so again. You know today was a reminder I think yes I think. My eyes ready silent as the closest we're gonna get trapped but the Democrats have so far end. It's not you know probably isn't enough to it to you substantially. Change public opinion on this weekend. The impact about these hearings cumulative we see house. Tuesday. I am but it was just a reminder how many other people there are could have a test. Here. Yet totally agree and actually you've sort of wonder. Some land. Bringing in Pompeii Alamo mania and ball and will change there I think you made this point Amelio will change and our calculus. With regards to whether they testify or not right. Before maybe they thought they could kind of steer clear of all that's an out there. There are kind of involved either way I'm public opinion. I'll be really curious to see where the post over the next couple weeks today more than any other day I think. Will be Cobb bird by the media in a in very clear cut terms. In terms of like the narrative right Adobe. This was really damning for trop. You know the bottom third on CNN let's like. Liz you know trump implicated ending in quid pro quo. So if anything's gonna move public opinion I would think it would be something like this app cents. After some yet it's you I mean you know. Last fans talking this on you hadn't. Watched hearings all day but he was excellence what was a take away yeah. And I was come on it's sort of like the vin and thing rain and sure enough you know. The recap things are all about vin ministers emotional testimony in the you know it was all of the democratic Democrats patriotic. You know soldier witness right. Today's takeaways are all facts base strained right they're all there it's not the emotional. And impressions although obviously and Manhattan had fact these tests money to give. But the sound Glenn testimony because he's the person at the center of all this because he's the person. Saying you know having these phone calls saying the ukrainians love your axle do anything for you he you know he's the person who's very much. At the center the solid and and frankly. When you're watching when you're watching him testify he seems real comfortable doing congressional testimony seemed like use having fun knees he's quite demoted face. I got to declare you call that I think what I'm talking about the upcoming testimony on the podcast awhile ago you're like he's a hotel yea who disguised as industry sacks and oh yeah. So get ready for some dust Americans support sigh island just kind of you know and he's obviously trying to. As saying implicate other people he kept on saying ever of his Luke didn't have room was informed. Parents you know of patsy and took the time to issue a statement saying it's Tomlin made up conversations between the two of them. So this is the testimony at trump came out and gave a press conference right there and answered impromptu press conference. So silence testimony is the one that is eliciting. Solid responses from d.s from the president from the vice president and that's again I think that that's. That's really talent. Mike you said that coming out of today a lot of the media has to be covering this as kind of a blockbuster hearing today there was a quid pro quo etc. of course. If you look at. Fox News the thing that's leading is that trump said it's all over for impeachment inquiry after someone testimony and I think. You could see in the hearing that the thing that the Republicans were latching on Q. Is that Scotland acknowledges. That he came to the understanding that military aid was involved in the quid pro quo. Without ever being pulled back and his quote was. I tried diligently to ask why the need was suspended but he never received a clear answer still haven't to this debt. In the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of it. I leader came to believe that the resumption of security it would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the sixteen election. And charisma as mr. Giuliani had to make it. So that brings us back to he came to that conclusion. I mean is now the bucket passed to Giuliani right and so so. If Giuliani doesn't testify you still haven't like. Reached trump allow me to read a tweet that Rudy Giuliani treated out about it at 1:25 PM today. He says I came into this at level Gore's request signed Lin is speculating based on very little contact. I never met him and had very few calls with him mostly though Volcker. Volcker testified I answered their questions and described him as my opinions not demands IE no quid pro quite so Giuliani seems to be trying to say. That. No this wasn't a demand no this was an an order for the president I was just saying what I thought. So what we see there is basically Solomon as passing the buck to Giuliani and Giuliani is passing attack credits pocketed this thing is. I thought you kinda have to. I do think that wiggle room will be enough to tick kind of maintain the pace right. But it just doesn't really pass the smell test that the camp attractive. You gotta look at this thing homeless thickly you're telling mean that. Distant higher section end of the US federal government. Is working. To. Extract things from Ukraine right. On a lark like what's that what's or there are they just. They misinterpreted. What trotman trump meant when he said talked to Rudy and what really meant when they then talk to him. It kind of just doesn't make any sense it especially doesn't make any sense when paired with. The call summary. From the White House that we have. Which sort of perfectly matches. The the Ukraine pressure campaign asked described by this testament. Right. I think I'll give you an example some plan. Remember they're the these text messages we got a couple weeks ago between Simon and Taylor and Taylor's like annum. Are we really. Gun. Condition military aid to Ukraine. On these investigations of that play upon it. And Som Lan. Has a conversation with trop and response in this memory. Quote but there's no quid pro exactly. Says Solomon testified today that. In his conversation with trump and I am trump said there was no quid pro quo. Adam I don't want. I don't want anything from Ukraine the Lansky the president Ukraine should just do witty campaigned on do the right thing right. That and actually hurt them and that's like pretty good testament. The thing standouts on the and then sends an email. Afterwards. Where they're still demanding the investigations. Right. So you could I guess look at having concluded maybe their freelancing maybe. Maybe trump was sent. Trump was totally innocent man and did or it's what Claire said you know it's it's it's. Wink wink nudge nudge everybody knows well and on Iran optimists addicts. Listen and to that point someone. Tries to convince the hearing rooms that. I don't know what Taylor's talking about that this was the baton. You know in informal. Like. Kind of an appropriate channel of foreign policy how could you say that win. The secretary of state and you know but and all these important people were looped into this right so he is kind of making. He's trying to bolster that. One question that comes up is you know if trump wants to pursue this argument that we heard from Republicans. The key was still removed from this policy of a quid pro quo. Is there a world in which the GOP the track White House decides to offer up Giuliani Pompeo and Solomon as sort of S political sacrifice and all of this and move on from there. Sure Giuliani is the blood sacrifice I think is what I've if who take to get what you think America. Well. I think yeah silence definitely ways sort of anticipating this in his testimony and trying to threw Giuliani under the past at every point he could it. I will. Add though there's been reporting that Giuliani is under investigation by federal prosecutors. And of course he has associates that he was working in Ukraine. Hat party in charge. And so I think that sort of adds if it's true that he's under investigation act and it absolutely fair risk and complexity here for. The term administration potentially or for tramp because you know if he is being investigated. And there were east advertising conversation and possible wrongdoing. It you don't want Giuliani. Cooperating. With prosecutors and district of work tax rates so. I'm an Olympic also like what we saw today from Salman was like that was very much a guy who was by eating. Attempts are preemptively fighting attempts to throw him under the basket he was saying you know look no. This wasn't on me this was on all of these other pilot will people who were watching it's happening and couldn't inner mean and didn't. So I think late in theory this idea ugly yes we'll offer sacrifice of these people who were closely involved and then. Wash your hands at this and move on you know it's cancer community theory I think that is given it much harder to execute in practice. It comes over on towns it really does because because they could flip on am but what's really interesting you know. Republicans. Did during today's hearing variously treated some land as a hostile witness then sometimes a friendly witness and sometimes I there was sort of it was on between and there were hints actually. And the GOP lawyers. Question dance of them. Potentially threaten Rudy under the bus I'm in what sense what Giuliani weeded actually claim I've read this out but Republican lawyer doesn't. Doesn't do his own re search him preparation. And is instead picking up Democrat lies shame allow me to inform them I have no financial interest in Ukraine. None exclamation point. I would appreciate his apology. I think that Giuliani preparing. To be be be thrown under the bus and starting his pending defense already exactly right it look like. I don't know I've I keep comeback this but this would all seem very different command ambulance that all the evidence sort of points in one direction. The call summary is what I keep coming back to you because it's it's. Think about how much we talk and how much of these hearings have been about okay. This doesn't include firsthand knowledge of the commerce and drop right. But then we have to summary of trump himself. Like doing this. So I don't know if that's an equipment yeah lets you know it's a failure of eventually the question becomes due date for trump under the bustling yet. Which is old kind of some gratitude Trump's political act I gassed and out and if the call hadn't come out and this entire time it was what let's get to the bottom of this call an out route and it came out now and all of a sudden you see the transcript we saw the very beginning of all of this. Then it becomes mean that time that the transcript was released but you know right up. Somewhat a transcript was released the comic there was this really damning but it had come out now the political impact might be. Well but the pits are correct the political impact was huge at the time you know it never versed opinion about impeachment. Like overnight. But yeah. I mean I'm kind of inches a deceit. Needed Democrat should be talking. Rate the idea of the call summer yet well here here's why I hear is the debt and I'm. A position stock in this kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place because I think. Part of the reason they don't is that dynamic that Galen is getting which is just a way kind of politics and public opinion works. You need narrative with a beginning middle on then you need to build to something it's very very hard. Like what what where they gonna do you know call summary comes out and then they're like a tie vote to impeach tomorrow. You know it just it wouldn't have gone over well. So I think on the one hand they're trying tell a story and built a narrative. Yet at the same time maintaining as you say actually the call summary is sort of all week. But I know I understand the need to build a store but what I'm saying is they don't say that really all that much about the McCall son anymore but seems to have slipped. Down the list of things in part because they're so many of details in moving parts and perhaps that's. I think the Democrats are nasty and bad position at all but. But that that they have. Made it a complicated story now and perhaps. You know for their their narrative case would do well to sort of emphasized. Everything you need to knows in this call kind of. And my Huntsman actually do that you know Democrats will prepare the report after all these hearings right that would anger here Judiciary Committee. My own right to commerce summary will then be placed on top of the report's argument. As is like what we're getting from Democrats right now it's like they're laying out all the evidence trying to create they're doing public and there aren't quite. After hearing that in theory it. And then there's going to be this report offers. And you know that started acting like meaty worth thinking about execute something like as special counsel report because there wasn't one that those. In this investigation that lays out everything together and is that near. I'm and other challenge with a call summary and so it'll be interesting to see how Democrats packets on its together is it. Blake people pretty much agree that tram. Was asking. Eight you'd the president of Ukraine to investigate the titans like meat we have this poll that came out on. Yesterday we did it says. And it showed that and think something like 77% of Americans agree it means that asking that's UC calls. And I think that that fit the trickier it is sort of connecting it to late from leveraging. Things ukrainians on it but the White House meeting the need. Things were very valuable to act against that request. And so you know an accident I definitely not disputing the call summaries real important links trumped all of this when it's pretty hard to. To argue against. But that peace is kind of missing from pan and I'm so that's where someone watkins' testimony. Testimony hearing. Eats more hopefully this story. I think there is open to something that we discussed yesterday on the podcast Clair which is. There's a lot of work that needs to be done between getting the American public to think that what president trumped it is wrong and getting them to think that he should be impeached. Overwhelming that we seem polls that Americans think president trump did something wrong and so from where we are today to whatever report they put forth. To try to ultimately convince the American public that it requires removal I guess is where all what we're talking about in this conversations. The and I you know it's not about Islam the lap block I raise this question. Again. The idea of perhaps all the facts are there but how good is the story telling mannered of the convincing. Of the public. The idea that maybe they should be talking about bribery and quid pro quo right using words that I must thank the lake. Latin. Hadn't been apparent lack flatly Gillis stick. And is an interesting line right you know the fact the policy has rotted up before suggests that there certainly. Considering it though their perhaps its tentative who knows. That yeah they're still certainly work to be done people do take seriously the idea of you'll see a split in the polling between people. A majority people say yes we should open we should we should open up these inquiries. But not as many say yes he should be removed from office I think people do take that idea is serious and disruptive it's never happened before. Although Ken Starr seems to be on board with. Dick and what. Which did what were your things he's been on fox all throughout that saying this was a quid pro quote this is not good has a bad day for the president Ken Starr basically said well maybe they'll be a senate trial and convict him. Which. I think he can start was looking its intense minutes but. Magical minutes and you can nowhere to Denton in and. I mean to wrap up things for today you don't Solomon. I originally gave his deposition then he had to. Correct it and bolt the democratic and Republican lawyer were pushing Solomon quite hard at certain points about. Whether or not the things you were saying he was saying look credible. On the I mean Emilia. How much of a challenge does not pose to everything we heard today it is Solomon a credible witness after kind of just completely forgetting that there was equipped for a while and then magically remembering that are ones after hearing everybody else testify. So some defense for all of this was basically it at lake. He doesn't take notes he's are definitely on the fly kinda guy. And he wasn't allowed to review all these materials that he wanted to review called. The White House help well that pack. And so he's. See you updated his testimony. After hearing from other witnesses and he now having his memory jogged out these other beings. And you know I mean acts in this site are that's that's an argument that sort of on lake reinforces the Democrats claim that the White House holding back allotment in for and that would be useful. End at the age. Of her. By happen. And meet their side was. Really treating him only as a credible witness. I mean both Republicans and Democrats were kind of saying. You know at various points like you've said this he said that Michael you know I mean not not quite as bluntly it's like why should we believe you. I mean I think that does meet him seem somewhat unreliable. I am by you know the fact also it. This story he's telling ink it's not settle the broader narrative is not so wildly differing. Interns what other witnesses were saying I think you were probably can be hearing more from Republicans about cookies ample and Democrats going forward. But the good but he is. He is some bottom line up all right Adam. And Giuliani to even if he doesn't testified Giuliani's is enough of character shall we say. That. It just sort of makes all this a little mass here. Either side could discredit him it yet they could yet they could try and sort sentiment like. It's not it's not super hard to imagine. Giuliani freelance and now it's hard to imagine impeachment thing when Mike bolt mania I'll pay. Som and then Balkans and all these people are. Her lieutenant talking about it all time. But you know to cast the characters are it. Let's leave it there I think declared things can't thank you Micah. Thank you thank you Emilia. It my name is due to injury Tony challenge is in the control room are intern is Jake are low you can get it touched by emailing us at pod cast at 530 dot com. You can Alter of course greeted us with questions or comments. If you're a fan of the show rivas are rated. War tells them on about a actually do tells us anyway thanks for listening analyst. Our.

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