Brush up on your Latin; specifically, 'quid pro quo'
They called him the "Gordon problem" — and now he's a giant problem for President Donald Trump.
Gordon Sondland dropped a bomb into the impeachment inquiry when he said Trump personally directed the improper plan to force Ukraine to open investigations into Democratic rival Joe Biden and a discredited conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.
The Trump megadonor-turned-ambassador to the European Union told congressional impeachment investigators that Trump ordered him to operate under the direction of presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who insisted that Ukraine would not get any support from the U.S. unless it agreed to launch the investigations.
Sondland also implicated the entire senior Trump team in the improper actions, from Vice President Mike Pence on down, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
"Everyone was in the loop," Sondland said in his opening statement.
Other witnesses insist they had little if any direct contact with Trump. Sondland has already testified that he was Trump's point man on bullying Ukraine in to getting valuable political dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
Sondland spoke to Trump before passing on the message that there was "no quid pro quo" — even though there was.
He also created a controversy at a meeting with top Ukrainian officials and American officials when he directly brought up investigations of the gas company that Hunter Biden sat on the board of and the crackpot theory that Ukraine and not Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
And of course, Sondland took a call from Trump on his cell phone in a crowded Kyiv restaurant the day after Trump's own infamous call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Sondland never mentioned that explosive call at his earlier closed-door testimony and he didn't mention his comments afterward that Trump only cared about politically benefits for himself, not Ukraine.
SONDLAND THROWS RUDY GIULIANI UNDER THE BUS
When it comes to Rudy Giuliani, Sondland left little room for doubt.
He worked with Rudy because Trump told him to do so.
"I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States," Sondland said in his opening statement.
"We did not want to work with him," Sondland said. "We played the hand we were dealt."
"We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the President's orders," Sondland added.
Trump often told aides to "talk to Rudy" about Ukraine, apparently because he trusted his personal lawyer to spearhead his effort to force Ukraine to launch the investigations into Democrats that he wanted.
Career diplomats bristled at the effort because Giuliani was working with rogue elements in Ukraine who were seeking to leverage the effort for their own political or financial benefit.
YES, IT WAS A 'QUID PRO QUO' AFTER ALL
Sondland entered the impeachment drama as Mr. "No Quid Pro Quo."
Now he's telling a very, very different story.
The onetime Trump loyalist once parroted Trump's claim that there was no improper demands that Ukraine launch investigations in order to get a much needed meeting with Trump and a restoration of suspended defense aid.
On Wednesday, he told the impeachment inquiry that there was indeed a "quid pro quo," a statement that significantly bolsters the case that Trump committed an impeachable offence.
"Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma," said Sondland, referring to the bogus probes into Democrats. "Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the President."
YUP, THAT WAS TRUMP ON THE CELL PHONE IN KYIV
One of the most explosive revelations of the impeachment inquiry so far was the phone call from Trump that Sondland took in an open-air Ukraine restaurant.
Sondland confirmed that detail, and then some.
He admitted that Trump spoke so loudly that anyone in the cafe could hear him — and there might have been a couple of F-bombs.
"It is true that the President speaks loudly at times," Sondland said. "It is true that the President likes to use colorful language."
The call took place the day after Trump told Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that he needed him to do a "favor" by launching the probe. And Sondland said he was not surprised to hear Trump ask for an update on the investigations.
"Actually, I would have been more surprised if President Trump had not mentioned investigations, particularly given what we were hearing from Mr. Giuliani about the President's concerns," he said.
David Holmes, a diplomat at the U.S. embassy, testified that Sondland dismissed the possibility that Trump was considering Ukraine's best interests — or that of America, for that matter.
"He only cares about the big things" that benefit him, Sondland told Holmes.
MIKE POMPEO IN THE CROSSHAIRS
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo somehow forgot to mention that he was listening in on Trump's infamous July 25 call to Zelenskiy.
And it now seems like he fudged the fact that he was aware of the shadow diplomatic effort to bully Ukraine every step of the way.
Gordon Sondland told the impeachment inquiry that Pompeo was on board with the plan by Giuliani to leverage defense aid and the promise of a White House meeting to force Ukraine to
"We kept the leadership of the State Department and the NSC informed of our activities," he said. "They knew what we were doing and why."
Sondland was basically confirming the revelations in a New York Times story that Pompeo rubber-stamped key pillars of Sondland's backdoor diplomatic effort.