Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) got into a heated exchange with Republican donor-turned-ambassador Gordon Sondland at Wednesday’s impeachment hearing when Sondland repeatedly refused to say who stood to gain from investigations into President Donald Trump’s political rivals.
“Let me ask you something. Who would have benefited from an investigation of the president’s political opponents?” Maloney asked Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union who is under scrutiny for his role in shaping Trump’s Ukraine policy.
The question was in reference to a call at the center of the impeachment inquiry in which Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his political rival, while discussing U.S. aid to Ukraine.
Sondland dodged Maloney’s questions, saying, “I don’t want to characterize who would have and who would not have.”
Maloney, growing visibly frustrated, asked him five more times to answer him until Sondland said: “I assume President Trump would benefit.”
“There we have it,” Maloney said. “See, didn’t hurt a bit, did it?”
Sondland’s testimony Wednesday has been largely damning to Trump, with Sondland admitting that the primary focus for Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani was to leverage aid to Ukraine in order to get the country to investigate Biden, whose son once worked for the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, along with other conspiracy theories.
“Everyone was in the loop. There were no secrets,” Sondland said of Trump’s pressure on Zelensky.
Trump, meanwhile, attempted to characterize Sondland’s testimony as a positive, claiming he had been vindicated and that the impeachment hearings should come to a close.
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