For days, Republicans have been ranting that key witnesses in the Trump impeachment hearings so far haven’t said that President Donald Trump directly told them to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. But while Trump allies keep raving about their desire to hear directly from the no-longer-relevant whistleblower, the real issue is that we need to hear from people in Trump’s inner circle: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Vice President Mike Pence, and, of course, President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
On Wednesday morning, Ambassador Gordon Sondland delivered a devastating testimony, full of revelations.
Sondland’s testimony also directly attributes key statements, actions, and knowledge of a quid pro quo between Ukraine and the Trump White House to Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, and John Bolton. But none of those men has testified before Congress. Neither has Mick Mulvaney nor Rudy Giuliani — the man who did most of the legwork on the caper that Congress is investigating. Some of these men are defying subpoenas, others haven’t even been called.
The multiple bombshells dropped by Sondland in his testimony are a reminder of the critical value of hearing from political appointees with access to the president, not just career civil servants. But Sondland himself is far from the top of the chain of command. America needs to hear from those implicated by Sondland.
Republicans repeatedly raised during the hearings is that many of the Democrats’ star witnesses — including State Department officials George Kent and Bill Taylor, and former official Marie Yovanovitch — don’t know Trump personally, didn’t work directly with Trump, and to an extent are relying on second-hand information for their understanding of what’s happening.
The best way to resolve this situation would be for the officials in question to do the right thing and agree to testify. Following that, congressional Republicans would ideally stand up for the institutional prerogatives of Congress and the interests of the American people and vocally call for them to testify.