Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and a longtime Republican, testified during the House’s impeachment hearings on November 20 and surprised some with his opening statement. Sondland asked and answered the million-dollar question himself, “Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” said Sondland, “The answer is yes.”
As written in his prepared remarks, Sondland, 62, said before the House investigators, “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.” Sondland was talking of the quid pro quo he says was discussed between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during their July 25 phone call.
On Twitter, Sondland’s name immediately started trending in tandem with an infamous political name, John Dean. Media outlets, reporters and users online, who were utterly surprised by Sondland’s testimony, who is a GOP donor and close Trump ally, referred to him as “the new John Dean,” and the “Ukrainian-gate John Dean.” New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow tweeted, “Sondland is either the John Dean of the #ImpeachmentHearing or the Tekashi 69. Depends on your age and ideology.”
Sondland Is Being Called ‘The New John Dean’ Is A Reference to the Watergate Scandal
It is widely believed that President Richard Nixon might have gotten away with Watergate if it weren’t for John Dean. In June 1973, Dean, who was counsel for Nixon when he was President, was later disbarred, and had to serve time in prison, testified before Congress that Nixon knew about the Watergate cover-up. And in his biggest reveal, Dean said that he suspected there was taped evidence, and he was right.
“There are few times in American history where the entire country is focused on one television event,” says James D. Robenalt, a lawyer and author who lectures with Dean about Watergate, told The History Channel. “One of them was the Kennedy assassination, one of them was the moon landing, one of them was 9/11, and the other one is John Dean’s testimony. It was that important and that significant.”
Concerning the Trump impeachment hearings Dean told CNN in mid-November, “What struck me today in listening to these two witnesses is they already have more than they had against Richard Nixon to impeach him. Just on all accounts because the evidence is there.”
Both Sondland & Dean Were Initially Accused of Trying to Cover Up Their Wrongdoings
Dean, at first, shredded incriminating files that implicated Nixon. But on March 21, 1973, he told Nixon there was “a cancer” on the presidency, and that he would take them all down they didn’t stop it. Because Nixon showed no intention of coming clean, he took action himself.
Sondland’s opening statement on November 20 was in stark contrast to his initial closed-door testimony. He went ahead to implicate a number of senior Trump administration officials involved in getting Ukraine to launch an investigation into political rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Sondland also discussed the reason why $400 million in military aid was withheld from Ukraine. He said, “In the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 election and Burisma, as Mr. Giuliani had demanded.”
Initially, Sondland testified that he knew of no preconditions to the assistance, and that he couldn’t recall speaking to Trump on July 26. But on November 4, the ambassador sent the congressional committees an addendum, saying that statements from other witnesses had refreshed his recollection about certain conversations from early September, and he’d be revising his testimony.