Just wasting some quiet time in the office! English is fluent, Russian not so good. Local news is so boooooring today. How can anyone pay attention to anything else lol? Open for every kind of question. Will be here until lunch break (feels like a sushi day). Also, check out my Soundcloud.
Shouldn't you be working? UGH I AM JFC I DID FOUR POSTS YESTERDAY. Sorry, didn't mean to snap like that.
OK, well, how's it going today? I don't love it when pundits use shallow television metaphors to describe the dramatic ups and downs of the Trump administration, because I think that is exactly the lens through which Trump wants his administration to be perceived. After all, Trump is a product of reality TV in particular, where there's no such thing as bad publicity, especially when your most immediate and obvious end goal is attention in the social media sphere. However, sometimes one can't help but make the connection. So as I said to someone earlier today, I feel like I've been watching a really underwhelming prestige TV show for the last week, and in episode five, there was finally a major plot twist. I was ready to dump this show like it was Friday Night Lights season two, and then they gave me Friday Night Lights season three today.
What was the best moment so far during the hearing today? Where to begin! Today is all about Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who has changed his story a few times already as he has "remembered" more details about his involvement with the alleged plot to put pressure on the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump's political opponents. It seems to me that Sondland is doing everything he can to cover his ass—especially after Trump loyalists like Roger Stone were found guilty of lying to similar Congressional hearings—and if that means throwing everyone else under the bus, SO BE IT.
As for best parts: there was the moment at the start when Devin Nunes said to Sondland, "You are here today to be smeared," seemingly unaware that Sondland was going to flip on Trump and his cronies. Nothing was more clear than this mic dropping statement: “I know that members of this Committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
There was Sondland's statement that the entire plan was orchestrated by the president: “We followed the president’s orders,” he said. “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.” (Which is really true: Trump himself has previously admitted it, although he now denies it.) There was his clear disdain for Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani: “Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the United States,” Sondland said. “We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt.” With no alternative, “we followed the president’s orders.”
But by far my favorite moment? When there was a brief break after Democrats' questioned Sondland and this happened:
Is there a Curb Your Enthusiasm-style version of that moment? Of course there is.
Is it just me, or does Devin Nunes sweat an extraordinary amount? IDK, let's keep this classy guys. There's no need to make fun of any person's appearance, or anyone's glandular issues, no matter what side of the aisle they're on.
But Devin Nunes is really dumb, right? OMG, absolutely the dumbest. This is of course just my opinion, I do not represent Gothamist or anyone else. But everybody is talking about it.
Why do people keep bringing up a drug deal? Who are the "three amigos?" And why doesn't Steve Martin make movies anymore? All the way back on July 10th, then-national security advisor John Bolton told Fiona Hill, who served as the National Security Council's senior director for Europe and Russia, to tell White House lawyers, “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up.” Even back then, he wanted no part in what he saw as the White House scheme to pressure Ukraine. (Why Nunes would bring this up again when it makes everything look even more shady makes no sense, except that Nunes is an idiot and erroneously credited the Democrats with the phrase.) "Three amigos" is a term that's been used to describe Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker (who hates the phrase), in reference to their dealings with Ukraine. And Steve Martin has only appeared in two films over the last decade—he told the Toronto Sun earlier this year that he has mostly retired from acting. "I’m not actively pursuing movies and they don’t actively pursue me," he said. But he is still plenty active with other projects, whether it's his fiction, touring stage shows with Martin Short, or his musical career.
Will A$AP Rocky testify? While talking about the July 26th call with Trump, Sondland mentioned the rapper, just as we all expected. "I think we primarily discussed A$AP Rocky," he said, thereby ensuring that the rapper will forever be enshrined in the Congressional record of these impeachment hearings. Sondland was referencing when Rocky was arrested in Sweden over the summer for assault, and Trump put pressure on the country (is it just me or is that becoming a recurring theme of this administration, lol) over the trial, because his good friends Kanye West & Kim Kardashian West asked him to. WHAT DID A$AP KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT?
Once and for all: is Kiev pronounced KEY-ev or KEEV? If you asked me last week, I would have said the former. Then multiple government officials pronounced it like the latter over the first three days of the public hearings. But today, Sondland has used the former pronunciation again. Apparently, neither is quite right. The proper Ukrainian pronunciation is: KEE-YIV.
Okay, but does this have anything to do with Baby Yoda? It's important that we establish that Baby Yoda is not actually the Yoda; we don't know the name of Yoda's species (yet), so technically the character is referred within the show as "The Child." (Note: although he is 50 years old, he is a baby.) But I think we can all agree that "The Child" is not a very satisfying name for such a ridiculously adorable creature—Baby Yoda feels right. There is something deeply sad about people who cannot embrace the joy he has brought to the country in this incredibly trying time. But the more interesting question, to me, is whether this is Yoda's offspring. Did Yoda get down? Did Yoda get down with...Yaddle? Does that mean that Baby Yoda's real name could be Yodel? Wait, maybe we should call him that.
Has Trump responded to all this yet? He hasn't commented on Baby Yoda, as far as I know. But he was definitely watching Sondland's testimony this morning, because he very briefly made a statement on the White House lawn, reading off of a handwritten note that looks strikingly like something the killer from the 2017 film The Snowman would have written (it's really uncanny how similar their handwriting is): "I WANT NOTHING. I WANT NOTHING. I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO." He added, “That means it’s all over...This is the final word from the president of the U.S. I want nothing.”
He also tried to distance himself from Sondland, someone who donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration party before Trump appointed him to his current position. “I don’t know him very well," Trump said of Sondland. "I have not spoken to him much. This is not a man I know well. He seems like a nice guy though." (Personally, Sondland doesn't seem like a nice guy to me, but what do I know, I've never stolen a piece of gum, let alone attempted any quid pro quos.)
Note: Sondland characterized his relationship with Trump as quite friendly during his testimony. “I’ve had a lot of conversations with the president about completely unrelated matters that have nothing to do with Ukraine,” he said. He added that their conversations included, “a lot of four-letter words.”
But what does Trump want?
Can you enhance that for us?
Is there by chance any video of that moment that was tweeted out by the president himself despite the fact that he sounds like he's yelling at his grandkids to turn up the TV?
Can we go back to the TV stuff, can you somehow connect this with Succession?
Besides Trump, how are Republicans handling all this? Nunes is talking in vague circles, mostly complaining about the whistleblower, and handing over most of his time to GOP attorney Steve Castor. Mike Pompeo reportedly is planning on resigning first chance he gets (good timing on that report!), and Rudy Giuliani is making and deleting tweets that distance himself from Sondland faster than you can say "LIFELOCK."
Are we done here? Or is this bullshit?