The public hearings in the impeachment inquiry have been quite devastating for Donald Trump, but Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony was especially brutal. As former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara explained, Sondland has effectively destroyed every White House defense: "Trump didn't care about Ukraine; there was a quid pro quo; Trump & Rudy demanded the announcement of investigations; everyone was in the loop; Ukraine knew about the linkage; all was directed by Trump."
It's against this backdrop that the president -- you guessed it -- claimed exoneration.
President Donald Trump claimed that testimony E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland gave in the House impeachment inquiry, exonerated him, saying that "it's all over."Addressing reporters as Sondland publicly testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee, Trump recounted a conversation he had with the ambassador and claimed that, "I just noticed one thing and I would say that means it's all over."
The Republican echoed this on Twitter, declaring, "Impeachment Witch Hunt is now OVER!" adding, "This Witch Hunt must end NOW."
Obviously, no one could seriously believe this, but what I find amazing is the larger pattern: the boy who cried wolf has been replaced with the president who cried exoneration.
As regular readers may recall, this began in earnest in March 2018, when Trump claimed that the House Intelligence Committee had completely exonerated him in the Russia scandal. That wasn’t true.
Trump then said the Justice Department inspector general’s office had “totally” exonerated him in the Russia scandal. That was both wrong and kind of bonkers.
He then claimed that the Senate Intelligence Committee had also exonerated him in the Russia scandal. That also wasn’t true.
After Michael Cohen’s public congressional testimony, Trump said his former fixer exonerated him. In reality, what Cohen testified was that he didn’t have any direct evidence of cooperation between Russian operatives and the Trump campaign, though Cohen added that he believes Trump is “capable” of having committed the crime.
The president convinced himself that Judge T.S. Ellis exonerated him, which did not happen. Soon after, he suggested Judge Amy Berman Jackson had done the same thing, and that wasn't true, either.
Trump later said the Mueller Report “totally” exonerated him, despite the special counsel literally and explicitly saying the report “does not exonerate” the president.
Obviously, it's impossible to see Sondland's sworn testimony as being good for the White House, but with a track record like Trump's, he shouldn't be disappointed when no one believes him.