The Week in Washington: The Impeachment Hearings Are Heating Up!

Lynn Yaeger

“I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the president and explain that he was calling from Kyiv,” David Holmes, a State Department aide, recalled in his opening statement to the House impeachment probe on Friday, describing a phone call he overheard. “Ambassador Sondland…went on to state that President Zelensky ‘loves your ass.’ I then heard President Trump ask, ‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation?’ Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it,’ adding that President Zelensky will do ‘anything you ask him to.’… I then took the opportunity to ask Ambassador Sondland for his candid impression of the president’s views on Ukraine. In particular, I asked Ambassador Sondland if it was true that the president did not ‘give a shit about Ukraine.’ Ambassador Sondland agreed that the president did not ‘give a shit about Ukraine.’ I asked why not, and Ambassador Sondland stated that the president only cares about ‘big stuff.’ I noted that there was ‘big stuff’ going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia, and Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant ‘big stuff’ that benefits the president, like the ‘Biden investigation’ that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.”

This bombshell revelation—that the president could be overheard discussing, in a booming voice, his arms-for-Biden-dirt scheme over a cell phone in a restaurant in Ukraine—was really the cherry on top of the impeachment cake this week. But it was hardly the only tasty morsel. The televised hearings last Wednesday were broadcast on virtually every network—no game shows or soap operas to distract the reportedly 13 million-plus people who tuned in. The Democrats orchestrating the proceedings made the decision to replace the expression quid pro quo with the simple word bribery, on the assumption that some Americans may be intimidated by Latin, but everyone knows what a bribe is.

On Wednesday, Bill Taylor, the U.S.’ chief envoy in Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy, told the committee—and the American people—about the plot to get dirt on former vice president Joe Biden and how this whole nasty business boiled down to a quid pro quo, or a bribery attempt, or anything else you wish to call it. (One pundit on Fox News, taking the low row, maligned the two witnesses as “deep state crybabies” who “looked like people who sat by themselves at recess.”)

Wednesday was only the warm-up act. On Friday, President Trump may have committed an impeachable offense in real time. While former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was testifying in open session, recounting how she was fired and smeared for refusing to play ball with the illegal Trump/Giuliani Ukraine scheme, the president tweeted: “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.” So egregious was this attempt to intimidate a witness that, in this case, even Fox News blanched. “Should the president be tweeting at her mid-hearing? No,” Fox Business Network host Lisa Kennedy offered. “It makes him look like a big dumb baby.”

Next week eight more witnesses are scheduled to get the “big dumb baby” riled up. These include Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert for the National Security Council; Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence; Kurt Volker, the former United States special envoy to Ukraine; and Timothy Morrison, a Europe and Russia expert for the National Security Council. But all eyes—and ears—are expected to be on Gordon Sondland, the guy on that Kiev phone call who told Trump that the Ukrainian president loves his ass. Will Sondland, who has already hurriedly amended his prior testimony once, come clean and tell all? Or will he fib and risk a perjury sentence and jail time? Will he conveniently suffer from temporary amnesia? Or hedge his bets and cross his fingers for a presidential pardon? (And speaking of pardons: On Friday the president pardoned three members of the armed services who have been accused or convicted of war crimes, including murder, overruling military leaders who had sought to punish them.)

Trump buddy and dirty trickster Roger Stone is in serious need of a presidential pardon himself. The same morning that Yovanovitch was testifying and the president was tweeting, Stone was convicted in federal court of seven felonies, for obstructing the congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath, and trying to block the testimony of a witness whose account would have exposed his lies.

In other news, why were we not surprised on Tuesday when we found out that back in 2015 and 2016 White House policy adviser and rabid immigration hard-liner Stephen Miller promoted stories from white nationalist and other nefarious websites to staffers of the far-right website Breitbart?

Lastly, it seems that just being BFFs with the commander in chief is no longer sufficient to get you elected, even in a deep-red state. Though the president made three trips to Louisiana on behalf of Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone—“You got to give me a big win, please, okay,” the president pleaded from the stage in Bossier City, Louisiana, a few days ago—in yesterday’s runoff election the Democratic incumbent, John Bel Edwards, squeaked through. This is the second defeat of this kind for the president—on November 5, despite Trump’s best efforts, a Democrat won the governorship in Kentucky.

Watch Now: Vogue Videos.

Originally Appeared on Vogue