Witness intimidation goes both ways.
When President Donald Trump live-tweeted during former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee last week, Democrats and their media allies were outraged at what they called an attempt by the White House to “intimidate” a witness.
But as an exchange showed Wednesday between U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Rep. Mike Conaway, Trump’s thuggish opponents on the left are capable of engaging in very real intimidation tactics that are a lot more threatening than a Twitter post.
In fact, Sondland said hotels he owns in the liberal hotbed of Portland, Oregon, had been targeted by street protests and were even the subject of a boycott call by a Democratic congressman who represents Portland.
The parts of Sondland’s testimony that were viewed as damaging to Trump were given “bombshell” treatment in the media’s coverage of the hearings. News about how his businesses had been threatened didn’t get nearly the same attention.
Conaway addressed the issue at the beginning of his questioning with the ambassador, noting that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff had made a point at every hearing to make sure viewers knew he would not stand for witness intimidation. (Schiff apparently loves acting tough on TV.)
“The chairman also announces at every hearing that he will not tolerate, and I agree with him, any witness intimidation or any threats or any issues of trying to bully a witness,” Conaway said.
“Ambassador Sondland, have you, your family or your businesses received any threats, or reprisals, or attempts to harm you in any way?”
“Many,” Sondland answered. “We have countless emails apparently to my wife. Our properties are being picketed and boycotted.”
Sondland is the founder of Provenance Hotels, which owns or manages 14 hotels in the United States, including six in Portland.
Among those demanding Sondland’s businesses be targeted were Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Portland. In October, OregonLive reported that Blumenauer called for a boycott of Sondland’s hotels because the ambassador had refused to testify under orders from the White House.
“Nobody is above the law. Mr. Sondland and the entire Trump administration need to be reminded of that,” Blumenauer said then.
In Portland this week, protesters decided to make that clear.
— Corry Young (@photocorry) November 20, 2019
It’s important to remember that on Sept. 9, Sondland wrote a text to Bill Taylor, the chief U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, specifically denying there was any “quid pro quo” intended by the Trump administration in regard to military aide to Ukraine and an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions,” Sondland wrote. “The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”
Yet in mid-October, amid pressure from left-wing activists targeting his businesses, Sondland changed his story.
In testimony given behind closed doors on Oct. 17 but made public Nov. 4, according to the New York Post, Sondland said there was indeed an understanding of a quid pro quo.
It could all be on the up and up, of course. Sondland might have truly had a refreshed memory and a change of heart.
The news stories about a congressman actually calling for a boycott of businesses in his own city for political purposes, and protesters in the street don’t necessarily prove that they helped Sondland’s memory improve — in a way that benefited the liberal narrative, of course.
Social media sabotage, like insulting reviews of Sondland’s hotels posted to the website Yelp, might not have had any effect on the hotels’ business, or on Sondland’s memory.
But to a mind of reasonable intelligence, it looks like it could be more than a coincidence.
And on social media, some people went a lot further.
— EvolKame (@EvolKame) November 21, 2019
This is called DEMOCRATS tampering with a witness. Left Protests at Gordan Sondland Hotels, Bullies Family Members with Threats https://t.co/G5843V11wt
— TIMENOUT (@TIMENOUT) November 20, 2019
— David Chaloupka (@Twitchaloupka) November 21, 2019
Again, there’s no way at this point to determine which version of Sondland’s testimony he actually believes — much less which one is true.
But it’s clear that the man’s businesses and family are facing enormous pressure from left-wing protesters desperate to do anything to damage Donald Trump.
And any way you cut it, thugs in the street are a lot more intimidating than a presidential tweet.
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