Schiff Witness Sondland Is Believed To Have Let Russians Listen In on Trump Call by Ignoring His Training


The establishment media’s ability to either ignore huge news or focus on the least important part of a huge story never ceases to amaze.

On Thursday, reporting on a July 26 call placed from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland to President Donald Trump, The Associated Press waited 13 paragraphs to drop the real bombshell portion of the story — that Sondland called Trump from a Ukraine cafe using an apparently unsecure cellphone.

That doesn’t sound like much of a bombshell — at first.

But both the AP and The Washington Post noted in their coverage that placing a sensitive call, in public, in Ukraine almost certainly set up the conversation to be monitored by the GRU and SVR — Russian military and civilian intelligence agencies.

That would be the same GRU from whom 12 members were indicted during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. And the same GRU that would jump at the chance to record damaging audio of a U.S. president and then leak it when the time is right.

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“The security ramifications are insane — using an open cellphone to communicate with the president of the United States… In a country that is so wired with Russian intelligence, you can almost take it to the bank that the Russians were listening in on the call,” Larry Pfeiffer, former chief of staff to the CIA director, told The Post.

Pfeiffer wasn’t the only one to sound a warning.

According to tweets from former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, ambassadors don’t usually grab cellphones and call presidents, and they “never do so to discuss Ukraine policy.”

“Doing so on a cellphone from Kyiv means [the] whole world was listening in,” he said.

“Russia already has shown its ability to monitor U.S. diplomats’ calls in Kyiv,” The Post’s Ellen Nakashima wrote, “and the Kremlin has no hesi­ta­tion in leaking them when it suits its interests.”

So egregious was Sondland’s breach of protocol, that even CNN — remarkably — ran a story on it.

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“If true, the cell phone call between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump is an egregious violation of traditional counterintelligence practices that all national security officials — to include political appointee ambassadors such as Sondland — are repeatedly made aware of,” CNN reported, quoting Marc Polymeropoulos, a former CIA officer who oversaw operations in Europe and Russia before retiring this summer.

“I cannot remember in my career any time where an ambassador in a high counterintelligence environment like Kyiv would have such an unsecure conversation with a sitting president. This just should not happen,” Polymeropoulos said.

A person described by The Post as a former senior U.S. intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Sondland’s use of a cellphone is “indicative of a lack of concern for operational security.” The official added that senior officials “are routinely briefed on the threats to their communications. You could assume that talking on an unencrypted line from a foreign country would be on that list.”

The proximate question, then, is why would Sondland do something so foolish?

Do you think Sondland's actions were intentional?

He reportedly has a record of sloppiness. The AP, in the same article, reported, “In a closed-door hearing last month, former White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill said she was concerned that Sondland posed a counterintelligence risk, according to a transcript released by the House. Hill cited a Sondland habit of giving out personal cellphone numbers — hers and national security adviser John Bolton’s as well as his own — and his failure to get appropriately briefed ahead of meetings.”

Hill went on to say that Sondland “was often meeting with people he had no information about. It’s like basically driving along with no guardrails and no GPS on an unfamiliar territory,” the AP reported.

That paints a picture of a sloppy, fly-by-the-seat of your pants member of the State Department — a bureaucrat to whom details weren’t important.

This is the same bureaucrat who delighted Democrats by revising his testimony to indicate that Trump tried to set up a quid pro quo with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The two leaders’ July 25 phone call is at the center of House Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Regardless of that, Sondland has become a key witness for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California and his horde of Democrat inquisitors, and it appears that key witness has issues — attested to by Hill, another Democrat witness — that call into question his judgment and reliability.

And that is judgment and reliability the Democrats desperately need because they have been able to find absolutely zero connections between Trump and any wrongdoing at all.

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Josh Manning is deputy managing editor for assignment at The Western Journal. He holds a masters in public policy from Harvard University and has a background in higher education.
Josh Manning grew up outside of Memphis, TN and developed a love of history, politics, and government studies thanks to a life-changing history and civics teacher named Mr. McBride.

He holds an MPP from Harvard University and a BA from Lyon College, a small but distinguished liberal arts college where later in his career he served as an interim vice president.

While in school he did everything possible to confront, discomfit, and drive ivy league liberals to their knees.

After a number of years working in academe, he moved to digital journalism and opinion. Since that point, he has held various leadership positions at The Western Journal.

He's married to a gorgeous blonde who played in the 1998 NCAA women's basketball championship game, and he has two teens who hate doing dishes more than poison. He makes life possible for two boxers -- "Hank" Rearden Manning and "Tucker" Carlson Manning -- and a pitbull named Nikki Haley "Gracie" Manning.
MPP from Harvard University, BA from Lyon College
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, tiny fragments of college French
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Writing, politics, Christianity, social media curation, higher education, firearms