When former U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified before the House impeachment committee on Wednesday, he made it clear that all of the top officials in the Trump administration — President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — all knew that Trump engaged in bribery in relation to Ukraine.
Specifically, Sondland told the committee:
“They knew what we were doing and why. Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.”
Despite the efforts of Republicans on the committee to try and minimize what Sondland had to say, the effect of the ambassador’s testimony was devastating, and it even led some to suggest that Trump may be forced to resign or face removal from office.
And then there’s Pompeo, who has repeatedly refused to answer direct questions about what he knew regarding the extortion of Ukraine, i.e. withholding military aid unless they agreed to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Sondland made it clear that Pompeo is up to his eyebrows in the Ukraine plot, and Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin notes that either Pompeo can testify before the committee or he too needs to be impeached, writing:
“Pompeo is complicit. Moreover, he now refuses to testify or produce documents, which likely will complete the picture of what he knew and when he knew it. He is obstructing Congress’s investigation, and even refusing to recuse himself from the matter.
“The House Intelligence Committee should make a criminal referral, subpoena Pompeo for testimony and proceed with impeachment proceedings if he doesn’t comply. The message to future secretaries of state must be that they must not participate in illegal schemes and that their oath is to the Constitution, not a president.”
Oh, and there’s an even larger problem for Pompeo: Yes, he’s on the hook and could be impeached. But, as Rubin explained, a criminal referral can also be made and the Secretary of State could be facing indictment on numerous counts, including obstruction of justice, bribery, and extortion. Those charges could land Pompeo in prison for at least two decades.
No matter what he decides to do — stonewall or testify and implicate both Trump and Pence — Mike Pompeo had better hope he has a damn good attorney. He’s going to need one. And he’s going to need that attorney ASAP. As in yesterday.