But this was not that. Mr. Maloney headed off into a sarcastic recitation of the witness’s zigzagging accounts. “We’ve got a doozy of a statement from you here this morning,” he reminded Mr. Sondland.
Still, Mr. Sondland kept up some banter. When Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois, noted that an earlier witness, Timothy Morrison, a former National Security Council official, had referred to Mr. Sondland as “the Gordon problem,” Mr. Sondland cheerily replied, “That’s what my wife calls me.”
A few committee members asked the beleaguered ambassador how well he actually knew Mr. Trump: How many times had they spoken and how often and did he consider the president a friend?
In a sense, getting into a relationship like this is the essence of why so many plutocrats give money to politicians — a chance to be a player, to joke around at the highest levels. They can regale friends about their exchanges and hold up their cellphone when he calls. Look, the president even called him a “nice guy.”
But the shine does wear off, and quite predictably with this president.
“You know, on Oct. 8 of this year, the president tweeted that you are a really good man and a great American,” Mr. Krishnamoorthi pointed out to Mr. Sondland. “And of course, on Nov. 8, one month later, he said let me just tell you, I hardly know the gentleman.”
“Easy come, easy go,” Mr. Sondland said.
This was one truism about Washington alliances that Mr. Sondland appeared to have fully absorbed. And yet, remarkably, the ambassador had the same job to go back to, and on behalf of the same president.
He made his flight back to Brussels, though not without incident. Quoting a fellow passenger, CNN reported that Mr. Sondland placed his carry-on bag in the wrong overhead bin. How much humiliation can one man take? This was a lot to unpack. “My whole day has been like this,” he said, reportedly.