Eds Note: Early Tuesday morning, President Trump blocked Sondland from appearing in front of Congress, saying via Twitter that the appearance would be before a "totally compromised kangaroo court." Congressional leaders of the impeachment inquiry responded by saying they would issue a subpoena to Sondland.
Pop some popcorn, and turn up your C-SPAN, Portland: on Tuesday, October 8, Portland hotelier-turned-US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is set to voluntarily testify before Congress in the mushrooming impeachment inquiry centered on President Trump’s relations with Ukraine.
In his new, Brussels-based post, Sondland is a long way from home and his Pacific Northwest roots. A stalwart GOP donor over the years, he nevertheless became a major player in the boutique hotel boom in liberal Portland. The company he founded, Provenance Hotels, owns the Sentinel, the Heathman, the Hotel Deluxe, the Hotel Lucia, Woodlark and Dossier.
And despite his Republican cred, Sondland enjoyed fairly warm relations with the Dems who run this state over the years. He served on former Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s transition team, donated to Mayor Ted Wheeler’s campaign in 2016 and was endorsed for his current post by no less that U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden.
Sondland had no previous diplomatic experience before accepting the ambassadorial gig, but did donate $1 million to Trump’s inauguration in 2016, which Trump famously (though inaccurately) claimed was attended by the “largest inauguration crowd in history.”
The bombshell complaint filed by the now-famous whistleblower (later fortified by receipts!) alleges that Sondland was shuttling back and forth between the Ukranians and the Trump administration, trying to help the Ukranians manage Trump’s desires. The whistleblower has alleged that Trump was withholding military aid and a face-to-face meeting with the Ukranian president until the country agreed to launch an investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s previous connection to a Ukranian natural gas company. Biden, the former Democratic Vice President, is a top-tier candidate to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
According to multiple publications, Sondland has given no sign that he will resign from his post. But it’s hard not to feel that, like so many who have orbited so close to Trump’s sun, he could be headed back to PDX sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile back at home, the impact of being so publicly tied with the Trump administration could be problematic for Sondland’s hotel portfolio. Perhaps he can encourage some of the Trump administration’s top brass to come and visit and fill in the gaps?
Ivanka Trump, for instance, seems like she’d dig the Woodlark’s millennial pink-infused vibe — bonus points for the in room floral delivery. Melania Trump may prefer to hide out at the Sentinel, since we know she has a penchant for following in the Obamas’ footsteps, and that’s where Barack and Michelle have stayed when they’ve passed through town. For Trump himself, we’d suggest the Heathman, which boasts an excellent Russian tea service.