Former U.S. attorney Nick Akerman, who prosecuted the Watergate case, said U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandFive takeaways from the Democratic debate Biden says Trump could face prosecution after leaving office Biden: Impeachment hearings show ‘Trump doesn’t want me to be the nominee’ MORE’s Wednesday testimony in the House impeachment inquiry marked a “tipping point” for President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE.
“Yesterday was the tipping point completely,” Akerman told Newsweek.
“There’s no defense to any of it now, there’s nothing. What’s he going to say, the Devil made me do it? That’s what they’re left with. There’s no good defense. There’s no good reason why he did this. It’s purely for personal campaign purposes,” he continued.
Sondland’s fiery testimony was marked by several bombshells that refuted some of Trump and his GOP allies’ defenses against House Democrats’ probes. He told lawmakers that he believes there was a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine, with Trump pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce the launch of political investigations in exchange for a call and a meeting.
“Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” Sondland asked. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.” He added that “Everyone was in the loop” about the move.
A whistleblower complaint filed earlier this year alleged that the Trump administration held up millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine while Trump pushed for investigations into former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE and his son, Hunter Biden.
President Trump has repeatedly denied any quid pro quo, and he told reporters at the White House this week that he wanted nothing from Ukraine.
Akerman alleged that “What we’re really talking about here is two things: bribery and extortion. That’s what the facts amount to.”
“Bribery is important because bribery is listed in the U.S. Constitution as an impeachable offense in addition to high crimes and misdemeanors,” he told Newsweek.
Akerman added that Trump could be in a weaker position than former President Nixon was among Republican colleagues during the Watergate scandal because he has not forged the decades-long relationships that Nixon held in Washington.
“There were people who were willing to take a bullet for him, would stand in front of a truck and be run over. You could see from Sondland, he’s not going to give up his life for Donald Trump. There were people that would do that for Richard Nixon,” he said.
“This is pretty concrete,” Akerman continued. “Republicans are going to be really put in a box here…Anybody looking at the objective evidence is going to have to say this guy’s guilty of bribery and extortion, there’s no question about it that what he did was off the rails and if you’re ever going to impeach a president on anything, this is about as bad as it gets.”