WATCH: Here’s the Procedural Weirdness That Made Mitch McConnell the Sole Vote to Confirm Amb. Gordon Sondland
Trump Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland — a central figure in the Ukraine scandal that threatens Donald Trump‘s presidency — was confirmed to his post through a weird process by which majority leader Mitch McConnell was the only senator to actually cast a vote.
Ambassador Sondland is implicated in the Trump-Ukraine scandal by virtue of a series of suspicious text message exchanges, and was scheduled to give a deposition for the House’s impeachment inquiry. The Trump administration has blocked Sondland from testifying, prompting a subpoena from the relevant House committees.
Questions have also arisen about Sondland’s total lack of diplomatic experience, as well as the fact that he donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, which might make you wonder how this guy got past the Senate in the first place.
Using diplomatic appointments as rewards for political patronage is nothing new, and knows no partisan bounds. The “best” practitioners hand out positions in which their lucky friends can do minimal damage.
But Sondland’s selection to the crucial European Union post elicited little pushback during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he even received a glowing recommendation from Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. What questions he was asked by Democrats were mainly about Trump, and comments he’s made about the United States’ European allies.
And when it came time to vote on Sondland’s nomination, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was the only senator to actually cast a vote on the Senate floor for Sondland’s confirmation.
Sondland’s nomination is recorded as a confirmation by “voice vote,” which normally means a bunch of senators say “aye” and maybe some say “nay,” and then the presiding officer eyeballs (earball?) the result and announces the winner.
But Sondland was confirmed at the end of a very long session, and McConnell moved for a voice vote on all the nominees via “unanimous consent,” which means that everyone in the Senate had agreed to let the voice vote decide. Since McConnell was the only one left, his lone “Aye” meant that the “Ayes” had it.
Watch the clip above, via C-Span.
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