A Pardon From Donald Trump Won’t Save Gordon Sondland, Says Law Professor

Gordon Sondland, the U.S ambassador to the European Union, makes an opening statement before testifying to the House Intelligence Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill November 20, 2019 in Washington, DC.
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Before U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified in a public hearing as part of the impeachment probe into Donald Trump on Wednesday, Fordham University law professor Jed Shugerman took to Twitter to offer a warning. He explained what would happen if Sondland was planning to lie in hopes of a pardon from the president, Newsweek reports.

“Pardon’s don’t affect state law,” Shugerman stated as the first reason lying would be a “bad idea.”

The professor continued to note that Sondland would face New York state laws on conspiracy and extortion because he called Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer who is accused of running a pressure campaign on Ukraine, in New York. Shugerman then noted that New York State prosecutors could indict Giuliani and his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, for extortion and conspiracy and outlined the possible legal pathways to such charges.

Shugerman explained the federal definition of bribery, writing that it is a public official offering something of value to influence an official act, the public official, or force the official to look past illegal activity. According to Shugerman, Trump’s alleged withholding of military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden could meet such definitions.

The lawyer and author also said he believes Trump’s withholding of aid could constitute extortion and covered New York extortion law.

“The most relevant form is ‘compel[ling] or induc[ing] another person to deliver such property… by means of instilling in him a fear that if the property is not so delivered, the actor…will perform an act…which is calculated to harm another person materially w/respect to his health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships,'” he tweeted, suggesting that the research into Biden could be classified as “property” by New York State law.

Finally, Shugerman concluded that there is enough evidence to convict Giuliani, Parnas, and Fruman in the state of New York and suggested that if Sondland spoke to Giuliani in that state by phone or via text in the midst of a conspiracy, that’s “likely enough for probable cause.”

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As The Inquisitr reported, Sondland testified that he was directed by Trump to work with Giuliani. According to Sondland, he — as well as others who were directed to work with Giuliani — was strictly acting under orders, saying he himself did not want to work with Trump’s personal lawyer.

“We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt,” he said per The New York Times.

In another moment during the testimony, Sondland revealed that Trump asked Giuliani to seek a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine. Sondland also claimed that everyone involved with the operation was aware of Trump’s intentions.