President Donald Trump’s Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland gave damaging testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that there was a quid pro quo for a White House visit for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and that multiple top-level people in the administration knew about Trump’s extortion plot. Trump then attempted to distance himself from Sondland, and multiple mainstream news organizations amplified his lie that he didn’t really know Sondland.
After Sondland’s testimony, the White House reportedly scrambled for a response. One of the points Trump settled on was his standard claim for every witness: He barely knows the guy. “I don’t know him very well. I have not spoken to him much. This is not a man I know well.”
Trump had also personally nominated Sondland as his ambassador to the European Union after he donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration committee. According to Sondland’s testimony, he and the president spoke almost 20 times. Trump was also photographed speaking with Sondland as they traveled together on Air Force One.
Despite all these facts proving Trump’s claim false, multiple news organizations uncritically parroted his lie.
Not all news outlets fell for Trump’s flailing spin. The Associated Press called Trump’s claim “not credible,” noting that “testimony by several officials revealed that Sondland was in frequent contact with Trump” around the time the president extorted Ukraine.