Last Wednesday, New York Representative Sean Patrick Maloney was eager to get a simple answer out of Gordon Sondland, the smug plutocrat Portland hotelier and current U.S. ambassador to the European Union, during the impeachment inquiry into the president.
Maloney is the only New York Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and he walked Sondland through a series of questions about his July 26 call with POTUS about Ukraine investigations looking into Joe Biden.
All he wanted was for Sondland to answer the question: Who would benefit from the investigation of the president’s political opponents by Ukraine?
It made for a viral moment on cable news and trended on Twitter. Sondland said he preferred not to characterize who would benefit. But Maloney, now in his ninth year in Congress, persisted:
“I know you don’t want to, sir. That’s my question. Would you answer it for me?”
Sondland ultimately relented: “Well, presumably the person who asked for the investigation.”
Maloney: “Who is that?”
Sondland: “If the President asked for the investigation, it would be he.”
As the heated exchange continued, Maloney questioned Sondland: “Who would benefit from an investigation of the Bidens?“
Sondalnd: “I assume President Trump would benefit.”
Maloney summed it up with: “There we have it, see. It didn’t hurt a bit, did it? It didn’t hurt a bit.”
There was applause from the committee room.
The Republicans (they are so sensitive) mocked Maloney over his aggressive stance. The GOP called the ongoing hearings the “latest stunt further proves that there was no ‘quid pro quo ‘ and that the real investigation should be on the Biden’s shady dealings with Ukraine – not on President Trump.”
Sondland objected to what Maloney was ”trying to do”. Maloney responded by reminding Sondland about his broader evasiveness as a witness: The ambassador had altered the original testimony he gave to the committee in October, at times directly contradicting what he’d previously claimed. Maloney snapped:
”We appreciate your candor, but let’s be really clear on what it took to get it out of you”.
Handsome, well-spoken, witty Maloney was born in Quebec, Canada, and was raised in New Hampshire. Maloney graduated from the University of Virginia and entered politics as a volunteer for William Jefferson Clinton‘s presidential campaigns, and then served as his senior West Wing adviser and White House Staff Secretary.
He is the first openly gay person elected to Congress from New York. Maloney has been with his husband Randy Florke since 1992. They met at The Roxy, a gay bar in Manhattan when Maloney was still deep in the closet. They married in 2014. Nancy Pelosi gave the toast. Joan Osborne sang a ballad for their first dance.
Florke is an interior designer whose work has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine. The flaxen-haired designer is noted for renovating country homes. The couple has lived in 17 different houses over the years.
The Maloney-Florkes live in Cold Spring, Putnam County in the lower Hudson River Valley, an 80-minute train ride from Grand Central. They have three adopted children.
Maloney was the second member of Congress to legally marry his same-sex partner while in office, the first was former Congressman Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, in 2012.
Maloney currently serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the House Agriculture Committee. The House Intelligence Committee is responsible for overseeing the nation’s intelligence agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, State, Treasury and Energy.