When Gordon Sondland arrived at the Trump fundraising breakfast at Manhattan's Cipriani restaurant on Dec. 7, 2016, he had trouble getting in. Sondland hadn't sent his RSVP, he hadn't sent any money and the Secret Service had not cleared him to enter.
The backdrop: Trump transition team officials had no affection for the hotelier. The last time Sondland had been on the campaign's radar was when, through a spokesperson, he publicly denounced Trump's character and canceled a fundraiser he was scheduled to co-host. That was August 2016, after Trump lambasted Gold Star father Khizr Khan. Key officials noted Sondland’s denunciation, and they hadn’t let it go.