Key Words: Sondland says in impeachment testimony that Ukraine aid was tied to ‘quid pro quo’
European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland on Wednesday told House impeachment investigators there was a quid pro quo tying U.S. aid to Ukraine in exchange for a promise to investigate the role of political rival Joe Biden and Democrats in the 2016 presidential election.
Pivoting from statements he made last month, Sondland said he concluded the release of $400 million in frozen U.S. aid was conditioned upon Ukraine announcing an investigation that could be potentially benefit to President Donald Trump’s chances of re-election.
“Was there a ‘quid pro quo’? ” Sondland said in dramatic testimony. “The answer is yes.”
Sondland also said Trump and other senior White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, knew what was going on.
“Everyone was in the loop,” Sondland said. “It was no secret.”
‘Was there a ‘quid pro quo? … The answer is yes.’
The White House immediately fired back.
Speaking briefly to reporters outside the White House, Trump recited a portion of testimony in which Sondland said the president never directly told him aid was conditioned upon the announcement of an investigation.
“I asked the president, what do you want from Ukraine?’ The president responded, nothing,” Sondland recounted, saying Trump added, “No quid pro quo.”
He said Trump never mentioned former Vice President Biden to him.
Vice President Pence’s office, meanwhile, disputed Sondland’s account that the two had discussed the holdup in aid.
.@VP office challenges Sondland’s testimony, issues statement from @marcshort45 saying Sept. 1 Pence/Sondland meeting in Poland “never happened.”
Yet Sondland said it became clear through his dealings with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, that the president wanted something in return for U.S. aid and a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump.
“Mr. Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians. Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us,” Sondland testified. “We all understood that these pre-requisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements.”
Back in October, Sondland told impeachment investigators he wasn’t aware of any connection between the president’s decision last summer to hold up aid to Ukraine and his push for investigations in Ukraine against Biden and his son Hunter. At the time Biden’s son was a board member of Burisma, a controversial Ukrainian energy company then under investigation.
Democrats seized on Sondland’s testimony as clear evidence that Trump and other senior White House officials acted improperly.
“The veneer has been torn away,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee holding the hearing.
Republicans characterized Sondland’s testimony as a dead end.
Case closed ⇨ Ambassador Sondland just testified under oath that he NEVER heard the president say there were conditions on aid to Ukraine.
plant, Trump sought to distance himself further from the person he selected for one of the plum U.S. diplomatic jobs. “I don’t know him very well. I have not spoken to him much. This is not a man I know well. He seems like a nice guy though,” Trump said of Sondland, taking no questions from reporters.