Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, has inferred top officials were involved in a “potential quid pro quo” involving the withholding of military aid to Ukraine from the United States, conditional on an investigation into corruption by the Bidens. However, he has said there was no quid pro quo from the president.
Sondland considered one of the Democrat’s key witnesses, admitted during his testimony on Wednesday, Nov. 20, “I never heard from President Trump that aid was conditioned on an announcement.”
He confirmed that the president told him, “I want nothing.”
A whistleblower’s complaint set the impeachment inquiry off, after a phone conversation on July 25 between President Trump and the Ukrainian president, where President Trump mentioned an investigation into corruption involving former Vice President Joe Biden’s son should be forthcoming. U.S. military aid had been stalled to Ukraine at the same time, with the whistleblower linking the two events together.
Sondland testified, “Everyone was in the loop,” he said. “It was no secret.”
Sondland claimed he kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed, also specifically told Vice President Pence he “had concerns” the military aid to Ukraine “had become tied” to investigations—though a Pence aide denied it, reports Fox News.
Sondland had recently amended his statement to admit he did talk to Ukraine about investigations, as he initially said that he hadn’t.
Sondland also testified he had never been given any explanation as to why the aid to Ukraine was delayed, and he just formed his own conclusion. He even referred to it as “a guess.” After all, “two plus two equals four,” as Sondland said.
During his testimony, Sondland said he was not happy with the idea of working with Rudy Giuliani, “We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani,” Sondland said. “Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the president’s orders.”
On Wednesday, Giuliani pushed back against Sondland’s testimony, tweeting he “came into this” at the request of then-Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker. “Sondland is speculating based on VERY little contact,” Giuliani tweeted. “I never met him and had very few calls with him, mostly with Volker.”
I came into this at Volker’s request. Sondland is speculating based on VERY little contact. I never met him and had very few calls with him, mostly with Volker.
Volker testified I answered their questions and described them as my opinions, NOT demands. I.E., no quid pro quo!
— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) November 20, 2019