Ambassador Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, testified during an impeachment hearing before the House Intelligence Committee that there was “quid pro quo” in President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and that “everyone was in the loop” about it.
Sondland in his opening statement before the committee confirmed that President Trump, through his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, expected President Zelensky to agree to announce an investigation into Burisma and the 2016 election before a working phone call and Oval Office visit could take place.
“Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the President,” Sondland testified.
He also said when he learned that the military aid to Ukraine had been delayed, he believed that was also contingent on an announcement of an investigation.
“I tried diligently to ask why the aid was suspended, but I never received a clear answer. In the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 election and Burisma, as Mr. Giuliani had demanded. I shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid with Senator Ron Johnson. And I also shared my concerns with the Ukrainians,” Sondland added.
He later confirmed again in his opening statement that there was quid pro quo.
“I know that members of this Committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a “quid pro quo?” As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes,” he said.
“Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election. Mr. Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians. Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these pre- requisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements,” Sondland added.
He also testified that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and Acting White House Chief of Staff and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney were sent an email on July 19th that said President Zelensky said he intends to “to run a fully transparent investigation and will ‘turn over every stone.'”
“Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret. Everyone was informed via email on July 19, days before the Presidential call,” Sondland added.
Later while testifying, he confirmed to Republican counsel Steve Castor that he never directly heard from President Trump about any preconditions for Ukraine.
Also, Sondland testified he asked President Trump and open ended question, “What do you want from Ukraine?”
He said the president answered, “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing.”
This testimony is damaging and it bolsters House Democrats’ argument for impeachment. Unlike the previous witnesses, Sondland directly answers the question of whether or not there was quid pro quo. He’s also a first hand witness to Rudy Giuliani’s involvement in the matter, but never heard President Trump order that.
Republicans will argue that the only first-hand interaction Sondland had with President Trump is evidence that he didn’t want quid pro quo.
Ultimately, the committee needs to hear from Rudy Giuliani as it seems he was the firewall between the President and others regarding any preconditions for Ukraine.
Watch Sondland’s full opening statement below:
Read his opening statement below: