Nov 20, 2019

Trump's shifting story on his relationship with Gordon Sondland

Photo: Joshua Lott/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday that he "doesn't know" EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland "very well."

Why it matters: It's the latest walk-back from the president about his relationship with Sondland, who donated $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee.

Worth noting: Sondland refused to testify whether he believed Trump's assertion in a Sept. 9 phone call that there was no quid pro quo involving the military aid. While he texted Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, to that end after the call, he testified: "I was just trying to convey what [the president] said on the phone."

  • Sondland also said that he worked with Rudy Giuliani "at the express direction" of Trump on matters involving Ukraine.

The big picture: Trump has said on multiple occasions that he doesn't know a number senior officials caught up in the impeachment inquiry as a defense.

Go deeper: Live updates on Sondland's impeachment testimony

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Highlights from Gordon Sondland's impeachment testimony

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified Wednesday in one of the week's most-anticipated impeachment hearings.

Driving the news: In his opening statement, Sondland said that he worked with Rudy Giuliani "at the express direction" of President Trump on matters involving Ukraine.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 20, 2019

Sondland refuses to say whether he believed Trump denial of Ukraine aid quid pro quo

EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland refused to say during his impeachment testimony Wednesday whether he believed President Trump's assertion in a Sept. 9 phone call that there was no quid pro quo linking frozen military aid for Ukraine and a Ukrainian investigation into the Biden family's business dealings there.

The big picture: Sondland's conversation with Trump came just before he texted Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, that the president "has been crystal clear no quid pro quo's of any kind." Sondland testified that he was "just trying to convey what [the president] said on the phone."

Go deeperArrowNov 20, 2019

Read Adam Schiff's opening statement in the Sondland impeachment hearing

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) set the stage Wednesday with his opening statement in the House impeachment inquiry's public hearing featuring EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

The big picture: Schiff used his time to summarize Sondland's diplomatic work regarding Ukraine throughout 2019 — which the ambassador confirmed was at the direction of President Trump — ultimately stating that "it will be up to us to decide, whether those acts are compatible with the office of the presidency."

Go deeperArrowNov 20, 2019