Nov 5, 2019

"I now recall": Why Sondland's revised testimony matters

Gordon Sondland. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

A $1 million donor to Trump’s inauguration committee who later became the EU ambassador is now on record saying he told a Ukrainian official that the country wouldn't get military aid unless they caved to President Trump's demands.

Why it matters: President Trump keeps denying the existence of a quid pro quo.

The big picture: Gordon Sondland's additions to his House testimony are the "first admission by a senior figure who had direct contact with Mr. Trump that the military aid for Ukraine was being held hostage to the president’s demands for investigations into his political rivals," the NY Times reports.

  • "A wealthy Oregon hotelier who donated to the president’s campaign and was rewarded with the plum diplomatic post, Mr. Sondland can hardly be dismissed as a 'Never Trumper.'"
  • Sondland was a critic of the president during the campaign, publicly denouncing him in August 2016 over differences in values and Trump's attacks on Gold Star father Khizr Khan.

Sondland's testimony is the fourth transcript to be released this week:

The bottom line: The question isn't whether Senate Republicans believe there to have been a quid pro quo. It's whether they believe it's worthy of conviction.

  • “If it were today I don’t think there’s any question — it would not lead to a removal," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today.

Go deeper: Lindsey Graham says he won't read House deposition transcripts

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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

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

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.

Go deeperArrowNov 20, 2019