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."

  • Sondland testified earlier that he never heard directly from Trump that the military aid was conditioned on an announcement of investigations, saying that assumption was his "own personal guess."
  • However, he later added, "By the 8th of September, it was abundantly clear to everyone that there was a link."

Worth noting: The intelligence community's inspector general first notified the House Intelligence Committee of the whistleblower complaint that kicked off the impeachment inquiry on Sept. 9.

  • The aid to Ukraine was eventually released on Sept. 11.

Go deeper: Live updates on Sondland's impeachment testimony

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David Holmes: "Ukraine still needs us"

David Holmes, a State Department official at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, acknowledged during his impeachment testimony Thursday that Ukraine needed U.S. support during the period earlier this year when military aid was frozen — and that environment continues to this day.

"Whether the security assistance hold continued or not, Ukraine understood that [investigations were] something the president wanted and they still wanted important things from the president. So I think that continues to this day, I think they're being very careful. They still need us now going forward."
Go deeperArrowNov 21, 2019

Sondland: "I assume Trump would benefit" from Biden investigation by Ukraine

EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland said during his impeachment testimony Wednesday that President Trump would stand to benefit from a Ukrainian investigation into the Biden family.

The big picture: Sondland's answer came during a heated line of questioning from Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.) over the impact that might stem from an alleged quid pro quo on frozen military aid. Sondland testified earlier that he never heard directly from Trump that the military aid was conditioned on an announcement of investigations, saying that assumption was his "own personal guess."

Go deeper: Live updates on Sondland's impeachment testimony

Keep ReadingArrowNov 20, 2019

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