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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Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Protesters and police clash nationwide over George Floyd

A firework explodes behind a line of police officers next to the Colorado State Capitol during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Denver on May 30. Photo : Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray as the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd continued nationwide into early Sunday.

The big picture: Police responded over the weekend with force, in cities ranging from Salt Lake City to Atlanta to Des Moines, Houston to Detroit, Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., Denver and Louisville. Large crowds gathered in Minneapolis on Saturday for the fifth day in a row.

Updated 41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

George Floyd protests: What you need to know

Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Clashes erupted between police and protesters in several major U.S. cities Saturday night as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black men spread across the country.

The big picture: Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.

Massive demonstrations put police response to unrest in the spotlight

Washington State Police use tear gas to disperse a crowd in Seattle during a demonstration protesting the death of George Floyd. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

The response of some officers during demonstrations against police brutality in the U.S. has been criticized for being excessive by some officials and Black Lives Matter leaders.

Why it matters: The situation is tense across the U.S., with reports of protesters looting and burning buildings. While some police have responded with restraint and by monitoring the protests, others have used batons, tear gas, rubber bullets and other devices to disperse protesters and, in some cases, journalists.