Oct 4, 2019

Ron Johnson says Sondland told him of possible Ukraine quid pro quo

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Ron Johnson (R.-Wis.) told the Wall Street Journal that he learned of a possible quid pro quo between the Trump administration and Ukraine's government from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

The big picture: Johnson said that he pressed President Trump on the issue, which allegedly linked the distribution of $400 million in U.S. military aid with a Ukrainian investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, in an Aug. 31 phone call. "He said ... 'No way. I would never do that. Who told you that?'" Johnson told the Journal of his conversation with the president.

  • Johnson asked the Justice Department earlier this week to look into links between Ukraine and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. His letter questioned the narrative that Biden's actions in Ukraine had nothing to do with his son's connection.
  • However, it was also discovered that he signed onto a 2016 letter that mirrored Biden's work to reform Ukraine's prosecutor general and judiciary.
  • There is no evidence that Biden's reform work in Ukraine was to protect his son's business dealings, as the president and some of his allies allege, or that he committed any form of corruption.

The state of play: Sondland, a Trump political appointee who donated $1 million to the president's inaugural committee, denied that there was a quid pro quo between the Trump administration and Ukraine's government in a series of text messages that former Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker provided to a group of House committees investigating the Trump-Ukraine matter.

  • "I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, texted Sondland.
  • Sondland texted back: "Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo's of any kind."
  • The New York Times reported that Sondland's response came only after he spoke to the president.

Go deeper: House committees release texts from former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker

Go deeper

House committees release texts from former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker

The chairs of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform Committees released a batch of explosive text messages Thursday night provided by former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker.

The state of play: The released messages feature conversations between Volker and other officials, including Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giulani, and Andrey Yermak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Go deeperArrowOct 4, 2019

Trump says he won’t let EU ambassador testify before House "kangaroo court"

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump said in a tweet Tuesday that he did not want the U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland to sit for a deposition in the Ukraine investigation because of the format House Democrats' impeachment inquiry has taken on.

I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see. Importantly, Ambassador Sondland’s tweet, which few report, stated, “I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.” That says it ALL!
Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019

WSJ: Sondland told House panels Trump's Ukraine action was quid pro quo

Gordon Sondland. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland told House investigators last week the actions of President Trump and his allies over Ukraine "amounted to a quid pro quo," his attorney told the Wall Street Journal Saturday.

Why it matters: The issue of alleged quid pro quo involving Trump and Ukraine is central to the House inquiry into his possible impeachment. The president and his allies have long denied any quid pro quo took place.

Go deeperArrowOct 27, 2019