Oct 24, 2019

Sondland "does not recall" Ukraine aid threat, lawyer tells WashPost

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland (C) arrives at the Capitol on Oct. 17. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland disputes aspects of congressional testimony by the top American diplomat in Ukraine and he "does not recall" anything about threatening Ukraine over aid, his attorney told the Washington Post Wednesday.

Why it matters: Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor testified Tuesday that Sondland communicated to Ukrainian officials that President Trump wanted military aid to Ukraine to be conditional on them agreeing to investigate natural gas firm Burisma, for which former Vice President Joe Biden's son worked, and alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election in a quid pro quo, which Trump has long denied.

Sondland does not recall any conversation in Warsaw concerning the aid cutoff, although he understood that the Ukrainians were, by then, certainly aware of the cutoff and raised the issue directly with [Vice President Mike] Pence."
— Sondland's attorney Robert Luskin to the Washington Post

The big picture: Sondland appeared before investigating House committees last Thursday. The explosive testimony of Taylor, a career diplomat who's served in every administration since 1985, relies largely on his conversations with Sondland.

  • Taylor testified that Sondland told him on June 28 "he did not wish to include most of the regular interagency participants in a call planned with President Zelenskyy later that day. … Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelenskyy to the call."

What they're saying: Sondland's attorney Robert Luskin told WashPost in a statement that his client believes that this was "monitored routinely and that an appropriate file memo was prepared." "He never suggested otherwise," Luskin said.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Republicans sue California over mail-out ballot plan

California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a February news conference in Sacramento, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Republicans filed a lawsuit against California in an attempt to stop Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) from mailing ballots to all registered voters ahead of the November general election.

Driving the news: Newsom signed an executive order this month in response to the coronavirus pandemic ensuring that all registered voters in the state receive a mail-in ballot.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 5,383,582 — Total deaths: 344,077 — Total recoveries — 2,158,031Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,640,972 — Total deaths: 97,679 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge strikes down Florida law requiring felons to pay fines before voting

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: oe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Sunday ruled that a Florida law requiring convicted felons to pay all court fines and fees before registering to vote is unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The ruling, which will likely be appealed by state Republicans, would clear the way for hundreds of thousands of ex-felons in Florida to register to vote ahead of November's election.