Nov 13, 2019

Trump denies discussing Ukraine investigations with Sondland in July phone call

During a press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, President Trump said he knows nothing about an alleged July 26 phone call with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland in which he is reported to have asked about the status of Ukrainian investigations he sought into the Bidens and the 2016 election.

"I know nothing about that. First time I've heard it. The one thing I've seen that Sondland said is that he did speak with me with for a brief moment and I said "no quid pro quo under any circumstances." And that's true. But I've never heard this. In any event, it is more secondhand information, but I've never heard it."
— President Trump

Why it matters: In the first public impeachment hearing on Wednesday, acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor revealed that he had been informed of the new revelation by a staff member last Friday.

  • The staff member, which has since been confirmed to be David Holmes, told Taylor that he overheard Trump discuss "the investigations" in Ukraine with Sondland the day after Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • Sondland later told Holmes that Trump cared more about "the investigations of Biden" than Ukraine itself, according to Taylor.
  • Holmes has been called by House investigators to testify behind closed doors on Friday.

The big picture: The new detail suggests that Trump was more personally involved in Sondland and other U.S. officials' efforts to get Ukraine to announce these investigations, which have been condemned by Democrats and many of the impeachment witnesses as political.

Go deeper: Highlights from the impeachment hearing

Go deeper

Bill Taylor testifies that staffer overheard Trump discuss "the investigations" with Sondland

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told the House Intelligence Committee during its public impeachment hearing on Wednesday that a staffer overheard President Trump discuss "the investigations" in Ukraine with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland the day after Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Why it matters: This is a new piece of information from Taylor, who said that he was not aware of that information at the time of his closed-door deposition in October.

Go deeperArrowNov 13, 2019

State Department official confirms Trump asked Sondland about Ukraine investigation

David Holmes arrives to give a deposition to the House Intelligence Committee in the Visitors Center of the U.S. Capitol Nov. 15. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Staff/Getty Images

David Holmes, an official working at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, confirmed to House impeachment investigators on Friday that he overheard President Trump ask EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland if Ukraine's president agreed to pursue investigations into his political rival, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by CNN.

What's new: Holmes confirmed Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor's testimony. He claimed he "heard President Trump ask, 'So, he's gonna do the investigation?' Sondland responded, 'he's gonna do it,'" adding Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would do "anything you ask him to," per CNN.

Go deeperArrowNov 15, 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