EU Ambassador Edits Testimony To Describe Explicit Quid Pro Quo With Ukraine
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland updated his impeachment inquiry testimony on Tuesday to clarify that he told a top Ukrainian official that U.S. military aid likely would not be released unless Ukraine publicly agreed to investigations demanded by President Donald Trump.
The New York Times reported that the additional information came in four new pages of sworn testimony and “provided a more robust description of his own role in alerting the Ukrainians that they needed to go along with investigative requests being demanded by the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.”
Sondland said he knew by early September that military aid and a meeting between Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump were conditioned on the investigations.
In text messages around the same time with William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Sondland explicitly said that “the president had been clear there was no quid pro quo between the aid and investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his son and other Democrats” — but his latest testimony suggests he knew this was not true.
Sondland’s new statement says he spoke with top Zelensky adviser Andriy Yermak in Warsaw on September 1, when Vice President Mike Pence met with the Ukrainian president, and told him the investigations and aid were linked.
“I said that resumption of the U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Sondland wrote.
He also wrote that he found the move “ill-advised,” but said he was unaware “when, why or by whom the aid was suspended.”
“I presumed that the aid suspension had become linked to the proposed anticorruption statement,” Sondland wrote.
Sondland said his updated testimony was the result of having “refreshed my recollection” after hearing Taylor’s testimony — which at times appeared to dispute Sondland’s original statements — as well as that of Timothy Morrison, the senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council.
Trump has maintained that no quid pro quo existed regarding Ukraine’s military aid and the investigations he hoped to achieve, repeatedly calling the impeachment inquiry a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”