Trump impeachment inquiry: United States ambassador to European Union testifies

Trump impeachment inquiry: United States ambassador to European Union testifies”

The impeachment inquiry was prompted by a whistleblower complaint filed in late August alleging that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, whom Trump accused of involvement in a corruption case in Ukraine.

Gordon Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, said in written testimony that Trump ordered diplomats in May to involve Giuliani in talks with new Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

On Aug. 13, they even help draft a statement for Zelenskiy to announce the investigations that, at Giuliani's insistence, included specific references to Burisma and the 2016 election, according to a source familiar with Sondland's testimony.

Gordon Sondland's closed-door testimony to Home impeachment investigators was aimed toward distancing himself from Trump and Giuliani's efforts to stress Ukraine into investigating Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Gordon Sondland, the US's ambassador to the European Union, turned on President Donald Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in his opening statement to Congress on Thursday.

Mr Sondland said he was disappointed Mr Trump instructed him to work with Mr Giuliani, a directive that sidestepped the role of the State Department and National Security Council. The subpoena is seeking documents and communications related to interactions between Trump, Ukrainian officials, a roster of US officials and Giuliani associates.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with China's Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington October 11, 2019.

In his testimony, Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, said he did not understand until much later "that Mr. Giuliani's agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president's 2020 reelection campaign".

"Mr. Giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election (including the DNC server) and Burisma as two anti-corruption investigatory topics of importance for the President", Sondland said.

Burisma is a Ukrainian energy company which had Hunter Biden on its board, and is at the center of the entire accusation surrounding Trump's apparently coercion on the quid-pro-quo front with Zelensky.

But in his testimony, Sondland makes it clear that he disagrees with the president about foreign involvement in US elections.

"Let me state clearly: Inviting a foreign government to undertake investigations for the goal of influencing an upcoming USA election would be wrong", Sondland stated.

He continued: "Withholding foreign aid in order to pressure a foreign government to take such steps would be wrong".

Sondland, according to the whistleblower complaint, reportedly worked with US special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker to give "advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to "navigate" the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelenskyy".

Pelosi and three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry - Intelligence, Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs - believe Trump's conversation with Zelensky, as well as administration officials' interactions with the Ukrainian authorities before and after the call, manifested "efforts to pressure foreign powers to intervene in the 2020 elections". "I simply prefer to talk rather than to text". Sondland replied that Trump had been clear about his intentions and that there was no quid professional quo. He added that Kent testified that after Volker, Sondland, and Perry sidelined him, they "declared themselves the three people now responsible for Ukraine policy".

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