Sci-tech

Gordon Sondland's opening statement for impeachment hearing offers key admissions

Gordon Sondland's opening statement for impeachment hearing offers key admissions”

Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, testified on November 20, in a public hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump that there was a "quid pro quo" in which USA aid and a White House meeting were contingent on Ukraine agreeing to investigate the 2016 elections and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, where the son of 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, Hunter, sat on the board.

A State Department spokeswoman has called any suggestion "flat-out false" that Ambassador Gordon Sondland told Secretary of State Pompeo that Trump linked aid to Ukraine to politically motivated investigations.

Sondland said Trump did not specify what he wanted Kiev to investigate, but told him to work with Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer. He has told lawmakers the White House has records of the July 26 call, despite the fact that Trump has said he doesn't recall the conversation.

Ambassador Sondland told committee members that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior officials in the Trump administration were kept informed about the Ukraine discussions.

"We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani", the ambassador said.

"The vice president nodded, he heard what I said, and that was pretty much it", he said.

Unlike some other figures close to Trump, Sondland has cooperated with the impeachment investigation.

"I recall mentioning that before the Zelensky meeting", Sondland said, and added "During the actual meeting, President Zelensky raised the issue of security assistance directly with Vice President Pence".

During his opening statement, Sondland described a September 1 meeting in which he told Pence his concerns about the tying of aid to to investigations, and subsequently shared those concerns with Ukrainian aide Andriy Yermak.

Nonetheless, Kansas has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1932, and there are few indications the impeachment inquiry has eroded Trump's support among Republican voters.

A US diplomat provided some of the most significant testimony to date in the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, telling lawmakers that President Donald Trump expressly ordered him to help pressure Ukraine into investigating a Trump political rival.

Schiff warned Pompeo and other administration officials who are refusing to turn over documents and testimony to the committee "they do so at their own peril".

The hearings by the House Intelligence Committee could eventually lead to articles of impeachment - formal charges - being voted on by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

Hale, the third-highest-ranking official at the State Department, may be able to shed more light on the dismissal of Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine.



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