Former White House foreign-policy adviser Fiona Hill told House impeachment investigators on Monday that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland was a potential “security risk” because he came so unprepared to the job, according to the New York Times.
Sondland is a key figure in House Democrats impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s actions. Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wisc.) has stated that on August 30 Sondland told him Trump had withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure the country to conduct investigations damaging to political rival Joe Biden. Trump, speaking to Johnson the next day, denied Sondland’s assertion.
In her testimony, Hill did not allege that Sondland would willingly compromise national security. But, according to the Times, she believed that his lack of experience, excessive use of a personal cell phone for diplomatic business, and repeated unofficial invitations to foreign officials to visit the White House left him vulnerable to exploitation by foreign intelligence services.
Sondland’s lawyer declined to comment on the matter. Sondland is scheduled to testify before House Democrats conducting the impeachment inquiry on Thursday, despite an order from the State Department that he not appear. House investigators are expected to quiz him about series of text messages he exchanged with U.S. diplomat William Taylor, which has become a focus of the probe.
On August 9, Taylor, who is stationed in Kyiv, wrote to Sondland, “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
Sondland then called President Trump, according to the Wall Street Journal, and replied to Taylor four hours later with a message he’s reportedly expected to tell House investigators was composed by Trump himself.
“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions,” Sondland wrote. “The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”