White House

Pence Denies Discussing Ukraine Investigations with Sondland or Zelensky

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attends a news conference in Turkey, October 17, 2019. (Huseyin Aldemir/Reuters)

Vice President Mike Pence denied that Gordon Sondland ever voiced concerns about a potential quid pro quo with Ukraine on Tuesday morning after Sondland claimed otherwise in his Tuesday morning testimony.

Sondland, who serves as ambassador to the E.U., testified that he told Pence that he had “concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations” ahead of a September 1 meeting between Pence and Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky.

Pence’s office issued a statement contradicting Sondland’s testimony in response.

“The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations,” a statement from Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, read. “Ambassador Gordon Sondland was never alone with Vice President Pence on the September 1 trip to Poland. This alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador Sondland never happened.”

In his testimony, Sondland recounted a meeting between Pence and Zelensky, in which Zelensky “raised the issue of security assistance directly with Vice President Pence.” Sondland said that Pence told the Ukrainian president that he would ask President Trump about it. In his statement, Short does not deny that the pair discussed military aid, but does say that “multiple witnesses have testified under oath” that no investigations were ever brought up during the September meeting between Pence and Zelensky.

“Multiple witnesses have testified under oath that Vice President Pence never raised Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden, Crowdstrike, Burisma, or investigations in any conversation with Ukrainians or President Zelensky before, during, or after the September 1 meeting in Poland,” Short’s statement concludes.

Sondland also testified that he pulled top Ukrainian aide Andriy Yermak aside during the September meeting to say that “he believed that the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine took some kind of action on the public statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.” He added that he relayed this message at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s behest.

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