News

White House

Sondland: ‘Everyone Was in the Loop’ on Ukraine ‘Quid Pro Quo’ Plan

Sondland testifies in Washington, U.S., November 20, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said in Wednesday testimony that senior Trump administration officials were fully aware of Trump’s Ukraine policy. Sondland said that policy included a “quid pro quo” meant to pressure Ukraine into investigating 2016 election meddling and Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company with ties to 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

The ambassador’s testimony is the latest in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Democrats began the inquiry after suspicions arose that Trump may have withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure the country to investigate the allegations against Biden.

“Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret,” Sondland said. “Everyone was informed via email on July 19 [regarding the policy]…I told President Zelensky in advance that assurances to ‘run a fully transparent investigation’ and ‘turn over every stone’ were necessary in his call with President Trump.”

Those “in the loop” included Vice President Mike Pence, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The July 19 email was forwarded to Mulvaney, Pompeo, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Sondland told the email’s recipients that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “will assure [Trump] that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation.”

Sondland testified that it was “based on my communications with Secretary Pompeo” that he felt confident enough to tell an aide to Zelensky that the U.S. was withholding military aid until the Ukrainian president announced investigations into Biden. The “State Department was fully supportive of our engagement in Ukraine affairs, and was aware that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing,” Sondland said.

The ambassador added that he raised concerns the investigations were being tied to military aid with Pence in late August.

“I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations,” Sondland told lawmakers.

Sondland also said that while Trump wanted Zelensky to announce the investigations publicly, he may not have wanted to see them through to completion.

According to Sondland, “[Zelensky] had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it.”

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

Most Popular

Immigration

Did the DACA Ruling Bury Constitutionalism?

In reacting to President Trump's recent executive orders, Jim Geraghty asks “Do Americans Even Care If There's a Constitution?" He reluctantly suggests that the answer is “no.” This didn't happen all at once -- Woodrow Wilson was probably the first notable to explicitly express the progressive ... Read More
Immigration

Did the DACA Ruling Bury Constitutionalism?

In reacting to President Trump's recent executive orders, Jim Geraghty asks “Do Americans Even Care If There's a Constitution?" He reluctantly suggests that the answer is “no.” This didn't happen all at once -- Woodrow Wilson was probably the first notable to explicitly express the progressive ... Read More
U.S.

Bloc Heads

Welcome to The Tuesday, a cheery little weekly newsletter about the existential despair Irving Kristol indicated when he noted that Western civilization is collapsing “but it’ll take a long time, and, meanwhile, it’s still possible to live well.” The Bloc Party Right-leaning writers hawking books about ... Read More
U.S.

Bloc Heads

Welcome to The Tuesday, a cheery little weekly newsletter about the existential despair Irving Kristol indicated when he noted that Western civilization is collapsing “but it’ll take a long time, and, meanwhile, it’s still possible to live well.” The Bloc Party Right-leaning writers hawking books about ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Trouble with the Curve

Unherd -- a British website featuring independent thinkers on the left and right – has a good interview with Anders Tegnell, the epidemiologist who has led the pandemic response in Sweden. Sweden is one of the few western democracies that did not impose a strict de jure lockdown to deal with COVID-19, though as ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Trouble with the Curve

Unherd -- a British website featuring independent thinkers on the left and right – has a good interview with Anders Tegnell, the epidemiologist who has led the pandemic response in Sweden. Sweden is one of the few western democracies that did not impose a strict de jure lockdown to deal with COVID-19, though as ... Read More
White House

An Abuse of Presidential Authority

President Trump is abusing his authority, just as his predecessor Barack Obama abused his. Two executive actions he took in the name of COVID relief over the weekend are attempts to legislate without the legislature. Trump has for months sought a payroll-tax holiday but encountered bipartisan resistance to the ... Read More
White House

An Abuse of Presidential Authority

President Trump is abusing his authority, just as his predecessor Barack Obama abused his. Two executive actions he took in the name of COVID relief over the weekend are attempts to legislate without the legislature. Trump has for months sought a payroll-tax holiday but encountered bipartisan resistance to the ... Read More
Elections

Where’s Biden?

On the menu today: A long look at Joe Biden, how little he appears in his campaign’s videos, and what we can determine about whether he’s as mentally sharp as he used to be; a new report from NBC News leaves some key facts out; and New York media are asking tougher questions about the accuracy of the death ... Read More
Elections

Where’s Biden?

On the menu today: A long look at Joe Biden, how little he appears in his campaign’s videos, and what we can determine about whether he’s as mentally sharp as he used to be; a new report from NBC News leaves some key facts out; and New York media are asking tougher questions about the accuracy of the death ... Read More