U.S. ambassador Gordon Sondland kept senior White House officials apprised of his efforts to prompt an investigation into Joe Biden ahead of the July 25 phone conversation between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
During that phone call, Trump urged Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to look into corruption allegations against Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and asked for a probe into allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry into the president’s actions due to suspicions that he withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure the country to conduct politically beneficial investigations.
Emails reviewed by the Journal showed Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland keeping senior officials, including White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, in the loop regarding the desired investigations into the Bidens and election interference several weeks before the July 25 phone call.
Sondland is set to publicly testify in the impeachment inquiry this week. In revised testimony from closed-door hearings, Sondland said he had told a top Zelensky adviser that a meeting between Zelensky and Trump would be contingent on the announcement of an investigation into the Bidens and 2016 election interference.
Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko has denied that he perceived a link between military aid and the requested investigations but did not mention whether a White House visit hung in the balance.
“Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and did not tell me exactly, about the relation between the [military] assistance and the investigations,” Prystaiko told reporters on Thursday. “I do not recall any conversation with me as with foreign minister. It was not we, the Ukrainian officials [who were told this].”