White House

Sondland Testifies That Giuliani Was ‘Expressing the Desires of the President’ When He Orchestrated ‘Quid Pro Quo’

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testifies in Washington, D.C., November 20, 2019. (Loren Elliott/Reuters)

Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified Tuesday morning that “the answer is yes” as to whether President Trump’s requests to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in their July 25 phone call constituted a quid pro quo.

“Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election,” Sondland’s testimony reads. “Mr. Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians. Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these prerequisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements.”

Sondland mentioned a July 19 email he sent to Cabinet members after speaking with Zelensky. The email, whose recipients included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House staff, said that the Ukrainian president would tell Trump “that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will ‘turn over every stone.’”

Sondland also touched on the involvement of President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. “We weren’t happy with the President’s directive to talk with Rudy,” Sondland said. “We did not want to involve Mr. Giuliani . . . we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the efforts to schedule the White House phone call and White House visit between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, which was unquestionably in our foreign policy interest, or we could do as President Trump had directed and ‘talk to Rudy.’ We chose the latter course, not because we liked it, but because it was the only constructive path open to us.”

Sondland’s account contradicts testimony from former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, who said on Tuesday  that President Trump’s suggestion during a May 23 meeting in the White House that he “talk to Rudy” wasn’t taken “as an instruction.”

Sondland also revealed that Pompeo and former National Security adviser John Bolton both “knew what we were doing and why” in getting Ukraine to commit to investigations that Giuliani was pushing for.

Sondland said that in an email exchange, Pompeo confirmed that Sondland should get a “short pull-aside” meeting between Trump and Zelensky, so that they could “break the logjam” of delayed military aid.

Additionally, Sondland said that on August 26, prior to Bolton’s visit to Kyiv, Sondland sent him Giuliani’s contact information directly after it was requested.

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