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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Denies Sondland Linked Military Aid Delay to Biden Investigation

U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland attends the EU-U.S. High-Level Forum in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2019. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said Thursday he never saw a direct link between the Trump administration’s delay of military aid to Ukraine and President Trump’s request that the country investigate Joe Biden’s connections to a Ukrainian gas company.

“I have never seen a direct link between investigations and security assistance. Yes, investigations were mentioned, you know, in a presidential conversation. But there was no clear connection between these events,” Prystaiko told reporters Thursday in Kyiv, according to Interfax-Ukraine.

“Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and did not tell me exactly, about the relation between the [military] assistance and the investigations. You should ask him. I do not recall any conversation with me as with foreign minister. It was not we, the Ukrainian officials [who were told this],” the foreign minister said, adding that he has not had contact with Sondland as an official.

During the first public hearing of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump on Wednesday, William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said in July that Trump cared more about whether Ukraine would investigate Biden than about the broader U.S. policy toward Ukraine.

“Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv,” Taylor told the House Intelligence Committee. “The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations.’”

“Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine,” Taylor said. “Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which [Trump lawyer Rudy] Giuliani was pressing for.”

House Democrats are investigating accusations of a quid pro quo by the administration involving U.S. security assistance to Ukraine and Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate the former vice president and his son’s business connections to the gas company, Burisma Holdings, as well as alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

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