WASHINGTON (AP) – For an ambassador whose credibility was questioned by other witnesses, Gordon Sondland did not appear to make major corrections to statements made in the House impeachment inquiry.
However, he revealed previously undisclosed conversations, offers additional details about his perception of the Trump government's interactions with Ukraine, and has appointed some of President Donald Trump's most important advisers – including the vice president and a cabinet secretary.
Here's how Sondland's public testimony on Wednesday compares to previous statements he made:
NO QUID PRO QUO
Sondland did not exactly deny the existence of a counterpart when he testified to Congress behind closed doors on October 17, but the only time he used the Latin term in his opening statement was to quote Trump's answer when he asked what he wanted. from Ukraine.
“The president answered, nothing. There is no quid pro. The president repeated, it is not favorable, "said Sondland, Trump's ambassador to the European Union." There is no need to pay several times. "
On Wednesday, Sondland struggled to use the term in its opening statement. He said he knew a White House visit to the Ukrainian leader depended on the country announcing Trump's inquiries into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. He left no doubt that he saw the proposed agreement as meeting the definitions of a quid pro quo. He said he assumed, but was not sure, that the release of military aid to Ukraine would subsequently depend on the same conditions.
“Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified earlier, regarding the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes, ”Sondland said on Wednesday.
IN VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE
Sondland made no mention of Pence in the opening statements he delivered last month.
When his name came up, it was mostly in response to questions, without any meaningful information being revealed.
On Wednesday, however, he described a meaningful meeting with Pence before a meeting in Warsaw with Ukrainians last September. He said he told Pence that he was concerned that the delay in military assistance to Ukraine was related to the issue of investigations. He said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy raised the same concerns about Pence during the meetings and said the Vice President replied that he would talk to Trump.
Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, said the exchange reported by Sondland "never happened."
ON A PHONE CALL WITH TRUMP
The first time he testified, Sondland did not describe any telephone conversations he had with Trump the day after Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate Biden. Sondland's July 26 telephone call with Trump was not publicly known until a few days ago when a diplomat who listened to Sondland in a crowded Kiev restaurant described the content in vivid and suggestive detail – including the fact that the president and ambassador had discussed investigations.
On Wednesday, Sondland confirmed that he had indeed spoken with Trump that day and said there was no reason to doubt Holmes's reminder that he and Trump had discussed investigations. He said the White House confirmed that the call came from sharing certain dates with his lawyers.
He insisted that the call did not seem meaningful to him at the time it was answered, perhaps explaining why he did not disclose it during the appearance of closed doors.
IN MICK MULVANEY
Sondland downplayed his personal relationship with the interim White House chief of staff during his private statement, and did the same on Wednesday.
Sondland emphasized last month that he had not discussed Ukraine with Mick Mulvaney and had had few interactions with him. But he said on Wednesday Mulvaney was aware of the president's desire for investigations and was among officials aware that a visit to the White House depended on Ukraine announcing such probes.
To prove his point, Sondland took emails to the hearing, including one to Mulvaney and other officials in which Sondland said Zelenskiy was prepared to reassure Trump that he would not leave any stone in the investigations.
ABOUT STATE SECRETARY MIKE POMPEO
Sondland had emphasized last month that his actions had the blessing of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and that Pompeo had supported his strategy in Ukraine and told him to continue the good work and to continue working in Ukraine.
He shed new light on their relationship on Wednesday: Pompeo was among the recipients of the July e-mail sent to Mulvaney and others.
He also remembered to ask Pompeo directly if they should organize a "withdrawal" meeting in Warsaw between Trump and Zelenskiy, so that Zelenskiy could give assurances that he would come up with important questions for Trump. Pompeo said yes.
He also described a separate email to Pompeo's aides, in which he said that he and another envoy, Kurt Volker, had negotiated a statement that should be delivered by Zelenskiy.
"Again," said Sondland, "everyone was on the circuit."
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