The Washington Post reports:
Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified Wednesday more bluntly than he had before that President Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, sought to condition a White House invite for Ukraine’s new president to their demands that his country publicly launch investigations that could damage Trump’s political opponents.
“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” Sondland said in sworn testimony. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
Trump’s U.S. ambassador to the European Union also told the House Intelligence Committee that while he never knew for sure if the White House had frozen nearly $400 million in security assistance as part of the pressure campaign against Ukraine, he operated as if that was the case.
Fox News reports:
Sondland — whose previous testimony has been at odds with numerous other witnesses and who recently amended his previous testimony to acknowledge he did talk to Ukraine about investigations after initially indicating otherwise – went further Wednesday than he has before in describing efforts to get Ukraine to commit to investigations.
“I shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid with Senator Ron Johnson,” Sondland said, referring to the Republican senator involved in Ukraine policy. “And I also shared my concerns with the Ukrainians.” He stressed he never got a clear answer on why the aid was held up, saying in the absence of an explanation he came to believe that the aid and the investigations were linked.
He also said he specifically told Vice President Pence he “had concerns” the military aid to Ukraine “had become tied” to the investigations. And linking more top officials to the efforts, he said he kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo aware of what was going on.
Sondland is destroying virtually every Trump defense: Trump didn’t care about Ukraine; there was a quid pro quo; Trump & Rudy demanded the announcement of investigations; everyone was in the loop; Ukraine knew about the linkage; all was directed by Trump
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) November 20, 2019
Amb. Sondland testifies Rudy Giuliani attempted to arrange a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine for announcement of investigations.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 20, 2019
Asked if, by September 9 (the date he sent the “President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s” text), Sondland understood Trump required a public announcement of two investigations to get both a meeting and the security assistance, Sondland said, “I believe that is correct.”
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 20, 2019
I just asked @DevinNunes, “what do you think so far? You said there was no quid pro quo. Sondland said there was?”
He shot me an intense look and said nothing. #ImpeachmentHearings
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) November 20, 2019
SCHIFF: You testified that that meeting was conditioned was a quid pro quo for the 2 investigations the president wanted. Is that right?
SCHIFF: And that everybody knew it.
SONDLAND: Correct. pic.twitter.com/3Tcw0OV1vT
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 20, 2019