Courtesy of NYT:
A critical witness in the impeachment inquiry offered Congress substantial new testimony this week, revealing that he told a top Ukrainian official that the country likely would not receive American military aid unless it publicly committed to investigations President Trump wanted.
The disclosure from Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, in four new pages of sworn testimony released on Tuesday, confirmed his involvement in essentially laying out a quid pro quo to Ukraine that he had previously not acknowledged.
The testimony offered several major new details beyond the account he gave the inquiry in a 10-hour interview last month. Mr. Sondland provided a more robust description of his own role in alerting the Ukrainians that they needed to go along with investigative requests being demanded by the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. By early September, Mr. Sondland said, he had become convinced that military aid and a White House meeting were conditioned on Ukraine committing to those investigations.
Mr. Sondland had said in a text message exchange in early September with William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, that the president had been clear there was no quid pro quo between the aid and investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his son and other Democrats. But Mr. Sondland testified last month that he was only repeating what Mr. Trump had told him, leaving open the question of whether he believed the president. The new account suggested that Mr. Sondland may have not been completely forthcoming with Mr. Taylor, and that he was, in fact, aware that the aid was contingent upon the investigations.
In his updated testimony, Mr. Sondland recounted how he had discussed the linkage with Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, on the sidelines of a Sept. 1 meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Zelensky in Warsaw. Mr. Zelensky had discussed the suspension of aid with Mr. Pence, Mr. Sondland said.
“I said that resumption of the U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Mr. Sondland said in the document, which was released by the House committees leading the inquiry, along with the transcript of his original testimony from last month.
Here is a little more detail from Politico:
Sondland testified that Trump and Giuliani’s positions “kept getting more insidious,” evolving from a general interest in fighting corruption to an interest in Burisma and finally to an investigation of the Bidens. The EU envoy noted he was not a lawyer but said he “assumed” an effort to pressure Ukraine to do so, as pursued by Giuliani with Trump’s support, would be illegal.
Now by my count that is either five or six separate witnesses who have confirmed that Donald Trump withheld military aide from Ukraine unless they helped to dig up dirt on Joe Biden’s son, and that does not even include chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
So why are they still so focused on outing that whistleblower?
Oh by the way for those who want to argue that withholding the military aide caused no harm:
When Trump defenders say, well, Ukraine did eventually get its aid on September 11 after only a few months of Trump’s attempted extortion … https://t.co/y0bu04lQlm
— David Frum (@davidfrum) November 5, 2019
This was extortion, and it cost human lives.