Sondland does not want to wind up like Rudy Giuliani.
Courtesy of Politico:
President Donald Trump’s handpicked Ukraine adviser Gordon Sondland says Trump conditioned a valuable White House meeting for Ukraine’s new president on his willingness to launch investigations into Trump’s Democratic adversaries, including former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, a close Trump ally and GOP donor, plans to say in his opening remarks Wednesday to impeachment investigators. “The answer is yes.”
Sondland also intends to frame the matter as widely understood across the Trump administration, indicating that senior officials and even cabinet secretaries were aware of the arrangement — and that it was carried out at the “express direction” of the president.
“Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret,” Sondland intends to say, according to his prepared remarks. And he directly communicated the quid pro quo to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Sondland will say. He specifically cites a July 19 email copied to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and “a lot of senior officials.” In that email, he reveals that he “just talked to Zelensky” and secured a commitment for a “fully transparent investigation.”
Six days later, Trump spoke directly to Zelensky and referenced his request for a Biden investigation during a phone call on July 25 that has become the central focus of the impeachment inquiry.
Sondland also plans to tell lawmakers that he told Vice President Mike Pence on Sept. 1 that he was concerned that the delay in military assistance was tied to “the issue of investigations.”
Sondland attributed much of his concern to Trump’s “directive” that his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani be involved in any Ukraine effort. Giuliani had been publicly calling for Ukraine to investigate Biden, as well as to probe a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked a Democratic Party server in 2016. He also fomented a smear campaign against the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at the time, Marie Yovanovitch, who was widely respected across the foreign policy establishment.
But Giuliani wasn’t freelancing, Sondland plans to emphasize.
“We all understood that these pre-requisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements,” he says. “Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma.”
Right now Sondland is saying this and much more before the congressional committee in charge of the impeachment hearings.
I have no idea how the Republicans are going to spin this, but it seems to me that this is the whole enchilada.
Update: Oh yeah, this is good.
Holy cow Gordon Sondland going full John Dean in opening statement:
Confirms his view the WH plot was “quid pro quo” bribery
Shows Pompeo in the loop with new evidence
Implicates Trump, testifies this was on his orders
Adds new emails and evidence
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) November 20, 2019
Trump must be freaking out today.
Ken Starr: “There will be articles of impeachment, I think we’ve known that … It’s over … This is his position, we now know that the president, in fact, committed the crime of bribery … Articles of impeachment are being drawn up if they haven’t already been drawn up.” pic.twitter.com/82NOwczpej
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 20, 2019
Well, he should know.