tv Impeachment Hearings CNN November 20, 2019 5:00am-8:00am PST
around the world. the momentum for the entire impeachment inquiry may rest on what happens next hour here in washington when one of the central players in the ukraine scandal, the u.s. ambassador to the european union gordon sondland testifies before the television cameras up on capitol hill. washington is now waiting to see, will ambassador sondland flip on president trump and point directly at trump's involvement in the ukraine pressure campaign? a huge question, chris. >> yeah, look, there are already a lot of big questions as you say. now there are new questions. there's a breaking story in "the new york times" that says ambassador sondland was not a one-man rodeo here. that he kept secretary of state mike pompeo updated during the entire ukraine pressure campaign. so you're going to remember, pompeo failed to mention being on that july 25th call in interviews right after we found out about it and republicans
were already on edge before this news. so let's do a round-up of how it's playing. let's begin on capitol hill. cnn's senior congressional correspondent manu raju. what else are we expecting from sondland? >> we expect gordon sondland to throw rudy giuliani under the bus. but the question is, will he throw the president under the bus as well? that's going to be a big question today because according to witness testimony after witness testimony, gordon sondland had direct interactions with the president and then sondland later told other witnesses that the president himself had essentially linked military aid to ukraine in exchange for this public declaration by the ukrainians to announce investigations into the president's political rivals. now the question is will sondland confirm those accounts or will he say as he did in his closed door deposition, he did not recall some of those key accounts. already amend his testimony saying he later remembered in september he had a conversation with a senior ukrainian official saying that aid was likely
linked to that investigation announcement. but he couldn't remember how he came to learn of that request. sondland, of course, is of high interest. he's someone who is a trump donor who provided a million dollars to the inaugural committee. also he's someone, of course, the president and the state department tried to prevent from actually testifying before the intelligence committee. he previously complained he was not able to get some of those documents he needed to prepare for his testimony. the question is whether he has any new documentation to provide to this committee as well. and today's proceedings will play out much the way we've seen other proceedings in the past. the house intelligence chairman adam schiff will deliver his opening statement followed by the ranking republican, devin nunes, each of their staff attorneys will provide a 45-minute round of questioning after sondland himself delivers an opening statement. we'll see if he revises the account in any way. and that's just act one of a two-part series today, later in the afternoon. two officials will testify. that's laura cooper from the
defense department and david hale from the state department. they'll testify how unusual it was how they handled this military aid, how it was held up, how she wasn't informed about some of those key decisions. and david hale will provide information about the ousted ambassador marie yovanovitch. despite this pressure campaign from giuliani's smear campaign to get her out from the post. in just under an hour, gordon sondland will deliver that key testimony providing information. we'll see about what he says about those conversations with the president and how involved the president was in holding the ukraine aid over that country until it announced those investigations. >> look, this is going to be a very interesting day because, by all indications, manu, gordon sondland is not going to shoulder the blame for this ukraine campaign. so how does he distribute the responsibility? we'll see soon.
manu, thank you. wolf, to you. >> it's going to be huge, huge moment. anticipation clearly building, chris, right now. let's get some more now on what we can expect to hear from ambassador sondland's public testimony. kylie atwood is joining me right now. first of all, kylie, tell us more, how did this go from being a hotelier, a guy who had a bunch of hotels, made a lot of money. all of a sudden, he's the u.s. ambassador to the european union. >> when president trump won the nomination and then became the president, he turned into a trump donor. he was always of the republican establishment. and then, once trump ended up in the white house, he donated to his inauguration, donated a million dollars. and then he has this direct line with president trump. that is not normal for other u.s. ambassadors to other countries. because he can pick up the phone and call president trump, he has landed at the center of this impeachment inquiry. so let's look at some of the things he told lawmakers behind
closed doors that are going to be things they are going to look at when they talk to him today in an open setting. one of the things he said is that president trump directed him to work with rudy giuliani, his private attorney, on ukraine. and he said that disappointed him. that he would not have suggested that someone who is of the president's personal attorney area would work on foreign policy but nonetheless, he did it. the other thing he claimed is he was unaware initially that giuliani was pushing for investigations into biden. burisma was on the table, but he claimed the two were separate. so there are a number of things in his closed door testimony that folks are going to ask him about today. >> he's also going to be asked a lot about that phone conversation he had while at a restaurant, outdoor terrace at a restaurant in kiev, the ukrainian capital with the president of the united states. a conversation that could be heard by others at that table, including david holmes, the
counselor for political affairs at the u.s. embassy. >> a really jaw-dropping revelation. when that came to fruition. this was a conversation sondland had in an open setting in a restaurant in ukraine. he did not talk about this at all during his closed door testimony. it only came to light when david holmes, this u.s. official, a foreign service officer at the u.s. embassy in ukraine came forth with this information. i want to read to you how david holmes described that situation in his closed door testimony. he said, quote, i heard president trump ask. so he's going to do the investigation. ambassador sondland replied, he's going to do it adding that president zelensky will, quote, do anything you ask him to. i asked ambassador sondland if it was true that the president did not give an expletive about ukraine. ambassador sondland agreed that the president did not give a -- about ukraine. i asked why not and ambassador sondland stated that the president only cares about big
stuff. i noted that there was big stuff going on in ukraine. like the war with russia and ambassador sondland replied that he meant big stuff that benefits the president. like the biden investigation that mr. giuliani was pushing. so here what sondland was doing in this conversation was discussing these investigations. these investigations that would benefit president trump politically and also claiming that that's the only thing that president trump really cared about when it came to ukraine. >> very, very important. kylie atwood doing excellent reporting for us, as usual. you know, chris, gordon sondland, he's represented by a well-known, highly respected washington attorney who i'm sure is telling him, gordon, ambassador, you've got to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth no matter where that winds up. otherwise you'll be in big trouble. >> absolutely. i mean, look. this isn't just about going in and having a candid conversation. he has to worry about his
exposure. its congress now but there could be a referral to the department of justice by congress on any of these matters and any of these subjects and the individuals that come before them. and that's a very heavy burden to bear on a morning like today. wolf is 100% right. let's get a feel for what's going to be going on in that room. we have democratic congressman denny heck, a member of the house intel committee, of course. he'll be questioning sondland just a short time from now. congressman, thank you. don't worry about the ifb because it's just you and me anyway. >> a phone hung up in my ear. >> it happens to me all the time. we were having an interesting conversation. we get caught up in the politics and the substance so easily here, and it matters, of course. but the human beings in the room and what the feel is in there, and we were -- i was sharing my recollection about the clinton impeachment, how different this is, not just procedurally but personally. what is your personal feel about
how the republicans in the room seem to project a, we must stay in line on this. you are saying you are picking that up. >> frankly, chris, it breaks my heart because from our perspective and my perspective, they are putting self-interest in defense of the president before country. but as i suggested to you off camera, they're in a vice. if they step out of line at all, we see what the president will do. goodness sakes, we see what he's done to his own employees. we see what he did to ambassador yovanovitch, to colonel vindman, a man who still walks around with shrapnel in his body, for goodness sakes. he'll viciously, cruelly attack them and seek to destroy their reputation and career. they see that to one side. on the other side, i think they ought to answer their better angels. they ought to understand what the constitutional stakes are here in play.
>> as we were saying, you see those better angels if you want to call them that, reflected in who is leaving. i don't see what the sustainable course is. when you are listening to the arguments yesterday, even sitting today with mike johnson from louisiana, a talented lawyer, smart guy, promising person within that party, well, you know, i see this as all, you know, hearsay and people who have opinions about what other decisions were being made by other people. but nothing really. and no quid pro quo which -- how can you see that on the facts? >> chris, he did it. he did it. the facts are overwhelming. the legal standard they're trying to construct is we must have a videotape of the act of crime. must have a signed confession. must have at least three to five eyewitnesses. as you know as an attorney, that's never how it happens in a criminal proceeding. the evidence is overwhelming. and as i said to you on the program the other night, the debate america ought to be having is, okay, do these acts
rise to the level of an impeachment offense? but the facts are the facts, and he did it. >> why can't they own the position that they won't go as far as you can, but it was wrong. shouldn't have mentioned bien. shouldn't have done it this way. shouldn't have held up the aid this way but we believe he had good intentions. not worthy of removal. they got the aid. he didn't get any dirt. >> because the president will destroy them. and they know it. >> so what happens with sondland today? how big a deal is he? >> he's been characterized by others as a bit of a free radical, so stay tuned. buckle up. he's got three choices. right? i mean, he can perjure himself. he can have amnies meihave amne right thing. >> what is the chance that it was fishy that the eu ambassador had something to do with ukraine
because, obviously, they're not there. that's been explained as, he was given broader portfolio by the president. what's the chance that a newby, a guy, you know, who is gifted an ambassadorship, not the first time that's happened, for his donation in connection to the campaign, would have been carrying all this on his own? you know what i mean? why would he want to get the bidens? he had to be working with -- >> before we imbune too much importance in this, we have seven hear,s, just like j.k. rowling had seven books in the harry potter series. >> i've never heard it compared to that. >> today is book five and we all know there's plenty of plot to be revealed in the subsequent books. we have four more witnesses after this one. i am especially interested, frankly, in all of them, but notably, dr. fiona hill tomorrow as well as mr. holmes. there's a lot of plot to be revealed here. >> who are you in the harry potter series, by the way? >> no, don't go there.
>> i like how you made that, though. it's a very big deal. they all do matter but, really, gordon sondland is the man your other witnesses keep identifying as a hub, who had a special relationship, a special connection to these designs. we'll see what he says this morning. it's going to happen in, what now, almost 45 minutes. so thank you very much, congressman. good luck today. >> thank you. still to come -- we'll watch. it matters on a day like today to watch the people show up. what do you read in their faces? how do they enter this room? who are they with? u.s. ambassador to the european union gordon sondland. i would argue the biggest witness yet in the public impeachment hearing. there's too much importance to what he says. the key question -- how will he explain why he was doing what he was doing under oath. who knew what and when? stay with cnn.
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witness in the impeachment inquiry, the u.s. ambassador gordon sondland is getting ready to testify publicly. he's the only witness who has spoken to president trump about the scheme to get ukraine to investigate the bidens. ambassador sondland could be the only witness who can directly link the president to what's been described as a shadow foreign policy campaign. a team of experts joining us now to discuss. this could be, gloria, a huge moment in this entire prospect. >> it could, as you point out. gordon sondland is somebody who had a relationship with the president, who spoke directly with the president. as we know from the recounting of this phone conversation that he had in kiev at a lunch table with the president. and he is also somebody who spoke with people at the state department and at the national security council. this is like the parable, the blind man and the elephant. everybody seems to see a piece of the puzzle here. gordon sondland may have some
vision and may be able to sort of connect the dots here and talk about what he saw, what he observed and who directed what. don't forget, he was at that may 23rd meeting with the president of the united states with the energy secretary rick perry, ambassador volker and himself in which the president talking about ukraine said talk to rudy. that the president said that ukraine was corrupt. that they tried to hurt him. and he said, you know, just talk to rudy and shook his head. what i think we might hear from sondland today is what happened when they talked to rudy and he'll be able to say who knew what and when. >> and "the new york times" is now directly linking the secretary of state mike pompeo to all of this saying he knew about everything, including rudy giuliani's role in trying to get from the ukrainians dirt on the
bidens. >> that presents a risk to a lot of folks who tried to put distance between themselves claiming ignorance and kurt volker running the policy saying he wasn't quite sure this was the connection there, although others have said the connection was clear. i think that's one big headline here. but the questions will be, was there a quid pro quo? was this meeting with the president and the military aid tied to really -- you go to a requirement to have the investigations to get these things and, two, was that at the direction of the president? he's going to be asked that directly. does he give clear answers to those questions for someone who wasn't just observing but was directly involved in those conversations. >> if he does completely, you know, go against what the president has been saying, that the phone conversation was perfect, there was no quid pro quo, everything is great, how damaging potentially for the president could this be? >> that's what i'm looking at. at the beginning of this inquiry, the president held on to every republican in the
house. even got two democrats to vote against authorizing the investigation. i'm looking at what might potentially move moderate republicans or democrats either way. and the key thing here, i think is still the why and sondland may be able to shed light on the why. what was in the president's head. what was in sondland's head. now that sondland knows a lot more because he's watched and read testimony, does he think that what happened was wrong? does he think that what the president did was wrong or right? and what are the challenges here is we still haven't seen a white house narrative. still haven't seen a republican narrative about what they say is going on. i think that may have to change pretty soon. >> jeffrey, his lawyer is well regarded here in washington with a lot of experience in dealing with these kinds of matters and i'm sure he's giving him some very strong advice. good advice in general is to tell the truth. that's just sort of my
experience. >> when testifying under oath. >> so naive. >> but, you know, we're talking a lot appropriately about sondland bup let's remember that there are other witnesses with even more knowledge than sondland. john bolton, mick mulvaney, secretary pompeo, all of whom have had conversations with the president on these subjects, and they refused to testify about it. now apparently you can get john bolton to talk about these issues if you go to his lecture agent and pay him thousands of dollars to give a speech, but he apparently will not speak to the impeachment inquiry which, to me, is one of the most outrageous facts in this whole -- in this whole matter. but talking about sondland today, you know, rudy giuliani is not up for impeachment. all these other peripheral figures are not up for impeachment. today is about donald trump. today is about what did the president know and when did he know it?
the old howard baker question from watergate, we want to know that today to the extent sondland, a, knows it and, b, will tell the truth. >> it's clear the president's tweeting and retweeting, trying to sound very optimistic, all good stuff going on. but i'm sure he's going to be watching on television this testimony from ambassador sondland. and i suspect he and his close associates are nervous. >> yeah. let the character assassination begin once aduangain. the president has two ways of going about this. i hardly knew the guy or he's a never trumper and shouldn't have been hired in the first place. i think consistent with what other people on the panel have been saying, what is important about this is that he puts this in the mind of the president of the united states. this whole thing got started because one of the first revelations was, not that someone at the direction of the president did something or not, but that the president himself had a phone call on july 25th with president zelensky. the president himself was on the phone and we understood what he
said in that phone call. now you have the second thing that directly puts the president in the mix and that is the july 26th call. and from my perspective, i'm really curious to see how this witness, sondland, talks about that call. it's a remarkable thing. and it shows the eagerness with which the president needed to be updated on the thing that he wanted. the investigations. couldn't wait for a secure phone or somebody back in the office. couldn't wait for monday. couldn't wait for some other appropriate time when nobody else was around. he needed to know that information right then. if sondland said, i sort of didn't remember the call because it was unremarkable, that itself is remarkable because it shows a course of dealing between sondland and the president about these issues that shows how much the president cared about it and that's devastating to him. >> if you had a phone conversation with the president of the united states, while you were sitting at a restaurant in kiev in ukraine, you would remember all those details. >> i had two calls with the president when he was the president-elect. i remember them very well. >> you still remember them? >> i do. it's very interesting.
i am anxious to get your thoughts, carrie, on what you're bracing for right now. and as you're saying that, we anticipate that ambassador sondland will be arriving up on capitol hill momentarily. we'll have cameras all over the place. we'll have live coverage. >> what i'm looking for is, does ambassador sondland tell the whole story? we're talking about this phone call and i think the call you're referring to is the one with david holmes who was a state department aide. holmes testified under oath to the committee last week and so the committee already knows holmes' end of that conversation. and so sondland really is in a position where he must be truthful because there's other testimony that hasn't become public yet that the committees are aware of and so he is, i think, in terms of his appearance before congress, incentivized to tell the truth. but he also needs to tell the truth because the information that he has is central. as jeffrey said, of all the people who were closest to the
president, mulvaney, bolton and -- >> pompeo. >> pompeo, thank you. sondland is the only one who has agreed to testify. all of the others who were so close to the president and who were in direct communication with him and know exactly what his intentions were have been unwilling to come before. so sondland really is carrying, i think, a great amount of responsibility today. >> the president says he might be willing to answer questions in writing. >> want to bet? >> i'm not -- >> i have money here in my pocket. are you sure? >> i suspect that's not going to happen. everybody stick around. we're only minutes away from ambassador gordon sondland's historic arrival up on capitol hill. people are gathering in the house intelligence committee briefing room. much more right after this.
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metamucil's gelling action also helps to lower cholesterol and slows sugar absorption to promote healthy blood sugar levels. so, start feeling lighter and more energetic by taking metamucil every day. welcome back to this very, very special day. we're just moments away from what could be the most consequential testimony in the impeachment inquiry so far. so far mostly straight arrows, respected members of the diplomatic corps, current and former members of the national security apparatus. career foreign service workers who have put country over all else. but now there's a wild card. ambassador gordon sondland, the u.s. ambassador to the european union. and we're anxiously awaiting what he has to say. >> we're anxiously awaiting his arrival. we're situated here. we see a little bit of the security setup taking shape.
and when he comes, we'll show you that and it's important to see how he looks. how -- what countenance he brings to this occasion. he is a businessman. he was a big-time donor to the president. he was known as somebody who had a good relationship with him. that got thrown into question when the president seemed to create distance as sondland became more controversial. but right now he is squarely in the spotlight of a foreign policy train wreck. he has to make choices, wolf. how is he going to explain his role. how much of this was about him. how much of this was he directed to do. who knew what and when. let's start with cnn's kaitlan collins outside the white house with more on reaction. it's really tough going into a situation when you're not sure if you can control it. >> and they're not sure what it is that gordon sondland is going to say. that's what we've been hearing from multiple white house sources today. and sam bondy is the former florida attorney general who the white house recently third come
in to help with impeachment strategy, communication, what they were going to say as they are fighting back against these house democrats. she just did her first interview, chris, and listen to what he said about the contacts between president trump and gordon sondland. >> does the president know gordon sondland well? are they in frequent contact? have they been? >> we're going to hear what gordon sondland has to say today. he's ambassador -- >> what does the president say? >> what does the president say? >> the president, he was ambassador to the ukraine. he is ambassador to the ukraine. and the president knows him. the president does not know him very well. he is a short-term ambassador. of course he knows him. >> there are a few things we've got to note there. gordon sondland is not the ambassador to ukraine. he's never been. he is the ambassador to the european union, he still is. he told colleagues that the president put ukraine in his portfolio and that's why he was working on this. ukraine is not in the european union. she also said he's a short-term
ambassador but he's been confirmed since the summer of 2018 and she said he doesn't know the president well, that's why his testimony is coming under so much scrutiny because he's one of the officials going on capitol hill who had a direct line of communication to president trump. now while we're waiting to see what it is that gordon sondland is going to say, i also want to note something that we're just now learning which is that lieutenant colonel alex vindman who testified yesterday and while he was testifying, the white house issued a broad swipe against him. he is expected to show up to work today. he works right next door to the white house but is expected to go back to work today. >> okay. kaitlan, thanks very much. let's look at the political calculus at play. political analyst david gregory and asha rangapa, former fbi special agent. all right. what a day this is that you don't want to be gordon sondland because, pam bondy there, it's
not about getting wrong that he's the ambassador to ukraine. that's a fact problem. he has a much bigger problem is that they are clearly trying to mitigate his relevance. and he may not be a pro at diplomacy but i'm sure his lawyer, he's a sophisticated guy, he has to feel they're starting to move him away from them. how does that play? >> well, first of all, this guy gave a million dollars to trump's inaugural. so we have seen before when especially when trump has tried to distance himself from, say, you know, people in his campaign, you know, michael cohen was acting rogue. that tends to psychologically make people want to stick up for themselves and not protect, you know, the person that suddenly disowning them. and, you know, as you talked about before, sondlad can be in potential legal trouble here. if he lies to congress, he could end up in jail. other people have. michael stone, roger cohen.
it's in his interest, i think, to make the best case for himself, not the president, but, of course, that will make the president -- >> dafrksd you've seen so many of these situations finessed where they want to create cover for themselves based on what he might say but they need him to be as good to them as he can be. >> yeah, and i think what you have seen the defenders of the president do in these hearings is suggest over and over again to those witnesses, oh, that's your opinion. you knew this but you didn't know the overall. you missed the sense of the overall. only the president had that sense of the overall. so here is gordon sondland who is not a diplomat. he's in over his head. he's a hotelier who gave a lot of money and most guys in that position don't actually do the diplomacy. you know, they are figure heads as ambassadors. and that happens on both sides of the aisle, we know that. here's a guy who had direct access to the president. so it gets a little tougher for the white house and for the president's allies to say, oh, no, what does this guy know? he had a direct line into what was a shadow account.
and the account was, let's get ukraine to investigate joe biden. and he knew about it, and he knew directly. that's where it can be damaging to the president. my hunch is, this is a guy who is going to probably say, no, i wasn't out on my own. like everybody knew what i was doing because i spoke to the president about it. who spoke to rudy giuliani about it and these guys were all spun out about a conspiracy theory having to do with ukraine and they didn't trust. that's the key thing here. donald trump, rudy giuliani, don't trust the bureaucrats. they don't trust the diplomats. that's why they wanted to go around them. >> but they also wanted to do something that they knew wouldn't fly. >> right. >> you know, because when you make these -- a little bit of inside knowledge here. when you talk with these state department folks who own regions, they have such a deep understanding of so many deeper relationships, that you don't just get to pick some new policy that they see as an antithetical or an athema to their overall
objectives. we believe this is the ambassador. and again, this is not just empty circumstance. it's important to see the man or woman who is going to be making the moment. >> remember, this is not the ambassador to ukraine. the fact that he was ambassador to the european union, which does not handle the ukraine account, why was he so engaged in it? again, because he has that personal relationship. >> and asha, to what we were saying sooner, remember that story spun out that he muscled his way in? first of all, never made sense. how does this new guy who comes in with no portfolio muscle his way in to pompeo's universe. that never made sense. so that has to be explained, which is his -- because he's been insufficient so far in saying, well, the president gave me -- the president wouldn't have done that. here he is. out. smile on the face. quick step. not with counsel. he'll be joined by counsel. we have to believe. but smile. >> i hope so for his sake. >> walking in, trying to get inside. it's chilly but i'm sure he's
kind of anxious to get in there and get this done. this is what we're witnessing here right now, which is not just an entrance. this is the continuation and probably the major pivot point of a huge political situation. >> right. and as we watch gordon sondland behind the mag right now going through security in the building where the hearing will take place, he represents a real problem for the white house because he has direct knowledge of what the president thought. what was in his mind with regard to ukraine, with regard to the potential investigation. so he becomes tricky. he's also changed his testimony. how do republicans treat him today? it's going to be a big part of it. >> look, he could have both sides coming at him. because the republicans, from what we've seen them do with testimony, what do we see? lock step, nothing was done wrong, and anything that seems out of the ordinary was out of the ordinary and the president had nothing to do with it. that is stuff for sondland to
shoulder. >> that's tough for him right now. and he is going to have to make a choice. and to the extent that i think republicans, you know, they have themselves on a real defense yet, but do they want to have some kind of -- this was a rogue operation? kind of a rigged iran/contra. he had no idea what was going on. sondland is going to blow a big hole in that because of these direct conversations he was having, even immediately after the phone call where he basically is overheard by his aides saying, the president doesn't care about ukraine. and this, again, undercuts the -- he cared about corruption argument. >> the other danger for the president and his allies in this is the notion that somehow you isolate sondland to say, well, there's certain things you didn't know. i think he's going to testify, no, i knew. we all knew what the marching orders were. what the president's orders were. this was a coordinated campaign
to get to one place. and that is to have ukrainians investigate joe biden. the other interesting point we've heard day after day, chris, is that this was a policy disagreement. that the bureaucrats are trying to undermine the president because they didn't like his policy. and we know from covering washington all these buildings around us, all these different agencies, state, pentagon, they can be at cross purposes sometimes if they disagree with policy. that's a real thing. the difference here is not what they would have you believe is the loyalty test. the difference is saying, no, the president was pursuing a policy that was about investigating another american, a political opponent. that goes beyond policy differences. >> it's not a policy. >> right. >> it is not an official policy. >> there were huge policy differences within the government, in the iraq war. you know, and you saw leaking and you saw disagreements play out, not like this. >> this is different. >> this isn't the president's feelings about nato and i'm not going to be as nice until everybody else is. you may not know it but that's his call. this is about whether gordon
slon sondland, the eu ambassador, whether he's going to tell a story today that is different than this is just a matter of policy and preferences. there he was when he just entered moments ago. we believe that the testimony is going to begin at the top of the hour so stay with cnn. this is a day to remember. (vo) the moth without hope, struggles in the spider's web.
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gordon sondland arrived on capitol hill and went into the house of representatives office building. he's going to be testifying momentarily, right at the top of the hour. this house intelligence committee hearing is expected to begin. this could be very, very explosive. of course, depending on what he says. and the performance that he delivers right now could be so significant and, gloria, i don't think we can overemphasize potentially what we're bracing for. >> no, i don't think we can. as we were talking about before, gordon sondland is somebody who saw the whole picture because he
had a relationship not only with the president but with the people at the national security agency, people at the state department, with ambassadors abroad and here is somebody who spoke with the president directly who is directed, as we know, by the president to talk to rudy giuliani. we will find out what rudy giuliani wanted him to do and whether he did it and what the president wanted him to do. so i think this is, you know, this is somebody who has a tie to everybody and can talk about what the president told him to do and when he told him to do and what other people in the executive branch knew or did not know. >> and we know that rudy giuliani, you know, he wanted the ukrainians to come up with information or dirt politically damaging information about the bidens, burisma, the 2016 presidential election and all of that. in exchange, the u.s. would lift the suspension on the $400
million in security assistance and set the stage for a meeting with president zelensky and the president in washington. >> you can argue that the quid pro quo has already been established, right, by multiple witnesses with consistent testimony. vindman, hill, volker, williams, all these people coming from different sides of government saying that there was a tie there. by the way, sondland has already said that in what we know from his transcript from the closed door hearing. sondland's testimony, though, one, to hear him say it in public. you can call him a confirmatory witness. but also establish that distance from the president or lack of distance to say these were the instructions delivered to me either by the president or by rudy giuliani at the direction of the president because, you know, i think it's worth acknowledging how far we've moved just in the last few weeks. the quid pro quo has gone from theory, really to fact. so then the question becomes, is it a justified quid po quo and did the president know? >> and is it impeachable.
>> yeah, which is ultimately, you know, the fundamental question. what i'll be looking for from sondland is whether he says, yes, i have the whole picture and it was totally fine. or i didn't have the whole picture. now that i think about it, it was not totally fine which we saw a bit of from volker. i think the president is clearly hoping for the former. i saw what was going on and it was totally fine and here's why it was totally fine. >> i really don't care what sondland thinks is totally fine. i care what the house of representatives thinks is totally fine. the issue here, all this like, did you think it was bribery? these are fact witnesses. they're not judges. the issue is what was the conversation? what was he told to do? what did he do? the notion that any exchange, any quid pro quo, i'm trying to speak english as much as possible, not latin, but any
sort of exchange of dirt on the president, dirt on the president's rivals, versus a meeting with the president and millions of dollars, how is that appropriate under any circumstance? >> i think the -- >> how is that justifiable, legal, appropriate, not a high crime and misdemeanor? >> the point would be that they probably wouldn't say what they were looking for was dirt on the president. as you know, for bribery, you need a corrupt intent. so what's in the president's head actually matters here. and so if it was happening was the president was trying to get a corruption in ukraine and that emblematic of that corruption was this issue that he thought existed with money coming from burisma to biden's son and potential interference in the 2016 election, if that's what was in the president's head and if that's what was in sondland's head, that's a significant thing. >> out of all the corruption in ukraine, the only thing that the
president cares about is this fantasy about the 2016 crowd strike and joe biden's son. there is no conceivable way that is -- >> that would be very -- listen. of all the corruption in ukraine if it were true, and i'm not saying it is, but if it were true that the president believed that the vice president's son got a payoff to influence u.s. policy, and if it were true that ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, that would be incredibly significant. >> there is no basis for that. >> you can't assume fantasies. you can't -- >> that's what i'm saying. what's in the president's head matters. >> but we do know, based on david homes, the political counselor, the counsel forr political affairs in ukraine who overheard a conversation directly from the president with ambassador sondland and then ambassador sondland said according to david holmes, the president doesn't care about ukraine.
he only cares about getting this information about the bidens and the 2016 ukrainian intervention in the u.s. election. that's what he cares about. >> and that's why it matters which gordon sondland shows up today because, really, his story has shifted over a period of months. if we go back to the text messages that have been released between sondland and ambassador taylor, they were going back and forth and taylor says, i think it's crazy to withhold assistance conditioned on these investigations, these political investigations. and then there's this -- remember, there's this delay of hours before sondland gets back to him and says, oh, no, that's not really what's going on. then there's sondland's closed testimony where he says one thing. then he comes back and corrects his testimony. so sondland has not been consistent. and today is really his one last opportunity in open session under oath to say what is really going on. >> important distinction here is not that the president wanted an
investigation. even though there's some language to that efects. he wanted the announcement of an investigation. if you care about corruption, you can have that happen if you have the investigation go on. it can happen quietly. what he wanted over and over again and counsel for the democrats, dan goldman, has been very good on this. in eliciting from witnesses what was important to the president of the united states was the announcement. and that is the thing that casts aspersions and dirt on his political rival joe biden. >> chris, we're bracing for potentially an explosive opening statement from gordon sondland. >> the eu ambassador, mr. sondland, if you can hear me, wolf. >> i hear you now. >> he has to make it okay for himself. people take care of themselves in these situations. and for him to do that, he has to say, i wasn't doing anything that everybody wasn't on board with. i was -- like "the new york times" says this morning, i told
secretary of state pompeo, he knew everything. you know, to the -- the discussion of your panel, so many brilliant lawyers, they're all right, just in common lay speak, you know, we only know what they show. and what was in this president's head is a function of what we saw him do. and if he really had real questions about burisma or biden or payments, you go to the department of justice. you don't ask for an announcement from ukraine about an investigation. that's about politics. it's not about investigating corruption. but, wolf, we'll see how sondland puts it together in a way that protects him and the president. >> all right, chris, stand by. we have major breaking news right now. we now have a copy of the explosive, truly explosive opening remarks by the u.s. ambassador to the european union, gordon sondland. and it is not -- repeat, not good for the white house. not good for president trump.
here's just part of what is in this opening statement that he will read before the committee in moments. sondland will say, and i'm quoting now, 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? as i testified previously with regard to the requested white house call and white house meeting, the answer is yes. the ambassador will then go on to say and once again i'm quoting, everyone was in the loop. it was no secret. everyone was informed via email on july 19th, days before the presidential call. and as i communicated to the team, i told president zelensky in advance that assurances to run a fully transparent investigation and turn over every stone were necessary in his call with president trump. let's go to our senior congressional correspondent manu raju up on capitol hill.
manu, i don't know if republicans are prepared for what they are about to hear from ambassador sondland. >> yeah, because he is describing in more explicit terms this quid pro quo. as he calls it. the president's desire for the ukrainians to publicly announce investigations that can help him politically before a key meeting would be set up between president trump and president zelensky, a meeting that could bolster this alliance with this country. a meeting that was desperately sought by this new administration as a way to bolster his legitimacy in his fight against russia. what gordon sondland will testify, everybody was in the loop as part of this push to demand ukraine announce these investigations before that meeting happened. everybody, a meeting mike pompeo, the secretary of state, mick mulvaney, the acting chief of staff and others as this was happening. and also, he makes very clear that he said he later came to believe that the resumption of the aid, the roughly $400 million in aid was tied to this
announcement of ukraine going forward with these investigations. very significant saying that. and a couple of excerpts here that we'll read from this opening statement, discussing the role of rudy giuliani who, of course, the president had directed as part of this effort saying, first, secretary perry, ambassador volker and i worked with mr. rudy giuliani on ukraine matters. at the express direction of the president of the united states. we did not want to work with mr. giuliani. simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. we all understood that if we refused to work with mr. giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the united states and ukraine. so we followed the president's orders. he comes on and go on to discuss more about this effort to try to get ukraine to move forward on these investigations. some of the discussions that were happening internally and later say he continued to learn about the security aid being withheld and how it could have been tied to this demand for investigations. and he discusses bringing this
up with vice president mike pence at a september meeting in warsaw between vice president mike pence and president zelensky of ukraine. he describes his interactions with mike pence this way. i mentioned to vice president mike pence before the meetings with ukrainians that i had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations. i recall mentioning that before the zelensky meeting. he goes on to say, based on my communications with secretary pompeo, i felt comfortable sharing my concerns with mr. yermak. mr. yermak being the senior official for the ukrainian government. in a brief conversation that happened within a few seconds i told mr. yermak the resumption of u.s. aid would not likely occur until ukraine took action on the public statement we've been discussing for many weeks. there you have it. two key issues. the aid and the meeting. was it tied to this public declaration of investigations that have been demanded by rudy
giuliani at the direction of president trump and gordon sondland makes very clear it absolutely was. and they were trying to fulfill the president's demands in pushing forward on these investigations. so we'll see how -- what else he has to say about his specific interactions with president trump because in this opening statement, wolf, he does not really detail all those conversations he had with president trump. he does talk about the july 26th conversation that he had with the president. we learned about last week in which the president urged this ukraine investigation to go forward. he said he doesn't remember all the details but wouldn't be surprised given the push between trump and giuliani to move forward on this investigation. the president would have brought it up, too, at that time. >> manu, i know you're going through this document. we're going through it as well. stand by. we'll get back to you. gloria, you've been going through this very closely. at one point he says in his opening statement ambassador sondland about rudy giuliani and his associates who have now been indicted by the u.s. attorney for the southern district of new
york, if i had known of all of mr. giuliani's dealings or his associations with individuals now under criminal indictment, i would not have acquiesced to his participation. >> yes. he also says at the time we thought nothing was improper which is kind of surprising and confusing to me about why he would think this was proper to go through rudy giuliani. the bigger point here, wolf, to me is that he says everyone was in the loop. period. end of sentence. >> from the president on down. >> it was no secret. he says it twice. again, everyone was in the loop. including the vice president who he said he thinks it's going to be about investigations. including the secretary of state. including, of course, led by the president of the united states. but he doesn't spare anybody here. he says, look, this was a committee project. this wasn't us acting on some
rogue foreign policy. this was set by the president on down, and everybody knew what the deal was. everybody knew that in order to get this aid through, or -- first of all, in order to get the meeting between zelensky and the president, you had to do this. and then he says, well, i was a little confused about why this aid wasn't -- was being held up. i couldn't get a straight answer on it and then, of course, as we all know, the reason the money was being held up was because there was no deal set on this public announcement as preet talked about before. so it's very clear here that he's going to go about chapter and verse about who knew what when and who led this. and the committee is going to be very interested to know, including the president and the vice president. >> everybody was apparently informed about this deal and at one point, jim, and you're going
through this document, his opening statement as well. he says specifically what they were demanding, everyone was demanding from the ukrainian leadership was a public statement announcing the investigations in the 2016 election, dnc server and burisma. they wanted all of that. burisma meaning the dirt on the bidens. >> you know who else was in the loop? the ukrainians. he says, i shared my concerns with ukraine. >> he also says he shared his concerns with senator ron johnson. >> the idea the ukrainians didn't quo, how could this have been an issue, that goes out the window. this is the eu ambassador saying there was a quid pro quo both for the meeting in the white house and in his view for the security aid and that that was at the direction of the president. at the direction of the president. and as gloria said, everybody knew about it. it wasn't a secret here. so this question that started this whole thing two months ago, was u.s. national security policy on the country which u.s. sees as its greatest threat
along with china, russia, was it held hostage to the president's political demands and from gordon sondland's testimony, sworn under oath, he faces the penalty of jail time if he is not speaking the truth here, that is a fact. and that's a remarkable, remarkable fact. >> yeah, he says at one point, jeffrey, everyone was in the loop. i'm reading directly from his opening statement. it was no secret everyone was informed by email on july 19th, days before the presidential call. as i communicated to the team, i told president zelensky in advance that assurances to run a fully transparent investigation and turn over every stone were necessary in his call with president trump. made it clear the quid pro quo, the latin word, some democrats don't want to use right now, that the president has repeatedly denied t-shirts saying no quid pro quo among his supporters. the u.s. ambassador to the european union who was directly involved in all of this and there he is walking towards the
committee hearing room right now. he says everything the president has been saying basically is wrong. >> you know, this raises one question to me. this testimony. and the question is, is there one republican who has the integrity to see what's playing before their face? is john boehner right that there is no such thing as a republican party anymore? there is only a donald trump party? because sondland's testimony really just lays that question out very plainly because it's obvious that the president has been lying. beginning to end. about his relationship with ukraine and about this story. and the question is, is any republican willing to see what's playing in front of their face? >> gordon sondland is about to name names. >> yes. >> and he is going to lay it out there for the american public. everybody who was involved that what he was doing as was said before was at the president's
direction. everyone that needed to know at the nsc and the state department knew exactly what was going on and as jeffrey says, the only decision that is really going to be left for members of congress and in particular republicans is whether it's okay to hold out defense assistance. >> preet, let me read another sentence from when he concludes. and we'll all hear it in his own words momentarily, what he concludes by saying in all times, i was acting in good faith as the presidential appointee. i followed the directions of the president. we worked with mr. giuliani because the president directed us to do so. >> i think it's devastating. but remember, he has some baggage. he said in writing that there was no quid pro quo. the president quoted from mr. sondland saying there's no quid pro quo. he had that exchange with bill taylor saying the president has been very clear on this. he's done an about-face. what he's now saying is the truth because it's corroborated by other people but he's going to get some withering cross-examination from some people on the panel as to why he said one thing before and a different thing now.
>> and adam schiff, the chairman, is now in the hearing room. gloria? >> and also, just in terms of the whole in the loop and everybody was in on the secret here, he says, in his testimony, we kept the leadership at the state department and the nsc informed of our activities. that included communications with secretary of state. he goes on with ambassador john bolton, dr. fiona hill, mr. tim morrison and their staff at the nsc. they knew what we were doing and why. so it was this -- what was this elephant in the room that nobody really wanted to talk about but they figured they had to get around because they all shared the goal of getting the aid to ukraine and they knew that they had to work around the president of the united states in order to do that. >> ross, the ambassador also says he was told not to appear, not to testify, not to give a deposition. he will say this. he disagreed with those orders.
i did so despite directions from the white house and state department that i refuse to appear as many others have done. i agreed to testify because i respect the gravity of the moment and believe i have an obligation to account fully for my role in these events. >> yeah, he is one of the key witnesses who has disregarded the administration's directive to not appear. one thing that struck me in addition about his testimony is the conclusion. he says our efforts reported and approved and then, i think, a key part, not once do i recall encountering objection. that, i think, is going to be a critical point, if it is true. and i think he's going to be pressed on that, that nobody -- >> hold on. >> including john bolton. >> the photographers are leaving in front of the tanble. the chairman is about to call this session. this will be a true bombshell
right now that we will hear from ambassador gordon sondland, the u.n. ambassador to the european union. here's the chairman. >> we'll come to order. good morning, everyone. this is the fifth in a series of public hearings the committee will be holding as part of the house of representatives impeachment inquiry. without objection, the chair is authorized to declare a recess at any time. there is a quorum present. we will proceed today in the same fashion as our other hearings. i'll make an opening statement and ranking member nunes will have the opportunity to make a statement. we'll turn to our witness for an opening statement. and then to questions. for audience members, we welcome you and respect your interest in being here. in turn, we ask for your respect as we proceed with today's hearing. it's the intention of the committee to proceed without disruptions. i'll make all necessary and proper steps to maintain order and ensure the committee is run in accordance with house rules and house resolution 660.
i now recognize myself to give an opening statement in the impeachment inquiry into donald j. trump, the 45th president of the united states. this morning we will hear from gordon sondland, the american ambassador to the european union. we are here today as part of the house of representatives' impeachment inquiry because president donald trump sought to condition military aid to ukraine and an oval office meeting with the new ukrainian president zelensky in exchange for politically motivated investigations that trump believed would help his re-election campaign. the first investigation was of a discredited conspiracy theory that ukraine, not russia, was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election. the second investigation that trump demanded into -- was into a political rival that he apparently feared most, joe biden. trump sought to weaken biden and to refute the fact that his own election campaign in 2016 had been helped by russian hacking
and dumping operation and russian social media campaign directed by vladimir putin to help trump. trump's scheme undermined military and diplomatic support for a key ally and undercut u.s. anti-corruption efforts in ukraine. trump put his personal and political interests above those of the united states. as ambassador sondland would later tell career foreign service officer david holmes immediately after speaking to the president, trump did not give a expletive about ukraine. he cares about the big stuff that benefits him, like the biden investigations that rudy giuliani was pushing. ambassador sondland was a skilled dealmaker, but in trying to satisfy a directive from the president, found himself increasingly embroiled in an effort to press the new ukrainian president that deviated sharply from the norm in both terms of policy and process. in february, ambassador sondland travelled to ukraine hosfirst official trip to that country.
while in kyiv, he met with then ambassador to ukraine marie yovanovitch and found her to be an excellent diplomat with a deep command of ukrainian internal dynamics. on april 21st, mr. zelensky was elected president and spoke to president trump who congratulated him and said he would look into attending zelensky's inauguration but pledged to send someone at a very, very high level. between the time of that call and the inaugural on may 20, trump's attitude towards ukraine hardened. on may tlaent, the president ordered vice president mike pence not to attend zelensky's inauguration opting instead to dispatch the self-dubbed three amigos. rick perry, ambassador sondland and ambassador kurt volker, the special representative for ukraine negotiations. after rureturning from the inauguration, they briefed president trump on their encouraging first interactions with the new ukrainian
administration. they urged the president to meet with zelensky, but the president's reaction was decidedly hostile. the president's order was clear, however. talk with rudy. during this meeting, ambassador sondland first became aware of what giuliani and the president were really interested in. this whole thing was sort of a continuum, he testified at his deposition, starting at may -- at the may 23rd meeting. ending up at the end of the line when the transcript of the call came out. it was a continuum he would explain that became more insidious over time. the three amigos were disappointed with trump's directive to engage giuliani, but vowed to press ahead. ambassador sondland testified we could abandon the goal of a white house meeting with president zelensky which the group deemed necessary for ukrainian relations or we could do as president trump directed and talk to mr. giuliani to
address the president's concerns. we chose the latter path. in the coming weeks, ambassador sondland got more clearly involved in ukraine policy making with the june 4 u.s. mission to the eu independence day event in brussels one month earlier. secretary perry, brechtel and state department counselor and sondland met with president zelensky whom he invited on the margins of the event. on june 10, 2019, secretary perry organized a conference call with sondland, then national security adviser john bolton, volker and others. it reviewed ukraine strategy with bolton and decided perry, sondland and volker would assist ambassador bill taylor, the new acting ambassador in kyiv and discuss trump's desire for rudy giuliani to be somehow involved. at the end of the call, according to sondland, we all felt very comfortable with the strategy moving forward. two weeks later, on june 27th,
ambassador sondland called taylor to say that, quote, zelensky needed to make clear to president trump that he was not standing in the way of investigations. on july 10th, ambassador sondland and other u.s. officials met at the white house with a group of u.s. and ukrainian officials. participants in the meeting have told us that ambassador sondland invoked acting white house chief of staff mick mulvaney and said that the white house meeting sought by the ukrainian president with trump would happen only if ukraine undertook certain investigations. national security adviser bolton abruptly ended the meeting upon hearing this. undeterred, sondland brought ththe ukrainian delegation downstairs and was more explicit. ukraine needed to investigate the bidens or burisma and the 2016 election interference if they wanted to get a meeting at all. following this meeting in july, bolton said that he would not be part of whatever drug deal sondland and mulvaney are
cooking up on this. sondland continued to press for a meeting but he and others were willing to settle for a phone call as an intermediate step. on july 21, taylor texted sondland that president zelensky is sensitive about ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument of washington domestic re-election politics. sondland responded, absolutely. but we need to get the conversation started and the relationship built irrespective of the pretext. so that zelensky and trump could meet and all of this will be fixed. on july 25th, the day of the trump/zelensky call, volker had lunch in kyiv with a senior aide to president zelensky and later texted the aide to say that he had heard from the white house, assuming president z convinces trump he will investigate, get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to washington. good luck.
ambassador sondland spoke to president trump a few minutes before the call was placed but was not on the call. during that now-infamous phone call with zelensky, trump responded to the ukrainian expression of appreciation for u.s. defense support and requested buy more javelin anti-tank muscles by saying i'd like you to do us a favor, though. trump asked zelensky to investigate the discredited 2016 conspiracy theory and even more ominously, look into the bidens. neither had been part of the official preparatory material for the call but they were in donald trump's personal interest and the interest of his re-election campaign. and the ukrainian president knew about both in advance in part because of ambassador volker and ambassador sondland's efforts to make him aware of what the president was demanding. around this time, ambassador sondland became aware of the suspension of security assistance to ukraine which had been announced on a secure inner agency video conference telling us it was extremely odd that
nobody involved in making and implementing policy towards ukraine knew why the aid had been put on hold. during august, sondland participated in conference calls and text messages with volker and giuliani and said that the gist of every call was what was going to go in the press statement? in august 9, text message with volker, sondland stated, i think potus really wants the deliverable which was, according to sondland, a deliverable public statement that president trump wanted to see or hear before a white house meeting could happen. on september 1, ambassador sondland participated in vice president pence's bilateral meeting with zelensky in warsaw. during which zelensky raised the suspended security assistance. following that meeting, sondland approached the senior ukrainian official to tell him that he believed what could help them move the aid was if the ukrainian prosecutor general would go to the mic and announce that he was opening the burisma
investigation. sondland told taylor that he had made a mistake by telling the ukrainians that an oval office meeting was dependent on a public announcement of investigations. in fact, everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. but even the announcement by the prosecutor general would not satisfy the president. on september 7th, sondland spoke to the president and told tim morrison and bill taylor about the call shortly thereafter. the president said that although this was not a quid pro quo, if president zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate. moreover, announcement by the prosecutor general would not be enough. president zelensky must personally -- must announce personally that he would open the investigations. sondland told him that president trump was a businessman. when a businessman is to sign a check to someone who owes him, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the
check. the check, referred to here, was the u.s. military assistance to ukraine and ukraine had to pay up with investigations. throughout early september, volker and sondland sought to close the deal. after volker texted sondland on september 9, 2019, that i think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. 16 days later, the transcript of the july 25th call was made public and the american people learned the truth of how our president tried to take advantage of a vulnerable ally. now it is up to congress as the people's representatives to determine what response is appropriate. if the president abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections if he sought to condition, coert or extort and did so by withholding official actss, the white house
meeting or hundreds of millions of needed aid, it will be up to us to decide whether those acts are compatible with the office of the presidency. finally, i want to say a word about the president and secretary pompeo's obstruction of this investigation. we have not received a single document from the state department, and as ambassador sondland's opening statement today will make clear, those documents bear directly on this investigation and this impeachment inquiry. i think we know now, based on a sample of the documents attached to ambassador sondland's statement, that the knowledge of this scheme was far and wide. and included, among others, secretary of state pompeo, as well as the vice president. we can see why secretary pompeo and president trump have made
such a concerted and across the board effort to obstruct this investigation and this impeachment inquiry. and i will just say this, they do so at their own peril. i remind the president that article 3 of the impeachment articles drafted against president nixon was his refusal to obey the subpoenas of congress. and with that, i recognize ranking member nunes for any remarks he would wish to make. >> i thank the gentleman. as we learned last night, storytime last night, we get storytime first thing this morning. ambassador sondland, welcome. glad you're here. really not glad you're here, but welcome to the fifth day of this circus. as i've noted before, the democrats on this committee spent three years accusing president trump of being a russian agent. in march 2018, after a year-long
investigation, intelligence committee republicans issued a 240-page report describing in detail how the russians meddled in the 2016 elections and making specific recommendations to improve our election security. denouncing the report as a whitewash and accusing republicans of subverting the investigation, the democrats issued their own report. focusing on their now-debunkt conspiracy theory that the trump campaign colluded with russia to hack the elections. notably, the democrats vowed at the time to present a further, quote, comprehensive report, unquote, after they finished their investigation into trump's treasonous collusion with russia. for some completely inexplicable reason, after the implosion of their russia hoax, the democrats failed to issue that comprehensive report.
we're still waiting. this episode shows how the democrats have exploited the intelligence committee for political purposes for three years. culminating in these impeachment hearings and their mania to attack the president. no conspiracy theory is too outlandish for the democrats. time and time again, they floated the possibility of some far-fetched malfeasance by trump, declared the dire need to investigate it and then suddenly dropped the issue and moved on to their next asinine theory. a sampling of their accusations and insinuations includes these. trump is a longtime russian agent as described in the steele dossier. the russians gave trump advance access to emails, stolen by the dnc and the hillary clinton campaign. the trump campaign based some of its activities on these stolen
documents. trump received nefarious materials from the russians through a trump campaign aide. trump laundered russian money through real estate deals. trump was blackmailed by russia through his financial exposure with deutsche bank. trump had a diabolical plan to build a trump tower in moscow. trump changed the republican platform to hurt ukraine and benefit russia. the russians laundered money through the nra for the trump campaign. trump's son-in-law lied about his russian contacts while obtaining his security clearance. it's a long list of charges, all false. and i could go on and on and on but i'll spare you for these moments. clearly these ludicrous accusations don't reflect committee members who are honestly searching for the truth. they are the actions of partisan extremists who hijack the
intelligence committee, transformed it into the impeachment committee, abandoned its core oversight functions and turned it into a beachhead for ousting an elected president from office. you have to keep that history in mind as you consider the democrats' latest catalog of supposed trump outrages. granted, a friendly call with the ukrainian president wouldn't seem too rise to the same level as being a russian agent, but the democrats were running out of time. if they waited any longer, their impeachment circus would intervene with their own candidates' 2020 campaigns. so you have to give them points for creativity in selling this absurdity as an impeachable offense. it explain yes the democrats have gathered zero republican support in the house of representatives for their impeachment crusade. in fact, the vote we held was a
bipartisan vote against this impeachment inquiry. speaker pelosi, chairman schiff and chairman nadler, the key figures behind this impeachment crusade all proclaim that impeachment is so damaging to the country that it can only proceed with bipartisan support. are those declarations suddenly no longer true? did impeachment become less divisive? of course not. they know exactly what kind of damage they are inflicting on this nation. but they've passed the point of no return. after three years of preparation work, much of it spearheaded by the democrats on this committee, using all the tools of congress to accuse, investigate and indict and smear the president, they stoked a frenzy amongst their most fanatical supporters that they can no longer control.
ambassador sondland, you are here today to be smeared. but you'll make it through it and i appreciate your service to this country and i am sorry that you've had to go through this. in closing, the democrats have zeroed in on an anonymous whistle-blower complaint that was cooked up in cooperation with the democrats on this very committee. they lied to the american people about that cooperation and refused to let us question the whistle-blower to discover the truth. meanwhile, the democrats lash out against anyone who questions or casts doubt on this spectacle. when ukrainian president zelensky denies anything improper happened on the phone call, the democrats say he's a liar. when journalists report on ukraine election meddling and
hunter biden's position on the board of corrupt ukrainian companies, the democrats label them conspiracy theorists. when the democrats can't get any traction for their allegations of quid pro quo, they move the goal post and accuse the president of extortion. then bribery and at last resort, obstruction of justice. the american people sent us to washington to solve problems. not to wage scorched earth political warfare against the other party. this impeachment is not helping the american people, it's not a legitimate use of taxpayer dollars, and it's definitely not improving our national security. finally, the democrats' fake outrage that president trump used his own channel to communicate with ukraine. i'll remind my friends on the other side of the aisle that our
first president george washington directed his own diplomatic channels to secure a treaty with great britain. if my democratic colleagues were around in 1794, they probably would want to impeach him, too. mr. chairman, this morning we have transmitted to you a letter exercising our rights under hrres 660 to subpoena documents and witnesses. we take this step because you've failed to ensure fairness and objectivity in this inquiry. as such, we need to subpoena hunter biden and the whistle-blower for closed door depositions as well as relevant documents from the dnc, hunter biden's firm, rosemont zeneca and the whistle-blower. in the interest of some, basic level of fairness, we expect you to concur with these subpoenas. and i'll submit that letter for
the record and yield back the balance of my time. >> i thank the gentleman. we are joined this afternoon by ambassador gordon sondland. i'm sorry. this morning. it was a long day yesterday. gordon sondland is the u.s. representative to the european union with the rank of ambassador. before joining the state department, ambassador sondland was the founder and ceo of providence hotels, the national owner and operator of full-service hotels. also prior to his government service ambassador sondland was engaged in charitable enterprises. two final points before our witness is sworn. first, witness depositions as part of this inquiry were in unclassified -- were unclassified in nature. and all open hear,s will also be held at the unclassified level. any information that may touch on classified information will be addressed separately. second, congress will not tolerate any reprisal, threat of
reprisal or attempt to retaliate against any u.s. government official for testifying before congress, including you or any of your colleagues. if you would please rise and raise your right hand. i will begin by swearing you in. do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? let the record show the witness has answered in the affirmative. thank you and please be seated. the microphone is sensitive so please speak directly into it. without objection, your written statement will be made part of the record and with that, ambassador sondland, you are now recognized for your opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you ranking member nunes. i appreciate the opportunity to speak again to the members of this committee. first, let me offer my thanks to the men and women of the u.s. department of state who have
committed their professional lives to support the foreign policy work of the united states. in particular, i want to thank my staff at the u.s. mission to the european union. your integrity, dedication and hard work often performed without public acclaim or recognition serve as a shining example of true public service. and i am personally grateful to work beside you each and every day. it is my honor to serve as the u.s. ambassador to the european union. the u.s. mission to the eu is the direct link between the united states and the european union and its members. america's longest standing allies and one of the largest economic blocs in the world. every day, i work to support a strong united and peaceful europe. strengthening our ties with
europe serves both american and european goals. as we together promote political stability and economic prosperity around the world. i expect that few americans have heard my name before these events, so before i begin my substantive testimony, please let me share some of my personal background. my parents fled europe during the holocaust. escaping the atrocities of that time, my parents left germany for uruguay and then, in 1953, emigrated to seattle, washington, where i was born and raised. like so many immigrants, my family was eager for freedom and hungry for opportunity. they raised my sister and me to be humble, hardworking n patr i patrioting and i am forever grateful for the sacrifices they
made on our behalf. public service has always been important to me. as a life-long republican, i have contributed to initiatives of both republican and democratic administrations. in 2003, i served as a member of the transition team for oregon democratic governor ted kolengowsky. the governor also appointed me to serve on various statewide boards. in 2007, president george w. bush appointed me as a member of the commission on white house fellows. i worked with president bush on charitable events for his foundations military service initiative, and i also worked briefly with former vice president joe biden's office in connection with the vice president's nationwide anti-cancer initiative at a local northwest hospital. and, of course, the highest honor in my public life came
when president trump asked me to serve as the united states ambassador to the european union. the senate confirmed me as an ambassador on a bipartisan voice vote, and i assumed the role in brussels on july 9th, 2018. although today is my first public testimony on the ukraine matters, this is not my first time cooperating with this committee. as you know, i've already provided ten hours of deposition testimony. and i did so despite directives from the white house and the state department that i refuse to appear as many others have do done. i refused to testify because i respect the gravity of the moment and believe i have an obligation to account fully for my role in these events. but i also must acknowledge that this process has been challenging. and in many respects, less than
fair. i have not had access to all of my phone records, state department emails and many, many other state department documents. and i was told i could not work with my eu staff to pull together the relevant files and information. having access to the state department materials would have been very helpful to me in trying to reconstruct with whom i spoke and met and when and what was said. as ambassador, i've had hundreds of meetings and calls with individuals. but i am not a note taker or a memo writer. never have been. my job requires that i speak with heads of state, senior government officials, members of the cabinet, the president, almost each and every day. talking with foreign leaders might be memorable to some
people, but this is my job. i do it all the time. my lawyers and i have made multiple requests to the state department and the white house for these materials. yet these materials were not provided to me, and they have also refused to share these materials with this committee. these documents are not classified. and in fairness, in fairness, should have been made available. in the absence of these materials, my memory admittedly has not been perfect. and i have no doubt that a more fair, open and orderly process of allowing me to read the state department records and other materials would have made this process far more transparent. i don't intend to repeat my prior opening statement or attempt to summarize ten hours of previous deposition testimony. however, a few critical points
have been obscured by noise over the last few days and weeks. and i am worried that the bigger picture is being ignored. so let me make a few key points. first, secretary perry, ambassador volker and i worked with mr. rudy giuliani on ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the united states. we did not want to work with mr. giuliani. simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt. we all understood that if we refused to work with mr. giuliani, we would lose a very important opportunity to cement relations between the united states and ukraine. so we followed the president's orders. second, although we disagreed with the need to involve mr.
giuliani, at the time, we did not believe that his role was improper. as i previously testified, if i had known of all of mr. giuliani's dealings or his associations with individuals, some of whom are now under criminal indictment, i personally would not have acquiesced to his participation. still, given what we knew at the time, what we were asked to do did not appear to be wrong. third. let me say precisely because we did not think that we were engaging in improper behavior, we made every effort to ensure that the relevant decisionmakers at the national security council and the state department knew the important details of our efforts. the suggestion that we were engaged in some irregular or
rogue diplomacy is absolutely false. i have now identified certain state department emails and messages that provide contemporaneous support for my view. these emails show that the leadership of the state department, the national security council and the white house were all informed w the ukraine efforts from may 23rd, 2019, until the security aid was released on september 11th, 2019. i will quote from some of those messages with you shortly. fourth, as i testified previously, as i testified previously, mr. giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arang
arranging a white house visit for president zelensky. mr. giuliani demanded that ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election, dnc server and burisma. mr. giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the united states, and we knew these investigations were important to the president. fifth. in july and august of 2019, we learned that the white house had also suspended security aid to ukraine. i was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid. i was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid as the ukrainians needed those funds to fight against russian aggression. i tried dill geigently to ask w the aid was suspended but information received a clear answer.
still haven't to this day. in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, i later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 elections and burisma as mr. giuliani had demanded. i shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid with senator ron johnson. and i also shared my concerns with the ukrainians. finally, at all times, i was acting in good faith. i was acting in good faith. as a presidential appointee, i followed the directions of the president. we worked with mr. giuliani because the president directed us to do so. we had no desire to set any
conditions. we had no desire to set any conditions on the ukrainians. indeed, my own personal view, which i shared repeatedly with others, was that the white house and security assistance should have proceeded without preconditions of any kind. we were working to overcome the problems given the facts as they existed. our only interest, and my only interest was to advance longstanding u.s. policy and to support ukraine's fragile democracy. now let me provide additional details, specifically about ukraine and my involvement. first, my very first days as ambassador to the eu, which was starting back in july of 2018,
ukraine has featured promptinently in my broader portfolio. ukraine's political and economic development are critical to the longstanding and longstanding stability of europe. moreover, the conflict in eastern ukraine and crimea remains one of the most significant security crises for europe and the united states. our efforts to counterbalance an aggressive russia depend in substantial part on a strong ukraine. on april 21st, 2019, volodymiyr zelensky was elected president of ukraine in an historic election with the express support of secretary pompeo, i attended president zelensky's inauguration on may 20th as part of the u.s. delegation, which was led by energy secretary rick perry. the u.s. delegation also
included senator johnson, ukraine special envoy volker and lieutenant colonel alex vindman, the national security council. my attendant at president zelensky's inauguration was not my first involvement with ukraine. as i testified previously, just four days after assuming my post as ambassador in july of 2018, i received an official delegation from the government of then-ukraine president petro poroshenko. the meeting took place at the u.s. mission in brussels and was prearranged by my career eu staff. and i've had several meetings since then in brussels. later, in february of 2019, i worked well with u.s. ambassador marie yovanovitch in making my first official visit to ukraine for a u.s. navy visit to the
strategic black sea port of odessa. and the reason i raise these prior ukraine activities, the meetings in brussels, my visit to odessa, is to emphasize that ukraine has been a part of my portfolio from my very first days as the u.s. ambassador. any claim that i somehow muscled my way in to the ukraine relationship is simply false. during the zelensky inauguration on may 20th, the u.s. delegation developed a very positive view of the ukraine government. we were impressed by president zelensky's desire to promote a stronger relationship with the united states. we admired his commitment to reform, and we were excited about the possibility of ukraine making the changes necessary to support a greater western economic investment.
and we were excited that ukraine might, after years and years of lip service, finally get serious about addressing its own well-known corruption problems. with that enthusiasm, we returned to the white house on may 23rd to brief president trump. we advised the president of the strategic importance of ukraine and the value of strengthening the relationship with president zelensky. to support this reformer, we asked the white house for two things. first, a working phone call between presidents trump and zelensky and, second, a working oval office visit. in our view, both were vital to cementing the u.s./ukraine relationship. demonstrating support for ukraine in the face of russian aggression and advancing broader u.s. foreign policy interests.
unfortunately, president trump was skeptical. he expressed concerns that the ukrainian government was not serious about reform, and he even mentioned that ukraine tried to take him down in the last election. in response to our persistent efforts in that meeting to change his views, president trump directed us to, quote, talk with rudy. we understood that talk with rudy meant talk with mr. rudy giuliani, the president's personal lawyer. let me say again, we weren't happy with the president's directive to talk with rudy. we did not want to involve mr. giuliani. i believe then as i do now that the men and women of the state department, not the president's personal lawyer, should take responsibility for ukraine matters. nonetheless, based on the
president's direction, we were faced with a choice. we could abandon the efforts to schedule the white house phone call and a white house visit between presidents trump and zelensky, which was unquestionably in our foreign policy interests, or we could do as president trump had had directed and talked with rudy. we chose the latter course, fought because we liked it, but because it was the only constructive path opened to us. over the course of the next several months, secretary perry, ambassador volker and were in communications with mr. guiliani. secretary perry volunteered to make the initial calls with mr. guiliani, given their prior relationship. ambassador volker made several of the early calls and generally informed us of what was discussed. i, first, communicated with
mr. guiliani in early august, several months later. mr. guiliani emphasized that the president wanted a public statement from president zelensky committing ukraine to look into the corruption issues. mr. guiliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election, including the dnc server and burisma as two topics of importance to the president. we kept the leadership of the state department and the nsc informed of our activities. and that included communications with secretary of state pompeo, his counsellor, his executive secretary, lisa kenna and also communications with ambassador bolton, dr. hill, mr. morrison and their staff at the nsc. they knew what we were doing and
why. on july 10th, 2019, senior ukrainian national security officials met with ambassador bolton, ambassador volker, dr. hill, secretary perry, myself and several others in washington, d.c. during that meeting, we all discussed the importance of the two action items i identified earlier. one, a working phone call and, two, a white house meeting between presidents trump and zelensky. from my perspective, the july 10th meeting was a positive step towards accomplishing our shared goals. while i am now aware of accounts of the meeting from dr. hill and lt. col. vindman, their recollection of those events simply don't square with my open or with those of ambassador volker or of secretary perry.
i recall mentioning the pre requisite of investigations before any white house call or meeting, but i do not recall any yelling or screaming or abrupt terminations as others have said. instead, after the meeting, ambassador bolton walked outside with our group and we all took some great pictures together outside on the white house lawn. more important, those recollections of protests do not square with the documentary record of our interactions with the nsc in the days and weeks that followed. we kept the nsc apprised of our efforts, including, specifically, our efforts to secure a public statement from the ukrainians that would satisfy president trump's concerns. for example, on july 13th, and this is three days after that july 10th meeting, i e-mailed
tim morrison. he had just taken over dr. hill's post as the nsc-eur-asia director and i met him that day for the first time. i wrote to mr. morrison with these towards, the call between zelensky and potus, president of the united states, should happen before seven-1121, which is the parliamentary elections in ukraine. sole purpose is for zelensky to give potus assurances of new sheriff in town, corruption ending, on bundling moving forward and i emphasized any hampered investigations will be allowed to move forward transparently. goal is for pot us to invite him. mr. morrison acknowledged and said, thank you.
and specifically noted that he was tracking these issues. again, there is no secret regarding moving forward and the discussion of investigations. moreover, i have reviewed other state department documents, some of which are not currently in the public domain, detailing mr. guiliani's fefrts efforts. for example, on july 10th, the very same day that ambassador volker, secretary perry and i were meeting with the ukraine officials in washington, ambassador taylor received a communications that mr. guiliani was still talking with ukrainian pr prosecutor yuriy fp yosenko with ambassador volker and i, ambassador taylor wrote to us as follows. just had a meeting with ondrain and vidim. referring to ukraine foreign
minister vadym. they were concerned about what were he told them. according to rg, meaning rudy guiliani, the zelensky-potus meeting will not happen. volker responded, good grief, please tell the dean to let the u.s. official government representatives speak for the u.s. lutsenko has his own self interest here. taylor confirmed that he had communicated that message to the ukrainians and he added, i believed ulrich this afternoon on this referring to state counsel counselor. three things are critic about about this whatsapp exchange.
first, ambassador taylor, ambassador volker and i were all surprised by this. second, mr. guiliani was communicating with the reportedly corrupt ukrainian prosecutoror lutsenko and discussing whether a trump-zelensky meeting was going to happen, again without our knowledge. third with this alarming news, ambassador taylor briefed ulrich, the counselor to secretary of state pompeo. even as late as september 24th of this year, secretary pomp i don't know was directing kurt volker to speak with mr. guiliani. in a whatsapp message, kurt volker told me, inpart, spoke with rudy per guidance from s. s is the state department's official designator for the secretary. spoke with rudy per guidance from s.
look. we tried our best to fix the problem. while keeping the state department and the nsc closely apprised of the challenges we faced. on july 25th, presidents trump and sezelensky had their offici calm. i was not on the call and i don't think i was invited to be on the calowe /* call. in fact, i first read the transcript the day it was publicly released. all i had heard at that time was that the call had gone well. looking back, i find it very odd, very odd that neither i nor ambassador taylor nor ambassador volker ever received detailed readout of that call with the biden references. now, there are people who say they had concerns about the call, but no one shared any concerns with me at the time, which, frankly, would have been
very helpful to know. on july 26th, ambassador taylor, ambassador volker and i were all in kiev to meet with president zelensky. the timing of that trip, immediately after the call between presidents trump and zelensky was entirely, entirely coincidental. the kiev meetings had been scheduled well before the date that the white house finally fixed the call. during our kiev meeting, i do not recall president zelensky discussing the substance of his july 25th call with president trump. nor did he discuss any request to investigate vice president biden, which we all later learned was discussed on the july 25th call. and this is consistent with the reported comments from ambassadors volker and taylor. after the zelensky meeting, i also met with zelensky's senior
aid, andre yermak, i don't recall the specifics of our conversation, but i believe the issue of investigations was probably a part of that agenda or meeting. ch also, on july 26th, shortly after our kiev meetings, i spoke by phone with president trump. the white house, which has finally, finally shared certain call dates and times with my attorneys confirms this. the call lasted 5 minutes. i remember i was at a restaurant in kiev and i have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations. again, given mr. guiliani's demand that president zelensky make a public statement about investigations, i knew that investigations were important to president trump. we did not discuss any classified information. ch other witnesses have recently shared their recollection of overhearing this call. for the most part, i have no
reason to doubt their accounts. it's true that the president speaks loudly at times and it's also true -- i think we've primarily discussed asap rocky. it's true that the president likes to use colorful language. anyone who has met with him at any reasonable amount of time knows this while i cannot remember the precise details, again, the white house has not allowed me to see any readouts of that call and the july 26th call did not strike me as significant at the time. actually, actually, i would have been more surprised if president trump had not mentioned investigations, particularly given what we were hearing from mr. guiliani about the president's concerns. however, i have no recollection of discussing vice president biden or his son on that call or after the call ended. i know that members of this committee frequently framed
these complicated issues in the form of a simple question. was there a quid pro quo? as i testified previously, with regard to the requested white house call and the white house meeting, the answer is yes. mr. guiliani conveyed to secretary perry, ambassador volker and others that president trump wanted a public statement from president zelensky committing to investigations of burisma and the 2016 election. mr. guiliani expressed those requests directly to the ukrainians and mr. guiliani also expressed those requests directly to us. we all understood that these pre requisites for the white house call and the right white house meeting reflected president trump's desires and requirements. within my state department e-mails, there is a july 19th e-mail. this e-mail was sent.
this e-mail was sent to secretary pompeo, secretary perry, brian mccormick, who is secretary perry's chief of staff at the time, miss kenna, who is the acting, pardon me, who is the executive secretariat for pompeo and mr. mulvaney and mr. mulvaney's senior adviser rob blair. a lot of senior officials. a lot of senior officials. here is my exact quote from that e-mail. i talked to zelensky just now. he is prepared to received potus' call. we'll assure him that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will turn over every stone. he would greatly appreciate a call prior to sunday so that he
can put out some media about a friendly and productive call no, details, prior to ukraine election on sunday. chief of staff mulvaney responded. i asked the nsc to set it up for tomorrow. everyone was in the loop. it was no secret. everyone was informed via e-mail on july 19th. days before the presidential call. as i communicated to the team, i told president zelensky in advance that assurances to run a fully transparent investigation and turn over every stone were necessary in his call with president trump. on july 19th in a whatsapp message between ambassador taylor, ambassador volker and me. ambassador volker stated, had
breakfast with rudy this morning. that's ambassador volker and rudy guiliani. teeing up call with yermak monday. that's senior adviser andre yermak. must have helped. most important is for zelensky to say he will help investigation and address any specific personnel issues, if there are any. on august 10th, the next day, mr. yermak texted me. once we have a date, which is a date for the white house meeting, we will call for a press briefing announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of the u.s.-ukraine relationship, including among other things burisma and election meddling and investigations. this is from mr. yermak to me. the following day, august 11th, and this is critical, i sent an
e-mail to counselor breckbull and lisa kenna. lisa kenna was used as the pathway to secretary pompeo, as sometimes he preferred to receive his e-mails through her. she would print them out and put them in front of him. with the subject ukraine. i wrote, mike, referring to mike pompeo, curt and i negotiated a statement from zelensky to be delivered for our review in a day or two. the contents will, hopefully, make the boss happy enough. the boss being the president, to authorize an invitation. zelensky plans to have a big presser, press conference, on the openness subject, including specifics next week. all of which referred to the 2016 and the burisma.
miss kenna replied, gone, i'll pass to the secretary. thank you. again, everyone was in the loop. curiously, and this was very interesting to me, on august 26th, shortly before his visit to kiev, ambassador bolton's office requested mr. guiliani's contact information from me. i sent ambassador bolton the information directly. they requested mr. guiliani's contact information on august 26th. i was first informed that the white house was holding security aid to ukraine during conversations with ambassador
taylor on july 18th, 2019. however, as i testified before, i was never able to obtain a clear answer regarding the specific reason for the hold, whether it was bureaucratic in nature, which often happens, or reflected some other concern in the inner-agency process. i never participated in any of the subsequent dod or dos review meetings that others have described, so i can't speak to what was discussed in those meetings. nonetheless, before the september 1st warsaw meeting, the ukrainians had become aware that security funds had yet to be dispursed. in the ab accepts of any credible explanation for the hold, i came to the conclusion that the aid, like the white house visit, was jeopardized. in preparation for the september 1 warsaw meeting, i asked
secretary pompeo whether a face-to-face conversation between trump and zelensky would help to break the log jam him and this was when president trump was still intending to travel to warsaw. specifically, on august 22nd, i e-mailed secretary pompeo directly, copying secretary kenna. i wrote. and this is my e-mail to secretary pompeo, should we block time in warsaw for a short pull-aside for potus to meet zelensky? i would ask zelensky to look him in the eye and tell him that once ukraine's new justice folks are in place in mid-september, that zelensky, he, zelensky, should be able to move forward publicly and with confidence on those issues of importance to potus and the u.s.
hopefully that will help break the log jam. the secretary replied, yes. i followed up the next day asking to get 10 to 15 minutes on the warsaw schedule for this. i said we'd like to know when it's locked so that i can tell zelensky and brief him. executive secretary kenna replied, i will try for sure. moreover, given my concerns about the security aid, i have no reason to dispute that portion of senator johnson's repeat letter in which he recalls conversations he and i had on august 30th. by the end of august, my belief was that if you crane did something to demonstrate a serious intention to fight corruption and specifically addressing burisma and the 2016, then the hold on military aid would be lifted. there was a september 1st
meeting with president zelensky in warsaw. unfortunately, president trump's attendance at the warsaw meeting was cancelled due to hurricane dorian. vice president pence attended instead. i mentioned vice president pence before the meetings with the ukrainians that i had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations. i recall mentioning that before the zelensky meeting. during the actual meeting, president zelensky raised the issue of security assistance directly with vice president pence and the vice president said that he would speak to president trump about it. based on my previous communications with secretary pompeo, i felt comfortable sharing my concerns with mr. yermak. it was a very, very brief pull-aside conversation that happened within a few seconds. i told mr. yermak that i believe that the resumption of u.s. aid would likely not occur until
ukraine took some kind of action on the public statement that we had been discussing for many weeks. as my other state department colleagues have testified, this security aid was critical to ukraine's defense and should not have been delayed. i expressed this view to many during this period, but my goal at the time was to do what was necessary to get the aid released, to break the log jam. i believe that the public statement we had been discussing for weeks was essential to advancing that goal. you know, i really regret that the you caneians were placed in that predicament. but i do not regret doing what i could to try to break the log jam and to solve the problem. i mentioned at the outset, that throughout these events, we kept state department leadership and others apprised of what we were doing. state department was fully supportive of our engagement in ukraine efforts and was aware
that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing. to provide just two examples, on june 5th, the day after the u.s.-eu mission hosted our independence day. we did it a month early, acting assistant secretary phil irreek sent an e-mail to me and secretary perry and others forwarding media coverage of president zelensky's attendance at our event. he wrote, i quote. this headline underscores the importance and timeliness of zelensky's visit to brussels and the critical and the critical perhaps historic role of the dinner and engagement gordon coordinated. thank you for your participation and dedication to this effort. months later, on september 3rd, i sent secretary pompeo an
e-mail to express my appreciation for his joining a series of meetings in brussels, following the warsaw trip. i wrote, mike, thanks, for schlepping to europe. i think it was really important and the chemistry seems promising. really appreciate it. secretary pompeo replied the next day on wednesday, september 4th. quote, all good. you're doing great work. keep banging away. state department leadership expressed total support for our efforts to engage the if you ukrainian administration. look, i've never doubted the strategic value of strengthening our alliance with ukraine and at all times, at all times, our efforts were in good faith and fully transparent to those tasks with overseeing them. our efforts were reported and approved and not once do i
recall encountering an objection. it remains an honor to serve the people of the united states as their united states ambassador to the european union. i look forward to answering the committee's questions. thank you. >> we will now proceed on the first round of questions as detailed on the numbers of the committee members. there will be 45 minutes, followed by 45 minutes for the ranking member minority council. following that unless i extend additional time, we'll proceed under the five-minute rule and every member will have the chance to ask questions. i recognize myself or majority counsel for the first round of questions. mr. sondland, there's a lot of new material in your opening statement for us to get through, but i want to start with a few top line questions before passing it over to mr. goldman.
in your deposition, you testified that you found yourself on a continuum that became more insidious over time. can you describe what you mean by this continuum of insidiousness? >> well, mr. chairman, when we left the oval office i believe on may 23rd, the request was very generic for an investigation of corruption in a very vanilla sense and dealing with some of the oligarch problems in ukraine, which were long-standing problems. and then as time went on, more specific items got added to the menu, including the burisma and 2016 election meddling, specifically the dnc server, specifically, and over this, over this continuum, it became more and more difficult to secure the white house meeting, because more conditions were
being placed on the white house meeting. >> then, of course, on july 25ing, although you were not privy to the call, another addition was added, that being the investigation of the bidens? >> i was not privy to the call and i did not know the condition of investigating the bidens was a condition. correct. >> you saw that on the call record, correct? >> it was not in any record i received. >> but when you did -- >> yes, i saw that in september, correct. >> so on this continuum, the beginning of the continuum begins on may 23rd, when the president structured to talk to rudy? >> correct. >> you understood by the direction of the president you needed to express the concerns guiliani would express to you what the president wanted to ukraine. >> >> fought to me, the entire group, vom kerr, perry and myself, correct. >> now, in your opening statement you confirm there was a quid pro quo between the white house meeting and the investigations into burisma and the 2016 election that guiliani
was publicly promoting. is that right? >> correct. >> and, in fact, you say that other senior officials in the state department and the chiefs of staff's office, including mick mulvaney, secretary pompeo, were aware of this quid pro quo that in order to get white house meeting, they were going to have to be these investigations the president wanted? >> correct. >> and those again are investigations into 2016 and burisma/the bidens? >> 2016 burisma. the bidens did not come up. >> but you would ultimately learn burisma meant the bidens when you saw the call record, correct? >> okay, today i know exactly what it means. i didn't know at the time. >> and then on july 26th, you confirm you did, indeed, have the conversation with president trump from a restaurant in kiev that david holmes testified about last week. is that right?
>> correct. >> and have you no doubt, no reason to doubt mr. holmes' recounting of your conversation with the president? >> ah, the only part of mr. holmes' recounting that i take exception with is i do not recall mentioning the binds. >> that did not enter my mind. it was burisma and 2016 elections. >> have you no reason to believe mr. holmes would make that up if that's what you recall him saying? you have no reason to recall that, do you? >> i don't recall saying biden. i never recall saying biden. >> but the rest of mr. holmes' recollection is consistent with your own? >> well, i can't testify as to what mr. holmes might or might not have heard through the phone. i don't want how he heard the conversation. >> are you familiar with his testimony? >> vaguely, yes. >> the only exception is the name wide season. >> correct. >>. >> and i think you said in your
testimony this morning that not only is it correct the president brought up with you investigations on the phone the day after the july 25th call, but you would have been surprised had he not brought that up, right? >> right. we had been hearing it from rudy, we presumed rudy was get geting it from the president. so it seemed like pa logical conclusion. >> mr. holmes testified you told him president trump doesn't care about ukraine, he only cares about big stuff that relates to him personally. i take it from your conversation you don't dispute that part of the conversation? >> well, he made that clear in the may 23rd meeting that he was not particularly fond of ukraine and we had a lot of heavy lifting to do to get him to engage. >> so you don't dispute that part of mr. holmes' recollection? >> no. >> in august when you worked with rudy guiliani and a top
ukrainian aide to draft a public statement for president zelensky, that includes the announcements of investigations into burisma, you understood that was required by president trump before he would grant the white house meeting to president zelensky? >> that's correct. >> and the ukrainians understood that as well? >> i believe they did. >> and you informed secretary pompeo about that statement as well? >> i did. >> later in august, you told secretary pompeo that president zelensky would be prepared to tell president trump that his new justice officials would be able to announce matters of interests of the president which could break the log jam. when you say matters of interest to the president, you mean the investigations that president trump wanted, is that right? >> correct. >> and that involved 2016 and burisma or the bidens? >> 2016 and burisma. >> and when are you talking here about breaking the log jam, you are talking about the log jam over the security assistance,
correct? >> i was talking log jam generically because nothings with moving. >> that included the security assistance, did it not? >> correct. >> and based on the condetect of that e-mail, this was not the first time you had discussed these investigations with secretary pompeo, was it? >> no. >> he was aware of the connections that you were making between the investigations and the white house meeting and the security assistance? >> yes. >> did he ever take issue with you and say, no, that connection is not there or you're wrong? >> not that i recall. >> now you mentioned that you also had a conversation with vice president pence before his meeting with president zelensky in warsaw. and that you raised the concern you had as well that the security assistance was being withheld because of the president's desire to get a commitment from zelensky to pursue these political
investigations. what did you say to the vice president? >> i was in a briefing with several people and i just spoke up and i said, it appears that everything is stalled until this statement gets made, something, words to that effect. and that's what i believe to be the case, based on, you know the work that the three of us had been doing, volker, perry and myself. and the vice president nodded like you know he heard what i said and that was pretty much it as i recall. >> and you understood that the ukrainians were going to raise the security assistance with the vice president at this meeting? >> i didn't know what they were going to raise. but they, in fact, did raise it, mr. chairman. >> well, it was public by that point that there was a hold on the security assistance, correct? >> but i didn't know what they were going to raise. i didn't get a pre brief from the ukrainians. >> you knew, certainly they were concerned about the hold on the security assistance. >> they were concerned, obviously. >> and you wanted to help prepare the vice president for
the meeting by letting him know what you thought was responsible for the hold on the security assistance? >> that's fair. >> do you recall anything else the president, vice president said other than nodding his head when you made him aware of this fact? >> no, i don't have a readout of that meeting so i can't remember anything else. it w . >> it was immediately after this meeting with the vice president and zelensky you went to speak with yermak and you told him, similarly, that in order to release the military assistance, they were going to have to publicly announce these investigations? >> yes. mention had been made of that meeting. it really wasn't a meeting. what happened was everyone got up after the bilateral meeting between president zelensky and vice president pence and people do what they normally do, they mill around, shake hands, i don't know if i came over to 84 macor he came over to me. he said, what's going on here? i said i don't know, it might all be tied together. i have no idea. i was presuming that it was. but it was a very short conversation. >> in that short conversations
would later relay to mr. morrison, ambassador taylor, you informed mr. yermak that they would need to announce these investigations in order to get the aid, did you not? >> well, mr. yermak was already working on those investigation -- or on the statement about the investigations. >> and up confirmed for him that he needed to get it done if they were going to get the military aid? >> i likely did are. >> mr. morrison and ambassador taylor have also related a conversation you had with the president following the warsaw meeting in which the president relayed to you that there was no quid pro quo, but nevertheless, unless zelensky went to the mic and announced these investigations, they would be a stalemate over the aid, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> and that was an accurate reflexion of your conversation with the president? >> well, that e-mail was not
artfully written, i am the first to admit. what i was trying to convey to ambassador taylor after his frantic e-mails to me and to others about the security assistance, which, by the way, agreed with him. i thought it was a very bad idea to hold that money. i finally called the president. i believe it was on the 9th of september. i can't find the records and they won't provide them to me. but i believe i just asked him ap open-ended question, mr. chairman, what do you want from ukraine? i keep hearing all these different ideas and theories, this and that, what do you want? and it was a very short abrupt conversation. he was not in a good mood. and he just said, i want nothing. i want nothing. i want no quid pro quo. tell zelensky to do the right thing. something to that effect. so i typed out a text to ambassador taylor and my reason for telling him this was not to defend what the president was saying, not to opine on whether
the president was being truthful or untruthful, but simply to relay i got as far as i can go. this is the final word they heard from the president of the united states. if you are still concerned, you, ambassador taylor, are still concerned, please get ahold of the secretary. maybe he can help. >> i will ask you about your text message, i'm asking you about your conversations with mr. morrison and ambassador taylor after you spoke with the president either on that call or in a different call? >> i am confused, mr. chairman, which conversations with mr. morrison and taylor? >> well, mr. morrison testified that you related a conversation you had with the president in which the president told you no quid pro quo, but president zelensky must go to the microphone and announce these investigations and that he should want to. similarly, you told ambassador taylor that while the president said no quid pro quo, unless zelensky announced these
investigations, they would be at a stalemate, presumably a stalemate over the military assistance. do you have any reason to question those conversations that mr. morrison and ambassador taylor took notes about? >> well, i think it's tied to my text, mr. chairman, because in my text i think i said something to the effect that he wants zelensky to do what he ran on, i believe his transparency, et cetera, et cetera, which was my clumsy way of saying he wanted -- he wanted these announcements to be made. >> again, ambassador, i'm not asking you about your text message, i'm asking about what you relayed to ambassador taylor and mr. morrison about your conversation with the president. the only reason to question their recollection of what you told them? >> all i can say is that i expressed what i told or what the president told me in that text. and if i let it, relayed anything other than what was in
that tech, i don't recall. >> you don't recall? >> i don't recall. >> you have no reason to question ambassador taylor or mr. morrison of what they wrote in their notes about your conversation with them? >> could you kindly repeat what they wrote? >> i'll have mr. goldman go through that with you. >> that would be great. >> let me get to the very top line here, ambassador sondland. >> okay. >> you've testified that the white house meeting that president zelensky desperately wanted and that was very important to president zelensky, was it not? >> absolutely. >> you testified that that meeting was conditioned, was a quid pro quo, for what the brought wapresident wanted thes two investigations? >> correct. >> and everybody knew it? >> correct. >> that white house meeting was going to be an official meeting between the two presidents. correct? >> presumably. >> it would be an oval office
meeting, hopefully? >> working meeting. >> working meeting. so an official act. correct? >> yes. >> fwloerd to perform that official -- in order to perform that official act, donald trump wanted these two investigations that would help his re-election campaign, correct? especially can't characterize why he wanted them. all i can tell you is this is what we heard from mr. guiliani. but he had to get those two investigations -- >> but he had to get those two investigations if that act was to take place? >> he had to announce the investigations. he didn't actually have to do it, as i under stood it? >> president zelensky had to make a public announcement, correct? >> correct. >> and those were of great value to the president, he was quite insistent upon them and his attorney was insistent upon them? >> i don't want to characterize whether they were value or not value, again, through mr. guiliani, we were led to believe that that's what he wanted. >> well, when you said that mr. guiliani was acting at the president's demand, correct?
>> right. when the president says talk to my personal lawyer, mr. guiliani, we followed his direction. >> and so that official act of that meeting was being conditioned on the performance of these things the president wanted as expressed both directly and through his lawyer, rudy guiliani, correct? >> as expressed through rudy guiliani, correct. >> and you've also testified that your understanding, it became your clear understanding, that the military assistance was also being withheld pending zelensky announcing these investigations. correct? >> that was my presumption. my personal presumption based on the facts at the time. nothing was moving. >> and, in fact, you had a discussion, a communications with the secretary of state in which you said is that log jam over aid could be lifted if zelensky announced these investigations. right? >> i did not -- i don't recall saying the log jam over aid. i recall saying the log jam. >> that's what you meant, right, ambassador? >> i meant that whatever was
holding up the meeting, whatever was holding up our deal with ukraine, i was trying to break. again, i was presuming -- >> well, here's what you said in your testimony a moment ago, page 18. but my goal at the time was to do what was necessary to get the aid released to break the log jam. okay. that's still your testimony, right? >> yeah. >> so, the military aid is also an official act. am i right? >> yes. >> this is not president trump's personal bank account he's writing from this is $400 million of u.s. taxpayer money, is it not? >> absolutely. >> and there was a log jam in which the president would not write that u.s. check you believed until ukraine announced these two investigations the president wanted, correct? >> that was my belief. >> mr. goldman.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. in your opening statement, ambassador sondland, you detailed the benefits that you have gained from obtaining some additional documents over the past few weeks. is that right? >> in terms of refreshing my recollection. >> because reviewing these documents has helped you to remember the events that we're asking about, is that correct? >> correct. >> because you acknowledge, of course, that when you can place a document in a date andp the context, it helps to jog your memory? >> that's correct. >> so you would agree ethat for people unlike yourself who take notes that that is very helpful to their own recollection of events. right? >> i think you asked your question backwards, are you saying people that take notes, it's helpful to have those documents or people that have those notes it's helpful to have those documents.
>> are you into the note taker, right? >>. >> no, i never have been. >> you agree people that contemporaneously take notes are more able to remember things than people that don't. >> some, yes. >> and there are additional documents that you have been unable to obtain, right? >> that's correct. >> i think you said in your opening statement the state department prevented you and your staff from trying to gather more documents. is that correct? >> certain documents, yes. >> which documents? >> documents that i didn't have immediate access to. >> and who at the state department prevented you from doing that? >> you have to ask my counsel, he was dealing with them. >> but certainly based on the additional memory that you have gained over the past few weeks from reading the testimony of others based on their notes and reviewing your own documents, you have remembered a lot more than you did when you were deposed. is that right? >> that's correct. >> and one of the things that you had now remember is the
discussion that you had with president trump on july 26th in that restaurant in kiev. right? >> yeah. what triggered my memory was someone's reference to asap rocky, which i believe was the primary focus of the phone call. >> certainly. so that's one way memory works, isn't it? and you were sitting in a restaurant with david holmes in kiev, right? having lunch? >> i think i took the whole team out to lunch after the meeting. yeah. >> and it was a meeting, one-on-one meeting you had with andre yermak? >> again, trying to reconstruct a very busy day without the benefit, but if someone said i had a meeting and i went to the meeting then i am not going to dispute that. >> particularly if that person took notes at that meeting? >> correct. >> or sat outside the door when you didn't let them in? >> i have no control over who goes into a meeting in ukraine. that was the ukrainians didn't let them in.
>> you had also met with president zelensky and others that day, is that right? >> that's correct. >> and you called president trump from your cell phone from the restaurant. is that right? >> that's right. >> and this was not a secure line, was it? >> no, it was an open line. >> did you worry that a foreign government may be listening to your phone call with the president of the united states? >> well, i have unclassified conversations all the time from land lines that are unsecured and cell phones. if the topic is not classified and it's up to the president to decide what's classified and what's not classified and we were having -- he was aware that it was an open line as well. >> and you don't recall the specifics of holding your phone outside, far away from your ear as mr. holmes testified, but have you no reason to question his recollection of that, do you? >> i mean it seems a little strange i would hold my phone
here. i probably had my phone close to my ear. he claims to have overheard part of the conversation. i'm not going to dispute what he did or didn't hear. >> well, he also testified that you confirmed to president trump that you were in ukraine at the time and that president zelensky quote loves your ass unquote. do you recall saying that? >> yeah, that sounds like something i would say. that's how president trump and i communicate. a lot of four-letter words. in this case, three letters. >> holmes then said that he heard president trump ask, quote, is he, meaning zelensky, going to do the investigation? to which you replied, he's going to do it and then you added that president zelensky will do anything that you, meaning president trump, ask him to. do you recall that? >> i probably said something to that effect, because i remember the meeting the president or
president zelensky was very solicitous is not a good word. he was just very willing to work with the united states and was being very amicable and so putting it in trump-speak, by saying he loves your ass he will do what you want. he will work with us on a whole host of issues. >> he was not only willing, he was very eager, right? >> that's fair. >> because ukraine depends on the united states as its most significant ally. isn't that correct? >> one of its most, absolutely. >> so, just so we understand, you were in kiev the day after president trump spoke to president zelensky on the phone and you now know from reading the call record that in that phone call, he requested a favor for president zelensky to do investigations related to the bidens and the 2016 election.
right? >> i do now know that. yes. >> you met with president zelensky and his aids on the day after that phone call and then you had a conversation with president trump from your cell phone from a restaurant terrace and he asked you whether president zelensky will do the investigations. and you responded that he's going to do them or it. and that president zelensky will do anything you ask him to do. is that an accurate recitation of what happened there? >> it could have been words to that effect. i don't remember my exact response. >> but you don't have any reason to dispute mr. holmes' recollection, correct? >> i won't dispute it, but again i don't recall. >> after you hung up with the president, mr. holmes testified about a conversation that you and he had where he says that you told mr. holmes that the president does not care about
ukraine but the president used the more colorful language including a four-letter word that you just referenced, do you recall saying that to mr mr. holmes? >> again, i don't recall my comba exact words, but, clearly, the president, beginning on may 23rd when we met with him in the oval office was not a big fan. >> but he was a big fan of the investigations? >> apparently so. >> and, in fact, mr. holmes said that you, that you said, that president trump only cares about the quote big stuff that benefits himself. is that something that you would have said at the time? >> i don't think i would have said that. i would have -- i would have honestly said that he was not a big fan of ukraine and he wants the investigations that we have been talking and for quite some time to move forward. that's what i would have said. because that itself the fact. >> mr. holmes also remembers that you told him in giving an
example of the big stuff the biden investigation that rudy guiliani was pushing. do you recall that? >> i don't. i recall burisma, not biden. >> but do you recall saying at least referring to an investigation that rudy guiliani was pushing, is that something you likely would have said? >> i would have, yes. >> now, even if you don't recall specifically mentioning the biden investigation to david holmes, we know that it was certainly on president trump's mind? because just a day before, in his call with president zelensky, he mentions specifically the biden investigation. and i want to show you that exhibit or that excerpt from the call on july 25th where president trump says, the other thing, there is a lot of talk about biden's son, that biden stopped the prosecution and a
lot of people want to find out about that. so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me. president zelensky then responds with a reference to the company that he is referring to and two witnesses yesterday said that when president zelensky actually said the company, he said burisma. so, you would agree that regardless of whether you knew about the connection to the bidens, at the very least, that you now know that that's what president trump wanted at the time through the burisma investigation? >> i now know it all, of course. >> and at this time you were aware of the president's desire along with rudy guiliani to do these investigations, including the 2016 election interference investigation. is that right? >> that's correct. >> and you said president trump
had directed you to talk you and the others to talk to rudy guiliani at the oval office on may 23rd? is that right? >> if we wanted to get anything done with ukraine, it was apparent to us we needed to talk to rudy. >> you understood that mr. guiliani spoke for the president. correct? >> that's correct. >> and, in fact, president trump also made that clear to president zelensky in that same july 25th phone call, he said, mr. guiliani is highly respected man. he was the mayor of new york city, a great mayor and i would like him to call you. i will ask him to call you along with the attorney general. rudy very much knows what's happening and he is a very capable guy. and after this, president trump then mentions mr. guiliani twice more in that call. now, for mr. guiliani by this
point, you understood that in order to get that white house meeting, that you wanted president zelensky to have and that president zelensky desperately wanted to have, that ukraine would have to initiate these two investigations. is that right? >> well, they would have to announce that they were going to do it. >> right. because guiliani and president trump didn't actually care if they did them, right? >> i never heard mr. goldman anyone say that the investigations had to start or had to be completed. the only thing i heard from mr. guiliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced in some form and that form kept changing. >> announce publicly? >> announce publicly. >> you, of course, recognize there would be political benefits from a public announcement as to a private announcement? >> the way it was explained the ukrainians had a long history of committing to things privately and never following through, so president trump, presumably, again communicated through mr. guiliani, wanted the
ukrainians on record publicly that they were going to do these investigations. >> that itself the reason that was given to me. >> but you never heard anyone say that they really wanted them to do the investigations, just that they wanted to announce -- >> i didn't hear either way. i didn't hear either way. >> now, your july 26th call with the president was not the only time that you spoke to the president surrounding that ukraine trip. was it? >> i believe i spoke to him before his call. >> and that's so that that would be on july 25th, the day before? >> yeah, i think i was flying to ukraine and i spoke with him, if i recall correctly, just before i got on the plane. >> so that's two private telephone calls with president trump in the span of two days. is that right? >> correct. >> you had direct access then to president trump? correct? >> i had occasional access what he chose to take my calls. sometimes he would, sometimes he wouldn't. >> well, he certainly took your
call twice as it related to ukraine on these two days, is that right? >> he did. >> now, the morning of july 25th, you texted ambassador volker and we can bring up the next tech exchange at 7:54 a.m. and you said, call asap. ambassador volker did not respond to you for another hour-and-a-half and he said, he, gordon, got your message, had a great lunch with yermak and passed your message to him. he will see you tomorrow. think everything in place. volker, though, an hour before that, and about a half an hour before the phone call had texted andre yermak, a top aide for president zelensky and wrote, good lunch, thanks, heard from white house. assuming president z convinces trump he will investigate, get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to washington. good luck, see you tomorrow. ambassador sondland, was this message that kurt volker passed
to andre yermak the message you left for kurt volker on that voice mail that he referenced? >> you know, i don't remember, mr. goldman, but it very well could have been. >> you don't have any reason to think it wasn't, right? >> again, i honestly, honestly don't remember, but it seems logical to me. >> if ambassador volker testified that he did get that message from you, you have no reason to doubt that? >> if he testified he got that message from me, then i would concur with that. >> so is it fair to say this message is what you received from president trump in that phone call that morning? >> again if he testified to that to refresh my own memory, yes, likely i would have received that from president trump. >> but the sequence certainly makes sense, right? >> yeah, it does. >> you talk to president trump. you told kurt volker to call you. you left a message for kurt volker. kurt volker sent this message to andre yermak to prepare president zelensky and then president trump had a phone call, where president zelensky spoke very similar to what was
in this text message. right? >> right. >> and you would agree that the message that is expressed here is that president zelensky needs to convention trump that he will do the investigations in order to nail down the date for a visit to washington, d.c. is that correct? >> that's correct. >> now, i'm going to move ahead in time to end of august and early september when you came to believe i believe as you testified, that it wasn't just the white house meeting that was contingent on the announcement of these investigations that the president wanted, but security assistance as well. you testified that in the absence of any credible explanation for the hold on security assistance, you came to the conclusion that like the white house visit, the aid was conditioned on the investigations that president trump wanted. is that what you said in your opening statement? >> it is.
>> so let me break this down with you. by the time, you and many top officials knew that coveted white house meeting for president zelensky was conditioned on these investigations. right? >> the announcement of the investigations. correct. >> thank you. >> and that includes secretary pompeo, right? >> many, many people. >> secretary pompeo? >> yes. >> and acting chief of staff mulvaney? >> yes. >> and you the evidence that this was a quid pro quo. is that right? >> i did. >> and you, at this point by the end of august knew that the aid had been held up for at least six weeks. is that correct? >> i believe i found out through ambassador taylor that the aid had been held up around july 18th is when i heard originally. >> and even though you searched for reasons you were never given a credible explanation. is that right? >> that's right. >> and no one you spoke to thought that the aid should be held, to your knowledge, is that
right? >> i never heard anyone advocate for holding the aid. >> and now by this point, at the end of august, it went public and the ukrainians knew about it, right? >> i believe there were some press reports you know presuming or, who knows? but i think at that point it became common knowledge that everything might be tied together. >> in fact, president zelensky brought it up at that meeting with vice president pence that you were at, right? >> i don't know that he brought it up specifically but asked where the aid was, i think he sort of asked again very vague recollection, because i don't have a readout of the bilateral meeting, but, why don't i have my check, essentially? >> and you under today the ukrainians received no credible explanation. is that right? >> i certainly didn't, couldn't give them one. >> so, is this kind of a two-plus two equals four conclusion that you reached? >> pretty much. >> it's the only logical
conclusion to you that gip all of these factors, that the aid was also a part of this quid pro quo? >> yep. >> now, i want to go back to that conversation that you had with vice president pence right before that meeting in warsaw. and you indicated that you said to him, that you were concerned that the delay and the aid was tied to the issue and the investigations. is that right? >> i don't know exactly what i said to him, this was a briefing attended by many people and i was invited at the very last minute. i wasn't scheduled to be there. but i think i spoke up at some point late in the meeting and said it looks like everything is being held up until these statements get made and that's my you know personal belief. >> and vice president pence just nodded his head? >> again i don't recall any exchange or he asked me any questions. i think it was sort of a duly noted. >> well, he didn't say, gordon,
what are you talking about? >> no, he did not. >> he didn't say, what investigations? >> he did not. >> now, after this meeting, you discussed this pull aside with mr. yermak where you relayed your belief that they needed to announce these investigations prior to the aid being released. is that right? >> i said i didn't know exactly why, but this could be a reason. >> and, obviously, you had been speaking with mr. yermak for quite a while about a public announcement of these investigations. right? >> we had all been working on, towards that end, yeah. >> so you indicated to him that necessary to the white house meeting, security aid was now also involved in that -- >> as i said, i said it could have been involved, yes. >> now, i'm going to show you another text exchange you had on september 1st where ambassador taylor says to you, are we now
saying that security assistance and white house meeting are conditioned on investigations? and you respond, call me. ambassador taylor recalls that he did call you and you did have a conversation and in that conversation, you told ambassador taylor that the announcement of these investigations by president zelensky needed to be public and that that announcement was conditioned on that announcement would ultimately release the aid. do you recall that conversation with ambassador taylor? >> again, my conversation with ambassador taylor. my conversation with senator johnson were all my personal belief, just based on as you put it two plus two equals four. >> well, in his testimony, ambassador taylor says that you said that president trump had told you that he wanted president zelensky to state
publicly, as of september 1st. do you have any reason to doubt ambassador taylor's testimony, which he said was based on his meticulous contemporaneous notes? >> president trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. the only thing we got directly from guiliani was that the burisma in 2016 elections were conditioned on the white house meeting. the aid was my own personal, you know, guess based again on your analogy two plus two equals four. >> so you didn't talk to president trump when ambassador taylor says that that's what you told him? is that your testimony here? >> my testimny is, i never heard from president trump that aid was conditioned on an announce. of elections. >> so, you never heard those specific words? >> correct. >> right. i never heard those words. >> well, let's move ahead, because you have another
conversation in a little bit later that both tim morrison and ambassador taylor recount. but in this september 1st conversation, ambassador taylor also says that, testified, under oath, that you said that president trump wanted zelensky in a public box. do you recall using that expression? >> yeah, it goes back to my earlier comment that again coming from the guiliani source because we didn't discuss this specifically with president trump, that they wanted whatever commitments ukraine made to be made publicly, so that they would be on the record and be held more accountable, whatever those commitments were. >> you also testified or ambassador taylor rather testified that you told him that you had made a mistake in telling the ukrainians that only the white house meeting was conditioned on the announcement of the investigations and that, in fact, everything was, including the security assistance. do you remember saying that?
>> when i referenced a mistake, what i recall was i thought that a statement made by the new ukrainian prosecutor, that these investigations would be started up again or commenced would be sufficient to satisfy mr. guiliani/president trump. as i recall, my mistake was, someone came back through volker otherwise and said, no, it's not going to do if the prosecutor makes these statements. the president wants to hear it from zelensky directly. that's the mistake i think i made. >> do you have any reason to question ambassador taylor's testimony based on his meticulous and careful contemporaneous notes. >> i'm not going to question or not question, i'm telling you what i believe i was referring to. >> let me fast forward a week and show you another text exchange which may help refresh your recollection. on september 8th, you had, you sent a text to ambassador taylor and ambassador volker.
you can read what you wrote there? >> guy, multiple conhaves with zelensky-potus, let's talk. >> this was 11:20 in the morning. ambassador taylor responds immediately, now is fine with me. if we can go to the next exchange, ambassador taylor then 15 minutes later says, gordon and i just spoke, 20 minutes later or rather, i can brief you if you and gordon don't connect, speaking to ambassador volker. then ambassador taylor an hour later says the nightmare is they give the interview and don't get the security assistance, the russians love it and i quit. you would agree that in this text message, after you had spoken that earlier an hour earlier with ambassador taylor that he is linking the security assistance to this interview, this public announcement by president zelensky, is that right? >> absolutely. >> and, in fact, ambassador taylor testified that you did have a conversation with him at that point and he did and that
you told him that just as your text message indicates, you did have a conversation with president trump prior to that text message. does that help to refresh your recollection that you, in fact, spoke to president trump at that time? >> again, i don't recall president trump ever talking to me about any security assistance, ever. what this tells me refreshing my memory is that by the 8th of september, it was adbundantly clear to everyone that there was a link and that we were discussing the chicken and egg issue of should the ukrainians go out on a ledge and make the statement that president trump wanted them to make and then they still don't get their white house visit and their aid, that would be really bad for our credibility. i think that is what he was referring to. >> so you do acknowledge you spoke to president trump as you indicated in that text, right?
>> if i said i did, i did. >> and that after that conversation, you were still under the impression that the aid was contingent on these public announcements? >> i did not get that from president trump. i was under the imbrex absolutely it was contin -- >> you weren't dissuaded, right? you still thought the aid was contingent on the public investigations after speaking to president trump? >> by september 8th, i was absolutely convinced that it was. >> and president trump did not dissuade you of that, in the conversation that you acknowledge you had with him? >> i don't ever recall -- because that would have changed my entire calculus. if president trump had told me directly -- >> that's not what i'm asking, ambassador intend. i'm still saying you believed the security assistance was conditioned on the investigation after you spoke to president trump, yes or no? >> from a time frame standpoint, yes. >> now, ambassador taylor also testified that and mr. morrison both of them testified that you
told them that president trump said there was no quid pro quo, which you also included in that text message that you referred, but then you went on and they had slight variations as to what you told them, but then you said that to ambassador taylor that president zelensky, himself, not the prosecutor general needed to clean things up in public or there would be a stalemate. mr. morrison recounted something similar. you don't have no doubt of the similar conversations they had with you, do you you, ambassador sondland? >> let me break that down, mr. goldman. the text as i said about the no quid pro quo was my effort to respond to ambassador taylor's concerns to go to president