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tv   MSNBC Live With Katy Tur  MSNBC  November 20, 2019 11:00am-12:01pm PST

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was the white house visit in return for the 2016 dnc server and burisma investigation. >> when you heard burisma, you did not see that as code for biden, the bidens? >> i did not. >> when did you even know that? is it your testimony that you only realized that burisma included the bidens when the readout came out? >> no, i really don't recall the date. it was very late in the game, though. >> september? >> i don't recall the date. >> so if i told you that the legal definition of bribery was an event of offering, giving, soliciting or receiving of any item of value as a means of influencing an action of an individual holding a public or legal duty, do you believe that not only was it quid pro quo, but it was bribery? >> i'm not a lawyer and i'm not going to characterize what
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something was or wasn't legally. >> you also said in your opening statement that secretary perry and yourself as well as ambassador volker worked with giuliani on the ukraine matter at express direction of the president, is that right? >> that's correct. >> you go on to say that we did not want to work with giuliani, simply put, we played the hand that we were dealt. what did you mean by that and more importantly what did you think would happen if you did not play that hand? >> i think what you're asking me is -- well, you asked it. >> i did ask it. >> what would happen if we didn't. it was very fragile with ukraine at the time. there was no new ambassador. the old ambassador had left. there was a new president. we thought it was very, very important to shore up the relationship. >> in fact, you actually said, we all understood if we refused
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to work with mr. giuliani we would lose an important opportunity to cement relationships with the united states and ukraine. so, quote, we follow the president's orders. did you see it as a directive? >> i saw it as the only pathway to moving forward on ukraine. >> so you would say that the efforts that mr. giuliani was undertaking became a part of the formal ukraine/u.s. policy? >> i can't opine on that. all i can tell you is that the president wanted us to communicate with -- >> but you went on to say in your opening testimony that the suggestion that you engaged in some irregular diplomacy is absolutely false. if in fact what giuliani was doing was okay and proper, which is actually what you said, initially you all thought that what he was doing was not improper, right? >> we did not think it was improper and when i referred to the fact that i was not engaging in rogue diplomacy by
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definition, rogue diplomacy would meant that i would not have involved the leadership of the state department and the white house. >> are you saying that everyone in the chain of command knew about giuliani's efforts to try to get the investigations into burisma -- i'm just trying to figure out what you thought you were actually opining to. >> look, the president directed us to work with mr. giuliani and the leadership of the state department were knowledgeable that we were working with mr. giuliani. >> what's interesting is that ambassador taylor testified that he knew nothing about it and clearly he would be in the chain of information if he was the ambassador to ukraine. at the end of the day, with all due respect, you're the ambassador to the european union. why would he not know about it? >> i don't know. >> he was the one who said there was a regular and irregular channel. >> he should have known about it. >> so although we don't want -- although you said you did not
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want to work with mr. giuliani, you in fact did work with him. >> that's correct. >> and do you think the essence of what he was trying to achieve was accomplished? >> i don't know what he was trying to achieve. >> you clearly had to have known, sir. if you think this was going down the center lane, is what you said, it was clearly important that we -- that we work with mr. giuliani to get what the president asked for because it was a directive and an order, surely you must know whether or not mission was accomplished? >> well, i know what mr. giuliani communicated to us. >> and you thought that was totally fine? did you really think that it was okay for -- >> can i answer your question? >> sure. >> you asked what mr. giuliani was trying to achieve. >> no, i asked whether you thought it was right for mr. giuliani to want to accomplish the efforts that he was involved in which was to get them to investigate burisma and
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the 2016 election, as you said. >> all i can testify to is what i know that mr. giuliani either told me directly or told ambassador volker and others that was relayed to me. >> thank you. i yield back. >> mr. turner. >> ambassador sondland, i want to walk through some of the portions of your testimony because sometimes you seem to make direct connections and times they seem to be dead ends. i want to clear up what are the dead ends and what are the direct connections. yesterday ambassador volker, who i consider to be very talented and a man of integrity, and i believe you think he's a man of integrity, correct? >> i do. >> he testified that the president of the united states did not tie either a meeting with the president, a phone call, or any aid to investigations of burisma, 2016, or the bidens, that the president did not do that. and you've testified that the president did not tell you that
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he tied them either, correct? >> i did testify to that. although when ambassador volker and i were working on the statement and negotiating with the ukrainians, it was clear to ambassador volker that a meeting would not happen without the burisma and 2016. that was very clear to ambassador volker. >> how do you know that? what did he say to you? he says that was not clear to him. he says he knows that's what the president wanted but he didn't have it as this was a requirement. >> oh, i strongly disagree with that portion of his testimony. it was absolutely a requirement or we would have just had the meeting and been done with it. >> what about the aid? he says that they weren't tied. >> i didn't say they were tied either. i said i was presuming it. >> so the president never told you they were tied. >> that's correct. >> your testimony and his testimony is consistent that the president did not tie aid to investigations?
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>> that's correct. >> he also testified that he spoke to giuliani and that giuliani did not relate that the -- that he was tieing on behalf of the president or on the president's behalf aid and in fact giuliani never said to him that aid was tied to investigations. the question i have for you is, did you ever have a conversation with giuliani that did not involve volker? your testimony is a lot of wes and uss. did you have a separate phone call where giuliani told you that the aid was tied? volker says that never happened. >> no, i did have a few conversations. i don't recall how many because i don't have the records with mr. giuliani when mr. volker wasn't available -- >> did giuliani -- what were you going to say. >> i don't believe i testified that mr. giuliani told me that aid was tied. >> i think -- this is part of the problem. i want to walk you through this. you've said to us everyone was
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in the loop and everyone. hold on a second. i've listened to you today as a lot of people, and not only are your answers somewhat circular, frequently you've contradicted yourself in your own answer. the text messages and emails that you put up there, kurt volker walked us through it and he has a completely different understanding of what you were saying than what you were saying you were saying. so i'm a little confused as to everyone is in the loop because -- if giuliani didn't give you an express statement, then it can't be that you believe this from giuliani. is donald trump your friend? >> no, we're not friends. >> do you like the president? >> yes. >> okay. after you testified, chairman schiff gave a press conference and said he gets to impeach the president of the united states because of your testimony and if you pull up cnn today, right now, their banner says sondland ties trump to with holding aid. is that your testimony today,
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ambassador sondland, that you have evidence that donald trump tied the investigation to the aid? because i don't think you're saying that? >> i've said repeatedly, congressman, i was presuming. i also said that president trump -- >> no one told you. not just the president. giuliani didn't tell you, mulvaney didn't tell you. pompeo didn't tell you. nobody else on this planet told you that donald trump was tieing aid to these investigations, that's correct? >> i think i already testified it. >> answer the question. is it correct, no one on this planet told you that donald trump was tieing this aid to the investigations because if your answer is yes, then the chairman's wrong and the headline on cnn is wrong. no one on this planet told you that president trump was tieing aid to investigations, yes or no. >> yes. >> so you really have no testimony today that ties president trump to a scheme to with hold aid from ukraine in exchange for these
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investigations? >> other than my own presumption. >> which is nothing. that's what i don't understand. you know what hearsay evidence is, ambassador? it's what i testify what someone else told you. made up testimony is when i presume it. you're just assuming all of these things and then you're giving them the evidence that they're running out and doing press conferences and cnn's headline is saying that you're saying that the president of the united states should be impeached and you don't know that, correct? >> i never said the president of the united states should be impeached. >> but you have left people with a confusing impression. you do not have any evidence that the president of the united states was tied to with holding aid from ukraine in exchange for investigations. i yield back. >> mr. carson. >> thank you, chairman. i want to better understand mr. giuliani's role in carrying out the president's demand for investigations. on may the 23rd, sir, during a
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meeting in the oval office to discuss the future of u.s./ukrainian relationships, president trump told you and others to talk to rudy. do i have that right, sir? >> correct. >> mr. ambassador, did you listen to the president and talk to rudy, sir? >> did i talk to rudy? >> yes, sir. >> yes. >> what did you understand to be mr. giuliani's relationship with president trump? >> i understood he was the president's personal lawyer. >> what did you believe mr. giuliani was doing in ukraine for president trump, sir? >> i don't know. >> ambassador sondland, in august of this year you and ambassador volker spoke with mr. giuliani about a draft statement to be issued by president zelensky. during those suggestions it was mr. giuliani who suggested, in fact, insisted, that the statement include specific language about burisma, correct, sir? >> correct. >> and he insisted that the
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statement include the mention of the 2016 elections. and mr. volker transmitted this message to a top ukrainian official, right? >> correct. >> mr. ambassador, and this statement was part of the deliverable that president trump wanted, correct? >> correct. >> to your knowledge, sir, was pushing the ukrainians to investigate burisma, 2016 or the bidens part of some official state department policy, sir? >> i never testified that we were pushing anyone to investigate the bidens. i said burisma. >> you were involved in ukrainian policy, right? >> i told you what my role was, which was quite limited and focused. >> was it your understanding that ukraine policy should involve investigations into americans or debunked conspiracy theories about the 2016 election, sir? >> what i testified was that in order to get president zelensky a white house visit, mr. giuliani conveyed the notion
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that president trump wanted these announcements to happen. >> of course, it was not. it was a part of the president's political agenda and it was done to benefit the president personally and politically. were you following the president's orders, mr. ambassador? >> i was following the president's direction to speak with mr. giuliani. >> thank you, sir. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman for yielding. i want to point out a couple things, ambassador, in response to my colleagues. my colleagues seem to be under the impression that unless the president spoke the words, ambassador sondland, i am bribing the ukrainian president, that there's no evidence of bribery if he didn't say, ambassador sondland, i'm telling you i'm not going to give the aid unless they do this, that there's no evidence of a quid pro quo on military aid.
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unless, ambassador, you've given us a lot of evidence of precisely that condition of both the white house meeting and the military assistance. you've told us, have you not, that you emailed the secretary of state and said that if these investigations were announced, the new justice person was put in place, that the ukrainians would be prepared to give the president what he wants and that would break the log jam. you've testified and showed us documents about this. >> i have. >> and in your written statement you say that the log jam you're referring to includes the log jam on security assistance, correct? >> correct. as my presumption. >> and he also have seen, and you testified that you have also seen acting chief of staff mulvaney, himself, acknowledge that the military aid was withheld in part over the
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investigation into 2016 that you've talked about. you referenced that as well, correct? >> correct. >> now they also seem to say that, well, they got the money. the money may have been conditioned, but they got the money. yes, they got caught. they got caught. now they still don't have the white house meeting. they made no statement. they got no meeting. the statement on the investigations was the condition to get the meeting. they didn't make the statement. they got no meeting. but they got caught. you're aware, aren't you, ambassador, that two days before the aid was lifted, congress announced it was investigating this scheme. you're aware of that, aren't you, ambassador? >> i am now, yes. >> i would like to address
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something, claiming that republicans deny russian influence attempts. that is false and you know it. and this committee, but in this committee time and time again we all agreed that russia has tried to influence american elections as far back as the soviet union. so i wish you would quit making that comment. yesterday we established with mr. volker something quite obvious. more than one country can try to influence our elections. mr. schiff, we didn't agree with your russian collusion narrative, dnc coup attempt, something that you ignored as you became the chairman of the impeachment committee. i'm interested in this facts. i'm not a prosecutor or a defense attorney. i'm not an attorney like mr. turner.
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ambassador sondland, you honestly have used the words presumed, presumption, presuming, some form of the verb to presume repeatedly today. and said you said that was the problem, no one ever told me the aid was tied to anything. i was presuming it was. you see, in mathematic fact, two plus two does equal four. but two presumptions plus two presumptions does not equal even one fact. and the fact is, the president did tell you, ambassador sondland, no quid pro quo. that's a fact. and another fact, no quid pro quo occurred. this time i would like to yield to mr. conway. >> i would like to consent to enter into the record a "washington post" article from
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p today. the interpretation of that would be, one is that they were trying to protect the whistle-blower, an another interpretation is that there's something to hide and this unlevel playing field that there is a statutory right maintains that unlevel playing field and the advantages that gives them. also, he will not tolerate any witness intimidation, any threats or any issues of trying to bully a witness. ambassador sondland, have you, your family or businesses received any threats or reprizeles or attempts to harm you in any way. >> many. >> could you give us an example or two? >> we have countless emails apparently to my wife, our
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properties are being picketed and boycotted -- >> let's explore that one. our own colleague from oregon has in fact called for a boycott of your hotel chain, your hotels in oregon. i'm assuming he believes that will harm you to the point that you will then be bullied into doing whatever he wants done. my colleagues and i know using the word bully is a bit over the top. he intended to harm you and your businesses, is that what you surmise. >> that's my understanding. >> and to boycott -- call for a boycott gave rise to demonstrations in front of your hotels, made your customers have to weave in and out to get into the hospitals. >> they're going on as we speak. >> his attempt to hurt a business that supports hundreds of jobs is shameful and ought to
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be an outrage to all oregonians. and someone said we are saddened to have our congressman call for a boycott that would put the livelihoods of thousands of his constituents in peril, the attack on your employees is unwarranted. and i couldn't agree more. he should not be using the vast influences that we as many of congress have to bully you and your buzzsinesses and harm the employees that operate in your business by trying to take business away from you by forcing you to do something that they wanted to do to you. that's a shame for that. and i'm hopeful that my colleagues will join me in saying, you really shouldn't be using your congressional influence to try to bully and threaten a witness before these proceedings and it's wrong. i'm going to look forward to my colleague's response and i yield back. >> i was somewhat humored by
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your request that he not bully when all we're talking about is the president bullying to get something he wants done. having said that, i would like to clarify one point about the whistle-blower protection from the article that mr. conway just provided. the law reads expressly restricts the inspector general's office from disclosing whistle-blower's identities. it says, quote, the inspector general shall not disclose the identity of the employee without the consent of the employee unless the inspector general determines that such disclosure is unavoidable during the course of the investigation or that disclosure is made to an official of the department of justice responsible for determining whether a prosecution should be undertaken, unquote. that appears to be the lone
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restriction. we found no court rulings on whether whistle-blowers have a right to anonymity under related statutes. it's a best practice to avoid disclosure of the ukraine whistle-blower's identity given the concerns about retaliation. he said we've stepped into bizarro land in retaliation for making a whistle-blowing complaint especially when they're credible threats to that employee's personal safety. and i don't know why our colleagues on the other side -- >> i'm afraid i only have three minutes. >> the end of the article does go through that and also says that it's three pinocchios. >> the president of the united states has five pinocchios on a
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daily basis. so let's not go there. ambassador sondland, in your deposition, quote, i was truly disappointed that the state department prevented me at the last minute from testifying earlier on october 8th 2019. but your issuance of a subpoena has supported by appearance here today and i'm pleased to provide the following testimony. the white house, the state department did not want you to testify at that deposition, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> and since then, you have on numerous occasions during your opening statement today indicated that you have not been able to access documents in the state department, is that correct? >> correct. >> you have been hampered in your ability to provide
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testimony? >> i've been hampered to provide completely accurate testimony without the benefit of those documents. >> in terms of your conversations with the president of the united states, what percentage of your conversations were about ukraine as compared to your other duties? >> i don't recall. >> well, you've only had six conversations or seven conversations with the president, you said. so -- >> about ukraine, i think. >> so you've had many other conversations -- >> yeah, about unrelated matters. >> how many conversations with the president of the united states have you had? >> again, i don't want to give you a number because it's going to be wrong if i don't have the records. >> is it less than 20? >> it's probably in that range. >> all right. would you say that delay in military aid and the lack of a meeting in the white house works to the benefit of russia? >> repeat the question again, please. >> would you say that the delay in military aid to ukraine and
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the reluctance to have a white house meeting has a benefit to russia? >> i think it could be looked that way, yes, looked at that way. >> i'm going to speak very briefly about code. when the -- when mike cohen was asked -- you suggest the president sometimes communicates his wishes indirectly, for example, you say, quote, mr. president did not tell me to directly lie to congress. that's not how he operates. it would be different, he said -- he doesn't give you questions, he doesn't give you orders. he speaks in code. and i understand the code because i've been around him for a decade. so do you think that the president was speaking in code when he would talk about wanting investigations? >> i don't. i can't characterize how the president was speaking.
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every conversation i've had with the president has been fairly direct and straight forward. >> all right. i yield back. >> mr. stuart. >> i have unanimous consent request. >> you may state your quest. >> d.o.e. responds to the commen comments. his testimony today misrepresented secretary perry's intersection and direction the ambassador received from president trump. secretary perry spoke to rudy giuliani only once at the president's request no one else was on that call. at no point, during the phone call did the words biden or burisma come up in the presence of secretary perry. again, i ask that that be entered into the record. >> without objection. i would note that they've also refused to come and testify under oath. >> the american people expect a
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lot of things out of protests. arguments, protests, clash of principles and ideas. i think sometimes they would like to see some compromise. but something they expect above everything else, fundamental, they expect that there is a sense of fairness about it. and i want to read part of a text i received from someone that i have tremendous respect for. just a few hours ago, she wrote, crafting a story to hurt another human being can never be right. the means of destroying and hurting another individual just does not justify the end and politics does not give anyone free pass to destroy other people. now you can say a lot about the treatment of president trump over the last three years, but i think one thing you cannot argue is that it has been fair, there were those calling for his impeachment before he was inaugurated. for 2 1/2 years, we were told every single day he has betrayed our country, he's a russian
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asset. he's committed treason. accusation that is we know now are not true and for which we never had any evidence to support that. he was accused of obstruction, and now here we are actually impeaching the president over, well, first quid pro quo until we found out that didn't hold very well with focus groups, and then it was bribery. and every witness before us said they had no evidence of bribery and now it's extortion. the american people expect some sense of fairness. nancy pelosi announces the president has betrayed his oath of office without seeing any evidence, again, the american people say, what is fair about that? so the question before us now is, again, extortion. that's the latest version of the charges against the president. i'm not an attorney. extortion sounds scary.
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it's kind of scary. i had to look it up what it means. it means obtaining money or property by threat to a victim's property or loved ones. i'm going to read you a couple quotes from president zelensky and ask you a question. first from a ukrainian press release, donald trump is convince that had the new government will able to improve the image of ukraine, complete investigation of corruption, which inhibited the interaction with ukraine and the usa. does that sound like president zelensky is being described or extorted. >> as i testified previously. i'm not a lawyer either and i don't want to characterize -- >> well, okay -- >> any legal terms. >> i think most people would say that doesn't sound like he's under severe pressure. president zelensky told reporters during a joint press conference with donald trump that he was not pressured by the u.s. president. again, i was not pressured. he used another time. there was no blackmail. i would ask you, do you think he
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felt like he's being extorted by the president based on these comments? >> i really think that's for the committee and the congress to -- >> you know what, it's really for the american people. >> i agree. >> and the american people aren't stupid. the american people can hear that and they can say i don't think he was under duress. i don't think he was being extorted. i don't think there was an exchange of a describe. and i would conclude with this last observation. it is common for national policy to with hold aid for various reasons. is that not true? >> it's true. >> it's frequent that we will with hold aid for various reasons. >> that's correct. >> president bush did it, he suspended military aid to 35 countries over their lack of support for the international criminal court. i'll bet that helps his political standing back home. but i don't remember anyone suggesting we should impeach him
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for it. president trump did it last year with afghanistan over corruption. we did it with pakistan. and no one suggested that we impeach them for it. this is a common occurrence in international relations. it is hardly an impeachable offense. >> time of the gentleman has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, sir, for being here today. there are things we can agree with our colleagues on, things we can disagree. i can agree that with my colleague that we should turn over all the documents should be turned over. mr. ambassador, i think you agree that it would have helped your testimony, helped you understood that the state department, the white house hasn't turned over a single document. the white house wanted the conversation. on that we can agree.
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others we can disagree as it relates to the whistle-blower. it distresses me because i begin to wonder about the motivations. in the final analysis, the way i look at this is if we were investigating an arson, you all would indict the person who pulled the fire alarm. that person's job is done. and we've seen the smoke and we've seen the fire. whatever the whistle-blower did doesn't change the president's actions, doesn't change the president's own words which are in our testimony, in our body of evidence, it doesn't change mr. mulvaney's own words, it doesn't change the body of evidence here. all it does is put this person at risk. back to the documents and what
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you know and including you seem to have your memory jogged by documents. let's talk about may 23rd and see if this one helps you. senator johnson in referencing the may 23rd meeting in his letter, sir, says i have no recollection the president saying that during the meeting. it is possible he did because i do not work for the president. if made, the comments did not register with me. he also says, i remember sondland saying behind to talk to the president as the rest of the delegation left the oval office. sir, do you recall this later conversation and what you and the president discussed? >> i do. >> what was that. >> recapping what was a free for all conversation and i wanted to tie dow exactly what we agreed to do and what we didn't. >> and he reinforced talk to
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rudy. >> talk to rudy -- >> go into any more detail about what that meant? >> no. it was a very short conversation. >> you said there was something besides just talked to rudy. >> yeah, to reconfirm that the three of us would be working on the ukraine file. >> and back to rudy in this seemingly contradictory passage here, you now recall the prerequisite mentioned in the july 10th meeting, right, when you were having this discussion, in joe biden's office, sir, you referenced there was a condition? >> i believe someone else testified that i raised that and i didn't dispute that testimony, that i said it's my understanding that in order to get this visit done, there needs to be an announcement about -- i don't know if i said investigations or said specifically burisma and -- >> sure. in your opening you mentioned at
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the very same time that apparently there was a meeting with rudy giuliani and the message you got was under scored, very concerned about what he told them. according to rudy giuliani, the potus meeting will not happen which is not conditioned. it's just not going to happen. your understanding of the difference here? >> i think what you're saying is this meeting i was talking about in my opening statement was apparently a meeting that rudy giuliani was having -- >> at the same time. >> -- statement in ukraine. >> but he's saying something different. he's saying, it's not going to happen. there's no notice in here that it's conditioned in any way. >> well, that was ambassador volker's point. this was an exchange with ambassador taylor and ambassador volker. ambassador volker is saying, don't let other people speak for the u.s. government. that was his point. >> but if rudy is following the
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directions and he's saying what he's saying here and you're also following directions, right, and you're saying it's a condition, who's giving you the instructions to say what you're saying. >> that's why we thought it was problematic to work with mr. giuliani. >> who did you work with to say the things that you said? did you have conversations with the chief of staff, secretary pompeo to say what you were saying? >> are you talking about in the july 10th meeting? >> that's correct. >> with ambassador volker because at that point, ambassador volker was the one in touch with mr. giuliani, not me. >> but you had not direct conversations with mr. mulvaney about this or secretary pompeo to make this conditioned statement? >> only the texts and emails that i've already reviewed. >> thank you. my time is up. >> thank you, ambassador sondland for your service and i want to thank you for your recognition in your opening statement of your hard working
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staff at the u.s. mission to the eu. you testified that you never received any direct confirmation or specific investigation as to why there was a hold on aid. >> that's correct. >> and in fact you testified, quote, president trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the investigations, end quote. >> that's correct. >> you said, quote, never heard those words from the president, correct? >> correct. >> instead you testified that in your september 9th call with president trump, the president said, quote, no quid pro quo. i want nothing. i want nothing. i want president zelensky to do the right thing. do what he ran on, end quote. is that correct? >> that's right. >> and the fact is, the aid was given to ukraine without any announcement of new investigations. >> that's correct. >> and president trump did in fact meet with president zelensky in september at the united nations, correct? >> he did. >> and there was no announcement
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of investigations before this meeting? >> correct. >> and there was no announcement of investigations after this meeting? >> that's right. >> and you've been very clear when chairman schiff has asked you broadly about investigations, you've corrected that to say specifically your understanding of investigations are investigation into the 2016 elections and investigations into burisma, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> and will you aware that during the obama administration, the u.s. partnered with the uk and ukraine on an investigation into the owner of burisma as part of ukraine's anti-corruption efforts? >> i became aware of it today during the hearing. >> other witnesses have testified, but, yes. in fact the obama administration state department was concerned about the potential appearance of conflict of interest with hunter biden serving on the board of burisma because they raised this as they were preparing ambassador yovanovitch for her senate confirmation. are you aware of that.
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>> i'm not aware of it. >> she testified both in the opening hearing and the closed deposition. and i've asked most of our witnesses this, and every witness i've asked has said yes and i want to ask you this today. do you believe that hunter biden having a position on the board of burisma has the potential appearance of a conflict of interest? >> i don't want to characterize hunter biden's service on the board one way or another. i don't know enough. >> you disagree with every other witness that has answered yes, there's a potential appearance of a conflict of interest? >> you asked if there was a conflict -- >> the potential appearance of a conflict of interest. >> clearly it's an appearance of a conflict. >> clearly it is an appearance of conflict of interest. again, this is something that everything witness has answered yes to or agreed it could have a potential appearance and yet we are not allowed to call hunter biden to answer questions in front of this committee. thank you, again, for your truthful testimony today and i yield back. >> thank you.
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>> mr. swalwell. >> ambassador sondland, you were told by the president and others to not show up. you showed up. i think that says a lot about you and i think history will look kindly on you doing that. but there are consequences to that and just a couple hours ago, president trump was asked about you a, and he said i don' know him well, this is not a man i know well. is that true? >> it really depends on what you mean by know well. we are not close friends, no. we have a professional working relationship. >> and in that working relationship, he knows who you are? >> yes. >> and he has spoken to you often? >> what's often? >> you said at least 20 times. >> if that's often, then it's often. >> and you donated a million dollars to his inaugural committee, is that right?
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>> i bought a vvip ticket to the inauguration. >> that's a lot of money, isn't it? >> it's a lot of money. >> and after that, the president makes you ambassador to the european union, eventually the ambassador to ukraine is removed and as you told us in your deposition, you became a central figure as it relates to ukraine. that's a pretty big responsibility? >> i don't know that i said i was a central figure. i was one of several people who were tasked to work on the ukraine file. >> and would you ever in that big responsibility take any actions that were not authorized by president trump? >> well, by president trump or the leadership in the state department. >> were you ever hauled in to the leadership of the state department for any actions you had taken around your work on ukraine? >> no. >> as to rudy giuliani, on may 23rd the president told you,
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talk to rudy, you talked to him a couple times. as you told us, you talked to the president a couple times. did the president say to you, stop talking to rudy? >> no. >> did he say don't any longer talk to rudy? >> no. >> on ukraine you said you were playing the hand you were dealt. president trump was the dealer, wasn't he? >> president trump was what? >> the dealer. in your metaphor you were playing the hand you were dealt, the dealer is president trump, is that right? >> i'll recharacterize your question by saying wee followed the direction of the president because that was the only pathway to working with ukraine. >> on page four of your testimony you said given what we know, given what we knew at the time, what we were asked to do did not appear to be wrong. and you would agree now, ambassador, knowing what you know now, what you did not know at the time, there are some
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things around ukraine that were wrong. >> i agree. >> so let's take out any leveraging of security assistance over the ukrainians and a white house visit, would you agree that it is wrong for the president of the united states to ask the leader of a foreign government to investigate the president of the united states' political opponent? >> yes. >> would you agree that in addition to making that request for an investigation leveraging a visit to the white house that a leader needs is also wrong? >> leveraging in what respect? >> a meeting at the white house, if someone needs a meeting at the white house to show their legitimacy to their people, that leveraging that meeting would be wrong? >> to be candid, every meeting at the white house has conditions placed on it. i've never worked at a meeting that doesn't -- >> if one of those conditions is to investigate a political opponent, that would be wrong? >> yes, but making announcements
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or investigations, per se, no. >> and if you asked a foreign government leader to investigate your political opponent, leveraged a white house meeting, and leveraged security assistance in this hypothetical, you would agree, all three of those are wrong. >> in the hypothetical, yes, i would agree. >> now, you before becoming an ambassador worked as a businessman and i presume you worked on a lot of deals is that right involving millions of dollars? >> correct. >> you work for a guy who wrote a book called "art of the deal?" >> i do. >> and state department employees told us they don't want to call it a quid pro quo, but you call it a quid pro quo, is that right? >> i did. >> and finally, one final hypothetical, if someone walks through those two doors wearing rain boots, a raincoat, and holding an umbrella with rain drops falling off of them, do you have to see outside that
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it's raining to presume or conclude that it might be raining outside? >> i understand your hypothetical. >> i yield back. thank you. >> mr. hurd. >> thank you. good to see you. >> good to see you. >> my colleague from california implied that you've been supportive of president trump's campaign -- >> i'm having a hard time hearing you. >> my colleague from california indicated that you're supportive of the president's campaign, is that correct? >> i actually donated to the inaugural committee in order to secure tickets. >> so let me ask you this question, did you participate in or overhear any conversations about the potential information collected by ukraine on the bidens -- collected by ukrainians on the bidens would be used for political gain?
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>> did i personally hear that, no. >> did you participate any any conversations when there was being discussed? >> not that i recall. >> in your statement on page five, you said mr. giuliani's requests for a quid pro quo for arranging a white house visit for president zelensky, and then you also recounted your conversation with president trump where he says i want nothing, no quid pro quo. how do you reconcile these two statements? >> they're hard to reconcile. we were working along mr. giuliani's direction for a period of time. we still didn't have a white house meeting. aid was now held up. there were lots of reasons being given by various people as to why those weren't moving forward. and i finally got and exs a per
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exhausted by receiving the latest text. >> with you aware of any specifically conversations mayor giuliani had with the president between your may 23rd conversation and september 11th, 2019? >> i don't recall if mayor giuliani when i was directly talking to him, either through a conference call or on a direct call, whether he quoted from the president or said i just talked to the president. most of the communications, as i said, went through ambassador volker initially. i don't want to opine on what may or may not have been said. >> on page 11 of your testimony, you said mr. giuliani had been communicating with ukrainians without our knowledge. i'm assuming you're believing, you, mr. volker, and ambassador taylor. which ukrainians was rudy giuliani communicating with? >> i was specifically referring to this text that i received
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from ambassador volker where mr. giuliani was apparently telling the ukrainians something that frustrated ambassador volker -- >> who specifically? we know that -- >> the old prosecutor. >> and do you think he has any gravitas within the regime? >> he was the attorney general -- >> and got fired in august when the new group came in. >> i think so. >> so we know rudy giuliani has met with mr. yermak on the fringes of meetings in spain. you know any other ukrainian official within the zelensky regime that mayor giuliani was meeting with? >> i don't know who mr. giuliani was meeting with. >> had you had any conversations with ukrainian officials within the zelensky regime that came to you and said, hey, i just got off the phone with giuliani, what the hell is he talking
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about? >> i don't recall. >> would that be normal? in all of your interactions with ambassadors and heads of states and governments, if there's some element of the u.s. government that they have spoken to, isn't it usually a step that they come in, talk to the ambassador, try to clarify what that statement was? is that a true characterization of how elements of diplomacy work? >> i think that's a responsible possibility. things work all kinds of different ways these days. >> when you met with president zelensky after the july 25th phone call, july 26th, did the investigations or joe biden come up in that meeting? >> i don't recall joe biden coming up. >> was there any frustration expressed to you by the phone call that happened the day before? >> no. everyone said it was a good call. >> is your interactions with president zelensky, is he a straight shooter, or is he a liar? >> he impressed me greatly and that's why i wanted to get he and president trump together as
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soon as possible. >> when he makes expressed statements, you tend to believe them? >> with my limited interaction with him, he seems honorable. >> thank you. i hope you make your plane back. i yield back. >> thank you, chairman. good afternoon, ambassador. welcome. others close to president trump have made it clear that investigations were in fact part of the conditions for u.s. assistance to ukraine including rudy giuliani and mick mulvaney, the acting chief of staff. so ambassador sondland, at a press conference on october 17th. mick mulvaney discussed his belief that it's entirely appropriate to politicize u.s. . ambassador, how often did you speak or meet with mr. mulvaney? >> again, based on my lack of -- of records, i'm going by a bad memory. >> just based on your memory. >> i only think i had one formal
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meeting with mr. mulvaney and it had nothing to do with ukraine. it had to do with a completely unrelated matter. >> so did you have a chance to talk with mr. mulvaney about your efforts in the ukraine? >> i think most of our communication were through the stream of e-mails, which others were on, generally. and i may have seen him at the white house casually and said hello and, you know, kept in touch. but we didn't have a back and forth. >> well, let me ask you this. was it your sense mr. mulvaney had a direct line to president trump? he must have as acting chief of staff, is that right? >> of course. >> let us look at what mr. mulvaney said during his october 17th press conference. >> that was -- those were the -- that was -- those were the driving factors. he also mentioned to me in past the corruption related to tehe dnc server? absolutely. no question about that. that's why we held up the money. >> so demand for the
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investigation into the democrats was part of the reason that he -- to withhold funding to ukraine. >> the look back to what happened in 2016, certainly was -- was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. and that is absolutely appropriate. >> he said -- he said that president trump, in that clip, had an interest in the investigations, did he not? >> apparently, yes. >> he's the chief of staff. he's somebody that sees the president and has conversation with the president every single day. wouldn't you expect that? >> it's described as a quid pro quo. >> i would expect he has a direct line to the president. >> ambassador sondland, when did you first learn from mr. mulvaney that the investigations were holding up the security assistance, if at any time? >> i don't know that i heard it from mr. mulvaney. >> okay. and -- ambassador sondland, i know that you're not a career foreign service officer.
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is it your understanding that the u.s. government conditions security assistance on an investigation into a political rival all the time? >> i've already testified i didn't think that would be proper. >> all right. well, let us also see what mr. mulvaney had to say about that at the same press conference. >> that was -- those were the driving factors. he also mentioned to me in past that the corruption related to the dnc server? absolutely. no question about that. but that's it and that's why we held up the money. now, there was a report. >> i'll just go ahead and read it for you because this thing -- i'll read it. he says, and i had news for everybody. get over it. there's going to be political influence in foreign policy.
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knowing what you know now about what was intended with ukraine, do you agree with mr. mulvaney that there's just going to be political influence in foreign policy? or that we should all just get over it and allow a president, now or later, to investigate a political rival and ask a foreign government to do that? do you agree with mr. mulvaney? >> i think there's a big difference between political influence and investigating a rival because politics enters into everything relating to foreign policy. >> so -- but you disagree that the -- you agree that the president should not be allowed to ask for the investigation of a political rival? >> in the context of what was going on in ukraine, i believe that the president should not investigate a political rival in return for a quid pro quo. >> and part of the way that you figured out that all of this stuff that was going on, that you were part of something that was basically wrong, is because in the july 25th phone call, the
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president himself, he didn't tell you. we don't know if he told rudy giuliani or not because rudy giuliani won't come in here. he said directly to the president -- to the president of ukraine -- that he wanted the bidens investigated. wasn't that your reading of the call? >> first of all, i don't believe that i was a part of something that was wrong because based on what i knew, i thought we were operating well within the center lane of proper u.s. diplomacy. >> i yield back. >> mr. ratcliff. >> chairman, thank you. i ask unanimous consent to enter into record a statement issued this morning from the office of the vice president by chief of staff. >> without objection. >> ambassador sondland, i'll be brief. in anticipation of mr. holmes' testimony tomorrow about this july 26th phone call that -- that he overheard at a cafe in
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kyiv that you had with president trump. he overheard that even though the call was not on speaker phone, correct? >> i don't believe so. >> was it open erica fay? >> it was outdoors. >> one of the points my democrat democratic colleagues keep making is that president trump said that he doesn't give a blank about ukraine. you heard that earlier? >> that -- that was not on the phone call. i don't think he testified that was on the phone call. i think he was testifying that i summarized the phone call. and i don't recall saying that. >> and you have no recollection of that? >> i don't. >> yeah. even if it was true, there's nothing wrong with that to have an opinion about -- >> he can have whatever opinion he wants about ukraine. >> it's all part of the narrative that president trump is a bad guy, that he doesn't care about the ukrainians. but it seems to me, ambassador
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sondland, that nothing says you care more about the ukrainians than sending javelin anti-tank missiles. do you agree with me? >> i agree that sending javelin anti-tank missiles is something ukraine wanted and needed. >> certainly, those work a lot better in stopping russian tanks than the blankets that were sent by the obama administration? >> your point is taken. >> i'll yield back. >> thank you. >> mr. heck. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ambassador, thank you for your stamina, sir. few quick, fairly easy questions. you would agree, would you not, sir, that foreign interference in our elections is or can be a threat to our democracy? >> under certain conditions, yes. >> do you -- there are conditions under which their interference is not a threat? >> i'm sorry. did you say foreign interference? >> yes. >> oh, always. sorry. >> and do you also agree that identifying and preventing that interference should be a priority of the federal government? >> it should be one of its priorities. >> and when you were assisting
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president trump in his effort to obtain those investigations, did you at all realize that those investigations could, in fact, impact the 2020 election? >> no. >> do you believe, sir, that it is appropriate, ever appropriate, to invite, press, bribe, or -- or coerce foreign interference in our elections? >> no. >> thank you. i want to refer to something that you said in your opening statement. as i previously testified, had i known of all of mr. giuliani's dealings or of his associations with individuals now under criminal indictment, i would not have acquiesced to his participation. it's hard to read that without believing that you thought that what he was doing was either wrong or that he was not reputable. fair? >> well, with 20/20 hindsight,
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that's fair. >> you also came to believe that the request for investigations into burisma was, in fact, a request to investigate the bidens, both former vice president and hunter. and indeed, the transcript of the july 25th call makes specific reference to that. including hunter biden and today the -- even the ranking member said we could clear all this up if we could have hunter biden. and i have a simple question. what ukrainian law did hunter biden violate? >> i'm not aware. >> what evidence is there that he may have violated any ukrainian law? >> i'm not aware. >> that's because there is none, sir. finally, also from your opening statement, you said, as you know, i have already provided ten hours of deposition testimony. i did so despite directives from the white house and the 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 i believe i have an
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obligation to account fully for my role in these events. did by obligation, you mean simply your legal obligation? or did you mean something bigger? >> well, both my legal obligation and my moral obligation. >> your moral obligation? i actually want to present an alternative theory. your family came here escaping the holocaust via uruguay. and your parents moved lucy and later you here where, frankly, you've been an american success story. through dent of hard work and innovation, good idea, and knack to hire the right people and some luck, you've built a considerable successful business. one that i know for a fact would make your parents proud. they came here becausehe


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