Trump’s EU Envoy Changes Testimony, Admits Quid Pro Quo with Ukraine

An ally of Donald Trump  has changed his impeachment inquiry testimony and confirmed that the US president offered Ukraine a quid pro quo to investigate a political rival.

Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, said he had told a senior official in Ukraine  that nearly $400m in military aid would probably be withheld until the country announced an investigation into corruption, including allegations concerning a gas company with ties to the former vice-president Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

The dramatic revision to Sondland’s account was revealed in a four-page transcript of sworn testimony made public on Tuesday.

“I now do recall a conversation on September 1, 2019, in Warsaw with” Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Sondland said in his updated evidence. “I said that resumption of the US aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”

Sondland’s new testimony, adds to Democrats’ evidence that the President connected the freezing of US security aid to Ukraine to investigations into Biden as well as the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s servers during the 2016 election, which cuts to the heart of their impeachment case against Trump.

The committees have now heard from several witnesses, including top US diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor and National Security Council aide Tim Morrison, who have testified that Ukraine opening such investigations was linked to $400 million in US security aid and a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Zelensky.

In his deposition last month, Sondland testified that he did not ultimately know why the aid to Ukraine was withheld. But he told lawmakers that efforts by the President’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to persuade Ukraine to open an investigation into Trump’s political rivals “kept getting more insidious” as time went on, and he suggested Giuliani’s efforts might have been illegal, according to the deposition transcript.
Sondland testified that it would be “improper” for Giuliani to push the Ukrainians to investigate Biden or get involved in the 2020 election. Asked if it was illegal, Sondland said: “I’m not a lawyer, but I assume so.”

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