Sondland says he believed Ukraine did not actually have to conduct investigations

Sondland says he believed Ukraine did not actually have to conduct investigations
© Greg Nash

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandTrump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment Donald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim McCabe: 'I don't think I will ever be free of this president and his maniacal rage' MORE testified Wednesday that he did not believe Ukraine's government actually had to carry through with investigations of former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats redefine center as theirs collapses Speculation swirls around whether Bloomberg will make Las Vegas debate stage Pelosi: 'I'm not counting Joe Biden out' MORE and his son Hunter to satisfy President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record MORE.
 
Sondland said he believed Ukraine merely had to announce that it would conduct the investigations that Trump wanted to make the president happy.
 
"He had to announce the investigations, he didn’t actually have to do them as I understood it," Sondland said of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Sondland cited his own conversations with Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows - Spotlight shines on Bloomberg, stop and frisk Giuliani hits Bloomberg on stop-and-frisk: He's 'turned on the program' Donald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim MORE, Trump's personal lawyer who was pressing for the investigations, in reaching his conclusion.

Sondland declined to speculate on Trump's motivations for seeking investigations into the 2016 election and the Bidens.

The ambassador to the EU has said Wednesday morning that there was a quid pro quo tying a White House meeting for Zelensky to him making a public declaration that he would follow through on investigations Trump sought.

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"I never heard ... anyone say that the investigations had to start or had to be completed," Sondland told the Democratic counsel of the House Intelligence Committee. "The only thing I heard from Mr. Giuliani or otherwise is they had to be announced in some form" publicly.

Sondland declined to speculate on Trump's motivations for seeking investigations into the 2016 election and the Bidens. But Democrats are likely to seize on his comments that an actual investigation was not necessary to argue that Trump was merely interested in the appearance of Biden being under investigation.

Biden is among the front-runners for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

Democrats' impeachment inquiry has focused on whether Trump abused his office by pressuring a foreign government to investigate his political rivals.