Trump dismisses Sondland testimony, says impeachment inquiry should be ‘over’

Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday said that he didn’t know U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland “very well” and that Sondland’s ongoing testimony Wednesday means that the House impeachment inquiry should be “over.”

Reading from a packet of notes, Trump reenacted a conversation he had with Sondland that was described in testimony, with the president saying he wanted “nothing” from Ukraine in exchange for investigations. 

{mosads}“That means it’s all over. What do you want from Ukraine, he asks me, screaming. What do you want from Ukraine? I keep seeing all these ideas and theories,” Trump told reporters before departing the White House for a trip to Austin, Texas, providing his account of Sondland’s part of the conversation.

“Here is my response that he just gave. Ready? You have the cameras rolling? I want nothing. That’s what I want from Ukraine,” Trump continued. “I want nothing — I said it twice.”

Trump, who said he had been watching the hearing before he left the White House, recounted an exchange Sondland had with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) about the conversation almost verbatim, repeating parts of it several times.

Trump took issue, however, with Sondland’s description that he was in a “bad mood” during the phone call.

“I’m always in a good mood. I don’t know what that is,” Trump said.

The president then sought to distance himself from Sondland, saying he hasn’t spoken to him “much” and that he supported other Republican candidates before supporting Trump in 2016.

“I don’t know him very well. I have not spoken to him much. This is not a man I know well. He seems like a nice guy though,” Trump said. 

“He was with other candidates. he actually supported other candidates. Not me — came in late,” he said of Sondland, a wealthy hotelier and donor to the president’s inaugural committee.

Trump then took aim at the press, suggesting the “fake news” wasn’t accurately covering his statements about Ukraine.

“I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell President Zelensky to do the right thing,” Trump said, referring back to his conversation with Sondland. “This is the final word from the president of the United States. I want nothing.”

Trump remarks came shortly after Sondland testified that a White House meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had been conditioned on Ukraine launching investigations into 2016 election interference and Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that employed Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, on its board. 

Sondland said that the push for the investigations – spearheaded by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani — was widely known among officials at the White House and State Department.

But Sondland testified that he never heard from Trump himself that he wanted a quid pro quo with Ukraine, citing his recollection of a conversation he had with Trump in September.

“I believe I just asked him an open-ended question, Mr. Chairman. I kept hearing all these different ideas and theories, and this and that. What do you want?” Sondland recalled under questioning from Schiff.

“And it was a very short, abrupt conversation and 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.”

Trump raised the investigations on a call with Zelensky on July 25, after asking Zelensky to “do him a favor.”

House Democrats are investigating whether Trump sought to use a White House meeting and security assistance in order to pressure Ukraine to pursue investigations that could benefit the president politically.

Sondland testified Wednesday that he presumed security aid was conditioned on Ukraine making a public statement about the investigations absent another explanation. William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified last week that the meeting and aid were tied to the pursuit of investigations.

Trump has vehemently denied a “quid pro quo” in his interactions with Ukraine and defended his conversation with Zelensky as “perfect,” deriding the impeachment inquiry as a “witch hunt” and “hoax” pushed by Democrats in order to damage him politically.

A rough transcript of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky shows Trump asking Ukraine to investigate a debunked theory about Kyiv’s involvement in the 2016 Democratic National Committee hack and the former vice president and his son’s business dealings with Ukraine.

–This report was updated at 12:58 p.m.

Tags Adam Schiff Donald Trump Gordon Sondland Hearing Impeachment Joe Biden Rudy Giuliani Sondland testimony

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video