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Trump says Sondland testimony was 'fantastic'

President TrumpDonald TrumpFreedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's new free speech site to ban certain curse words Secret Facebook groups of special operations officers include racist comments, QAnon posts: report MORE declared victory following U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandAmerica's practice of 'pay-to-play' ambassadors is no joke Graham's 'impeach Kamala' drumbeat will lead Republicans to a 2022 defeat GOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' MORE’s public testimony Wednesday, saying it was “fantastic” and calling House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry a “hoax.”

“I think it was fantastic,” President Trump said while touring an Apple plant with CEO Tim Cook in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday afternoon.

The president repeated a portion of Sondland’s testimony during which he described a September conversation with Trump in which Trump said he wanted “no quid pro quo.”   

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“Why didn’t he put this statement into his opening remarks?” Trump asked, declaring the impeachment inquiry “over.”

At the same time, Trump sought to put distance between himself and Sondland, saying he didn’t know him very well. 

“He’s a guy that got put there,” Trump told reporters, an apparent reference to Sondland’s ambassadorship. Trump nominated Sondland for the post after he donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee.

Trump’s remarks echoed those he made earlier in the day at the White House when he brandished and began reading notes from Sondland’s testimony that he views as exonerating him from any wrongdoing. 

Sondland, who testified publicly Wednesday in connection with the impeachment inquiry, confirmed that a White House meeting with Trump was contingent on Ukraine launching investigations into 2016 election interference and Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that employed former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFour members of Sikh community among victims in Indianapolis shooting Overnight Health: NIH reverses Trump's ban on fetal tissue research | Biden investing .7B to fight virus variants | CDC panel to meet again Friday on J&J On The Money: Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats | Justice Dept. sues Trump ally Roger Stone for unpaid taxes MORE's son Hunter Biden on its board. He also said the effort to press Ukraine for investigations was widely known among top officials at the White House and State Department. 

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House Democrats are investigating whether Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine for investigations that could benefit him politically. At the center of the inquiry is a July 25 call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the DNC server during the 2016 campaign as well as the Bidens.

Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong on the call, that he applied no pressure to Ukraine and that there was “no quid pro quo.”

“It’s a hoax. It’s a disgrace. It's an embarrassment to our country,” Trump said of the impeachment inquiry in Austin on Wednesday.  

Trump singled out Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden angers Democrats by keeping Trump-era refugee cap Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones calls on Breyer to retire Biden rebuffs Democrats, keeps refugee admissions at 15,000 MORE (D-Calif.), accusing her of being “incompetent.”

“Nancy Pelosi has done a terrible job as Speaker,” Trump said.

He also claimed without evidence that the whistleblower who filed a complaint about his conversation with Ukraine is a “political operative” and said the intelligence community's inspector general should not have allowed the complaint to move forward.