Trump calls Sondland allegations ‘total nonsense’
President Trump on Friday dismissed U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony that there was a quid pro quo in his efforts to press Ukraine for investigations, calling it “total nonsense.”
“That’s total nonsense,” Trump said in an interview on “Fox & Friends,” defending his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. “Why should we give money to a country that is known corrupt?”
“I hardly know him,” Trump said of Sondland, a hotelier and GOP donor. “I have spoken to him a few times.”
Trump also denied State Department official David Holmes’s account of a conversation he overheard between Sondland and the president on July 26, the day after Trump asked Ukraine’s president on a phone call to investigate Biden and son’s dealings in Ukraine.
“I guarantee you that never took place,” Trump said.
Trump asked about the “investigation” on the call, according to Holmes, who said Trump spoke so loudly on the phone that Sondland had to hold it away from his ear.
House Democrats have heard from a dozen witnesses in connection with the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.
Sondland testified Wednesday that a White House meeting was contingent on Ukraine launching investigations into 2016 election interference and Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company that employed Hunter Biden on its board. Sondland also said he presumed military aid was contingent on Ukraine publicly announcing the investigations but said Trump never told him directly of a quid pro quo related to the aid.
Sondland said he and other officials worked with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani “at the express direction” of the president and described the push for investigations as widely known among leaders at the White House and State Department.
Trump knocked Sondland for not saying in his opening statement that Trump told him on a phone call in September that he wanted “nothing” and “no quid pro quo” from Ukraine.
“I want nothing — he said that when he was testifying,” Trump said. “They didn’t put that in. That was the end of him. I turned off the television.”
“Sondland, I hardly know him,” Trump said again, adding that he saw him “hanging around” when he went to Europe.
Sondland, who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, testified that he spoke to Trump about 20 times. Other witnesses have also described Sondland as boasting that he had the president’s ear.