WSJ: Sondland told the House that Trump’s Ukraine pressure was a quid pro quo
A lawyer for U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told The Wall Street Journal that Sondland told impeachment committee members that President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine amounted to a quid pro quo.
Sondland’s lawyer Robert Luskin told the news outlet that Sondland revealed to House committees that he thought a meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would take place only if the country agreed to investigate corruption allegations about his political rivals.
Last month, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine following a whistleblower complaint about a July 25 call with Zelensky.
When a lawmaker asked Sondland if he believed this arrangement was a quid pro quo, Sondland said he believed so but warned that he was not a lawyer, Luskin told the newspaper.
The Journal’s report follows text messages between Sondland and U.S. diplomat William Taylor that came out during the impeachment inquiry.
In the exchange, Taylor said, “It’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
“The president has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind,” Sondland responded.
Taylor’s subsequent testimony resulted in scrutiny of Sondland, and some lawmakers have called for him to return and answer more questions.
Taylor’s testimony was similar. He told House investigators that a meeting between Trump and Zelensky as well as security assistance for Ukraine were conditioned on the country’s pursuit of investigations into whether Kiev interfered in the 2016 election and into unfounded corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
Taylor also relayed that Sondland told a Ukrainian representative, “The security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.”
Luskin told the Journal that Sondland would probably return if he were asked to do so.
Trump has denied that there was a quid pro quo and blasted the impeachment inquiry as a “witch hunt.”
However, a rough transcript of the July call released by the White House reveals that the president did ask Zelensky to look into the former vice president. Trump has also publicly asked Ukraine and China to investigate the democratic presidential candidate.