By the Associated Press:
Ambassador Gordon Sondland says he kept top members of the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the loop about President Donald Trump’s pressure on Ukraine for investigations.
In remarks to a House intelligence panel, Sondland tells lawmakers that it was well-established within the Trump administration that there was a quid pro quo involving Ukraine.
He said the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, openly discussed how Trump wanted Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into the 2016 U.S. presidential election and into Burisma the Ukraine gas company on whose board Biden’s son, Hunter, sat as a prerequisite for a coveted White House visit for Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Sondland said he laid out the issue in detail to members of State Department, Energy, and White House staff. Recipients included Pompeo and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, he said.
Everyone understood “Trump’s desires and requirements,” Sondland says. He added: “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.”
Last month, Pompeo acknowledged for the first time he was on Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, but disclosed no details and did not indicate he was kept up to date on the Ukraine pressure efforts.
Sondland is questioning details of a July cellphone call with President Donald Trump as recounted by a diplomat who overheard the call from a Kyiv restaurant.
David Holmes said he heard the two men discussing investigations Trump was seeking as Sondland held the phone out. Sondland said it “seems a little strange” that he would hold the phone that way.
Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the EU, is testifying Wednesday in the House impeachment inquiry. Holmes testified earlier behind closed-doors.
Sondland said he doesn’t think he would have told Holmes that Trump only cares about “the big stuff,” as Holmes recounted.
Holmes also said Sondland told Trump the Ukrainian president “loves your ass” which Sondland said “sounds like something I would say.”
Sondland said that’s how he communicated with Trump: “a lot of four-letter words. In this case three letters.“