Gordon Sondland breaks with Trump in impeachment testimony

Gordon Sondland arrives at the Capitol on Thursday. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

Sondland testified that he contacted Giuliani anyway at Trump’s direction after a May 23 meeting at the White House, and that Giuliani drew a direct link between scheduling a White House visit for Ukraine’s newly elected president and demands that Ukraine prioritize investigations targeting Trump’s political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden.

Sondland told congressional investigators he did not realize “until much later” that Giuliani was seeking a Ukrainian-led investigation into Biden and his son — even though Trump himself and Giuliani had been calling publicly for such probes for weeks. He said any effort to solicit foreign assistance in an American election — an allegation central to the House’s impeachment inquiry — “would be wrong,” adding that he was “disappointed by” the May 23 meeting with Trump because he believed a Trump-Zelensky meeting “should be scheduled promptly and without any pre-conditions.”

“[B]ased on the president’s direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening U.S.-Ukrainian ties and furthering long-held U.S. foreign policy goals in the region; or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the president’s concerns,” Sondland said.

In a letter to House investigators, Sondland’s attorneys said their client has ample documentation to back up his testimony, but that the White House and State Department are blocking him from sharing it, claiming it could implicate executive privilege and other confidentiality restrictions.

Article URL : https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/17/gordon-sondland-to-break-from-trump-in-impeachment-testimony-000288

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