Sondland said he was acting on Trump’s orders, aide told investigators

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/16/sondland-said-he-was-acting-on-trumps-orders-aide-told-investigators-071275

Tim Morrison, a top White House national security aide, told impeachment investigators that Gordon Sondland — a U.S. ambassador at the center of the Ukraine scandal imperiling Donald Trump’s presidency — claimed to be acting on Trump’s orders, and in fact was regularly in touch with him.

Though other impeachment witnesses have suggested Sondland has overstated his relationship with the president, Morrison said he was repeatedly able to confirm that the envoy did speak directly with Trump.

“Every time you went to check to see whether he had, in fact, talked to the president, you found that he had talked to the president?” one lawmaker wondered, according to a transcript of Morrison’s testimony released Saturday.

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“Yes,” Morrison replied.

Sondland’s direct access to Trump is a crucial aspect of the House’s impeachment inquiry. Officially the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, he played an unofficial role in channeling and conveying the president’s demands of Ukrainian leaders.

Sondland has acknowledged informing Ukrainian officials on Sept. 1 that a $400 million package of military aid — frozen abruptly by Trump — would be easier to pry loose if their newly elected president announced an investigation into Burisma, an energy company connected to former vice president Joe Biden’s son.

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