A top aide to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky refuted a key claim made during last month’s impeachment inquiry hearing by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, according to Time.
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The aide, Andriy Yermak, denied that he and Sondland were ever in conversation alone and said Sondland never told him that military aid was dependent upon Ukraine opening or announcing investigations into the 2016 election interference and Hunter Biden’s board appointment at Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
“Gordon and I were never alone together,” Yermak said. “We bumped into each other in the hallway next to the escalator, as I was walking out. And I remember — everything is fine with my memory — we talked about how well the meeting went. That’s all we talked about.”
Sondland testified that he told Yermak he believed that “the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine took some kind of action on the public statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” referring to a public statement about the investigations.
Yermak’s emphasis on the clarity of his memory may be a subtle dig at Sondland’s often shaky and incomplete recollection of key impeachment-related events. During his testimony and subsequent questioning, Sondland emphasized that he didn’t take detailed notes and that he had so many conversations with foreign leaders that he sometimes could not remember details of those conversations.
Sondland also frequently deferred to the testimony of others, saying that he had no reason to doubt their recollection of events he was involved in, even if he could not remember them himself. Additionally, Sondland submitted revisions to his closed-door deposition after the fact, saying his memory had been refreshed by the testimony of other witnesses after his own.
The House Intelligence Committee relied heavily on Sondland’s testimony to bolster their case that President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses.
Yermak’s claim lines up with what Zelensky himself has said multiple times — that there was no quid pro quo arrangement with President Trump involving military aid or a White House meeting.