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US News Trump, White House scramble to respond to Sondland 'quid pro quo' testimony

07:45  21 november  2019
07:45  21 november  2019 Source:   nbcnews.com

Sondland says Giuliani was pushing for Ukraine quid pro quo

  Sondland says Giuliani was pushing for Ukraine quid pro quo Sondland says Giuliani was pushing for Ukraine quid pro quo“Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the president,” Sondland testified.

Sondland allegedthat a White House visit by Ukraine's president had indeed been linked to the announcement of political investigations into Trump political rival Joe Biden and his son, an I want no quid pro quo . Tell Zelenskiy to do the right thing," the president said he told the ambassador then.

Sondland allegedthat a White House visit by Ukraine's president had indeed been linked to the announcement of political investigations into Trump political rival Joe Biden and his son, an apparent contradiction of his assessment in an earlier

a close up of text on a white background: Image: President Donald Trump holds notes on Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony as he departs the White House on Nov. 20, 2019. © Erin Scott Image: President Donald Trump holds notes on Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony as he departs the White House on Nov. 20, 2019. WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and his allies were left scrambling Wednesday morning after impeachment inquiry testimony by U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland dealt a blow to the argument at the heart of the White House's defense.

Sondland alleged that a White House visit by Ukraine's president had indeed been linked to the announcement of political investigations into Trump political rival Joe Biden and his son, an apparent contradiction of his assessment in an earlier closed-door deposition the White House has repeatedly cited.

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President Trump speaking outside the White House on Wednesday.Credit T.J. Kirkpatrick for The I want no quid pro quo . Tell Zelensky" — referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine Later in the day, Mr. Sondland responded to Mr. Trump ’s claim that he didn’t know the ambassador well.

Gordon D. Sondland , Mr. Trump ’s envoy to the European Union, told the House Intelligence In his testimony , Mr. Sondland linked the most senior members of the Trump administration to the Mr. Sondland said. “As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White

The claim sent the president's defenders racing to revise talking points that have depended on a "no quid pro quo" defense, said Trump allies outside the White House, delivering a significant setback to Republican pushback.

Video: Gordon Sondland defies Trump, saying there was a quid pro quo (ABC News)

President Trump himself seized on Sondland's recollection of a July phone conversation between the two men, re-enacting the conversation for reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Wednesday as the hearing continued. "I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelenskiy to do the right thing," the president said he told the ambassador then.

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“Was there a ‘ quid pro quo ?’” Sondland testified in opening remarks. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the In often-stunning testimony , he painted a picture of a Ukraine pressure campaign that was prompted by Trump himself, orchestrated by Giuliani and

President Trump Wednesday responded to testimony by US Ambassador Gordon Sondland in the House impeachment hearings in a talk to “I just noticed one thing, and I would say it’s all over.” Trump then recounted testimony from Sondland about a phone call the two had. “It was a very short

"I WANT NOTHING. I WANT NOTHING. I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO," read hand-written notes Trump carried in his hands on White House stationery during his comments.

After reading the brief, handwritten statement, the president did not take questions from reporters as he left the White House nearly an hour later than scheduled for a tour of a Texas Apple plant.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a cabinet meeting at the White House on November 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump briefly spoke on China trade negotiations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the impeachment inquiry hearings currently taking place on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a cabinet meeting at the White House on November 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump briefly spoke on China trade negotiations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the impeachment inquiry hearings currently taking place on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Later, he said on Twitter that the Sondland testimony had exonerated him. "Impeachment Witch Hunt is now OVER!" he wrote, again recounting the alleged July conversation between himself and his E.U. ambassador, writing that he had told Sondland: "I WANT NOTHING! I WANT NOTHING! I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO! TELL PRESIDENT ZELENSKY TO DO THE RIGHT THING!"

Sondland Has Implicated the President and His Top Men

  Sondland Has Implicated the President and His Top Men “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.” Those are the damning words of President Trump’s handpicked ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, who on Wednesday morning directly implicated not only Mr. Trump, but also several top members of his administration.“Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.

It’s just that the quid pro quo that Sondland expressly articulated isn’t the one that was the subject of that call. Again, even if Sondland were saying that Trump hadn’t engaged in quid pro quo on the aid, he explicitly elsewhere in his testimony said there was a quid pro quo related to a White House

Trump 's lawyer 'requests were a quid pro quo ' Jump to media player US Ambassador to EU testifies to Congress they were forced to work with the president's lawyer on Ukraine matters. Jump to media player Republicans questioned the integrity of White House official Lt Col Vindman during the hearing.

In the past, the president has offered praise for Sondland, on multiple occasions holding up elements of his his closed-door deposition to undercut Democrats' impeachment inquiry."

The ambassador — who I heard was tremendous, and a tremendous person — he was 100 percent for what we're saying," Trump said of Sondland on Oct. 4. "A hundred percent. And, if you look, he also said there was no quid pro quo. That's the whole ballgame."

Gallery: Impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump (Photo Services)

On Wednesday, as Trump recounted their July conversation, he emphasized the distance between them, saying that Sondland had first backed other presidential candidates. "I don't know him very well. I have not spoken to him much. This is not a man I know well. Seems like a nice guy, though. But I don't know him well," Trump told reporters.

But while Trump's defenders have sought to undercut other witnesses, saying they were "never Trumpers" or part of a "deep state" conspiracy, that was not an argument that stood to be used effectively against Sondland — a former hotelier who donated $1 million to the president's inaugural committee in 2017, according to an outside campaign adviser.

The president's re-election campaign was slower than usual to respond to Sondland's opening statement. The Twitter accounts that typically have pre-written talking points and graphics ready for release as a messaging strategy stayed focused instead on Sondland's closed-door deposition, rather than the first part of Wednesday's public hearing.

Rauf Denktaş in a suit standing in front of a crowd: Gordon Sondland, the US envoy to the European Union, told lawmakers he followed President Donald Trump's orders in seeking a © Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS Gordon Sondland, the US envoy to the European Union, told lawmakers he followed President Donald Trump's orders in seeking a "quid pro quo" deal with Ukraine

The White House and its defenders began to pivot their argument later in the morning, with the Trump campaign noting that the president had raised the idea of a White House visit for the Ukrainian president in a letter and two phone calls, though a precise date was never agreed on and formal arrangements were never made.

They also characterized Sondland's Wednesday testimony as being based on "presumptions" he had made regarding Trump's reasoning for withholding aid, according to people close to and familiar with the White House strategy, citing Sondland's statement that he had never heard Trump explicitly state that aid was linked to the investigations, though he conveyed that message to the Ukrainians.

The Sondland testimony highlighted again the White House's struggle to mount a sustained messaging response to the impeachment inquiry. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, recently hired by the White House to manage impeachment communications strategy, repeatedly called Sondland the ambassador to Ukraine rather than the European Union and did not deliver a clear message on the extent of his relationship with Trump in an interview Wednesday on "CBS This Morning."

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas, U.S., November 20, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas, U.S., November 20, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

"The president knows him. The president does not know him very well," Bondi said. "He's a short-term ambassador. Of course he knows him. He's the ambassador.

"White House officials soon echoed Trump in looking to focus attention on the July conversation between the president and Sondland. "Ambassador Sondland's testimony made clear that in one of the few brief phone calls he had with President Trump, the President clearly stated that he 'wanted nothing' from Ukraine and repeated 'no quid pro quo' over and over again," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

A campaign spokesman downplayed 2020 team concerns over Sondland's testimony. "He testified previously that the President expressly said he wasn't asking for a quid pro quo. He hasn't contradicted that and in fact his testimony is consistent with that," said spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

Still, Trump's television defenders acknowledged it wasn't a good day for the president."It doesn't look good for the president, substantively," said Ken Starr, who led the investigation into President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, on Fox News.

How Russian President Vladimir Putin Emerged as a Winner in President Donald Trump's Impeachment Hearings .
How Russian President Vladimir Putin Emerged as a Winner in President Donald Trump's Impeachment Hearings“I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” Hill said in her Nov. 21 opening statement to lawmakers, some of whom had questioned witnesses about a widely debunked theory that Trump had pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate.

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