Politics The 5 public confirmations of a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine
Mulvaney seeks to correct quid pro quo remarks in withering interview with Fox's Chris Wallace
White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney insisted he never said the Trump administration expected a quid pro quo between U.S. aid to Ukraine and that Kiev launching investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden during a withering interview on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace. Mulvaney repeatedly insisted his remarks at a Thursday press conference were taken out of context, saying he never used the "reporters" language of "quid pro quo.
White House official Alexander Vindman on Tuesday becomes the latest high-ranking government officialbetween the Trump team and Ukraine — something the White House previously dismissed entirely.
But not all of the confirming statements we’ve seen or heard are created equal. Below, we explain each one, along with how serious it is.
'I never saw that': Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Mulvaney quid pro quo admission
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump on "This Week" Sunday. "The conversation was always around what were the strategic implications," Pompeo said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday. "Would that money get to the right place or would there be corruption in Ukraine and the money wouldn't flow to the mission that it was intended for.
1) Alexander Vindman
The lieutenant colonel and National Security Council aide on Tuesdaythat European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland said that Ukraine’s long-sought meeting between its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and President Trump was conditioned on specific investigations — including ones involving the Bidens and a conspiracy theory about the origins of the Russia investigation.
Vindman said Sondland’s admission came after a meeting with a top Ukrainian official, Oleksandr Danylyuk.
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Sens. Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham both indicated that voting to remove President Trump from the Oval Office is on the table for them should the House pass articles of impeachment. © Provided by MediaDC: Washington Newspaper Publishing Company, Inc.In a Sunday interview with Axios HBO, Romney "made it clear that he's open to voting to remove Trump.
The key quotes: “Amb. Sondland started to speak about Ukraine delivering specific investigations to secure the meeting with the president, at which time [national security adviser John] Bolton cut the meeting short. Following this meeting, there was a scheduled debriefing during which Amb. Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma [Holdings, which employed Hunter Biden].
“I stated to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate, that the request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something the NSC was going to get involved in or push. [Fellow NSC aide Fiona] Hill then entered the room and asserted to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate. Following the debriefing meeting, I reported my concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel."
Sondland Told House Panels Trump's Ukraine Pressure Was Quid Pro Quo
A top U.S. diplomat told House committees last week that efforts by President Trump and his allies to press Kyiv to open investigations in exchange for a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president amounted to a quid pro quo, his lawyer said. © francois lenoir/ReutersGordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told House committees that he believed Ukraine agreeing to open investigations into Burisma Group—a gas company where Democrat Joe Biden’s son once served on the board—and into alleged 2016 election interference was a condition for a White House meeting between Mr.
Why it’s big: Vindman asserts that the looming request was so inappropriate that Bolton shut a meeting down and that two NSC aides formally raised concerns, including with Sondland personally.
What it doesn’t say: Vindman in his prepared statement doesn’t quite indicate the Bidens and the 2016 election investigations were explicitly broached in the meeting with Danylyuk — perhaps because it was cut short. Instead, Vindman says Sondland mentioned them explicitly afterward.
2) William B. Taylor
Taylorthat he was informed that Sondland had explicitly conveyed a quid pro quo involving hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to another top Ukrainian official, Andriy Yermak. Taylor also said Sondland told him directly that the quid pro quo also involved a meeting between Trump and Zelensky.
Key quotes: “During this same phone call I had with [NSC aide Tim] Morrison [on Sept. 1], he went on to describe a conversation Ambassador Sondland had with Mr. Yermak at [a meeting in] Warsaw. Ambassador Sondland told Mr. Yermak that the security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.
Kellyanne Conway: 'I Don't Know' Whether There Was A Quid Pro Quo With Ukraine
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday that she does not know whether U.S. military aid was withheld from Ukraine to solicit help in an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, refusing to guarantee that there was no quid pro quo at any time. During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Conway instead repeatedly emphasized that the funds were ultimately sent after being delayed over the summer. “I feel confident
“Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with President Zelenskyy was dependent on a public announcement of investigations — in fact, Ambassador Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance."
Why it’s big: It’s the most substantial indication that the quid pro quo was communicated directly to Ukraine.
What it doesn’t say: The actual communication of the quid pro quo to Ukraine is secondhand, meaning Morrison’s testimony will be key (as is Sondland’s, which occurred earlier this month). Taylor says Sondland also told him there was a quid pro quo, but Taylor didn’t personally witness the communication of that to Ukraine.
3) Gordon Sondland
Sondland’s attorney told the Wall Street Journal that Sondland testified to some kind of a quid pro quo. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) also said Sondland described a quid pro quo to him.
Key quotes: Both of these come from the Wall Street Journal. Here’s:
Mr. Johnson said he learned of the potential arrangement involving military aid through a phone call with Mr. [Gordon] Sondland that occurred the day before Mr. Johnson spoke to Mr. Trump. Under the arrangement, Mr. Johnson said Mr. Sondland told him, Ukraine would appoint a strong prosecutor general and move to “get to the bottom of what happened in 2016 — if President Trump has that confidence, then he’ll release the military spending,” recounted Mr. Johnson.
“At that suggestion, I winced,” Mr. Johnson said. “My reaction was: Oh, God. I don’t want to see those two things combined.”
4 takeaways from Gordon Sondland’s and Kurt Volker’s testimonies
Many of the Trump team's chief arguments are undercut in two documents.Below are some key takeaways.
Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told House committees that he believed Ukraine agreeing to open investigations into Burisma Group — a gas company where Democrat Joe Biden’s son once served on the board — and into alleged 2016 election interference was a condition for a White House meeting between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Sondland’s lawyer Robert Luskin said.
Asked by a lawmaker whether that arrangement was a quid pro quo, Mr. Sondland cautioned that he wasn’t a lawyer but said he believed the answer was yes, Mr. Luskin said.
Why they’re big: Sondland is about as central to this effort as it comes.
What they don’t say: Sondland saying he “believed” there was a quid pro quo isn’t quite the same as him admitting to having conveyed a quid pro quo. In addition, Johnson’s recollection of what Sondland told him is secondhand.
4) Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)
The same day as his Wall Street Journal interview, Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thatto him in a phone call, and that it involved the conspiracy theory about the Russia investigation. Johnson said he was trying to get Trump to release the military aid when Trump made the admission.
Key quote: “I didn’t succeed [in getting Trump to release the aid]. But the president was very consistent on why he was considering it. Again, it was corruption, overall, generalized — but yeah, no doubt about it, what happened in 2016 — what happened in 2016, as relates? What was the truth about that?”
3 big takeaways from Bill Taylor’s full transcript
The most important things we learned from his testimony.We already knew Taylor was the first U.S. official to indicate that an explicit quid pro quo was communicated to top Ukrainian officials, based upon his publicly released opening statement. That claim that has since been confirmed by White House aide Tim Morrison and European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who personally conveyed the quid pro quo.
The comments are at about the 4:45 mark here:
Why it’s big: Johnson is the only one thus far attributing the quid pro quo to Trump personally.
What it doesn’t say: Johnson’s language is somewhat jumbled. And he’s saying only that Trump said there was a quid pro quo — not that it was communicated to Ukraine.
5) Mick Mulvaney
The acting White House chief of stafftwo weeks ago that military aid was indeed withheld over Ukraine not investigating the Russia probe conspiracy theory involving a Democratic National Committee email server. He later walked it back.
Key quote: “[Did Trump] also mention to me, in the past, that the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money. … The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. And that is absolutely appropriate.”
Why it’s big: Mulvaney is about as central to this as Sondland, and he’s arguably more tied to Trump as his acting chief of staff.
Why it’s maybe not: Mulvaney walked it back, saying, “There never was any condition on the flow of the aid related to the matter of the DNC server.” And even with his initial admission, he didn’t say the quid pro quo was communicated to Ukraine.
Graham now says Trump's Ukraine policy was too 'incoherent' for quid pro quo .
A day after saying he wouldn’t bother reading transcripts released by House Democrats in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., now says he did read the testimony, and his conclusion is that the administration’s Ukraine policy was too “incoherent” for it to have orchestrated the quid pro quo that is at the heart of the probe. © Provided by Oath Inc. Sen. Lindsey Graham at an Oct. 24 press conference on impeachment. (Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images) Testimony released Tuesday included depositions from Gordon Sondland, U.S.
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