Politics: Gordon Sondland Stepped in ‘And Things Went Really Off the Rails’ - - PressFrom - US

Politics Gordon Sondland Stepped in ‘And Things Went Really Off the Rails’

05:35  18 november  2019
05:35  18 november  2019 Source:   thedailybeast.com

AP source: 2nd US official heard Trump call with Sondland

  AP source: 2nd US official heard Trump call with Sondland A second U.S. embassy staffer in Kyiv overheard a key cellphone call between President Donald Trump and his ambassador to the European Union discussing the need for Ukrainian officials to pursue “investigations,” The Associated Press has learned. The July 26 call between Trump and Gordon Sondland was first described during testimony Wednesday by William B. Taylor Jr., the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Taylor said one of his staffers overhead the call while Sondland was in a restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that triggered the House impeachment inquiry.

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Ukrainian officials arrived at the White House on July 10 expecting something approaching normal. They were in Washington for a scheduled meeting with then-National Security Adviser John Bolton with a plan to propose a new path for U.S.-Ukrainian relations under the umbrella of energy and security cooperation. All seemed to go well—until U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland stepped in. “That’s when things really went off the rails,” one person in the room said.

Donald Trump, Gordon Sondland are posing for a picture: Pablo Martinez Monsivais© Provided by The Daily Beast Pablo Martinez Monsivais

It’s been widely noted in testimonies by multiple House impeachment witnesses that Sondland interrupted the conversation between Bolton and the Ukrainians when he suggested that the Kyiv officials open investigations into Hunter Biden and the gas company he worked for if they wanted President Volodymyr Zelensky to land a White House meeting with Donald Trump.

David Holmes testimony: State department aide confirms Trump-Sondland call about Ukraine investigations

  David Holmes testimony: State department aide confirms Trump-Sondland call about Ukraine investigations David Holmes, the state department aide who overheard President Donald Trump's conversation with the US ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, said that Sondland told Trump that the Ukranian President would do "anything you ask him to," and that he confirmed the Ukrainians were going to "do the investigation.""Sondland told Trump that (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky 'loves your ass,'" Holmes said, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by CNN. "I then heard President Trump ask, 'So, he's gonna do the investigation?' Ambassador Sondland replied that 'he's gonna do it,' adding that President Zelensky will do 'anything you ask him to.

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Bolton immediately cut the get-together short, witnesses said, in an attempt to save what had until then been a normal meeting. But what’s been less clear—until now—is what happened moments later, when Sondland guided the Ukrainians into the White House’s Ward Room. Three individuals familiar with the conversation described what happened next.

Sondland continued to not just relay, but demanded ferociously, that the Ukrainians open the Biden investigations, saying it was the only chance for Washington and Kyiv to develop any further meaningful relationship, two individuals with knowledge of Sondland’s overtures said.

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

  Sondland said he was acting on Trump’s orders, aide told investigators 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 was regularly in touch with him. © Provided by Politico, LLC Top White House national security aide Tim Morrison. “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.“Yes,” Morrison replied.

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Sondland raised his voice several times in his attempt to persuade the Ukrainian officials sitting across from him, including Andriy Yermak, a close aide to Zelensky, and Zelensky’s then-national security adviser Oleksandr Danylyuk. One individual told The Daily Beast that Sondland “got very emotional,” adding that “there was lots of yelling.” Another individual called the meeting “erratic” and said the Ukrainians began to ignore Sondland and instead turned to Fiona Hill, who ran the National Security Council’s Russia desk at the time, for clarification on Washington’s messaging.

Sondland has previously tried to claim he didn’t know much about a quid pro quo with Ukraine—until he suddenly told Congress he now recalls the deal. But the details of Sondland’s behavior in the Ward Room underscore the intensity in which the EU Ambassador advocated for the investigations into Biden and Burisma.

With Sondland confirming quid pro quo, only Giuliani and Mulvaney can exonerate Trump now

  With Sondland confirming quid pro quo, only Giuliani and Mulvaney can exonerate Trump now Every other witness prior to Ambassador Gordon Sondland, however credible they may be, were second- or third-hand witnesses to the central question of the impeachment question. Of the witnesses allowed to testify in the inquiry, only Sondland could answer two crucial questions. © Provided by MediaDC: Washington Newspaper Publishing Company, Inc.1. Did President Trump order the withholding of congressionally approved aid to Ukraine and a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky in exchange for their public commitment to investigate the Bidens and Burisma Holdings? 2.

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The details also raise questions about how Sondland will perform in his public testimony in front of House impeachment investigators Wednesday. He is slated to appear this week along with a slew of other top U.S. officials, several of them from the State Department, to answer questions about what he knew of the efforts to oust U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and Rudy Giuliani’s campaign to convince Ukraine to launch certain investigations.

Out of eight witnesses, Sondland is likely to face the most intense scrutiny, especially because of his direct communication with President Trump. Last week the top diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, told lawmakers his aide heard Sondland on the phone with Trump in a Kiev restaurant talking about “the investigations.” On Friday, David Holmes, a State Department aide in Kyiv, told House investigators during a closed-door deposition that he was one of the individuals that overheard the president ask Sondland: “So, is he going to do the investigations?” Sondland replied by saying Zelensky “loves your ass” and said the president would pursue the investigations.

Ken Starr: Sondland testimony will be remembered as 'one of those bombshell days'

  Ken Starr: Sondland testimony will be remembered as 'one of those bombshell days' Former independent counsel Ken Starr claimed that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee would prove to be monumental moving forward. During his Wednesday morning testimony, Sondland affirmed a quid pro quo agreement for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to secure a meeting and phone call with President Trump. But, he also reiterated the fact that he has no direct evidence to tie those claims to the aid that Trump had held up.

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Lawmakers are likely to hone in on what else Sondland and Trump discussed on that call and other calls, and what pressure the president put on the Ambassador to relay the investigation demands to Kiev.

Several other witnesses in the impeachment inquiry testified about Sondland’s involvement in the Ukraine portfolio during their depositions with House investigators. National Security Council official Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, Hill and the former lead on Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker all provided details about Sondland in their testimonies and spoke in particular detail about the Ward Room meeting.

In her previous, closed-door testimony, Hill told investigators that Sondland told her in late June that he was “in charge” of the Ukraine portfolio. “And I asked, ‘well, on whose authority?’ And he said, ‘the President,’” Hill said.

On Saturday, the Intelligence Committee released more testimony suggesting the president was actively involved and briefed on Sondland’s discussions with senior officials in Ukraine regarding the U.S. hold on military aid to the country. Tim Morrison, a senior Trump National Security Council official, testified that Sondland gave repeated assurances that he was acting with the president’s backing.

Trump's Senate safety net holds firm as Republicans dismiss 'quid pro quo'

  Trump's Senate safety net holds firm as Republicans dismiss 'quid pro quo' Gordon Sondland’s testimony Wednesday upended a key argument Senate Republicans have used to defend President Donald Trump in the impeachment inquiry: no quid pro quo. © Provided by Politico, LLC U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is sworn in before testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Now that there’s mounting evidence of precisely that, GOP senators may have to reframe their case. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

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“Ambassador Sondland believed and at least related to me that the President was giving him instruction,” Morrison said. “He related to me he was acting—he was discussing these matters with the President.”

Sondland told Andriy Yermak, one of Zelensky’s top aides, during a “sidebar” meeting in Warsaw that “what could help them move the aid was if the prosecutor general would go to the [mic] and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation,” Morrison said.

Hill also talked about the Ward Room meeting, which she attended in July. She said her director for Ukraine was “completely alarmed” by Sondland’s behavior as were the Ukrainians in the room, particularly Danylyuk.

Both Hill and Vindman told House investigators, too, that Sondland had communicated to them and others that he was working with White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on a plan to press Ukraine to launch investigations in exchange for a meeting in Washington with President Trump.

In his deposition, Vindman told investigators that “Sondland relatively quickly went into outlining how the—you know, these investigations need to—on the deliverable for these investigations in order to secure this meeting.”

When asked how Sondland came to believe the “deliverable” was necessary, Vindman said: “I heard him say that this had been coordinated with…Mulvaney.”

Other witnesses set to appear next week could offer more precise details about the timeline of the withholding of U.S. military aid and its connection to investigations in Biden and Burisma. Volker and Hale have offered varying versions of when they learned of a quid pro quo. Volker said he learned about the hold up as early as June.

In her deposition, Pentagon official Laura Cooper said she learned of the hold up of aid as early as July 18. She also said the Pentagon received a series of mysterious questions that originated from the White House regarding details of the military aid, including which U.S. companies were involved in supplying equipment to the country.

The deposition transcript for Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale has yet to be released.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Warren doubles down on pledge to not to give diplomatic posts to donors .
Sen. Elizabeth Warren doubled down on her pledge to not give diplomatic posts to big donors during Wednesday night's debate. "I've taken a pledge, anyone who gives a big donation don't ask to be an ambassador. I ask everyone running for president to join me in that, and not a single person has so far," Warren said.Her answer came in wake of Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's bombshell testimony earlier in the day as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry. "How did Ambassador Sondland get there?" Warren said, adding that his only qualification was writing a "check for a million dollars.

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