A lawyer for the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told The Wall Street Journal that Sondland told impeachment committee members that President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey witness in impeachment investigation asks federal judge to rule on testifying Pompeo voices support for work of diplomat criticized by Trump Biden, Sanders defend themselves over questions of age MORE‘s dealings with Ukraine amounted to a quid pro quo.
Sondland’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, told the news outlet that Sondland revealed to House committees he thought that a meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would only take place if the country agreed to investigate corruption allegations about his political rivals.
Last month, Speaker of the House Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Court ruling ‘another blow’ to President Trump Elijah Cummings, native son of Baltimore, gets emotional send-off from Democratic luminaries Cummings’ staff honor him in op-ed: He brought ‘moral clarity’ MORE (D-Calif.) launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with the Ukraine following a whistleblower complaint about a July 25 call with Zelensky.
When a lawmaker asked Sondland if he believed this arrangement was a quid pro quo, Sondland said he believed so, but warned that he was not a lawyer, Luskin told the newspaper.
The Journal’s report follows text messages between Sondland and U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor that came out during the impeachment inquiry.
In the exchange, Taylor said “it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
“The president has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind,” Sondland responded.
Taylor’s subsequent testimony resulted in scrutiny on Sondland and some lawmakers have called for him to return and answer more questions.
Taylor testimony was similar. He told the House investigators that a meeting between Trump and Zelensky as well as security assistance for Ukraine was conditioned on the country’s pursuit of investigations into whether Kiev interfered in the 2016 election and into unfounded corruption allegations against the Bidens.
Taylor also relayed that Sondland told a Ukrainian representative “the security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.”
Luskin told The Journal that Sondland would probably return if he were asked to do so.
Trump has denied that there was a quid pro quo and blasted the impeachment inquiry as a “witch hunt.”
However, a rough transcript of the July call released by the White House reveals that the president did ask Zelensky to look into the former vice president. Trump has also publicly asked Ukraine and China to investigate the democratic presidential candidate.