House Democrats on Tuesday released excerpts of closed-door depositions with former US Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, as well as revised testimony from US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland which was a complete reversal from what he said in text messages revealed last month as well as prior testimony.
In them, Sondland reveals in four new pages of sworn testimony he told a top Ukrainian official that a meeting with President Trump may be contingent upon its new administration committing to investigations Trump wanted, according to the New York Times.
Mr. Sondland provided a more robust description of his own role in alerting the Ukrainians that they needed to go along with investigative requests being demanded by the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. -New York Times
Bloomberg reports "Sondland testified that a promise by Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son and the 2016 election was a condition that “would have to be complied with” for the country’s leaders to get a meeting with Trump."
"That was my understanding," he said.
Sondland was featured in a Sept 9. text message with the top American diplomat in Ukraine, William B. Taylor, who told Sondland: "I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."
To which Sondland replies "Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo's of any kind," adding "I suggest we stop the back and forth by text."
Taylor testified last month that the quid pro quo was explicitly communicated to Ukraine.
He says he was told by National Security Council aide Tim Morrison that Sondland, the European Union Ambassador, directly communicated that quid pro quo to a top Zelenky aide, Andriy Yermak.
“During this same phone call I had with Mr. Morrison, he went on to describe a conversation Ambassador Sondland had with Mr. Yermak at [a meeting in] Warsaw,” Taylor says. “Ambassador Sondland told Mr. Yermak that the security assistance money would not come until President Zelenskyy committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.” -WaPo
That's significant because it gives Trump a layer of removal. He can throw Sondland under the bus and say he wasn't speaking for him. Sondland's explantion may be hard to believe, but unless he flips on Trump & says otherwise, it'll make Democrats' case more circumstantial.— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) November 5, 2019
Volker, meanwhile, defended Joe Biden's efforts in Ukraine as "the right policy."