U.S. Ambassador to the E.U, Gordon Sondland, a key figure in the so-called "Three Amigos" U.S. President Donald Trump tasked with working on Ukraine, has admitted in his opening statement to Congress as part of the ongoing public hearings on impeachment that there was a quid pro quo for Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to obtain a White House meeting.
“Mr Giuliani’s request were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelenskyy. Mr Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigation of the 2016 election, DNC server, and Burisma. Mr Giuliani was expressing the desire of the President of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the president,” read Ambassador Sondland.
He also added that despite his efforts to discover a reason for the hold on security assistance placed on approximately $400 million in funds never led to a clear explanation – and that as a result, he “later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 [U.S. Presidential] elections and Burisma.”
In an effort to distance himself from a decision-making role during his events in Ukraine as part of the "Three Amigos", Sondland stated that he, and they, were working at the express command of Trump.
“Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and I, worked with Mr. Giuliani at the express direction of the President. We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt...we followed the president’s order,” claimed Sondland, adding that neither he nor the Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, nor Energy Secretary Rick Perry, had “any desire to set any conditions [for aid].” Sondland additionally states that many top officials in the White House who have refused to testify, including Secretary of State Pompeo, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, were fully aware of Trump’s directives and requirements regarding Ukraine.
Previously, during a leaked text message exchange between Sondland, Volker, and Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, texts from Sondland state that he did not see any quid pro quo in Trump’s requests.
This story is developing – stay tuned for updates.