State Dept. Worried about Defending Ambassador

Ruben Fields
November 6, 2019

"These two opening statements have refreshed my recollection about certain conversations in early 2019", Sondland wrote, referring to statements from Ambassador William Taylor and Tim Morrison.

"Resumption of United States aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks", Sondland said he told a Ukrainian presidential adviser.

In transcripts of closed-door interviews released by impeachment investigators Tuesday, two State Department officials recount what they remember - and what they didn't know at the time - about President Donald Trump's demands that Ukraine conduct politically motivated investigations.

Congressional Democrats also released testimony from Kurt Volker, Trump's former special representative for Ukraine negotiations.

The impeachment inquiry is focused on a 25 July phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation into former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The push came as the White House withheld military aid to the East European ally.

Pompeo's visits to Kansas, including a trip with Trump's daughter Ivanka to highlight job creation, have come under attack by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who said Pompeo may be violating a law that bars official travel for partisan purposes. But in his update, sent to the committee on Monday, Mr. Sondland now says his memory has been refreshed and he did tell Ukrainian officials they needed to give Mr. Trump what he wanted to get the USA funds flowing.

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The release comes as two White House officials - Wells Griffith, senior director for worldwide energy and environment at the National Security Council, and Michael Duffey, Office of Management and Budget associate director for national security programs - failed to appear for scheduled depositions Tuesday.

They also engaged in a text message chain about the administration's actions toward Ukraine.

Sondland said that "until Rudy was satisfied the president wasn't going to change his mind". I don't want to give them anything and I don't want anything from them. Intelligence Committee member Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) tweeted that, "Based on all the testimony so far, I believe that Ambassador Gordon Sondland committed perjury". "I told Yermak my assumption", said Meadows, who sits on the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Returning to Washington, she did not see Pompeo but testified that Phil Reeker, the top diplomat for Europe, told her "that the secretary had tried to protect me but was no longer able to do that".

Over the time that followed, Volker and Sondland proposed to Zelenskiy's top aide, Andriy Yermak, that they a draft statement to be issued by Ukraine on potential interference with the US political process. "I don't think there's any question it would not lead to a removal", he said. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters he doesn't plan to read the transcripts, calling the whole inquiry "bunch of B.S".

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