The US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, began to declare this Wednesday in Congress for the investigation of political trial that is followed by President Donald Trump, with an initial statement that strengthens the opposition's accusation and directly commits the president , for the alleged pressure on Ukraine to investigate its adversaries.
In his initial statement, Sondland said the Republican president conditioned a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky to open an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, reaffirming the basis of the Democrats' investigation.
As he said, the diplomatic corps "followed the president's orders" to seek a "quid pro quo" on the issue, and worked alongside Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer and without an official position in the White House or the Department of State, to achieve the objective.RELATED
“I know that the members of this commission have often framed these complicated questions in the form of a simple question: Was there a“ quid pro quo ”? As I have testified before, regarding the call to the White House and the White House meeting, the answer is yes. ”
The testimony of Sondland, a wealthy hotel entrepreneur who donated money to the Trump campaign, is perhaps the most anticipated of the entire process, as he is the person most directly involved in Trump's dealings with Ukraine. However, there are some doubts about his performance since at one point he said he did not remember Trump's call, and then, when he was refuted by other witnesses, he had to rectify. In his presentation, he recalled that the White House and the State Department urged him not to cooperate with the investigation, and had impediments to gather the necessary information and files to prove his claims.
The presentation did not save criticism for Giuliani, another of the central figures of the plot, with business in Ukraine and a role that raised suspicion even in members of US diplomacy. “We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we play with the cards we had. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would miss an important opportunity to consolidate relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we follow the orders of the President. Second, although we did not agree with the need to involve Mr. Giuliani, we did not believe his role was inappropriate at that time. As I have testified before, if I had known about all the treatment of Mr. Giuliani or his associations with people who are now under criminal accusation, I would not have accepted his participation. ”
The ambassador will likely face incisive questions from lawmakers from both parties about Trump's call on July 25 to the Ukrainian president to ask him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, while retaining military assistance to Ukraine.
Sondland's appearance at the House of Representatives Intelligence Commission causes particular concern at the White House at a time when the revelations seem to involve President Trump himself more.
Trump recently stated that he barely knew Sondland (although he himself chose him as ambassador) but he has said that he spoke several times with the president and that his actions were by presidential order.
Sondland several times boasted of his proximity to Trump and aroused the suspicions of diplomatic personnel by participating in a circle of Trump relatives who established a parallel channel of communications with Ukraine, including Rudy Giuliani.
Last week, State Department official David Holmes revealed one of those interactions at congressional hearings, claiming he remembered it "vividly." The political advisor was having lunch with Sondland in Kiev when the ambassador phoned the president on his cell phone and Holmes could hear Trump's voice on the other side of the line.