WASHINGTON (AP) — For an ambassador whose credibility had been called into question by fellow witnesses, Gordon Sondland didn’t seem to make any major corrections to past statements in the House impeachment inquiry.
He did, however, reveal previously undisclosed conversations, offer additional details about his perception of the Trump administration’s interactions with Ukraine, and name-drop some of the most senior advisers to President Donald Trump — including the vice president and a Cabinet secretary.
A look at how Sondland’s public testimony Wednesday compares with previous statements he’s made:
On the quid pro quo
Sondland didn’t exactly deny the existence of a quid pro quo when he testified to Congress behind closed doors Oct. 17, but the only time he used the Latin term in his opening statement was to quote Trump’s response when he asked him what he wanted from Ukraine.
“The President responded, nothing. There is no quid pro. The President repeated, no quid pro,” Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, said at the time. “No quid pro quo multiple times.”
On Wednesday, Sondland went out of his way to use the term in his opening statement. He said he knew a White House visit for Ukraine’s leader was contingent on the country announcing the investigations Trump wanted into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. He left no doubt that he viewed the proposed arrangement as meeting the definitions of a quid pro quo. He said he presumed, but was not told for certain, that the release of military aid for Ukraine later depended on the same conditions.
“Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes,” Sondland
On Vice President
Sondland made zero reference to Pence in the opening statements he delivered last month.
When his name did come up, it was mostly in response to questioning, with no new significant information revealed.
On Wednesday, though, he described a significant encounter with Pence ahead of a meeting in Warsaw with Ukrainians last September. He said he told Pence he was concerned that the delay in military assistance to Ukraine was tied to the issue of investigations. He said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy raised the same concerns with Pence during the meetings, and said the vice president replied that he would talk to Trump.
Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short said the exchange recounted by Sondland “never happened.”
On Secretary of State
Sondland had stressed last month that his actions had the blessing of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and that Pompeo had supported his Ukraine strategy and told him to keep up the good work and to continue working on Ukraine.
He shed new light on their relationship Wednesday: Pompeo was among the recipients of the July email that went to Mulvaney and others. He also recalled asking Pompeo directly if they should organize a “pull-aside” meeting in Warsaw between Trump and Zelenskiy. Pompeo said yes.
He also described a separate email to Pompeo’s advisers in which he said he and another envoy, Kurt Volker, had negotiated a statement that was to be delivered by Zelenskiy.
“Again,” Sondland said, “everyone was in the loop.”