The most anticipated testimony in the House Impeachment Inquiry delved into some of the allegations against the White House, with Gordon Sondland providing emails that show knowledge of the request of Ukrainian investigations at the highest levels of the White House.
Sondland, the United States Ambassador to the European Union, testified publicly in front of the House Intelligence Community. Sondland’s opening statement to Congress confirmed the presence of a quid pro quo with Ukraine and said many top members of the Trump Administration were in the loop. Sondland provided emails that showed communication with top Trump officials in regards to Ukrainian investigations. When closing his opening statement, Sondland reaffirmed he wasn’t working on his own volition and had the approval of those overseeing him.
“Everyone was in the loop,” Sondland said of Sec. Rick Perry, Sec. Mike Pompeo, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and others. “It was no secret.”
According to Sondland, the three amigos, the name given to him, Special Envoy Kurt Volker and Perry, didn’t want to work with the President’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and did so only at the direction of the President.
“We followed the President’s orders,” Sondland said when he revealed that Trump directed them to speak with Giuliani about Ukraine. “We didn’t want to work with Mr. Giuliani.”
One particular email provided by and sent from Sondland to Pompeo, Perry, Mulvaney and others was titled, “I talked to [Ukrainian President] Zelensky just now,” and further shed light on how open and known the administration was of the Ukraine investigations.
“He is prepared to receive POTUS’ call,” Sondland said. “Will assure him that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will ‘turn over every stone.’”
A few hours later, Perry said, “Mick [Mulvaney] just confirmed the call being set up for tomorrow by NSC.” Mulvaney responded an hour later confirming he asked the National Security Council to set up the phone call.
On Aug. 11, Sondland sent an email to the Executive Secretary of the United States Department of State Lisa Kenna, who Sondland said was a frequent point of contact to reach Pompeo. In his email, Sondland updated the State Department on the status of the investigations.
“Kurt [Volker] & I negotiated a statement from [Zelensky] to be delivered for our review in a day or two,” Sondland said in the email. “The contents will hopefully make the boss happy enough to authorize an invitation [to the White House].”
Kenna then responded later in the day confirming that she would pass it on to Pompeo.
Sondland said in his opening statement that the State Department and White House’s refusal to allow him to view all documents, phone records and emails regarding Ukraine hampered his ability to recall numerous events regarding the issue at hand.
“Having access to the State Department materials would have been very helpful to me in trying to reconstruct with whom I spoke and met when, and what was said,” Sondland said. “My lawyers and I have made multiple requests to the State Department and the White House for these materials. Yet, these materials were not provided to me. They have also refused to share these materials with this Committee.”
A little more than halfway through his opening statement, Sondland confirmed what the White House has categorically denied since the beginning of the impeachment inquiry: that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine.
“Was there a quid pro quo?” Sondland said. “... the answer is yes.”