Topline: Diplomat Gordon Sondland will testify Wednesday before Congress in what might be the most consequential impeachment hearing yet, as Democrats look to question him about conversations he had with the president that could confirm a quid pro quo with Ukraine, which House leaders have described as “bribery” and would likely be central to a case against the president.
Sondland, a U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, was jav porn deeply involved in Ukraine policy—despite Ukraine not being in the EU—as part of the so-called “three amigos,” a group of officials (Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker) who career diplomats say helped with a “shadow foreign policy” led by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Sondland has admitted to carrying out a quid pro quo with Ukraine involving U.S. military aid, and had— other witnesses have testified—direct access to Trump on Ukraine policy.
He also famously defended Trump in text messages to career officials who expressed concerns about asking Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election.
Here’s what lawmakers will ask Sondland about:
After his closed-door testimony to House members earlier this month, Sondland submitted a written addendum that admitted to carrying out a quid pro quo by telling a Ukrainian official that U.S. military aid to Ukraine would not be resumed until the country’s president announced Trump’s desired investigations.
State Department official David Holmes has testified this week behind closed doors that he heard Trump ask Sondland on a phone call, “So he’s going to do the investigation?” and Sondland replied, “He’s going to do it,” adding that President Zelensky will “do anything you ask him to” and that he “loves your ass.”
Dueling statements from Sondland made in September. Tim Morrison, the former National Security Council director for Russia, testified Tuesday that Sondland told him “the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted.” But days later, Sondland said that Trump had emphasized on a phone call that there wasn’t a quid pro quo with Ukraine, Morrison testified.
Key background: Before he was appointed as an ambassador, Sondland was a wealthy GOP donor and the CEO of Provenance Hotels, a hospitality company based in Portland. He gave $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee before his appointment, according to OpenSecrets.
News peg: House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions in response to a phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. On the July call, Trump directed Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter for corruption. Trump and Rudy Giuliani claim that during the Obama presidency then-vice president Biden pushed for the resignation of Ukraine’s top prosecutor in an effort to quash an investigation into Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden had a board seat.