tv Impeachment Inquiry House Hearings Impeachment Hearing With Amb. Gordon... CSPAN November 20, 2019 8:23pm-10:23pm EST
committee chairman adam schiff released procedures for the first impeachment inquiry hearing. he outlined three questions for the committee to seek answers. first, the president trump ask a foreign government to investigate potential opponent -- a potential opponent in the election? second, did he seek the ukrainian government advance the president's political interests in exchange for military eight or an invitation to the white house. and three, did they withhold information about -- has a ministration withhold information from the american people about his conduct? for more, go to our website, c-span.org/impeachment. today,er: earlier ambassador gordon sondland testified before the house intelligence committee as part of the panel's impeachment inquiry into president trump.
the committee will come to order. good morning, everyone. this is the fifth in a series of public hearings the committee will be holding as part of the house of representatives impeachment inquiry. without objection, the chair is authorized to declare a recess at any time. there is a quorum present. we will turn to our witness for an opening statement and then to questions. for audience members, we welcome you and respect your interest in being here. in turn, we ask for your respect
as we proceed with today's hearing. it's the intention of the committee to proceed without disruptions. i'll make all necessary steps to maintain order and ensure the committee is run in house rules and house resolution 660. i recognize myself to give an opening statement. this morning we will hear from gordon sondland, the american ambassador to the european union. we are here today as part of the house of representatives impeachment inquiry because president donald trump sought to condition military assistance to ukraine in exchange for politically motivated investigations that trump believed would help his re-election campaign. the first investigation was of a discredited conspiracy theory that ukraine, not russia, was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election. the second investigation that
trump demanded was into a political rival that he feared most, joe biden. trump sought to weaken biden and to refute the fact that his own election change in 2016 had been helped by a russian hacking and dumping operation and russian social media campaign directed by vladimir putin to help trump. trump's scheme undermined support for a key ally. trump put his personal and political interests above those of the united states. as ambassador sondland will tell career foreign officer david holmes after speaking with the president, trump did not give a expletive about ukraine. he cares about big stuff that benefits him, like the biden investigation that rudy giuliani was pushing. ambassador sondland was a skilled dealmaker but in trying to satisfy a directive from the
president, found himself increasing embroiled in an effort to press the new ukrainian president that deviated sharply from the norm in both policy and process. in february, ambassador sondland traveled to ukraine. while in kyiv he meet with maria v yovanovitch. on april 21st zelensky was elected president of ukraine and spoke to president trump who congratulated him and said he would look into attending zelensky's inauguration but pledged to send someone at a very, very high level. between the time of that call and the inaugural on may 20, trump's attitude towards ukraine hardened. on may 13th, the president ordered vice president mike pence not to attend zelensky's inauguration opting to dismatch the three amigos, energy secretary rick perry, ambassador
sondland, and ambassador curt as a rule volker. president trump was briefed on their first interactions with the new ukrainian administration. they urged the president to meet with zelensky but the president's reaction was decidedly hostile. the president's order was clear however. talk with rudy. during this meeting ambassador sondland first became of what giuliani and the president were really interested in. this whole thing was sort of a c continuum he testified at his deposition starting at the may 23rd meeting, ending up when the transcript of the call came out. it was a continuum he would explain that became more insidious over time. the three amigos were disappointed with trump's directive to disengage rudy
giuliani but pressed head. they could abandon the meeting or we could do as president trump directed, and talk to mr. giuliani to address the president's concerns. we chose the latter path. in the coming weeks, ambassador sondland got more clearly involved in ukraine policymaking starting with the june 4 event in brussels one month early. secretary perry and the state department counselor and sondland met with president zelensky whom sondland had invited personally on the margins of the event. on june 10th, a conference call was organized with sondland, joe biden, volker and others. they reviewed ukraine strategy and decided that perry, sondland and volker would assist bill
taylor on ukraine and discuss trump's desire for rudy giuliani to be somehow involved. we all felt very comfortable with the strategy moving forward. two weeks later, ambassador sondland called taylor to say that zelensky needed to make clear to president trump that he was not standing in the way of investigations. on july 10th, ambassador sondland and other u.s. officials met at the white house with a group of ukrainian officials, participants in the meeting have told us that ambassador sondland invoked mike mulvaney and said that the white house meeting sought by the ukrainian president with trump would happen only if ukraine undertook certain investigations. bolton abruptly ended the meeting upon hearing this. sondland brought the delegation down sta downstairs. according to witnesses, ukraine
needed to investigate the bidens or burisma if they wanted to get a meeting at all. following this meeting in july, bolton said that he would not be part of whatever drug deal sondland and mulvaney are cooking up on this. sondland continued to press for a meeting but he and others were willing to settle for a phone call. on july 21st taylor texted sondland that president zelensky is sensitive about ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument of washington domestic re-election politics. sondland responded, absolutely, but we need to get the conversation started and the relationship built irrespective of the pretext so that zelensky and trump could meet and all of this will be fixed. on july 25th, the day of the trump/zelensky call, volker had lunch in kyiv with a trump of zelensky and texted the aid to
say he heard from the white house, assuming we get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down a date for a visit to washington. good luck. ambassador sondland spoke to president trump a few minutes before the call was placed. during that phone call with zelensky, trump responded to the ukrainian expression of appreciation for u.s. defense support and request to buy more anti-tank missiles by saying i would like you to do us a favor, though. trump asked zelensky to investigate the discredited 2016 conspiracy theory and even more omously, look into the bidens. neither had been part of the official preparatory for the call. and president zelensky new in advance because of efforts to make him aware of what the president was demanding.
around this time, ambassador sondland became aware of the suspension of security assistance to ukraine which had been announced on a secure video conference on july 18th telling us it was extremely odd that nobody involved in policy toward ukraine knew why the aid had been put on call. sondland participated in text messages and phone calls and said the gist of every call was what was going to go in the press statement. in august 9 text message with volker, sondland stated, i think potus wants the deliverable, which was a deliverable public statement that president trump wanted to see or hear before a white house meeting could happen. on september 1, ambassador sondland participated in vice president pence's meeting in warsaw in which security assistance was raised.
sondland approached the senior ukrainian official to tell him that he believed what could help them move the aid was if the ukrainian prosecutor general would go to the mic and announce that he was opening the burisma investigation. sondland told taylor that he had made a mistake by telling the ukrainians that a meeting was on based on an investigation. everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. but even the announcement by the prosecutor general would not satisfy the president. sondland spoke to the president and told tim morrison and bill taylor about the call. the president said that although this was not a quid pro quo, if president zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate. an announcement by the prosecutor general would not be enough. president zelensky must
personally announce that he would open the investigations. sondland told taylor that president trump is a businessman, when a businessman is about to sign a check, he said the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check. the check referred to here was the u.s. military assistance to ukraine and ukraine had to pay up with investigations. throughout early september, volker and sondland sought to close the deal that zelensky would announce investigations. after the text, i think it's crazy to with hold security assistance with help for a political campaign. 16 days later, the transcript of the july 25th call was made public and the american people learned the truth of how our president tried to take advantage of a vulnerable ally. now it is up to congress as the people's representatives to determine what response is appropriate.
if the president abused this power, if he sought to condition, coerce, extort or bribe an ally into conducting investigations to aid his re-election campaign and did so by with holding official acts, a white house meetings or hundreds of millions of dollars of aid, it would be up to us to decide whether those acts are compatible with the office of the presidency. finally, i want to say a word about the president and secretary pompeo's obstruction of this investigation. we have not received a single document from the state department and as ambassador sondland's opening statement today will make clear, those documents bear directly on this investigation and this impeachment inquiry. i think we know now based on a sample of the documents attached to ambassador sondland's statement that the knowledge of
this scheme was far and wide and included secretary of state pompeo as well as the vice president. we can see why secretary pompeo and president trump have made such a concerted and across the board effort to obstruct this investigation and this impeachment inquiry. and i will just say this, they do so at their own peril. i remind the president that article iii of the impeachment articles drafted against president nixon was his refusal to obey the subpoenas of congress. with that, i recognize ranking member nunez for any remarks. >> i thank the gentleman. as we learned last night, story time last night, we get story time first thing this morning. ambassador sondland, welcome. glad you're here. i'm not glad you're here, but
welcome to the fifth day of this circus. as i've noted before, the democrats on this committee spent three years accusing president trump of being a russian agent. in march 2018, after a year-long investigation, intelligence committee republicans issued a 240-page report describing in detail how the russians meddled in the 2016 elections and making specific recommendations to improve our election security. denouncing the report as a whitewash and accusing republicans of subverting the investigation, the democrats issued they're own report, focusing on their now debunked conspiracy theory that the trump campaign colluded with russia to hack the elections. notably, the democrats vowed at the time to present a further, quote, comprehensive report, unquote, after they finished their investigation into trump's
treasonous collusion with russia. for some completely inexplicable reason, after the implosion of the russia hoax, the democrats failed to issue that comprehensive report. we're still waiting. this episode shows how the democrats have exploited the intelligence committee for political purposes for three years. culminating in these impeachment hearings and their mania to attack the president, no conspiracy theory is too outlandish for the democrats. time and time again, they floated the possibility of some far-fetched malfeasance by trump, decided to investigate it, and dropped the issue and move onto their next asinine theory. a sampling of their accusations includes these: trump is a long-time russian agent as
described in the steel dossier. the russians gave trump advanced emails. the trump based some of his activities based on these stolen documents. trump received emails from russia. trump was blackmailed by russia. trump had a diabolical plan to build a trump tower in moscow. trump changed the republican national committee platform to hurt ukraine and benefit russia. the russians laundered money through the nra for the trump campaign. trump's son-in-law lied about his russian contacts while obtaining his security clearance. it's a long list of charges, all false. and i could go on and on and on,
but i will spare you for these moments. clearly these ludicrous accusations don't reflect committee members who are honestly searching for the truth. their the actions of partisan extremists, who hijacked the committee and transformed it into the impeachment committee and turned it into a beachhead for ousting an elected president from office. you have to keep that history in mind as you consider the democrats' latest catalog of supposed trump outrages. granted a friendly call with the ukrainian president wouldn't seem to rise to the same level as being a russian agent. but the democrats were running out of time. if they waited any longer, their impeachment scircus would intervene with their own candidates 2020 campaigns. you have to give them credit for
selling this as an impeachable offense. all of this explains why the democrats have gathered zero republican support in the house of representatives for their impeachment crusade. the vote we held was a bipartisan vote against this impeachment inquiry. speaker pelosi, chairman schiff, and chairman nadler, the key figures behind this crusade, all proclaim that impeachment is so damaging to the country that it can only proceed with bipartisan support. are those declarations sudden no longer true, did impeachment become less divisive? of course not. they know exactly what kind of damage they're inflicting on this nation, but they've passed the point of no return. after three years of preparation work, much of it spearheaded by the democrats on this committee, using all the tools of congress
to accuse, investigate, indict, and smear the president, they stoked a frenzy amongst their most fanatical supporters that they can no longer control. ambassador sondland, you are here today to be smeared. but you'll make it through it. and i appreciate your service to this country and i am sorry that you've had to go through this. in closing, the democrats have zeroed in on an anonymous whistle-blower complaint that was cooked up in cooperation with the democrats on this very committee. they lied to the american people about that cooperation and refused to let us question the whistle-blower to discover the truth. meanwhile the democrats lash out against anyone who questions or casts doubt on this spectacle.
when ukrainian president zelensky denies anything improper happened on the phone call, the democrats say he's a liar. when journalists report on ukraine election meddling and hunter biden's position on the board of corrupt ukrainian companies, the democrats label them conspiracy theorists. when the democrats can't get any traction for their allegations of quid pro quo, they move the goalpost and accuse the president of extortion, then bribery, and at last resort, obstruction of justice. the american people sent us to washington to solve problems, not to wage scorched earth political warfare against the other political party. it's not a legitimate use of taxpayer dollars and it's not definitely not improving our national security.
finally the democrats fake outrage that president trump used his own channel to community with ukraine. i will remind my friends on the other side of the aisle that our first president, george washington, directed his ownic channels to secure a treaty with great britain. if my democratic colleagues were around in 1794, they would probably want to impeach him too. mr. chairman, this morning we have transmitted to you a letter exercising our rights under 660 to subpoena documents and witnesses. we take this step because you have failed to ensure fairness in this inquiry. as such, we need to subpoena hunter biden and the whistle-blower for closed-door depositions as well as relevant documents from the dnc, hunter
biden's firm, and the whistle-blower. in the interest of some fairness, we expect you to concur with these subpoenas. and i will submit that letter for the record and yield back the balance of my time. >> i thank the gentleman. we are joined this afternoon by ambassador gordon sondland. i'm sorry. this morning. it was a long day yesterday. gordon sondland is the u.s. representative to the european union with the rank of ambassador. before joining the state department, ambassador sondland was the founder and ceo of providence hotels, a national owner and operator of full service hotels. prior to his government service, ambassador sondland was engaged in charitable enterprises. two final points, first, witness depositions as part of this inquiry were in unclassified --
were unclassified in nature and all open hearings will also be held at the unclassified level. any information that may touch on classified information will be addressed separately. second, congress will not tolerate any reprisal, threat of reprisal or attempt to retaliate against any u.s. government official before testifying in front of congress including you or any of your colleagues. if you would please rise and raise your right hand, i will begin by swearing you in. do you swear or affirm that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? let the record show the witness has answered in the affirmative. thank you and please be seated. the microphone is sensitive so please speak directly into it. your written statement will be made part of the record and you're recognized for your opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and
thank you, ranking member nunez. i appreciate the opportunity to speak again to the members of this committee. first, let me offer my thanks to the men and women of the u.s. department of state who have committed their professional lives to support the foreign policy work of the united states. in particular, i want to thank my staff at the u.s. mission to the european union. your integrity, dedication and hard work often performed without public acclaim or recognition serve as a shining example of true public service and i am personally grateful to work beside you each and every day. it is my honor to serve as the u.s. ambassador to the european union. the u.s. mission to the eu is the direct link between the united states and the european union and its members.
america's longest-standing allies and one of the largest economic blocs in the world. every day i work to support a strong united and peaceful europe. strengthening our ties with europe serves both american and european goals as we promote political stability and economic prosperity around the world. i expect that few americans have heard my name before these events, so before i begin my testimony, please let me share some of my personal background. my parents fled europe during the holocaust, escaping the atrocities of that time, my parents left germany for uruguay and then in 1953, immigrated to seattle, washington, where i was born and raised. like so many immigrants, my family was eager for freedom and
hungry for opportunity. they raised my sister and me to be humble, hard-working, and patriotic and i am forever grateful for the sacrifices they made on our behalf. public service has always been important to me. as a life-long republican, i have contributed to initiatives of both republican and democratic administrations. in 2003, i served as a member of the transition team for oregon democratic governor ted culengowski. in 2007, president george w. bush appointed me on a commission of white house fellows. i worked with president bush and i worked briefly with former vice president joe biden's office in connection with the
vice president's nationwide anti-cancer initiative at a local northwest hospital. and of course the highest honor in my public life came when president trump asked me to serve as the united states ambassador to the european union. the senate confirmed me as an ambassador on a bipartisan voice vote and i assumed the role in brussels on july 9th, 2018. although today is my first public testimony on the ukraine matters, this is not my first time cooperating with this committee. as you know, i've already provided ten hours of deposition testimony and i did so despite destructives from the white house and the state department that i refuse to appear as many others have done. i agreed to testify because i respect the gravity of the
moment and i believe i have an obligation to account fully for my role in these events. but i also must acknowledge that this process has been challenging and in many respects less than fair. i have not had access to all of my phone records, state department emails, and many, many other state department documents. and i was told i could not work with my eu staff to pull together the relevant files and information. having access to the state department materials would have been very helpful to me in trying to reconstruct with whom i spoke and met and when and what was said. as ambassador, i've had hundreds of meetings and calls with individuals. but i'm not a note taker or a memo writer. never have been. my job requires that i speak
with heads of state, senior government officials, members of the cabinet, the president, almost each and every day. talking with foreign leaders might be memorable to some people, but this is my job. i do it all the time. 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 and they have also refused to share these materials with this committee. these documents are not classified and in fairness, in fairness, should have been made available. in the absence of these materials, my memory, admittedly, has not been perfect and i have no doubt that a more fair, open and orderly process of allowing me to read the state department records and other materials would have made this process far more transparent.
i don't intend to repeat my prior opening statement or attempt to summarize ten hours of previous deposition testimony, however, a few critical points have been obscured by noise over the last few days and weeks and i'm worried that the bigger picture is being ignored. so let me make a few key points. first, secretary perry, ambassador volker and i worked with mr. rudy giuliani on ukraine matters at the expressed direction of the president of the united states. we did not want to work with mr. giuliani. simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt. we all understood that if we refused to work with mr. giuliani, we would lose a very important opportunity to
cement relations between the united states and ukraine. so we followed the president's orders. second, although we disagreed with the need to involve mr. giuliani, at the time we did not believe that his role was improper. as i previously testified, if i had known of all of mr. giuliani's dealings or his associations with individuals, some of whom are now under criminal indictment, i personally would not have acquiesced to his participation. still, given what we knew at the time, what we were asked to do did not appear to be wrong. third, let me say precisely because we did not think that we were engaging in improper behavior, we made every effort to ensure that the relevant
decision makers at the national security council and the state department knew the important details of our efforts. the suggestion that we were engaged in some irregular or rogue diplomacy is absolutely false. i have now identified certain state department emails and messages that provide con text message contemporaneous support for my views. the leadership at the state department, the national security council and the white house were all informed about the ukraine efforts from may 23rd, 2019, until the security aid was released on september 11th, 2019. i will quote some of the messages with you shortly.
fourth, as i testified previously, as i testified previously, mr. giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a white house visit for president zelensky. mr. giuliani demanded that ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election dnc server and burisma. mr. giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the united states and we knew these investigations were important to the president. fifth, in july and august of 2019 we learned that the white house had also suspended security aid to ukraine. i was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid. i was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid. as the ukrainians needed those
funds to fight against russian aggression. i tried diligently to ask why the aid was suspended but i never received a clear answer. still haven't to this day. in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, i later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 elections and burisma as mr. giuliani had demanded. i shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid with senator ron johnson and i also shared my concerns with the ukrainians. finally, at all times, i was acting in good faith. i was acting in good faith.
as a presidential appointee, i followed the directions of the president. we worked with mr. giuliani because the president directed us to do so. we had no desire to set any conditions. we had no desire to set any conditions on the ukrainians. indeed, my own personal view, which i shared repeatedly with others, was that the white house and security assistance should have proceeded without preconditions of any kind. we were working to overcome the problems, given the facts as they existed. our only interest and my only interest was to advance long-standing u.s. policy and to support ukraine's fragile democracy. let me provide additional details specifically about
ukraine and my involvement. first, my very first days as ambassador to the eu which was starting back in july of 2018, ukraine has featured predominantly in my broader portfolio, ukraine's political and economic development are critical to the long-standing and long-lasting stability of europe. moreover, the conflict in eastern ukraine and crimea remains one of the most significant security crisis for europe and the united states. our efforts to counter balance an aggressive russia depend in substantial part on a strong ukraine. on april 21st, 2019, volodymyr zelenskiy was elected president of ukraine in an historic election.
with the express support of secretary pompeo, i attended president zelensky's inauguration on may 20th as part of the u.s. delegation which was led by energy secretary rick perry. the u.s. delegation also included senator johnson, ukraine special envoy volker and lieutenant colonel alex vindman. my attendance of the inauguration was not my first involvement with ukraine. as i testified previously, just four days after assuming my post as ambassador in july of 2018 i received an official delegation of the government from then ukraine president petro p
proshenko. and i've had several meetings since then in brussels. later in february of 2019, i worked well with u.s. marie yuvanvitch. ukraine has been a part of my portfolio since the very first days as being an ambassador. any claims that i muscled by way into the ukraine relationship is simply false. during the zelensky inauguration on may 20th, the u.s. delegation developed a very positive view of the ukraine government. we were impressed by president zelensky's desire to promote a stronger relationship with the
united states. we admired his commitment to reform and we were excited about the possibility of ukraine making the changes necessary to support a greater western economic investment. and we were excited that ukraine night after years and years of lip service finally get serious about addressing its own well-known corruption problems. with that enthusiasm, we returned to the white house on may 23rd to brief president trump. we advised the president of the strategic importance of ukraine and the value of strengthening the relationship with president zelensky. to support this reformer, we asked the white house for two things, first, a working phone call between presidents trump and zelensky and, second, a working oval office visit. in our view both were vital to
cementing the u.s./ukraine relationship demonstrating support for ukraine in the face of russian aggression, and advancing broader u.s. foreign policy interests. unfortunately president trump was skeptical. he expressed concerns that the ukrainian government was not serious about reform and he even mentioned that ukraine tried to take him down in the last election. in response to our persistent efforts in that meeting to change his views, president trump directed us to, quote, talk with rudy. we understood that talk with rudy meant talk with mr. rudy giuliani, the president's personal lawyer. let me say again, we weren't happy with the president's directive to talk with rudy. we did not want to involvement mr. giuliani.
i believe then as i do now, that the men and women of the state department, not the president's personal lawyer, should take responsibility for ukraine matters. nonetheless, based on the president's direction, we were faced with a choice, we could abandon the efforts to schedule the white house phone call and a white house visit between presidents trump and zelensky, which was unquestionably in our foreign policy interest, or we could do as president trump had directed, and talked with rudy. we chose the latter course. not because we liked it, but because it was the over the next several months we were in communication with mr. giuliani. secretary perry volunteered to make the initial calls with mr.
giuliani, given their prior relationship. ambassador volcker made several of the early calls and generally informed us of what was discussed. you first communicated with mr. giuliani in early august several months later. mr. giuliani emphasized that the president wanted a public statement from president zelensky committing ukraine to look into the corruption issues. mr. giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election including the dna server and barissma as two topics important to the president. we kept the leadership of the state department and the nsc informed of our activities and that included communications with secretary of state pompeo, his counselor his secretary lisa
kenna and communications with ambassador bolton, dr. hill, mr. morrison and their staff at the nsc. they knew what we were doing and why. on july 10th, 2019, senior ukrainian and national security officials met with ambassador bolton, ambassador volker, dr. hill, secretary perry, myself and several others in washington, d.c. during that meeting, we all discussed the importance of the two action items i identified earlier. one, a working phone call, and two, a white house meeting between presidents trump and zelensky. from my perspective, the july 10th meeting with as a positive step koord accomplishing our shared goals. while i am now aware of accounts
of the meeting from dr. hill and lurnt colonel vindman their recollections don't scare with my own or those of ambassador volker or secretary perry. i recall the prerequisitions but i do not recall any yelling or screaming or abrupt terminations as others have said. inste instead, before the meeting, ambassador bolton walked outside with our group and we all took some great pictures together outside on the white house lawn. more important those in protest do not square with the documentary record of our interactions with the nsc in the days and weeks that followed. we kept the nsc apprised of our efforts, including specifically our efforts to secure a public statement from the ukrainians
that would satisfy president trump's concerns. for example, on july 13th, and this is three days after that july 10th meeting, i emailed tim morrison, we just taken over dr. hill's post as the nsc eurasia director, and i met him that day for the first time. i wrote to mr. morrison with these words, "the call between zelensky and potus, president of the united states, should happen before 7/21, which is the parliamentary elections in ukraine. sole purpose is for zelensky to give potus assurances of new sheriff in town, corruption ending, unbundling moving forward, and, and i emphasize any hampered investigations will be allowed to move forward
transparentally. goal is for potus to invite him to oval. volker, perry, bolton and i strongly recommend." mr. morrison acknowledged and said thank you, and specifically noted that he was tracking these issues. again, there was no secret regarding moving forward and the discussion of investigations. moreover, i've reviewed other state department documents, some of which are not currently in the public domain, detailing mr. giuliani's efforts. for example, on july 10th, the very same day that ambassador volker, secretary perry and i were meeting with the ukraine officials in washington, om bass for taylor received a communicati communicati
communication that mr. giuliani was still talking with lieu cranian prosecutor yuri lutsenko and messages with ambassador volker and i, ambassador taylor and i wrote to us as follows, just had a meeting with andre invadim, referring to ukraine foreign minister prosteiko. taylor said the ukrainians were "very concerned about what lutsenko told them that according to r.g." meaning rudy giuliani, "the zelensky/potus meeting will not hop." volker responded "good grief, please tell the dean to let the official u.s. government representatives speak for the u.s. lutsenko has his own self-interest here." taylor confirmed that he had communicated that message to the ukrainians, and he added, "i briefed ulrich this afternoon on this," referring to state department counsellor ulrich
brechtbul. again, everyone's in the loop. three things are critical about what whatsapp exchange. first while the ukrainians were in washington at the white house mr. giuliani was communicating with the ukrainians without our knowledge. om bass for taylor, ambassador volker and i were also surprised by this. second, mr. giuliani was communicating with the reportedly corrupt ukrainian prosecutor lutsenko, and discussing whether a zelensky/trump meeting was going to happen, again, without our knowledge, and third, with this alarming news, ambassador taylor briefed ulrich brechkbul, the counsellor to secretary of state pompeo and even as late as september 24th of this year, secretary pompeo was directing kurt volker to speak with mr. giuliani in a whatsapp message, kurt volker told me in part,
"spoke with rudy per guidance from s." s is the state's official designated partner for the secretary, "spoke with rudy per guidance from s. look, we tried our best to fix the problem. while keeping the state department and the nsc closely apprised of the challenges we faced. on july 25th, presidents trump and zelensky had their official call. i was not on the call and i don't think i was invited to be on the call. in fact, i first read the transcript on september 25th, the day it was publicly released. all i had heard at that time was that the call had gone well. looking back, i find it very odd, very odd that neither i nor ambassador taylor, nor ambassador volker ever received a detailed readout of that call
with the biden references. now, there are people who say they had concerns about the call, but no one shared any concerns about the call with me at the time which frankly would have been very helpful to know. on july 26th, ambassador taylor, ambassador volker and i were ul in kiev to meet with president zelensky. the timing of that trip immediately after the call between presidents trump and zelensky, was entirely, entirely coincidental. the kiev meetings had been scheduled well before the date that the white house finally fixed the call. during our kiev meeting, i do not recall president zelensky discussing the substance of his july 25th call with president trum trump. nor did he discuss any discuss to investigate vice president biden which we all later learned was discussed on the july 25th
call. in is consistent with the reported comments from ambassadors volker and taylor. after the zelensky met i met with zelensky's senior aide, andre yermak. i don't recall the specifics of of our conversation but i believe the investigation was probably that of our agenda or meeting. also on july 26, shortly after our kiev meetings i spoke by phone with president trump. the white house which finally, finally shared certain call dates and times with my attorneys confirms this. the call lasted five minutes. i remember i was at a restaurant in kiev, and i have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations. again, given mr. giuliani's demand that president zelensky make a public statement about investigations, i knew that investigations were important to
president trump. we did not discuss any classified information. other witnesses have recently shared their recollection of overhearing this call. for the most part, i have no reason to doubt their accounts. it's true that the president speaks loudly at times, and it's also true, i think we primarily discussed asap rocky. it's true that the president likes to use colorful language. anyone who has met with him at any reasonable amount of time knows this. while i cannot remember the precise details, again, the white house has not allowed me to see any readouts of that call, and the july 26 call did not strike me as significant at the time. actually, actually i would have been more surprised if president trump had not mentioned investigations, particularly given what we were hearing from mr. giuliani about the
president's concerns. however, i have no recollection of discussing vice president biden or his son on that call or after the call ended. i know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question, 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. mr. giuliani conveyed to secretary perry, ambassador volker and others that president trump wanted a public statement from president zelensky committing to investigations of barissma and the 2016 election. mr. giuliani directly expressed the request the ukrainians and mr. giuliani also directly expressed the request to us. we all understood these
prerequisites for the white house call and the white house meeting reflected president trump's desires and requirements. within my state department emails, there is a july 19th email. this email was sent, this email was sent to secretary pompeo, secretary perry, brian mccormick, who was secretary perry's chief of staff at the time, miss kenna, the acting, pardon me, the executive secretariat for secretary pompeo, chief of staff mulvaney, and mr. mulvaney's senior adviser, rob blair. a lot of senior officials. a lot of senior officials. here is my exact quote from that email. i talked to zelensky just now. he is prepared to receive potus' call. will assure him that he intends
to run a fully transparent investigation and will turn over every stone. he would greatly appreciate a call prior to sunday so that he can put out some media about a friendly and productive call, no details, prior to ukraine election on sunday. chief of staff mulvaney responded, "i asked the nsc to set it up for tomorrow." everyone was in the loop. it was no secret. everyone was informed via email on july 19th, days before the presidential call. as i communicated to the team i told president zelensky in advance assurances to run a full transparent investigation and turn over every stone were necessary in his call with
president trump. on july 19th, in a whatsapp message between ambassador taylor, ambassador volker and me, ambassador volker stated "had breakfast with rudy this morning" that's ambassador volker and rudy giuliani. "teeing up call with yurmak monday, must have helped. most important is for zelensky to say that he will help investigation and address any specific personnel issues, if there are any." on august 10th, the next day, mr. yermak texted me, "once we have a date" which is a date for the white house meeting, "we will call for a press briefing announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of the u.s./ukraine relationship including, among other things,
barissma and election meddling and investigations." this is from mr. yermak to me. the following day, august 11th, and this is critical, i sent an email to counselor brechtbull and leeakisa kenna, frequently as the pathway to secretary pompeo as sometimes he'd prefer to receive his emails from her. she would print them out and put them in front of him, with the subject "ukraine." i wrote "mike, kurt and i negotiated a statement from zelensky to be delivered for our review in a day or two. the contents will hopefully make the boss happy enough" the boss being the president, "to authorize an invitation. zelensky plans to have a big
press presser," press conference, "on the openness subject included to the specifics next week which refer to the 2016 and the barissma." ms. kenna replied "gordon, i'll pass to the secretary, thank you." again, everyone was in the loop. curiously, and this was very interesting to me, on august 26th, shortly before his visit to kiev, ambassador bolton's office requested mr. giuliani's contact information from me. i sent ambassador bolton the information directly. they requested mr. giuliani's contact information on august 26th.
i was first informed that the white house was withholding security aid to ukraine during conversations with ambassador taylor on july 18th, 2019. however as i testified before, i was never able to obtain a clear answer regarding specific reason for the hold, whether it was bureaucratic in nature, which often happens or reflected some other concern in the inner agency process. i never participated in any of the subsequent dod or dos review meetings that others have described, so i can't speak to what was discussed in those meetings. nonetheless, before the september 1st warsaw meeting, the ukrainians had become aware that security funds had yet to be dispersed. in the absence of any credible
explanation for the hold, i came to the conclusion that the aid, like the white house visit, was jeopardized. in preparation for the september 1 warsaw meeting, i asked secretary pompeo whether a face-to-face conversation between trump and zelensky would help to break the logjam, and this was when president trump was still intending to travel to warsaw. specifically on august 22nd, i emailed secretary pompeo directly, copying secretariat kenna. i wrote, this is my email to secretary pompeo, "should we block time in warsaw for a short pull-aside for potus to meet zelensky? i would ask zelensky to look him in the eye and tell him that once ukraine's new justice folks are in place in mid-september
that zelensky, he should be able to move forward publicly and with confidence on those issues of importance to potus and the u.s. hopefully that will help break the logjam." the secretary replied, "yes." i followed up the next day asking to get 10 to 15 minutes on the warsaw schedule for this. i said we'd like to know when it's locked, so that i can tell zelensky and brief him. xeblive secretary kenna replied "i will try for sure." moreover, given my concerns about the security aid, i have no reason to dispute that portion of senator johnson's recent letter in which he recalls conversations he and i had on august 30th. by the end of august, my belief was that if ukraine did something to demonstrate a serious intention to fight
corruption and specifically addressing barissma and the 2016, then the military aid would be lifted. there was a september 1st meeting with president zelensky in warsaw. unfortunately, president trump's attendance at the warsaw meeting was canceled due to hurricane dorian. vice president pence attended instead. i mentioned vice president pence before the meetings with the ukrainians that i had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations. i recall mentioning that before the zelensky meeting. during the actual meeting, president zelensky raised the issue of security assistance directly with vice president pence, and the vice president said that he would speak to president trump about it. based on my previous communication with secretary pompeo, i felt comfortable sharing my concerns with mr. yermak. it was a very, very brief
pull-aside conversation that happened within a few seconds. i told mr. yermak that i believed that the resumption of u.s. aid would likely not occur until ukraine took some kind of action on the public statement that we had been discussing for many weeks. as my other state department colleagues have testified, this security aid was critical to ukraine's defense, and should not have been delayed. i expressed this view to many during this period, but my goal at the time was to do what was necessary to get the aid released, to break the logjam. i believe that the public statement we had been discussing for weeks was essential to advancing that goal. you know, i really regret that the ukrainians were placed in that predicament, but i do not regret doing what i could to try to break the logjam and to solve the problem.
i mentioned at the outset that throughout these events, we kept state department leadership and others apprised of what we were doing. state department was fully supportive of our engagement in ukraine efforts and was aware that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing. to provide just two examples, on june 5th, the day after the u.s./eu mission hosted our independence day, we did it a month early, acting assistant secretary phil reeker sent an email to me, to secretary perry and to others forwarding some positive media coverage of president zelensky's attendance at our event. mr. reeker wrote and i quote "this headline underscores the importance and timeliness of zelensky's visit to brussels and the critical, and the critical perhaps historic role of the dinner and engagement gordon
coordinated. thank you for your participation and dedication to this effort." months later, on september 3rd, i sent secretary pompeo an email to express my appreciation for his joining a series of meetings in brussels, following the warsaw trip. i wrote, "mike, thanks for schlepping to europe. i think it was really important and the chemistry seems promising, really appreciate it." secretary pompeo replied the next day on wednesday september 4th, "all good. you're doing great work. keep banging away. state department leadership expressed total efforts for us to engage the ukrainian administration." i've never doubted our alliance
with ukraine and at all times, at all times our efforts were in good faith and fully transparent to those tasks with overseeing them. our efforts were reported and approved and not once do i recall encountering an objection. it remains an honor to serve the people of the united states as their united states ambassador to the european union. i look forward to answering the committee's questions. thank you. >> we will now proceed to the first round of questions as detailed in the memo provided to committee members. there will be 45 minutes of questions, conducted by the chairman and majority counsel, followed by 45 minutes for ranking member or minority counsel. following that unless i specify additional time for questioning we'll proceed under the five-minute rule and every member will have the chance to ask questions. i recognize myself or majority counsel for the first round of questions. mr. sondland, there's a lot of
new material in your opening statement for to us get through, but i want to start with a few top line questions before passing it over to mr. goldman. in your deposition, you testified that you found yourself an a continuum that became more insidious over time. can you describe what you mean by this continuum of insidio insidiousness? >> well, mr. chairman, when we left the oval office, i believe on may 23rd, the request was very generic for an investigation of corruption in a very vanilla sense, and dealing with some of the oligarch problems in ukraine which were longstanding problems and as time went on, more specific items got added to the menu, including the barissma and 2016 election meddling specifically, the dnc server specifically and
over this continuum, it became more and more difficult to secure the white house meeting, because more conditions were being placed on the white house meeting. >> and then of course on july 25th, although you were not privy to the call, another condition was added that being the investigation of the bidens. >> i was not privy to the call and i did not know that the condition of investing the biof the bidens correct. it was not in any record i received. >> but when you did see -- >> yes, i saw this thank in september, correct. >> so on this continuum, the beginning of the continuum begins on may 23rd, when the president instructs to you talk to rudy? >> correct. >> and you understood that as a direction by the president that you needed to satisfy the concerns that rudy giuliani would express to you about what the president wanted in ukraine? >> not to me, to the entire
group, volker, perry and myself, correct. >> now in your opening statement, you confirm that there was a quid pro quo between the white house meeting and the investigations into barissma and the 2016 election that giuliani was publicly promoting, is that right? >> correct. >> and in fact, you say that other senior officials in the state department and the chiefs of staff's office, including mcmulvaney, secretary pompeo, were aware of this quid pro quo that in order to get the white house meeting, they were going to have to be these investigations the president wanted? >> correct. >> and those again are investigations into 2016 and barissma/the binds. >> to 16 barissma. the bidens did not come up. >> you would ultimately learn barissma met the bidens, correct? >> of course, today i know exactly what it means. i didn't know what it was at the
time. >> and then on july 26th you confirmed you did, indeed have the conversation with president trump from a restaurant in kiev david holmes testified about last week, is that right? >> correct. >> and you have no doubt, no reason to doubt mr. holmes' recounting of your conversation with the president? >> the only part of mr. holmes' recounting that i take exception with is i do not recall mentioning the bidens, that did not enter my mind. it was barisma and 2016 elections. >> you have no reason to believe mr. holmes would make that up, if that's what he recalls you saying, you have no reason to question that? >> i never recalled saying biden. >> but the rest of mr. holmes' recollection is consistent with your own? >> well, i can't testify as to what mr. holmes might or might not have heard through the phone. i don't know how he heard the conversation. >> are you familiar with his testimony? >> vaguely, yes
>> the only exception you take is to the name biden? >> correct. >> and i think you've said in your testimony this morning that not only is it correct that the president brought up with you investigations on the phone the day after the july 25th call, but you would have been surprised had he not brought that up, tharis that right? >> right, because we had been hearing about it from rudy and we presumed rudy was getting it from the president so it seemed like a logical conclusion. >> mr. holmes also testified you told him president trump doesn't care about ukraine. he only cares about big stuff that relates to him personally. i take it from your comment, you don't dispute that part of the conversation? >> well, he made that clear in the may 23rd meeting, that he was not particularly fond of ukraine, and we had a lot of heavy lifting to do, to get him to engage. >> so you don't dispute that
part of mr. holmes' recollection? >> no. >> in august, when you worked with rudy giuliani and a top ukrainian aide to draft a statement for president zelensky that includes announcement of investigations, you understood that was required by president trump before he'd grant the white house meeting to president zelensky? >> that's correct. >> and the ukrainians understood that as well? >> i believe they did. >> you informed secretary pompeo about that statement as well? >> i did. >> later in august, you told secretary pompeo that president zelensky would be prepared to tell president trump his new justice officials would be able to announce matters of interest to the president which could break the logjam. when you say matters of interest to the president, you mean the investigations that president trump wanted, is that right? >> correct. >> and that involved 2016 and
barisma or the bidens? >> 2016 and barisma. >> and when you're talking about breaking the logjam, you're talking about the logjam over the security assistance, correct? >> i was talking logjam gentlemener neically because n was moving. >> that included assistance, did it not? >> correct. >> and based on the context of that email this was not the first time you discussed investigations with secretary pompeo, was it? >> no. >> he was aware of the connections that you were making between the investigations and the white house meeting on security assistance? >> yes. >> did he ever take issue with you and say no, that connection is not there or you're wrong? >> not that i recall. >> you mentioned that you also had a conversation with vice president pence before his
meeting with president zelensky in warsaw and that you raised the concern you had as well that the security assistance was being withheld because of the president's desire to get a commitment from zelensky to pursue these political investigations. what did you say to the vice president? >> i was in a briefing with several people, and i just spoke up and i said it appears that everything is stalled until this statement gets made, something that words to that effect, and that's what i believe to be the case, based on the work that the three of us had been doing, volker, perry and myself, and the vice president nodded, like you know, he heard what i said, and that was pretty much it, as i recall. >> and you understood that the ukrainians were going to raise the security assistance with the vice president at this meeting? >> i didn't know what they were going to raise, but they in fact did raise it, mr. chairman. >> well, it was public by that pint that there was a hold on
the security assistance, correct? >> yes, but i didn't know what they were going to raise. i didn't get a pre-belief from the ukrainians. >> you knew certainly they were concerned on the hold on the security assistance. >> they were concerned obviously. >> you wanted to help prepare the vice president for the meeting by letting him know what you thought was responsible for the hold on the security assistance? >> that's fair. >> do you recall anything else the vice president said other than nodding his head when you made him aware of this fact? >> no, i don't have a readout of that meeting, so i can't remember anything else. >> it was immediately after this meeting between the vice president and zelensky you spoke about yermak and told him similarly in order to release the military sans they would have to publicly announce these investigations? >> yeah, much has been made of this meeting. there really wasn't a meeting. everyone got up after the bilateral meeting between president zelensky and vice president pence and people do what they normally, get up, mill around, shake hands and i don't
know if i came over to yermak or or he came over to me, he said what's going on here? i said i don't know, it might all be tied together now. i have no idea. i was presuming that it was but it was a very short conversation. >> in that short conversation, as you would later relate to mr. morrison and ambassador taylor, you informed mr. yermak that they would need to announce these investigations in order to get the aid, did you not? >> mr. yermak was already working on those investigation, on the statement about the investigations. >> and you confirmed for him he needed to get it done if they were going to get the military aid? >> i likely did. >> reporter: mr. morrison, and ambassador tea lar already related a conversation you had with the president following the warsaw meeting. in which president relaid to you there was no quid pro quo but nevertheless,less zelensky went to the mic and announced these
investigations, they would be a stalemate over the aid. is that correct? >> that's correct. >> that was an accurate reflection of your discussion with the president? >> well, that email was not artfully written. i'm the first to admit. what i was trying to convey to ambassador taylor after his frantic emails to me and to others about the security assistance, which by the way, i agreed with him. i tla i thought it was a very bad idea to hold that money, i finally called the president, i believe it was on the 9th of september. i can't find the records and they won't provide them to me but i believe i just asked him an open-ended question. "mr. chairman, what to you want to ukraine? i keep hearing all the different ideas and theories and this and that. what do you want?" and it was a very short, abrupt conversation. he was not in a good mood and he said "i want nothing. i want nothing. i want no quid pro quo. tell zelensky to do the right
thing" something to that effect. so i typed out a text to ambassador taylor and my reason for telling him this was not to defend what the president was saying, not to opine whether the president was being truthful or untruthful but simply to relay i've gone as far as i can go. this is the final word i heard from the president of the united states. if you're still concerned, you,ment abbas for taylor, are still concerned, please get a hold of the secretary, maybe he can help. >> i'm not asking you about your text message. i'm asking you about your conversations with mr. morrison and ambassador taylor after you spoke with the president, either in that call or in a different call. disciple econfused, which are conversations? >> a conversation you had with the president in which the president told you no quid pro quo but president zelensky must go to a microphone and announce
these investigations and similarly you told ambassador taylor that while the president said no quid pro quo, unless zelensky announced the investigations they would be at a stalemate presumably over the military assistance. do you have any reason to question those conversations that mr. morrison and ambassador taylor took notes about? >> well, i think it's tied to my text, mr. chairman, because in my text, i think i said something to the effect that he wants zelensky to do what he ran on, i believe is transparency, et cetera, et cetera, which was my clumsy way of saying he wanted these announcements to be made. >> again i'm not asking about your text message. i'm asking what you relaid to ambassador taylor and mr. morrison about your conversation with the president. do you have any reason to question their recollection of what you told them?
>> all i can say is that i expressed what i told or what the president told me in that text, and if i relaid anything other than what was in that text, i don't recall. >> you don't recall. >> i don't recall. >> but you have no reason to question ambassador taylor or mr. morrison of what they wrote in their notes about your conversation with them? >> do you kind me repeat what they wrote? >> i'll have mr. goldman go through that with you. >> that'd be great. >> let me get to the top line here, ambassador sondland. >> okay. >> you've testified that the white house meeting that president zelensky desperately wanted and important to president zelensky, was it not? >> absolutely. >> you testified that that meeting was conditioned was a quid pro quo for what the president wanted these two investigations. is that right? >> correct. >> and that everybody knew it.
>> correct. >> now that white house meeting was going to be an official meeting between the two presidents correct? >> presumably. >> it would be an oval office meeting hopefully? >> a working meeting. >> a working meeting, yes. >> so an official act. >> yes. >> and in order to perform that official act, donald trump wanted these two investigations that would help his re-election campaign, correct? >> i can't characterize why he wanted them. all i can tell you is this is what we heard from mr. giuliani. >> but he had to get those two investigations if that official act was going to take place, correct? >> he had to announce the investigations. he didn't actually have to do them, as i understood it. >> president zelensky had to announce the two investigations the president wanted, make a public announcement, correct? >> correct. >> and those were of great value to the president, that he was quite insistent upon them and his attorney was incestent upon them? >> i don't want to characterize
whether they were valued, not valued. again, through mr. giuliani, we were led to believe that's what he wanted. >> you said mr. giuliani was acting at the president's demand, correct? >> right, when the president says talk to my personal lawyer, mr. giuliani, we followed his direction. >> and so that official act of that meeting was being conditioned on the performance of these things the president wanted as expressed both directly and through his lawyer, rudy giuliani. correct? >> as expressed through rudy giuliani. correct. >> you've also evidence is that your understanding, it became your clear understanding that the military assistance was also being withheld pending zelensky announcing these investigations. correct? >> that was my presumption my personal presumption based on the facts at the time, nothing was moving. in fact, you had a discussion, communication with the secretary of state in which you said that logjam over aid could be lifted
if zelensky announced his investigations, right? >> i did not, i don't recall saying the logjam over aid. i recall saying the logjam. >> that's what you meant, right, am bassor? >> i meant that whatever was holding up the meeting nev, whar was holding up our deal with ukraine i was trying to break. again i was presuming -- >> here's what you said in your testimony a moment ago page 18. "but my goal at the time was to do what was necessary to get the aid released to break the logjam." that's still your testimony, right? >> yes. this is $400 million of u.s. taxpayer money, is it not? >> absolutely. >> there was a logjam in which the president would not write
that u.s. check you believed until ukraine announced two investigations the president wanted, correct? >> that was my belief. >> mr. goldman? >> thank you, mr. chairman. in your opening statement, ambassador sondland, you detaildetai detailed the benefits that you have gained from obtaining some additional documents over the past few weeks. thart? is that right? >> in terms of refreshing my recollection. >> because reviewing the documents has helped you to remember the events that we're asking about, that is correct? >> correct. because you acknowledge when you can place a document in a date and a context it helps to jog your memory >> that's correct. >> and so you would agree in a, for people unlike yourself who take notes that that is very helpful to their own recollection of events. right?
>> i think you asked your question backwards. are you saying people that take notes it's helpful to have those documents or don't take notes it's helpful to have the documents? >> you are not a note taker. >> not a note taker, never have been. >> you aagree people who take contemporaneous notes are more able to remember things than people who don't? >> some, yes. >> there are additional documents you've been unable to obtain, thart? >> that's correct. >> i think you said in your opening statement that the state department prevented you and your staff from trying to gather more documents? is that correct? >> certain documents, yes. >> which documents? >> documents that i didn't have immediate access to. >> and who at the state department prevented you from doing that >> you have to ask my counsel. he was dealing with them. >> certainly based on the additional memory that you have gained over the past few weeks from reading the testimony of others based on their notes, and
reviewing your own documents, you have remembered a lot more than you did when you were deposed, is that right? >> that's correct. >> one of the things you now remember is the discussion you had with president trump on july 26 in the that restaurant in kiev, right? >> what triggered my memory was someone's reference to asap rocky which was i believe the primary purpose of the phone call. >> certainly. so that's one way memory works, isn't it? and you were sitting in a restaurant with david holmes in kiev, right, having lunch? >> i think i took the whole team out to lunch after the meeting, yes. >> and it was a meeting one on one meeting you had with andre yermak? >> again, trying to reconstruct a very busy day without the benefit but if someone said i had a meeting and i went to the meeting, i'm not fwhg going to
dispute that. >> particularly if that person took notes at the meeting. >> correct. >> or sat outside the door when you didn't let them in? >> i have no control over who goes into a meeting in the ukraine. that was the ukrainians that didn't let him in. >> you met with president zelensky among others that day, tha is that right? that's correct. >> you called president trump from your cell phone, from the restaurant, is that right? >> that's right. >> and this was not a secure line, was it? >> no, it was an open line. >> did you worry that a foreign government may be listening to your phone call with the president of the united states? >> well, i have unclassified conversations all the time from land lines that are unsecured in cell phones. if the topic is not classified and it's up to the president to decide what's classified and not classified. he was aware it was an open line as well. >> and you don't recall the specifics of holding your phone
far away from your ear as mr. holmes testified but you have no reason to question his recollection of that, do you? >> i mean it seems a little strange i would hold my phone here. i probably had my phone close to my ear and he claims to have overheard part of the conversation and i'm not going to dispute what he did or didn't hear. >> he also testified that you confirmed to president trump you were in ukraine at the time and that president zelensky "loves your ass." do you recall saying that? >> sunds liounds like somethingd say. that's how president trump and i communicate, a lot of four-letter words. in this case, three-letter. >> holmes then said that he heard president trump ask, "is he" mean zelensky, "going to do the investigation," to which you replied "he's gonna do it" and
you added that "president zelensky will do anything that you" meaning president trump "ask him to." do you recall that? >> i probably said something to the effect because i remember meeting president zelensky was very solicitous is not a good word. he was just very willing to work with the united states and was being very amicable and so putting it in trump speak, by saying he loves your ass, he'll do whatever you want, meant that he would really work with us on a whole host of issues >> he was not only willing, he was very eager, right? >> that's fair. >> because ukraine depends on the united states as its most significant ally, isn't that correct? >> one of its most, absolutely. >> so just so we understand, you were in kiev the day after president trump spoke to president zelensky on the phone,
and you now know from reading the call record that in that phone call he requested a favor for president zelensky to do investigations related to the bidens, and the 2016 election. right? >> i do now know that, yes. >> and you met with president zelensky and his aides on the day after that phone call and you had a conversation with president trump from your cell phone from a restaurant terrace, and he asked you whether president zelensky will do the investigations and you responded that he's going to do them or it and that president zelensky will do anything you ask him to do. is that an accurate recitation of what happened there? >> it could have been words to that. i don't remember my exact response. >> but you don't have any reason to dispute mr. holmes' recollection, correct? >> i won't dispute it but again, i don't recall. >> after you hung up with the president, mr. holmes testified about a conversation that you
and he had where he says that you told mr. holmes that the president does not care about ukraine, but the president used the more colorful language including a four-letter word that you just referenced. do you recall saying that to mr. holmes? >> again, i don't recall my exact words, but clearly the president beginning on may 23rd when we met with him in the oval office, was not a big fan. >> but he was a big fan of the investigations? >> apparently so. >> and in fact, mr. holmes said that you said that president trump only cares about the "big stuff that benefits himself." is that something that you would have said at the time? >> i don't think i would have said that. i would have honestly said that he was not a big fan of ukraine and he wants the investigations
that we had been talking about for quite some time to move forward. that's what i would have said because that's the fact. >> mr. holmes also remembers that you told him, giving an example of the big stuff, the biden investigation that rudy giuliani was pushing, do you recall that? >> i don't. i recall barisma, not biden. >> but do you recall saying at least referring to an investigation that rudy giuliani was pushing, is that something that you likely would have said? >> i would have, yes. >> now, even if you don't recall specifically mentioning the biden investigation to david holmes, we know that it was certainly on president trump's mind, because just the day before in his call with president zelensky, he mentions specifically the biden investigation. and i want to show you that exhibit or that excerpt from the
call, on july 25th, where president trump says, "the other thing, there's a lot of talk about biden's son, that biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me." president zelensky then responds with a reference to the company that he's referring to, and two witnesses yesterday said that when president zelensky actually said the company, he said barisma. so you would agree that regardless of whether you knew about the connection to the bidens, at the very least, that you now know that that's what president trump wanted at the time through the barisma investigation. >> i now know it all, of course. >> and at this time, you were aware of the president's desire
along with rudy giuliani to do these investigations, including the 2016 election interference investigation, is that right? >> that's correct. >> and you said president trump had directed you to talk, you and the others to talk to rudy giuliani at the oval office on may 23rd, is that right? >> if we wanted to get anything done with ukraine, it was apparent to us we needed to talk to rudy. >> right, you understood mr. giuliani spoke for the president, correct? >> that's correct. >> and in fact, president trump also made that clear to president zelensky in that same july 25th phone call, he said "mr. giuliani is a highly respected man. he was the mayor of new york city, a great mayor, and i would like him to call you. i will ask him to call you along with the attorney general. rudy very much knows what's happening and he is a very capable guy."
after this president trump mentioned mr. giuliani twice more in that call. now, from mr. giuliani, by this point, you understood that in order to get that white house meeting that you wanted president zelensky to have, and this president zelensky desperately wanted to have, that ukraine would have to initiate these two investigations, is that right? >> well, they would have to announce that they were going to do it. >> right, because giuliani and president trump didn't actually care if they did them, right? >> i never heard mr. goldman, anyone say that the investigations had to start or had to be completed. the only thing i heard from mr. giuliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced in some form, and that form kept changing. >> announced nnounced publicly. >> you recognized there would be political benefits to a public announcement as opposed to a private confirmation, right? >> the way it was expressed to
me was the ukrainians this a long history of committing to things privately and never following through. so president trump presumably again communicated through mr. giuliani, wanted the ukrainians on record publicly that they were going to do these investigations. that's the reason that was given to me. >> but you never heard anyone say that they really wanted them to do the investigations? just that they wanted to announce them? >> i didn't hear either way. i didn't hear either way. >> now, your july 26th call with the president was not the only time that you spoke to the president surrounding that ukraine trip, was it? >> i believe i spoke to him before his call. >> and that's, so that would be on july 25th, the day before? >> yes, i think i was flying to ukraine, and i spoke with him, if i recall correctly, just before i got on the plane. >> so that's two private telephone calls with president trump in the span of two days, is that right?
>> correct. >> you had direct access then to president trump, correct? >> i had occasional access when he choese to take my calls. sometimes he would. sometimes he wouldn't. >> well, he certainly took your call twice as it related to ukraine on these two days, is that right? >> he did. >> now the morning of july 25th, you texted ambassador volker, and we could bring up the next text exchange, at 7:54 a.m., and you said, "call asap." ambassador volker did not respond to you for another hour and a half. "hi gordon, got your message. this h a great lunch with yermak and passed your message to him. he will think everything in place." volker an hour before that and half hour before the phone call had texted andre yermak a top aide for president zelensky and wrote "good lunch, thanks. heard from white house, assuming
president z. convinces trump he will investigate, get to the bottom of what happened in 2016 we will nail down date for a visit to washington. good luck, see you tomorrow." ambassador sondland, was this message that kurt volker passed to andre yermak the message you left for kurt volker on that voice mail he referenced? >> i don't remember, mr. goldman but it very well could have been. >> you don't have any reason to think it wasn't? >> i on honestly, honestly don't remember but seems largical to me. >> if ambassador volker testified he did get that message from you, you have no reason to doubt that. >> if he testified he got that message from me i won kur that. >> this message you received from president trump and the phone call? >> again if he testified to that, to refresh my own memory then yes, likely i would have received that from president trump. >> the sequence certainly makes sense, right? >> it does. >> you talked to president trump, told kurt volker to call you. you left a message for kurt
volker. kurt volker sent this text message to andre yermak to president zelensky and president trump had a phone call where plt zelensky spoke similar to this text message, right? >> right. >> you agree the message is that president zelensky needs to convince trump that he will do the investigations in order to nail down the tate for a visit to washington, d.c., is that correct? >> that's correct. >> now, i'm going to move ahead in time to the end of august and early september, when you came to believe, i believe as you testified, that it wasn't just the white house meeting that was contingent on the announcement of these investigations, that the president wanted but security assistance as well. you testified that in the absence of any credible explanation for the hold on
security assistance, you came to the conclusion that, like the white house visit, the aide was conditioned on the investigation that president trump wanted. is that what you said in your opening statement? >> it is. >> so let me break this down with you. by this time, you and many top officials knew that that coveted white house meeting for president zelensky was conditioned on these investigations, right? >> the announcement of the investigations, correct. >> thank you. and that included secretary pompeo, right? >> many people. >> secretary pam pompeo? >> yes. >> and acting chief of staff mulvaney. >> yes. >> you testified this was a quid pro quo? >> i did. >> at this point, by the end of august, knew that the aid had been held up for at least six weeks, is that correct? >> i believe i found out through ambassador taylor that the aid had been held up around july 18th, is when i heard originally. >> and even though you searched
for reasons, you never were given a credible explanation, is that right? >> that's right. >> and no one you spoke to thought that the aid should be held, to your knowledge, thart? >> i never heard anyone advocate for holding the aide. end of august it went public and the ukrainians knew about it, right? >> i believe there was some press reports, you know, presuming or, who knows, but i think at that point it became common knowledge that everything might be tied together. >> and in fact president zell echsky brought it up at that meeting with vice president pence? >> i don't know if he brought it up but asked where the aid was. i i this he sort of asked again very vague recollection because i don't have a read out of the bilateral meeting, but, why don't i have my check, essentially. >> and you understood the
ukrainians received no credibility explanation, is that right? >> i certainly couldn't give them one. >> so is this kind of a two plus two equals four conclusion that you reached? >> pretty much. >> the only logical conclusion to you given all the factors that the aid was part of this quid pro quo? >> yep. >>, now, i want to go back to that conversation that you had with vice president pence right before that meeting in warsaw. and you indicated that you set to him that you were concerned that the delay in the aid was tied to the issue in investigations, is that right? >> i don't know exactly what i said to him. this was a briefing attended by many people, and i was invited at the very last minute. i wasn't scheduled to be there. you about i think i spoke up at some point late in the meeting and said i think it looks like everything is being held up until these statements are getting made and that's my
personal belief. >> and vice president pence just nodded his head? >> i don't recall my exchange or he asked me any questions. i think he -- it was sort of a dually noted? >> he didn't say, gordon, what are you talking about? >> no, he did not. >> he didn't say, what investigations? >> he did not. >> now, after this meeting you discussed this pull aside with mr. yermak where you relayed your belief that they needed to announce these investigations prior to the aid being released, is that right? >> i said i didn't know exactly why, but this could be a reason. >> and oeblsz you had been speaking with mr. yermak for quite awhile about a public announcement of these investigations? >> we had all been working on that, yes. >> you indicated that in
addition, security aid was now also involved in that? >> as i said, i said it could have been involved, yes. >> now, i'm going to show you another text exchange you had on september 1st, where ambassador taylor said to you, are we now saying that security assistance and white house meeting are conditioned on investigations? and you respond, call me. ambassador taylor recalls that he did call you and you did have a conversation. and in that conversation, you told ambassador taylor that the announcement of these investigations by president zelensky needed to be public and that that announcement was conditioned on -- that announcement would ultimately release the aid. do you recall that conversation with ambassador taylor? >> again, my conversation with ambassador taylor, my conversation with senator johnson, were all my personal belief just based on, as you
put, two plus two equals four. >> well in his testimony, ambassador taylor says that you said that president trump had told you that he wanted president zelensky to state publicly, as of september 1st. do you have any reason to doubt ambassador taylor's testimony, which he said was based on his meticulous contemporaneous notes? >> president trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. the only thing we got directly from giuliani was that the burisma in 2016 elections were conditioned on the white house meeting. the aid was my own personal, you know, guess based again on your analogy, two plus two equals four. >> so you didn't talk to president trump when ambassador taylor tells you? >> i never heard from president trump that aid was conditioned
on an announcement of elections. >> so you never heard those specific words? >> correct, never heard those words. >> well, let's move ahead, because you have another conversation in a little bit later that both tim morrison and ambassador taylor recount. but in this september 1st conversation, ambassador taylor also testified under oath that you said that president trump wanted zelensky in awe public box. do you recall using that expression? >> yeah. it goes back to my earlier comment that again coming from the giuliani source, because we can't discuss this specifically with president trump, that they wanted whatever commitments ukraine made to be made publicly so that they would be on the record and be held more accountable, whatever those commitments were. >> you also tr -- or ambassador taylor testified that you told him that you ha made a mistake
in teg the ukrainians that only the white house meeting was conditioned on the announcement of the investigations, and that in fact everything was, including the security assistance. do you remember saying that? >> when i referenced a mistake, what i recall was i thought that a statement made by the new ukrainian prosecutor that these investigations would be started up again or commenced, would be sufficient to satisfy mr. giuliani/president trump. as i recall, my mistake was, someone came back through volker otherwise and said no, it's not going to do if the prosecutor makes these statements. the president wants to hear it from zelensky directly. that's the mistake i think i made. >> do you have any reason to question ambassador taylor's testimony based on his meticulous and careful contemporaneous notes? >> i'm not going to question or not question. i'm just telling what you i believe i was referring to.
>> let me fast forward a week and show you another text exchange which may help ref fresh your recollection. on september 8th you had a text to ambassador taylor and volker. >> guys, multiple con voez with zelensky, potus. let's talk. >> this was september 8th at 11:20 in the morning. ambassador taylor responds, immediately. that's fine with me. ambassador taylor says 20 minutes later, gordon and i just spoke. i can brief you if you and gordon don't connect. then ambassador taylor an hour later says the nightmare is they give the interview and don't give the security assistance.the russians love it and i quit. you would agree in this text message after you had spoken earlier an hour earlier with ambassador taylor, that he is linking the security assistance
to this interview, public announcement by president zelensky, is that right? >> absolutely. >> and in fact ambassador taylor testified that you did have a conversation with him at that point, and he did -- and that you told him that just as your text message indicates, you did have a conversation with president trump prior to that text message. does that help to ref fresh your recollection that you in fact spoke to president trump at that time? >> again, i don't recall president trump ever talking to me about any security assistance, ever. what this tells me refreshing my memory is that by the 8th of september, it was abundantly clear to everyone that there was a link and that we were discussing the chicken and egg issue of, should the ukrainians go out on a ledge and make the statement that president trump wanted them to make, and then they still don't get their white
house visit and their aid? that would be really bad for our credibility. i think that's what he's referring to. >> so you do acknowledge other you spoke to president trump as you indicated in that text, right? >> if i said i did i did. >> and that after that conversation, you were still under the impression that the aide was contingent on these public announcements? >> i did not get that from president trump but i was under the impression that absolutely it was. >> you weren't dissuaded then, right because you still thought it was conditioned on the public announcement, after speaking to president trump? >> by september 8th, i was absolutely convinced it was. >> and president trump did not dissuade you on that in the conversation you had with him? >> i don't ever recall -- because that would have changed my cal cue laus. if he had told me directly? >> that's not what i'm asking. you still believe that the security assistance was conditioned on the investigation after you spoke to president
trump? yes or no? >> from a timeframe standpoint, yes. >> now, ambassador taylor also testified that -- and mr. morrison, both of them testified, that you told them that president trump said there was no quid pro quo, which you also included that that text message that you referred, but then you went on and they had slight variations as to what you told them. but then you said that to ambassador taylor that president zelensky himself, nots prosecutor general, needed to clear things up in public or there would be a stalemate. and mr. morrison recounted something similar. you don't have any reason that both of their very similar recollections that they had with you? >> let me break that down. the text i said about the no quid pro quo was my effort to respond to amourespond to ambasr
taylor's concerns to go to president trump. apparently ambassador taylor had access to secretary pompeo, not president trump. so i made the phone call. i said what do you want? president trump responded with what i put in the text. and then i strongly encouraged ambassador taylor to take it up with the secretary. and he responded, a agree. when i said that. as far as the other part of your question relating to whether or not the prosecutor could make the statement or zelensky could make the statement, i don't recall who told me whether it was volker, whether it was giuliani, or whether it was president trump, it's got to be zelensky, it can't be the prosecutor. but that's what i relayed. whoever i got that information from, i relayed that to i believe both mr. -- or excuse me ambassador taylor and to mr. morrison. >> but as of september 9th, you understood, did you not, that president trump either himself
or through his agents required that president zelensky make a public announcement of the two investigation that's president trump cared about in order to get both the white house meeting and to release the security assistance, is that correct? >> i believe that is correct. >> mr. chairman, i yield back. >> that concludes our 45 minutes. i now recognize mr. nunes. >> no. >> why don't
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