Gordon Sondland Says Trump Directed Ukraine Quid Pro Quo

Saturday, 23 Nov, 2019

The inquiry is assessing if Mr Trump withheld aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

"Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russian Federation and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did", Hill testified before the House impeachment inquiry panel.

Impeachment in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives appears increasingly likely in the coming weeks or months.

But I don't think he will be removed from office and I'm okay with that for now. Why?

But with many Republicans seemingly unmoved, Trump bashed the testimony as "total nonsense" and said he relished the chance to defend himself.

In addition to asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pursue investigations into the family of former vice president Joe Biden, Trump also sought to enlist the Ukrainian leader in advancing a conspiracy theory that one of the Democratic Party's computer servers was smuggled to Ukraine to hide evidence that Ukraine rather than Russian Federation had hacked its network.

Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from OH, left, speaks while Representative Mike Conaway, a Republican from Texas, listens during an impeachment inquiry hearing with Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019.

At another point, she implored impeachment investigators - and the country at large - to stop advancing fictions that she said distract from the attention needed to fight Russian interference.

In a 57-minute, animated phone interview on "Fox & Friends", Trump said he did not expect to be impeached. "Frankly, I want a trial", he said during his phone call into the Fox and Friends morning show.

Stitched together, analysts say their hours of televised testimony paint a portrait of an American president willing to leverage his powerful office to push a foreign government for personal political help.

The British-born Hill is a Russian Federation expert who's written extensively on the Kremlin, and she made that clear from the outset when she scolded Republicans lawmakers for propagating what she said was a "fictional narrative" - that somehow Ukraine, not Russian Federation, interfered in the 2016 USA presidential election. This came after the president removed Marie Yovanovitch as USA ambassador to Ukraine at Giuliani's urging even as the former mayor was pressing officials in Kiev to conduct the investigations that could benefit Trump.

Sondland told Trump that Zelenskyy "loves your a**", Holmes said. "I have not heard evidence proving the president committed bribery or extortion". "I don't think we should wait". Holmes said that promoting a narrative that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 elections would benefit Moscow. In fact, company co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch is a Russian-born US citizen who immigrated as a child and graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Testimony from Hill and David Holmes, a State Department adviser in Kyiv, capped an intense week in the historic inquiry and reinforced the central complaint: that Trump used his leverage over Ukraine, a young Eastern European democracy facing Russian aggression, to pursue political investigations.

If you watched even bits of the impeachment hearings, you saw a run of witnesses who cared deeply about our nation, its Constitution.

Sondland confirmed this event in his Wednesday public testimony.

TRUMP: The FBI went in and they told them, get out of here, you're not getting - we're not giving it to you. "I've spoken to him a few times".

"An impeachable offense should be compelling, overwhelmingly clear, and unambiguous, and it's not something to be rushed or taken lightly", Hurd said. Quid pro quo is merely the leveraging tactic and overlooks the actual conduct and motivation of the president in question. "Have Zelenskiy do whatever is right". Trump said, before trailing off and then beginning an attack on Schiff. "I turned off the television".

David Holmes, a United States envoy based in the USA embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, also gave evidence on Thursday. Never have I been watching a person making a call, which was not on speakerphone, and been able to hear or understand a conversation.

Republicans denied wrongdoing by Trump, questioned the credibility of a career diplomat who said he overheard Trump asking if Ukraine would carry out investigations and argued that Democrats aimed to thwart the will of the people by ousting the president. Ambassador Sondland replied that "He's gonna do it".

Trump asked Sondland, referring to Zelenskiy, Holmes said of the call, overheard while he was dining with Sondland outdoors at a Kiev restaurant. "That was a total phoney deal", Trump said.

Trump appointed Sondland to the envoy post after the wealthy OR hotelier donated $US1 million to his inaugural committee.

Another key moment came from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper, who said during her opening statement that after the transcript of her private deposition was published, her staffers told her that, just after Trump's July 25th call with Zelensky, the Ukrainian embassy had e-mailed them twice inquiring about the aid.

Americans are even divided by party over what they believe the likely outcome of the impeachment inquiry will be.