On Tuesday, transcripts released by the House Intelligence Committee containing revised testimony from U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland show that he admitted that military aid to Ukraine was “likely” tied on Ukraine announcing investigations into 2016 election interference and Burisma. According to Sondland’s testimony, a White House meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Trump was also contingent on these investigations taking place.
First of all, why did Sondland change his original testimony?
Sondland, who refused to acknowledge the purported quid pro quo in his initial testimony, said he had “refreshed [his] recollection” after reading testimony by top diplomat William Taylor and Timothy Morrison, the senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council. The ambassador then went on to revise parts of his own testimony to reflect his delivery of the quid pro quo message.
Sondland agreed with investigators that a Trump-Zelensky meet would be conditioned on a commitment to investigations into the Bidens and 2016 election interference.
“If you mean that those conditions would have to be complied with prior to getting a meeting, that was my understanding,” Sondland said.
Nothing bizarre about that, right? But I digress. The media and Democrats see this as proof of a quid pro quo. But is it?
What about Sondland’s testimony? According to his testimony, when he asked Trump what he wanted from Ukraine, Trump said, “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. I want Zelensky to do the right thing… to do what he ran on.”
Also released today were transcripts of the testimony of Ambassador Kurt Volker, special envoy to Ukraine. According to his testimony, there was “no linkage” between a White House meeting with Trump and Zelenksy and any promises to hold any investigations.
Volker’s testimony corroborates Sondland’s testimony that Trump didn’t want any quid pro quo:
Volker also testified that Trump didn’t pressure Ukraine to investigate the Biden’s or Burisma:
Now let’s go back to Sondland. Despite media reports, it’s clear from Sondland’s revised testimony that he didn’t know why the military aid was being held up and that the link between the aid and the investigations is an assumption.
The narrative being pushed by the media and the Democrats that Sondland said there was a quid pro quo is not based on evidence but on an assumption by Sondland.