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The US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, told House investigators on Wednesday that the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had pushed a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine and that Sondland had felt pressured to go along with it.
Trumps pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden as he withheld crucial military aid is at the centre of the impeachment probe that now imperils his presidency.
Giulianis efforts to push Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to conduct investigations into Biden “were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit” for the Ukrainian leader, Sondland told a congressional hearing.
“Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States and we knew that these investigations were important to the president,” Sondland testified.
Sondland, the most highly anticipated witness in the public impeachment probe, made clear that he believed Trump was pursuing his desire for investigations in return for an Oval Office meeting. Sondland said he later came to believe military aid for Ukraine was also being held up until the investigations were launched.
He described how the demands became more serious and with more conditions on any potential Ukraine meeting at the White House.
“As time went on, more specific items got added to the menu – especially Burisma and 2016 meddling,” he said, referring to the gas company where Bidens son Hunter served on the board. Sondland said “the server”, the hacked Democratic computer system that debunked conspiracy theories claim is now in Ukraine, was also mentioned.
Sondland said he didnt know at the time that Burisma was linked to the Bidens, but has since come to understand that.
“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed 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 White House meeting, the answer is yes."
“We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani,” the ambassador said. But he said Trump tRead More – Source