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U.S. ambassador to EU testifies in Trump impeachment hearings

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told lawmakers on November 20, 2019, that President Donald Trump expressly ordered him and others to help pressure Ukraine into investigating a political rival of the president, providing some of the most significant testimony to date in the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told lawmakers on November 20, 2019, that President Donald Trump expressly ordered him and others to help pressure Ukraine into investigating a political rival of the president, providing some of...more

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told lawmakers on November 20, 2019, that President Donald Trump expressly ordered him and others to help pressure Ukraine into investigating a political rival of the president, providing some of the most significant testimony to date in the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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In remarks that also put Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the center of the Ukraine controversy, Sondland said Pompeo was "fully supportive" of the efforts to push Ukraine into carrying out two investigations that would benefit Trump politically at home.

REUTERS/Loren Elliott

In remarks that also put Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the center of the Ukraine controversy, Sondland said Pompeo was "fully supportive" of the efforts to push Ukraine into carrying out two investigations that would benefit Trump politically at...more

In remarks that also put Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the center of the Ukraine controversy, Sondland said Pompeo was "fully supportive" of the efforts to push Ukraine into carrying out two investigations that would benefit Trump politically at home. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
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Sondland, a wealthy hotel entrepreneur and Trump donor, said he worked with Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine issues on "the president's orders," further detailing Trump's active participation in a controversy that threatens his presidency.

Erik S. Lesser/Pool via REUTERS

Sondland, a wealthy hotel entrepreneur and Trump donor, said he worked with Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine issues on "the president's orders," further detailing Trump's active participation in a controversy that threatens his...more

Sondland, a wealthy hotel entrepreneur and Trump donor, said he worked with Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine issues on "the president's orders," further detailing Trump's active participation in a controversy that threatens his presidency. Erik S. Lesser/Pool via REUTERS
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Giuliani's efforts earlier this year to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son "were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit" for the Ukrainian leader, Sondland said, using a Latin term meaning to exchange a favor for another favor.

REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Giuliani's efforts earlier this year to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son "were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit" for the Ukrainian leader, Sondland...more

Giuliani's efforts earlier this year to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son "were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit" for the Ukrainian leader, Sondland said, using a Latin term meaning to exchange a favor for another favor. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
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The ambassador testified that he told Vice President Mike Pence in September that U.S. security aid to Ukraine had been stalled apparently because of Trump's demand for the investigations.

Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS

The ambassador testified that he told Vice President Mike Pence in September that U.S. security aid to Ukraine had been stalled apparently because of Trump's demand for the investigations. Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS

The ambassador testified that he told Vice President Mike Pence in September that U.S. security aid to Ukraine had been stalled apparently because of Trump's demand for the investigations. Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS
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Trump (pictured holding what appears to be a prepared statement and handwritten notes as he speaks to reporters prior to departing for travel to Austin, Texas from the White House) has said he did nothing wrong and specifically denied any quid pro quo. On Wednesday, Trump said he does not know Sondland well but he seems like a "nice guy."

REUTERS/Erin Scott

Trump (pictured holding what appears to be a prepared statement and handwritten notes as he speaks to reporters prior to departing for travel to Austin, Texas from the White House) has said he did nothing wrong and specifically denied any quid pro...more

Trump (pictured holding what appears to be a prepared statement and handwritten notes as he speaks to reporters prior to departing for travel to Austin, Texas from the White House) has said he did nothing wrong and specifically denied any quid pro quo. On Wednesday, Trump said he does not know Sondland well but he seems like a "nice guy." REUTERS/Erin Scott
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"Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the United States," Sondland told the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which is spearheading the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

"Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the United States," Sondland told the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which is spearheading the...more

"Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the United States," Sondland told the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which is spearheading the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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"We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the president's orders," Sondland said.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

"We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and...more

"We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the president's orders," Sondland said. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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The committee's top Republican, Devin Nunes (L), accused Democrats of waging an "impeachment crusade" against Trump. "They know exactly what kind of damage they're inflicting on this nation. But they've passed the point of no return," Nunes said.

Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS

The committee's top Republican, Devin Nunes (L), accused Democrats of waging an "impeachment crusade" against Trump. "They know exactly what kind of damage they're inflicting on this nation. But they've passed the point of no return," Nunes...more

The committee's top Republican, Devin Nunes (L), accused Democrats of waging an "impeachment crusade" against Trump. "They know exactly what kind of damage they're inflicting on this nation. But they've passed the point of no return," Nunes said. Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS
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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff called Sondland's testimony "a very important moment in the history of this inquiry."

"It goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery as well as other potential high crimes and misdemeanors," Schiff told reporters, referring to impeachable offenses mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. "But we also have heard for the first time that knowledge of this scheme was pervasive."

Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff called Sondland's testimony "a very important moment in the history of this inquiry." "It goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery as well as other potential high crimes and misdemeanors,"...more

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff called Sondland's testimony "a very important moment in the history of this inquiry." "It goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery as well as other potential high crimes and misdemeanors," Schiff told reporters, referring to impeachable offenses mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. "But we also have heard for the first time that knowledge of this scheme was pervasive." Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS
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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney pressed Sondland aggressively: "Who would benefit from an investigations of the Bidens?" "I assume President Trump would benefit," Sondland said after repeated questioning.

"You've been very forthright? This is your third try to do so sir," Maloney told Sondland. "It didn't work so well the first time did it? We had a little declaration come in after, remember that? And now we're here a third time and we got a doozie of a statement from you this morning. There's a whole bunch of stuff you don't recall."

"So with all due respect sir, we appreciate your candor, but let's be really clear on what it took to get it out of you."

REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney pressed Sondland aggressively: "Who would benefit from an investigations of the Bidens?" "I assume President Trump would benefit," Sondland said after repeated questioning. "You've been very forthright? This is your third...more

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney pressed Sondland aggressively: "Who would benefit from an investigations of the Bidens?" "I assume President Trump would benefit," Sondland said after repeated questioning. "You've been very forthright? This is your third try to do so sir," Maloney told Sondland. "It didn't work so well the first time did it? We had a little declaration come in after, remember that? And now we're here a third time and we got a doozie of a statement from you this morning. There's a whole bunch of stuff you don't recall." "So with all due respect sir, we appreciate your candor, but let's be really clear on what it took to get it out of you." REUTERS/Loren Elliott
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Sondland's testimony cast more light on the role of Pompeo, a close Trump ally who has declined to defend State Department witnesses who have been attacked by Trump and other Republicans for cooperating with the impeachment inquiry.

Sondland provided correspondence showing that he and Pompeo communicated about his effort to get Zelenskiy to commit to undertake investigations as a way to free up $391 million in security aid for Ukraine that Trump had withheld. The aid eventually was provided in September.

"All good. You're doing great work; keep banging away," Pompeo told Sondland in early September, according to email correspondence cited in his testimony.

"Everyone was in the loop," Sondland said.

Pompeo, on a visit to Europe on Wednesday, declined to comment on the testimony.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Sondland's testimony cast more light on the role of Pompeo, a close Trump ally who has declined to defend State Department witnesses who have been attacked by Trump and other Republicans for cooperating with the impeachment inquiry. Sondland...more

Sondland's testimony cast more light on the role of Pompeo, a close Trump ally who has declined to defend State Department witnesses who have been attacked by Trump and other Republicans for cooperating with the impeachment inquiry. Sondland provided correspondence showing that he and Pompeo communicated about his effort to get Zelenskiy to commit to undertake investigations as a way to free up $391 million in security aid for Ukraine that Trump had withheld. The aid eventually was provided in September. "All good. You're doing great work; keep banging away," Pompeo told Sondland in early September, according to email correspondence cited in his testimony. "Everyone was in the loop," Sondland said. Pompeo, on a visit to Europe on Wednesday, declined to comment on the testimony. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Sondland never told Pompeo he believed Trump was linking Ukraine aid to investigations of political opponents, a State Department spokeswoman said. "Any suggestion to the contrary is flat out false," spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Sondland never told Pompeo he believed Trump was linking Ukraine aid to investigations of political opponents, a State Department spokeswoman said. "Any suggestion to the contrary is flat out false," spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a...more

Sondland never told Pompeo he believed Trump was linking Ukraine aid to investigations of political opponents, a State Department spokeswoman said. "Any suggestion to the contrary is flat out false," spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff listens next to ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/Pool

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff listens next to ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/Pool

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff listens next to ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/Pool
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Republican attorney Steve Castor asked Sondland, seen speaking with his lawyer Robert Luskin, if Trump ever told him of preconditions for aid or a White House meeting. Sondland said, "No .... Personally, no." 

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Republican attorney Steve Castor asked Sondland, seen speaking with his lawyer Robert Luskin, if Trump ever told him of preconditions for aid or a White House meeting. Sondland said, "No .... Personally, no." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Republican attorney Steve Castor asked Sondland, seen speaking with his lawyer Robert Luskin, if Trump ever told him of preconditions for aid or a White House meeting. Sondland said, "No .... Personally, no." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Rep. Eric Swalwell: "Ambassador Sondland, you were told by the president and others to not show up. You showed up. I think that says a lot about you, and I think history will look kindly on you doing that."

Samuel Corum/Pool via Reuters

Rep. Eric Swalwell: "Ambassador Sondland, you were told by the president and others to not show up. You showed up. I think that says a lot about you, and I think history will look kindly on you doing that." Samuel Corum/Pool via Reuters

Rep. Eric Swalwell: "Ambassador Sondland, you were told by the president and others to not show up. You showed up. I think that says a lot about you, and I think history will look kindly on you doing that." Samuel Corum/Pool via Reuters
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Asked about testimony from another State Department official that Sondland had told Trump in a July 26 phone call that Zelenskiy "loves your ass," Sondland suggested he and Trump had an easy-going relationship.

"It sounds like something I would say. That's how President Trump and I communicate. A lot of four-letter words. In this case three letters," he said, to laughter in the Capitol Hill hearing room.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Asked about testimony from another State Department official that Sondland had told Trump in a July 26 phone call that Zelenskiy "loves your ass," Sondland suggested he and Trump had an easy-going relationship. "It sounds like something I would say....more

Asked about testimony from another State Department official that Sondland had told Trump in a July 26 phone call that Zelenskiy "loves your ass," Sondland suggested he and Trump had an easy-going relationship. "It sounds like something I would say. That's how President Trump and I communicate. A lot of four-letter words. In this case three letters," he said, to laughter in the Capitol Hill hearing room. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Rep. Michael Turner: "This is part of the problem, Ambassador Sondland. And I just want to walk you through this. You've said to us 'everyone was in the loop'. Now hold on a second. I've listened to you today, as (have) a lot of people, and not only are your answers somewhat circular. Frequently, you've contradicted yourself in your own answer."

Samuel Corum/Pool via REUTERS

Rep. Michael Turner: "This is part of the problem, Ambassador Sondland. And I just want to walk you through this. You've said to us 'everyone was in the loop'. Now hold on a second. I've listened to you today, as (have) a lot of people, and not only...more

Rep. Michael Turner: "This is part of the problem, Ambassador Sondland. And I just want to walk you through this. You've said to us 'everyone was in the loop'. Now hold on a second. I've listened to you today, as (have) a lot of people, and not only are your answers somewhat circular. Frequently, you've contradicted yourself in your own answer." Samuel Corum/Pool via REUTERS
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Ranking member Devin Nunes walks past a sign placed by Republican committee staff. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/Pool

Ranking member Devin Nunes walks past a sign placed by Republican committee staff. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/Pool

Ranking member Devin Nunes walks past a sign placed by Republican committee staff. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/Pool
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House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff: "When the president said 'investigation,' he meant 'Biden.' He made that abundantly clear ... The question is not what the president meant. The question is not whether he was responsible for holding up the aid -- he was. The question is not whether everybody knew it -- apparently, they did. The question is what are we prepared to do about it? ... My colleagues would suggest that because the president got caught, we should ignore the fact that he was conditioning official acts in order to get political favors, in order to get an investigation against his rival. Getting caught is no defense."

REUTERS/Yara Nardi/Pool

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff: "When the president said 'investigation,' he meant 'Biden.' He made that abundantly clear ... The question is not what the president meant. The question is not whether he was responsible for holding up the aid...more

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff: "When the president said 'investigation,' he meant 'Biden.' He made that abundantly clear ... The question is not what the president meant. The question is not whether he was responsible for holding up the aid -- he was. The question is not whether everybody knew it -- apparently, they did. The question is what are we prepared to do about it? ... My colleagues would suggest that because the president got caught, we should ignore the fact that he was conditioning official acts in order to get political favors, in order to get an investigation against his rival. Getting caught is no defense." REUTERS/Yara Nardi/Pool
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Gordon Sondland confers with his lawyer Robert Luskin while testifying. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Gordon Sondland confers with his lawyer Robert Luskin while testifying. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Gordon Sondland confers with his lawyer Robert Luskin while testifying. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
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At the opening of a second hearing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper (seen with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale) testified that Ukrainian officials may have known that Washington was withholding military aid as early as July 25, undercutting a Republican defense of the president's actions that they did not learn this until later.

REUTERS/Yara Nardi

At the opening of a second hearing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper (seen with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale) testified that Ukrainian officials may have known that Washington was withholding military...more

At the opening of a second hearing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper (seen with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale) testified that Ukrainian officials may have known that Washington was withholding military aid as early as July 25, undercutting a Republican defense of the president's actions that they did not learn this until later. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
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Cooper said Ukrainian officials had known in July about the holdup in the security aid, which was new information she had not had when she was interviewed behind closed doors on Oct. 23.

Erik S. Lesser/Pool via REUTERS

Cooper said Ukrainian officials had known in July about the holdup in the security aid, which was new information she had not had when she was interviewed behind closed doors on Oct. 23. Erik S. Lesser/Pool via REUTERS

Cooper said Ukrainian officials had known in July about the holdup in the security aid, which was new information she had not had when she was interviewed behind closed doors on Oct. 23. Erik S. Lesser/Pool via REUTERS
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Cooper said her staff received an email on July 25, the day of the Trump-Zelenskiy call, from the State Department saying that Ukraine's embassy and the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee were asking about security assistance.

"On July 25 a member of my staff got a question from a Ukrainian Embassy contact asking what was going on with U.S. security assistance," Cooper told the House Intelligence Committee at the impeachment hearing.

REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Cooper said her staff received an email on July 25, the day of the Trump-Zelenskiy call, from the State Department saying that Ukraine's embassy and the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee were asking about security...more

Cooper said her staff received an email on July 25, the day of the Trump-Zelenskiy call, from the State Department saying that Ukraine's embassy and the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee were asking about security assistance. "On July 25 a member of my staff got a question from a Ukrainian Embassy contact asking what was going on with U.S. security assistance," Cooper told the House Intelligence Committee at the impeachment hearing. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
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Cooper also said some of her staff had met with officials from the Ukrainian embassy during the week of Aug. 6 and that they had raised the issue of the aid.

Cooper also said she had never discussed a hold on security assistance for Ukraine with Trump and never heard from him directly on the matter.

REUTERS/Erin Scott

Cooper also said some of her staff had met with officials from the Ukrainian embassy during the week of Aug. 6 and that they had raised the issue of the aid. Cooper also said she had never discussed a hold on security assistance for Ukraine with...more

Cooper also said some of her staff had met with officials from the Ukrainian embassy during the week of Aug. 6 and that they had raised the issue of the aid. Cooper also said she had never discussed a hold on security assistance for Ukraine with Trump and never heard from him directly on the matter. REUTERS/Erin Scott
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Representative Jim Jordan yawns during testimony by Laura Cooper and David Hale. Defending Trump in the inquiry, some Republicans have sought to minimize the impact of the White House decision to withhold the military aid by saying Ukraine was only aware of the hold for two weeks before the hold was lifted on Sept. 11.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool

Representative Jim Jordan yawns during testimony by Laura Cooper and David Hale. Defending Trump in the inquiry, some Republicans have sought to minimize the impact of the White House decision to withhold the military aid by saying Ukraine was only...more

Representative Jim Jordan yawns during testimony by Laura Cooper and David Hale. Defending Trump in the inquiry, some Republicans have sought to minimize the impact of the White House decision to withhold the military aid by saying Ukraine was only aware of the hold for two weeks before the hold was lifted on Sept. 11. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool
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People watch from the public viewing gallery as Laura Cooper and David Hale testify. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool

People watch from the public viewing gallery as Laura Cooper and David Hale testify. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool

People watch from the public viewing gallery as Laura Cooper and David Hale testify. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool
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