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White House, Pence Dispute Gordon Sondlands Quid Pro Quo Claim

The White House on Wednesday disputed a claim from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the Europ..

The White House on Wednesday disputed a claim from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, saying there were no quid pro quo demands made to Ukraine by President Donald Trump or other White House officials.

“Ambassador Sondland previously testified that the president told him directly that he was not interested in a quid pro quo,” the White House said in an emailed statement. “He testified that President Trump repeatedly made it clear he wanted no quid pro quo.”

Sondland told House impeachment investigators Wednesday that he had concerns about a quid pro quo that tied a White House visit for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigations that Trump had wanted into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as alleged 2016 election interference.

“Everyone was in the loop,” Sondland said at the hearing. “It was no secret.” He added, “Was there a quid pro quo? The answer is yes.”

Sondland said that he received no direct orders or much communication from Trump himself but that he was acting on behalf of Rudy Giuliani, Trumps personal attorney. Giuliani has denied his assertion.

But Giuliani, in a Wednesday tweet that was later deleted, wrote that “Sondland is speculating based on VERY little contact. I never met him and had very few calls with him, mostly with [former special envoy Kurt] Volker. Volker testified I answered their questions and described them as my opinions, NOT demands. I.E., no quid pro quo!”

In his prior testimony, Sondland recalled a conversation with the president where Trump said, “I want nothing. I dont want to give them anything and I dont want anything from them. I want [Ukraine President Volodymyr] Zelensky to do the right thing.”

The EU ambassador also said Trump never told him directly that aid was conditioned on meetings or investigations. “Trump never told me aid was conditioned,” he said in the hearing, adding it was his “personal guess.”

U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
President Donald Trump, right, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speak during a meeting in New York on Sept. 25, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

During the impeachment hearing, Sondland repeated the same assertion that quoted Trump.

Earlier, he said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave him the approval to brief Zelensky and ask him to make announcements on investigations. However, he said that the Bidens were never mentioned.

A July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky, released by the White House, showed that the president asked his Ukrainian counterpart to look into the Bidens and election interference. Trump didnt mention any aid or a White House meeting.

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