Multiple media outlets pointed to a supplemental written testimony provided by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland as part of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as to the highly sought after “quid pro quo” smoking gun that proves President Donald Trump demanded political dirt in exchange for sending Ukraine military aid.
It does not.
But before getting into any of that, it is helpful to remember a few key facts upfront.
First, the aid was released in mid-September. Second, Ukraine opened no investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, before releasing the aid.
Third, Trump mentioned no quid pro quo with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the July 25th call that led Democrats to launch the inquiry.
Fourth, Ukraine was not aware its aid was being delayed until August, which of course makes for a bad attempt to allegedly seek a quid pro quo.
And finally, Zelensky has stated on multiple occasions he did not feel pressured to open any investigations merely because Trump raised the subject.
With these facts upfront, let’s take a look at Sondland’s supplemental declaration.
He wrote (see page 10): “[B]y the beginning of September 2019, and in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I presumed that the aid suspension had become linked to the proposed anti-corruption statement.”
Do you catch that? He “presumed” the aid was linked to a “proposed anti-corruption statement.” Sondland had no firsthand knowledge.
Seeing many overblown (and outright false) reports about Ambassador Sondland’s testimony. Here’s what he actually said.
1. I did not (and still don’t) know why aid was held up
2. I “PRESUMED” it was because of corruption
3. I told Yermak my assumption
See paragraph 4 here: pic.twitter.com/STZ2vtrVsv
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) November 5, 2019
Trump mentioned to Zelensky during their July 25 call the need to address corruption in the country, and later in the conversation brought up the subject of then-Vice President Joe Biden demanding in 2016 that a Ukrainian prosecutor be fired in exchange for the release of $1 billion in U.S. aid.
That prosecutor happened to have investigated Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company paying Biden’s son Hunter a reported $50,000 per month to sit on its board.
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