A major figure in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry significantly changed his testimony this week to confirm the existence of a quid pro quo involving withheld military aid to Ukraine, after other witnesses raised serious doubts about his credibility.
US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said in a declaration submitted to Congress on Monday that he had now “refreshed [his] recollection about certain conversations in early September 2019.”
Specifically, Sondland now remembers that he did, in fact, tell various people — including a Ukrainian official — that President Donald Trump’s administration was linking hundreds of millions of dollars in withheld military aid for Ukraine to investigations Trump had asked the country to conduct.
This is a big deal, because it confirms that a Trump administration official told Ukraine that the withheld aid was linked to a public announcement of those investigations (into the gas company Burisma, which Hunter Biden sat on the board of, and into purported Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election). That is: It confirms the quid pro quo of military aid for investigations.
“I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Sondland said. He’s referring to Andriy Yermak, a top aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Yet Sondland, a close Trump ally, continues to have a poor memory about his conversations with the president. Specifically, he said in the statement, he can’t recall whether he spoke to Trump on two separate days or on just one day in early September. You can read Sondland’s updated statement below, and his original testimony — which Democrats also released Tuesday — at this link.