Acting US Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor told Congress that US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland knew President Donald Trump threatened to cutoff aid to Ukraine if the government did not investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

Taylor also claimed Sondland passed the threat to the Ukrainian government.

However, Sondland’s attorney Robert Luskin said his client does not recall any conversation about cutting off Ukraine.

Sondland told Congress he did not know of the quid pro quo the Democrats have used as their main point to impeach Trump. He admitted he knew Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani secured a visit from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House. He “did not know whether the White House had also made security assistance contingent on Zelensky’s committing to launch the probes.”

Once Sondland heard “that security assistance may be tied to the investigations, he paused and called Trump on Sept. 9.”

After the phone call, Sondland texted Taylor:

“The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind,” Sondland wrote. “The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised.”

Taylor insisted Sondland told Zelensky aide Andrey Yermak that the US would withhold aid if the country did not investigate Burisma Holdings. Biden’s son Hunter sat on the company’s border when he served as vice president.

From The Washington Post:

Taylor said he understood that on Sept. 1, Sondland warned Zelensky aide Andrey Yermak that the security assistance “would not come” unless Zelensky committed to pursuing the investigation into Burisma, which could have damaged Joe Biden, a top 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful.

“I was alarmed,” Taylor wrote, saying a national security official had told him the demand was relayed in person by Sondland while the ambassador was traveling in Poland with Vice President Pence. “This was the first time I had heard that the security assistance . . . was conditioned on the investigation.”
The conversation supposedly happened in Warsaw, Poland, when Sondland traveled with Vice President Mike Pence.

But by Taylor’s account, Sondland already knew the terms of the quid pro quo and had relayed them to Zelensky’s aide a week earlier in Poland. Taylor said Sondland also suggested he had said as much in a conversation on Sept. 8 to Zelensky.

“Ambassador Sondland said that he had talked to President Zelenskyy and Mr. Yermak and told them that, although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelenskyy did not ‘clear things up’ in public, we would be at a ‘stalemate,’ ” according to Taylor’s written testimony, which used an alternative spelling of the Ukrainian leader’s name. “I understood a ‘stalemate’ to mean that Ukraine would not receive the much-needed military assistance.”

Luskin emailed the publication:

Responding to questions by email, Sondland’s attorney Robert Luskin wrote to The Washington Post on Wednesday that his client “does not recall” such a conversation.

“Sondland does not recall any conversation in Warsaw concerning the aid cutoff, although he understood that the Ukrainians were, by then, certainly aware of the cutoff and raised the issue directly with Pence,” Luskin wrote.

Luskin said his client “strongly opposed the cutoff of aid and believed (and advised internally) that it should be restored unconditionally.” The attorney said that in seven hours of closed-door testimony last week, Sondland was asked about his discussions in Warsaw but did not recall a meeting as recounted by Taylor.

The Washington Post did not say if Taylor attended the meeting.

Taylor also claimed Sondland told him that he did not want anyone to transcribe or monitor the phone call between Zelensky and Trump.

Luskin retorted Sondland “believes that it was monitored routinely and that an appropriate file memo was prepared. He never suggested otherwise.”

Trump released the transcript of the phone call between him and Zelensky. It shows no pressure to investigate Biden and Burisma Holdings. Trump suggested one with Zelensky happily accepting. Zelensky has also said numerous times Trump did not apply any pressure on him.

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