A key witness in the impeachment probe into U.S. President Donald Trump changed his testimony this week to say there was a quid pro quo - that Trump DID withhold aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigations into his political rivals.
Transcripts released Tuesday show that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified that “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.” Sondland also said he told a Ukrainian presidential adviser 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.” That reverses Sondland's initial testimony on Capitol Hill last month, in which he denied knowledge of any link between the aid and Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Sondland said he gave the additional testimony after depositions by other officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
Class="kln">Bill Taylor, refreshed his memory.
The House of Representatives’ impeachment investigation is focused on a July 25th phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation into the Bidens.
Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company that had been investigated for corruption.
Trump froze nearly $400 million in U.S. military assistance to Ukraine shortly before speaking to Zelenskiy, prompting accusations from Democrats that he had abused his power by holding up taxpayer dollars intended for a vulnerable U.S. ally for personal gain.
Congressional Democrats also released testimony from Kurt Volker, Trump’s former special representative for Ukraine negotiations.
Witnesses have testified that Volker and Sondland, with Trump’s secretary of energy, Rick Perry, were known as the “three amigos,” responsible for Trump’s unofficial channel to Ukrainian government officials.
Volker resigned as special representative in September.
Perry, a former Texas governor who said he was resigning from his Cabinet post as of Dec.
1, has so far refused to testify.
(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "My phone call was perfecto." Trump has denied any wrongdoing and called the impeachment inquiry "a hoax." House Democrats on Tuesday said they have asked acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to testify Nov.
8th, telling him they believe he has, "substantial first-hand knowledge and information relevant to the House’s impeachment inquiry."