WSJ: Amb. Sondland Knew Call With Trump, Not Aid, Part of ‘Quid Pro Quo’
October 29, 2019 | by James G. Dalton
Ukraine’s agreeing to investigate President Donald Trump’s political rival was a condition of getting a meeting between the country’s leaders, which U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland believed was an example of quid pro quo, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Amb. Sondland told the Democratic-led House committees he was not involved in the withholding of military aide to Ukraine, but he did acknowledge the investigations into potential corruption was a condition of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy getting a meeting with Trump, Sondland’s lawyer Robert Luskin told the Journal.
When asked whether Ukraine offering to investigate potential corruption of Hunter Biden, son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, as a condition of speaking to Trump represented a “quid pro quo,” Sondland said he was not a lawyer, but he “believed the answer was yes,” the Journal reported, citing Luskin.
Trump and his administration unilaterally deny any quid pro quo, but Sondland’s testimony to the House committees conducting the secret impeachment inquiry seems to suggest there was at least some exchange of benefit in the way of a July 25 phone call that wound up serving as the basis for the latest Democratic impeachment attempt.
The allegations against the president include using attorney Rudy Giuliani to push for investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter, while the Trump administration held up roughly $390 million in military aid to Ukraine. Democrats claim the president leveraged the U.S. taxpayer money to get political dirt on the Bidens.
“Amb. Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman,” Amb. Bill Taylor said in his testimony to Congress, per the report. “When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing a check.”
The House Intelligence Committee does reportedly intend to bring back Sondland for follow up questions after Amb. Taylor’s testimony, a request Sondland will honor, his lawyer told the Journal.