Gordon Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the EU, has arrived on Capitol Hill and is testifying behind closed doors before the three House committees leading the probe. The State Department previously blocked him from testifying.
His prepared opening statement says that he and others were “disappointed” that President Trump directed them to work with Giuliani shortly after the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters. . . However, given the President’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, we agreed to do as President Trump directed.”
Sondland also says in the statement that he was unaware that Giuliani was targeting former Vice President Joe Biden by urging Ukrainian officials to open an investigation in Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that appointed Biden’s son Hunter to its board of directors in 2014. He said he spoke with the former New York mayor “a few times” and did not recall having met with him during his time as ambassador.
In a key passage he writes of the May 23, 2019 meeting at the White House in which the “Inaugural Delegation” who had just attended Zelensky’s inauguration, consisting of Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Special Envoy Kurt Volker, were put in charge of Ukrainian policy and were told to coordinate with Rudy Giuliani in all matters having to do with Ukraine. Sondland states: “It is my understanding that Energy Secretary Perry and Special Envoy Volker took the lead on reaching out to Mr. Giuliani, as the President had directed.”
Read the full opening statement below.Sondland-Opening-Statement