Gordon Sondland testified during Wednesday’s impeachment hearing that Rudy Giuliani and President Trump wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce an investigation into Burisma and the 2016 election, but that it didn’t matter if the investigations actually took place.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff pointed to a proposed Oval Office meeting between Trump and Zelensky — “an official act” — hinging on “these two investigations.”
“I can’t characterize why he wanted them,” Sondland responded. “All I can tell you is this is what we heard from Mr. Giuliani.” (RELATED: Gordon Sondland Testifies He Told President Trump, Zelensky ‘Loves Your Ass’)
“He had to announce the investigations,” he continued, “He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it.”
“President Zelensky had to announce the two investigations the president wanted, make a public announcement,” Schiff reiterated, to which Sondland responded, “correct.”
The U.S. Ambassador to the European Union stated that Giuliani, when outlining the relationship between the investigations and an Oval Office meeting, claimed to be acting on the orders of the president.
However, Sondland later testified that neither Giuliani nor Trump ever “told [him] directly” that the release of military aid to Ukraine was contingent on the investigations.
“The aid was my own personal guess,” he told Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman. “I never heard from President Trump that aid was conditioned on an announcement of elections.”
Even later in his testimony, Sondland told Goldman that Ukraine had a significant history of privately committing to certain actions but failing to follow through on them, a history which had been explained to him as the reason for demanding the announcement of the investigations.
“So President Trump, presumably, again communicated through Mr. Giuliani, wanted the Ukrainians on record publicly that they were going to do these investigations,” he stated. “That’s the reason that was given to me.”