‘We followed the president’s orders’: Highlights from Sondland testimony


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which is leading an impeachment inquiry here into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, held a fourth day of public hearings on Wednesday.

The following are select quotations from the prepared remarks of the first witness, Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who is considered a key figure in the Democratic-led probe:


“Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

“My memory has not been perfect. And I have no doubt that a more fair, open, and orderly process of allowing me to read the State Department records would have made this process more transparent.”

“Secretary (Rick) Perry, Ambassador (Kurt) Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the United States. We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the president’s orders.”

“We kept the leadership of the State Department and the (White House National Security Council) informed of our activities. That included communications with Secretary of State (Mike) Pompeo, his counselor Ulrich Brechbuehl and executive secretary Lisa Kenna with the State Department; and communications with Ambassador John Bolton, Dr Fiona Hill, Mr Timothy Morrison and their staff at the NSC. They knew what we were doing and why.”

“I was first informed that the White House was withholding security aid to Ukraine during conversations with Ambassador Taylor on July 18, 2019. However, as I testified before, I was never able to obtain a clear answer regarding the specific reason for the hold.” 


    “Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelenskiy. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/(Democratic National Committee) server and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the president.”


    On his July 26 cell phone call with Trump: “I have no recollection of discussing Vice President Biden or his son on that call or after that call ended.”

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky