Sondland to testify Trump told diplomats to work with Giuliani
The US ambassador to the European Union, who has emerged as a key figure in an ongoing impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, was expected to tell a House panel on Thursday that the president instructed officials involved with Ukraine policy to work directly with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, according to his prepared testimony.
Sondland said he did not understand “until much later” that Giuliani’s agenda may have included a push for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a key political rival of Trump, his prepared testimony said.
It added that the ambassador, a hotelier who Trump appointed to the prestigious post in 2018, had been “disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr Giuliani” and that relations between countries should be the work of the State Department and not the president’s personal lawyer.
Sondland was initially set to testify before the House last week, but was blocked failed to appear following a State Department directive at behest of the White House.
Democratic leaders then subpoenaed Sondland, and he complied.
However, his lawyer said he would not provide documents related to Ukraine requested by the House, as the State Department has the sole authority to produce those documents.
The House inquiry seeks to answer whether Trump withheld $400m in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for a commitment by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a gas company linked to 2020 Democratic hopeful Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. A whistle-blower complaint about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky, in which the president discussed that investigation, led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch the investigation.