Gordon Sondland, President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, reversed himself in new testimony to House impeachment investigators, saying he does believe military aid for Ukraine was contingent upon the launch of politically motivated probes.
In his revised statement, Sondland said he told a top Ukrainian official on Sept. 1 that hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the beleaguered U.S. ally would “likely” be held up unless the government announced investigations of Trump’s political rivals.
The acknowledgment of a potential quid pro quo is an explosive shift that threatens to upend claims by Trump allies that military aid was not used as a bludgeon to advance Trump’s domestic political interests.
Sondland revealed the exchange in supplemental testimony he submitted to House impeachment investigators on Monday, saying he had failed to recall the episode when he testified in person last month.
During a meeting in Warsaw, Sondland said, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky raised his concerns directly to Vice President Mike Pence about the suspension of military aid to the besieged eastern European country. Sondland added that he later told Andriy Yermak, a top Ukrainian national security adviser, that the aid would be contingent on Trump’s desired investigations.
“After that large meeting, I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Sondland wrote in his addendum, which was released on Tuesday alongside a nearly 400-page transcript of his previous testimony.
Sondland, who had a direct line to Trump, had previously indicated he was not aware of any effort to connect military aid to Trump’s demand for politically motivated investigations.
Trump’s allies initially believed Sondland would provide exculpatory evidence to boost the president’s case, but subsequent witnesses had contradicted many of Sondland’s claims.