U.S. European Union Ambassador Gordon Sundland is ready to throw Rudy Giuliani on the bus when he testifies before Congress this morning. Sondland is at the root of the Trump administration's efforts to pressure Kiev to investigate the candidate in 2020. Joe Biden, his son Hunter and the 2016 presidential election. But in his opening statement that The Daily Beast received, he said that he does not want to work with Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, and that he only does so because it is the only way to improve relations between the US and Ukraine.
"Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volcker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express instruction of the President of the United States," Sondland stated. "We didn't want to work with Mr Giuliani. To put it simply, we played the hand that gave us away. We all understand that if we refuse to work with Mr Giuliani, we will lose an important opportunity to consolidate US-Ukraine relations. So we followed the President's orders. "
Later in his testimony, he reiterated this point.
" Let me say again: We were not happy with the presidential directive to talk to Rudy, "he said. "We did not want to involve Mr. Giuliani."
He also stated that Giuliani had communicated with Ukrainian government officials "without our knowledge."
The statement adds that he did not believe at the time that Giuliani's involvement was incorrect. But he believed that exerting pressure from Giuliani on Kiev was an account of
. Giuliani's demands were purely a pro quo for arranging a visit to the White House for President Zelensky, "a statement from Sondland said. "Mr Giuliani asked Ukraine to make a public statement announcing investigations into the 201
Sondland's statements to Giuliani come at a time when the EU ambassador is increasingly in control of his communications with President Trump on investigations in Ukraine. He is likely to face intense interrogations by impeachment investigators on Wednesday about those with announcements, as well as his involvement in the controversial White House meeting with Ukrainian officials on July 10.
Several other witnesses in the House impeachment investigation said Sondland had made explicit statements to Ukrainian officials who presented the need for Ukraine to agreed to the investigations in return for a visit to the White House for President Vladimir Zelensky.The Daily Beast earlier reported that Sondland had an emotional outburst at the Ward Room meeting as he demanded investigations from Ukrainian officials.
In his opening statement, Sondland says he remembers discussing investigations at a formal meeting between former National Security Advisor John Bolton and Ukrainian officials, but does not mention the subsequent meeting in Ward's room. He also says he does not remember what a cry he made during his meetings with the Ukrainians that day.
Sondland's statement also said that he "shared concerns about the potential quid pro quo for security assistance" with Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican who had visibility into the administration's thinking about Ukraine. He also said that he kept senior State Department officials "aware" of what he was doing. Leadership there supported his work, he said, and knew he and others were striving for a "commitment to investigations."
"Our efforts have been reported and approved," he said. "I do not once remember having an objection."
As part of these efforts, Sundland believes that Ukrainians must announce the investigations Trump wants in order to receive military assistance.
"By the end of August, it was my belief that if Ukraine did something to demonstrate a serious intention to fight corruption, in particular at the Burisma server in 2016, then the retention of military assistance would be lifted. ", he said.
"server 2016" refers to a debunked conspiracy regarding the hack of the Democratic National Committee, which claims that the Russians did not actually enter the servers of the Democratic Party. When Trump hinted at the theory of conspiracy in his July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, the listening Ukrainian staff were disturbed and had no idea what he was talking about.
And Sundland said that White House officials knew of "Ukraine's efforts" as early as May 23, 2019.
He also did not dispute the testimony of Ambassador Bill Taylor, a top US diplomat in Kiev, saying that when Sundland had a strong phone conversation with Trump, US diplomats heard the president mention "investigations." Sundland added that he did not remember the details of this particular call.
"In fact, I would be more surprised if President Trump had not mentioned the investigations, especially in light of what we heard from Mr. Giuliani about the President's concerns," he said.
Sondland's statement also discusses the conversation he held on 1 September in Warsaw with Zelensky's top aide. In his conversation, Sundland told Assistant Andrew Yermak that Kiev should release a statement of inquiry to Bidens and the server if it wants the military assistance the United States has already promised.
"I'm really sorry the Ukrainians were placed in this difficulty, but I'm not sorry that I did what I could to try to break the logo and solve the problem," he said.
Sondland's statement also said that the process of preparing for his testimony was "less than fair". He noted that the State Department had not given him access to his own documents to prepare for his testimony and that he could not work with his staff at the US Embassy in Brussels to prepare. He added that he had repeatedly asked the State Department and the White House for his materials, but they refused to allow him to see them.
"Having access to State Department materials would be very helpful to me in trying to reconstruct who I talked to and met, when and what was said," he said.