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Sondland testimony raises questions about Pence's denials of Ukraine



And expands the network of potential employees involved in the scheme.

The Vice President's office quickly denied the two men who had ever discussed the subject.

But as Pence drags him to the center of the investigation, Sondland's testimony raises more questions about the vice president whose main personality trait is loyalty to Trump.

Pence's role was already under control after his planned presence on Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky's assumption of office in May was canceled by Trump. He later met with Zelensky in Warsaw after Trump canceled his planned visit to watch the hurricane in the United States.

Sundland stated in his testimony that Pence had offered his opinion before the Warsaw talks of 1

September.

"I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in the assistance was related to the issue of investigations. I remember mentioning that before the Zelensky meeting," he said.

Sondland did not describe Pence's reaction when he expressed his concerns in his opening statement. But he later said that Pence nodded in response.

"The Vice President nodded, as if you knew he heard what I said and that's almost all I can remember," he said.

A few hours later, Pence chief of staff Mark Short said the vice president "never had a conversation with Gordon Sundland about the Bidens, Burisma investigation, or conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based on potential investigations."

"This alleged discussion, recalled by Ambassador Sondland, never took place," he later said.

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Pence insisted earlier that there was no "quid pro quo" and that Trump did nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine. In repeated questioning, he declined to say whether he knew there was a link between US aid and investigations.

He denied linking the issues in his own conversations with Zelensky and told CBS last month: "I can only tell you what I know, and what I do know is that the transcript of the president's call with the Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky shows that there was no quid pro quo. "

" Challenging environment "

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Since impeachment has enveloped the West Wing, Pence has worked to keep his focus elsewhere, even when his assistants express concern. The White House on the subject.

"This is a challenging environment," an adviser said by Pence to CNN last month.

The challenge for Pence, as it always was, balances the need to look loyal to Trump, while keeping aside the countless benefits of the president.

In September, Trump recommended to reporters who wanted to see transcripts of Pence's telephone conversations with Zelensky, insisting that they would help avenge the administration.

Even when Trump released the diary of an additional phone call with the President of Ukraine, Pence's transcripts remained invisible. His office said White House attorneys were reviewing them and were ready to release them on release.

As impeachment efforts unfold, Pence's associates devise a strategy to evade it from Washington. He traveled frequently during the weeks after the House began its investigation, from the announcement of the US-Mexico-Canada administration's trade agreement to a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

In fact, he was on the road Wednesday while Sundland was delivering a damnable testimony. Five minutes after Sondland began reading his opening statement, Pence's helicopter landed at Joint Base Andrews before traveling to Wisconsin and Indiana, his home state.


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