House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Wednesday called the testimony of the ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, “among the most significant evidence to date” in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
Sondland testified Tuesday that he was pursuing President Donald Trump’s priorities when he pushed Ukraine for a public commitment to pursue the politicized investigations Trump wanted.
“The knowledge of this scheme, this conditioning of the White House meeting, of the security assistance to get the deliver the President wanted — these two political investigations that he believed would help his campaign — was a basic quid pro quo,” Schiff told reporters during a break in Sondland’s testimony.
The EU ambassador — who Trump in the past has held out as his own key witness — testified there was a quid pro quo in place for the investigations, and that the senior-most levels of the administration knew what was going on.
“It was the conditioning of official acts for something of great value to the President, these political investigations,” Schiff said. “It goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery as well as other potential high crimes or misdemeanors.”
The chairman also commented on evidence Sondland provided, in the form of text messages, on who was aware of the pressure placed on Ukraine.
“The secretary of state was aware of it,” he said. “The acting chief of staff Mulvaney was aware of it. And of course, at the very top, Donald Trump, through his personal lawyer and others was implementing it.”
Sondland also testified that his memory would have been better if the State Department had provided Congress the documents it demanded as part of the impeachment inquiry. Following the White House’s orders, Pompeo has not released the documents subpoenaed by Congress.
“This only goes to underscore just how significant the President’s obstruction of this investigation has been,” Schiff said. “The veneer has been torn away.”
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