Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, will criticize President Trump for the Ukrainian pressure campaign — which Sondland helped orchestrate — and will express his disappointment in being forced to work through unofficial channels on Ukraine-related matters during his Thursday testimony, according to his prepared testimony, which was first obtained by the Wall Street Journal.
“Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and I were disappointed by our May 23, 2019 White House debriefing. We strongly believed that a call and White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky was important and that these should be scheduled promptly and without any pre-conditions,” he wrote in his prepared testimony, which he said he did not share with the White House or State Department ahead of time.
“We were also disappointed by the President’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani. Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the President’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine,” he wrote.
Sondland will paint the work he did for and with Giuliani as a choice between the lesser of two evils.
“However, based on the President’s direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening U.S.-Ukrainian ties and furthering long-held U.S. foreign policy goals in the region; or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President’s concerns,” he wrote.
Sondland plans to argue that his sole mission was to “support my colleagues in the State Department” and will defend former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, denying that he was ever “part of any campaign to disparage or dislodge her, and I regretted her departure.” Sondland will also deny that he had any conversations with State Department or White House officials about former Vice President Joe Biden.
According to NBC News, lawmakers plan to grill Sondland about a reported private conversation he had with Ukrainian officials in a room in the basement of the White House when he reportedly was overheard discussing the Ukrainian gas company that Biden’s son Hunter Biden served on in 2014. Hunter Biden’s role on that board of directors is essentially what sparked Giuliani’s campaign to drum up unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against Joe Biden. Sondland, Giuliani and several other U.S. diplomats helped push Trump’s pressure campaign in Ukraine– to get the country to look into fake allegations against the Bidens in exchange for military aid.
Read his prepared testimony below: