Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union who played a crucial role in President Trump and his lawyer’s Ukraine pressure campaign, told lawmakers on Thursday that he only sent the infamous “no quid pro quo” text because the President repeatedly told him there wasn’t, Politico reported.
During his closed-door testimony before the House committees probing impeachment on Thursday, Sondland discussed the circumstances surrounding the text. It was already known that Sondland spoke to Trump on the phone just before he sent the text message to another U.S. diplomat who expressed concern about their dealings with Ukraine. But the admission that Trump tacitly pushed him into sending it by repeatedly assuring him there was no quid pro quo is new.
“And I recall the President was in a bad mood,” Sondland reportedly said.
Trump’s main mitigation in response to the release of the damning text messages has been to point to Sondland’s text message to Bill Taylor, the charge d’affaires for Ukraine, denying there was any quid pro quo arrangement involving the arrangement of a meeting between Trump and the Ukrainian president.
Sondland also directly tied Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to the pressure campaign, according to Politico. During his testimony, Sondland said it was Giuliani who initially drew a direct line between scheduling an official visit with Volodymyr Zelensky and demands for a probe into Trump’s political rivals.
“Mr. Giuliani emphasized that the president wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing Ukraine to look into anti-corruption issues,” Sondland reportedly said. “Mr. Giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election (including the DNC server) and Burisma as two anti-corruption investigatory topics of importance for the president.”