Trump Insists He Told Sondland He Wanted ‘Nothing’ From Ukraine

President Donald Trump holds his notes on Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s testimony while speaking to the media before departing from the White House on November 20, 2019. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Amid EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s blockbuster impeachment hearing on Wednesday, President Donald Trump took pains to emphasize he had not told Sondland outright during a particular meeting in September to facilitate a pressure campaign against Ukraine.

In response to Sondland’s testimony that the Ukraine scheme was carried out on Trump’s orders, the President used notes to recount a conversation he had had with Sondland in September about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

According to Trump, Sondland had come “screaming” to him, asking what he wanted from Ukraine.

“‘I want nothing. That’s what I want from Ukraine,'” Trump said, quoting his response to Sondland. “That’s what I said. ‘I want nothing.’ I said it twice.”

Trump said he didn’t know Sondland very well at the time and that he hadn’t spoken to the ambassador much.

“This is not a man I know well,” Trump said of his feelings toward Sondland at the time. “Seems like a nice guy though, but I don’t know him well.”

Trump reiterated that he had told Sondland “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo.”

“‘Tell Zelensky, President Zelensky, to do the right thing,'” Trump said he told Sondland.

The White House’s official statement on Sondland’s testimony emphasized Trump’s comments and accused Democrats of “chasing ghosts.”

“Ambassador Sondland’s testimony made clear that in one of the few brief phone calls he had with President Trump, the President clearly stated that he ‘wanted nothing’ from Ukraine and repeated ‘no quid pro quo over and over again,’” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said. “In fact, no quid pro quo ever occurred.”

In Sondland’s bombshell testimony on his role in the efforts to force Ukraine into announcing an investigation into Biden, the ambassador said he “followed the directions of the President.”

According to Sondland, Trump had done so by directing him to work with Rudy Giuliani, who was heading the Ukraine scheme.

Sondland also confirmed that he had had a phone call with Trump in July in which the President had asked him about “investigations” with Ukraine, another statement that tied Trump directly to the scheme.

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