The White House attempted to get access to EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s explosive opening statement days before his public hearing, but was denied access by Sondland’s lawyers, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
White House lawyers were particularly interested in what Sondland might say about Trump’s actions surrounding the claims of quid pro quo, but Sondland’s lawyer Robert Luskin refused in order to keep a “professional distance” from the White House, in the Post’s words. According to people familiar with the matter who spoke to the Post, the efforts to obtain the testimony pre-hearing were amiable.
An administration official told the Post that Trump and his advisers believe that Sondland would be a “wild card.” In his opening statement at the hearing on Wednesday, Sondland provided damning new evidence that fingers Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani as the masterminds behind the pressure campaign in the starkest terms yet. Sondland also confirmed testimony given by David Holmes over the weekend that Sondland had a phone call with a boisterous Trump about “investigations” while he was in Kyiv in July.
Additionally, Sondland testified that he assumed the freeze on aid to Ukraine was tied to the push for investigations and told lawmakers that “everyone was in the loop” about the push for a commitment to investigations.