(CNSNews.com) – “At all times, I was acting in good faith,” Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland told Congress in his opening statement at Wednesday’s hearing of the House intelligence committee:
“As a presidential appointee, I followed the directions of the president. We worked with Mr. Giuliani because the President directed us to do so. We had no desire to set any conditions on the Ukrainians.”
But Giuliani did set conditions, Sondland said in his statement.
On the question, was there a quid pro quo? Sondland answered, “yes.”
"I know that members of this Committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a 'quid pro quo?'" said Sondland in his statement. “As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
Sondland said "Giuliani conveyed to [Energy] Secretary [Rick] Perry, Ambassador [Kurt] Volker, and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election.
“Mr. Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians," Sondland said. "Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these prerequisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements.”
"[A]s I testified previously," Sondland said, "Mr. Giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigation of the 2016 elections/DNC server and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the President"
Sondland said his personal view, which he “shared repeatedly with others,” was that the White House meeting and military assistance should have proceeded without preconditions.
“Our only interest was to advance longstanding U.S. policy and to support Ukraine’s fragile democracy.”
Sondland said he learned “in July and August” that the White House had suspended security aid to Ukraine:
“I was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid,” he said. “I tried diligently to ask why the aid was suspended, but I never received a clear answer. In the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 election and Burisma, as Mr. Giuliani had demanded.
“I shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid with Senator Ron Johnson. And I also shared my concerns with the Ukrainians,” Sondland said.
Sondland also described President Trump’s skepticism toward Ukraine: “He expressed concerns that the Ukrainian government was not serious about reform. He even mentioned that Ukraine tried to take him down in the last election.”
Sondland confirmed he made a call to President Trump from a Kiev restaurant on July 26.
“I remember I was at a restaurant in Kiev, and I have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations.”
Sondland said he knew that investigations were “important to President Trump.”
However, Sondland said he has no recollection of discussing the Bidens on that phone call. He did not dispute other witness accounts of the call, which Trump said he does not remember.
“I know nothing about that,” Trump told a news conference on Nov. 13.