Published: Sat, November 16, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Questions Surround EU Ambassador Sondland in Impeachment Probe

Questions Surround EU Ambassador Sondland in Impeachment Probe

Ukraine's foreign minister said U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland never linked the release of security aid to Ukraine to the country's willingness to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, according to Reuters.

She said she found it deeply concerning and asked for someone from the Intelligence Bureau to "sit down with him and explain that this was a counterintelligence risk".

'Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which [Trump lawyer Rudy] Giuliani was pressing for'. "The President's voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume", Holmes testified.

Taylor testified that a member of his staff last Friday told him that on July 26 there was a meeting between Sondland and President Zelensky's aide Andrey Yermak.

Holmes said Sondland responded Trump only cares about "big stuff".

Current and former USA officials say Sondland's use of a cellphone in a public place in Ukraine to speak with anyone in the US government back home about sensitive matters, let alone the president, would be a significant breach of communications security.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

Prystaiko's denial of pressure or a quid pro quo involving the security aid supports previous assertions by Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky that he felt no pressure from Trump to investigate the Bidens.

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Ukraine ambassador William Taylor testified Wednesday that a member of his staff overheard President Trump asking Sondland about "investigations" during a phone call on July 26.

Jayanti was previously scheduled to be deposed by impeachment investigators, but the interview was cancelled so members could attend the funeral of the late Elijah Cummings.

Current and former government officials were stunned by the revelation that Sondland used a cellphone to speak with the president at a public area in Ukraine.

Lieu says two other people heard the call as well, and said there were four people at the lunch.

"That phone call was also a mistake the way it was conducted and it had huge implications for our foreign policy", said Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Russian Federation who is now at Stanford University. "A lower-level official would probably be reprimanded for this kind of breach".

Sondland testified during closed-door hearings in October that he did not deliver a "quid pro quo" message on behalf of Trump.

Prystaiko said also that he never had any contact with Sondland.

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