A top official giving greatly anticipated impeachment testimony against the Trump Administration spoke with the House Intelligence Committee for a large chunk of the day Wednesday.
European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland gave what is perhaps the most direct and damaging testimony so far, and members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation are weighing in.
Sondland testified he believed the Trump Administration was trying to execute a quid pro quo with Ukraine. He said officials all the way to the top knew it, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The deal, he claimed, was for millions in badly needed military aid and a presidential visit in exchange for an investigation of Ukrainian corruption tied to the Democratic party and former Vice President Joe Biden, a chief rival in next year’s political election.
Sondland explained the idea of Ukraine conducting an investigation of Democrats for $400 million in military aid and a visit with President Donald Trump was known to the president and spearheaded by his personal attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President, we knew these investigations were important to the president,” Sondland said.
Sondland went on to name multiple people, including Pence and Pompeo, who he said spoke or corresponded with, who knew about the proposed deal with Ukraine.
“Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret,” Sondland said.
This got a rapid response from members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation. See some of their comments below.
“The theme of your testimony today is that everybody knew, and signed off. Which is a little different than what we’ve heard,” said Congressman Jim Himes (D), who was at the hearing.
“This illegality is now linked directly to the president. And now the burden is on the president to come forward, and show why he shouldn’t be held accountable,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) said.
“Ambassador Sondland’s testimony from today’s Intelligence Committee hearing is revealing, from the State Department’s refusal to allow him to access his records, to his presumption of a quid pro quo. The biggest revelation however, was his testimony about the pervasive nature and widespread knowledge of the quid pro quo amongst the President’s cabinet. What continues to be the most troubling is this Administration’s continued stonewalling; from prevention of access to documents, to their defiance of Congressional subpoenas and their refusal to let key witnesses of the Administration testify,” Congressman John Larson (D) said in a statement.
“Today, Ambassador Gordon Sondland confirmed what the initial whistleblower and others who have testified have told us over the past two months: President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to jumpstart an investigation into a 2020 political opponent. His testimony, along with many others to date, show that President Trump intended to use the office of the Presidency for his own personal and political gain. Ambassador Sondland also put forward evidence that many members of President Trump’s inner circle—including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and the President’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani—knew exactly what President Trump wanted. Foreign interference in United States elections is illegal, and withholding Congressionally-approved military aid for that purpose is bribery,” wrote Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.
Sondland had first told investigators that there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine, and that Trump personally told him there wasn’t one. The president repeated those words outside the White House.
“I want nothing. That’s what I want from Ukraine. That’s what I want from Ukraine. That’s what I said. I want nothing. I said it twice,” Trump said.
The Connecticut Republican Party also issued a comment.
“Today was about people's opinions not facts. What is a fact? While Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden, recieved a contract and was paid more than $3 million by Burisma. A company mentioned countless times in regards to corruption in the Ukraine. Democrats are unapologetic in this clear abuse of power. Americans are smarter than the Democrats are give them credit for, this is about over turning the election results of 2016. Democrats have no interest in pushing policies that are going to help Connecticut families, just political theater to motivate their radical base,” Chairman JR. Romano wrote in a statement to NBC Connecticut.