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President Trump on Wednesday said that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee should exonerate him of any claims of wrongdoing in the ongoing impeachment inquiry into him.
Speaking to reporters before departing on a scheduled trip to Texas, Trump claimed that Sondland’s testimony means “it’s all over” for the proceedings and that the House inquiry into Trump should come to a halt.
“I just noticed one thing and that would mean it’s all over,” Trump said on the White House lawn before reading from handwritten notes taken during Sondland’s testimony.
Sondland testified about a conversation with Trump where he asked the president what he wanted from Ukraine.
“And it was a very short, abrupt conversation,” the ambassador said. “He was not in a good mood. And he just said, ‘I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing.’ Something to that effect.”
While Trump argued that Sondland’s statement proves there was no quid pro quo between his administration and Ukraine — the matter at the heart of the impeachment probe — Sondland gave a more nuanced account.
He confirmed he never heard directly from Trump on a quid pro quo linking military aid for Ukraine to politically advantageous investigations.
But Sondland said “we all understood” that a meeting at the White House for Ukraine’s president and a phone call with Trump would happen only if President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to an investigation into the 2016 U.S. election and the Bidens. And he said he came to presume aid was linked to investigations too.
He said he sent an email on July 19, just days before the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, where he laid out the issue in detail to members of the State and Energy departments and White House staff.
Sondland added: “It was no secret.”
Sondland testified later that he worked with Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Ukraine at Trump’s “express direction” and pushed a “quid pro quo” with Kiev because it was what Trump wanted.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called Sondland’s testimony “a very important moment in the history of this investigation” and said it showed “for the first time that knowledge of this scheme was pervasive.’’
Fox News’ Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.