Washington, 20 November 2019 (dpa/MIA) – US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland said his activities in Ukraine were under “orders” from Donald Trump through his private lawyer, underlining allegations that the president pressured Kiev to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden.
Speaking at an impeachment hearing on Wednesday, Sondland also confirmed his belief that there was a “quid pro quo,” in which Ukraine was offered a White House meeting in exchange for announcing a corruption probe, one that likely would have focused on Biden.
Sondland told the House committee carrying out the impeachment inquiry that he and others “played the hand we were dealt” while denying he was engaged in “rogue diplomacy.” This included having to work through Rudy Giuliani, the president’s private lawyer.
“We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the president’s orders,” Sondland said.
“I believed then, as I do now, that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for Ukraine matters.”