Gordon Sondland Says Trump Assigned Ukraine Policy To Giuliani In House Testimony
Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, is expected to say in his testimony before Congress on Thursday that President Donald Trump tasked his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani with handling foreign policy regarding Ukraine.
Last week, the State Department barred Sondland from testifying as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry into Trump. Sondland — a major donor to Trump’s 2016 campaign — is set to tell House impeachment investigators that he complied with the president’s order to delegate Ukraine policy to Giuliani despite disagreeing with the decision. Sondland will reportedly tell Democratic lawmakers he wasn’t aware that Giuliani’s objective seemed to be an attempt “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”
“We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani,” Sondland will say in his testimony, per The New York Times, which received an advanced copy of his opening statement. “Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.”
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) October 17, 2019
Sondland is also expected to note that Trump refused to listen to recommendations from him and other top diplomats who advised him to meet with Ukraine’s president without any previously established terms or conditions. Trump reportedly asked Sondland and other diplomats to deal with Ukraine due to concerns he and Giuliani had about corruption in the country, which is not a member of the European Union.
Many foreign policy officials have presented a starkly different image of Sondland. These officials have said the ambassador to the E.U. willingly played a key role in the scandal surrounding Trump’s attempt to solicit help from Ukraine for personal and political gain and fully understood the president’s intentions: to probe Joe Biden, his opponent in the 2020 election and his son Hunter.
Sondland will also reportedly reveal that he, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker started coordinating with Ukrainians to launch an inquiry into Joe and Hunter Biden for corruption. The E.U. ambassador is set to claim he did not know Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian-based natural gas compnay.