Impeachment Hearing Live(ish) Transcripts

Transcript: Impeachment Hearing, Day 4 (Morning): Gordon Sondland

EVENT: Washington, DC
DATE: November 20, 2019 @ 09:00 am ET
Text-Only View
Adam B. Schiff
The Committee will come to order. Good morning, everyone. This is the fifth in a series of public hearings the Committee will be holding as part of the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry. Without objection, the chair is authorized to declare a recess at any time. There is a quorum present. We will proceed today in the same fashion as our other hearings.
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I'll make an opening statement, and then Ranking Member Nunes will have the opportunity to make a statement. And we will turn to our witness for an opening statement and then to questions. For audience members, we welcome you and respect your interest in being here. In turn, we ask for your respect as we proceed with today's hearing.
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It is the intention of the Committee to proceed without disruptions. As chairman, I'll make all necessary and appropriate steps to maintain order and to ensure the committee is run in accordance with House rules and House Resolution 660. With that, I now recognize myself to give an opening statement in the impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States.
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This morning we will hear from Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union. We are here today as part of the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry because President Donald Trump sought to condition military aid to Ukraine in an Oval Office meeting with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in exchange for politically-motivated investigations that Trump believed would help his reelection campaign.
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The first investigation was of a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election. The second investigation that Trump demanded into -- was into a political rival that he apparently feared most, Joe Biden. Trump sought to weaken Biden and to refute the fact that his own election campaign in 2016 had been helped by Russian hacking and dumping operation and Russian social media campaign directed by Vladimir Putin to help Trump.
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Trump's scheme undermined military and diplomatic support for a key ally and undercut U.S. anticorruption efforts in Ukraine. Trump put his personal and political interests above those of the United States. As Ambassador Sondland would later tell career Foreign Service Officer David Holmes immediately after speaking to the president, Trump did not give a expletive about Ukraine.
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He cares about big stuff that benefits him like the Biden investigations that Rudy Giuliani was pushing. Ambassador Sondland was a skilled dealmaker, but in trying to satisfy a directive from the president found himself increasingly embroiled in an effort to press the new Ukrainian president that deviated sharply from the norm in both terms of policy and process.
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In February, Ambassador Sondland traveled to Ukraine on his first official trip to that country. While in Kiev, he met with then U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and found her to be an excellent diplomat with a deep command of Ukrainian internal dynamics. On April 21, Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine and spoke to President Trump who congratulated him and said he would look into attending Zelensky's inauguration, but pledged to send someone at a very, very high level.
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Between the time of that call and the inaugural on May 20, Trump's attitude towards -- attitude towards Ukraine hardened. On May 13 the president ordered Vice President Mike Pence not to attend Zelensky's inauguration, opting instead to dispatch the self-dubbed three amigos, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Ambassador Sondland and Ambassador Kurt Volker, the special representative for Ukraine negotiations.
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After returning from the inauguration, members of the U.S. delegation briefed Trump on their encouraging first interactions with the new Ukrainian administration. They urged the president to meet with Zelensky, but the president's reaction was decidedly hostile. The president's order was clear, however, talk with Rudy.
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During this meeting, Ambassador Sondland first became aware of what Giuliani and the president were really interested in. This whole thing was sort of a continuum, he testified at his deposition, starting at May -- at the May 23 meeting, ending up at the end of the line when the transcript of the call came out.
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It was a continuum, he would explain, that became more insidious over time. The three amigos were disappointed with Trump's directives to engage Giuliani but vowed to press ahead. Ambassador Sondland testified, we could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which the group deemed crucial for U.S. Ukrainian relations, or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the president's concerns.
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We chose the latter path. In the coming weeks, Ambassador Sondland got more clearly involved in Ukraine policy making, starting with the June 4 U.S. mission to the EU independence day in Brussels one month early. Secretary Perry, Ulrich Brechbuhl and the State Department counsel -- State Department counsel and Sondland met with President Zelensky whom Solomon had invited personally on the margins of the event.
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On June 10, 2019, Secretary Perry organized a conference call with Sondland, then national security advisor John Bolton, Volker and others. They reviewed Ukraine's strategy with Bolton and decided that Perry, Sondland and Volker would assist Ambassador Bill Taylor, the new acting ambassador in Kiev, on Ukraine and discuss Trump's desire for Rudy Giuliani to be somehow involved.
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At the end of the call, according to Sondland, we all felt very comfortable with the strategy moving forward. Two weeks later on June 27 Ambassador Sondland called Taylor to say that, quote, Zelensky needed to make clear to President Trump that he was not standing in the way of investigations. On July 10, Ambassador Sondland and other U.S. officials met at the White House with a group of U.S. and Ukrainian officials.
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Participants in the meeting have told us that Ambassador Sondland invoked acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and said that the White House meetings sought by the Ukrainian president with Trump would happen only if Ukraine undertook certain investigations. National Security Advisor Bolton abruptly ended the meeting upon hearing this.
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Undeterred, Sondland brought the Ukrainian delegation downstairs to another part of the White House and was more explicit. According to witnesses, Ukraine needed to investigate the Biden's or Burisma and the 2016 election interference if they wanted to get a meeting at all. Following this meeting in July, Bolton said that he would not be part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this.
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Sondland continued to press for a meeting, but he and others were willing to settle for a phone call as an intermediate step. On July 21, Taylor texted Sondland that, quote, President Zelensky is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument of Washington domestic reelection politics.
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Sondland -- responded, absolutely, but we need to get the conversation started and the relationship built irrespective of the pretext so that Zelensky and Trump could meet and all of this will be fixed. On July 25, the day of the Trump-Zelensky call, Volker had lunch in Kiev with a senior aide to Ukrainian President Zelensky and later texted the aide to say that he had heard from the White House, assuming President Zelensky convinces Trump he will investigate, get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington.
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Good luck. Ambassador Sondland spoke to President Trump a few minutes before the call was placed but was not on the call. During that now infamous phone call with Zelensky, Trump responded to the Ukrainian expression of appreciation for U.S. defense support and requests to buy more Javelin antitank missiles by saying, I would like you to do us a favor, though.
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Trump asked Zelensky to investigate the discredited 2016 conspiracy theory, and even more ominously, look into the Bidens. Neither had been part of the official preparatory material for the call, but they were in Donald Trump's personal interest and the interest of his reelection campaign. And the Ukrainian president knew about both in advance, in part because of Ambassador Volker and Ambassador Sondland's efforts to make him aware of what the president was demanding.
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Around this time, Ambassador Sondland became aware of the suspension of security assistance to Ukraine, which had been announced on a secure interagency video conference on July 18, telling us that it was extremely odd that nobody involved in making and implementing policy towards Ukraine knew why the aid had been put on hold.
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During August, Sondland participated in conference calls and text messages with Volker and Giuliani and said that the gist of every call was what was going to go in the press statement. In an August 9 text message with Volker, Sondland stated, I think POTUS really wants the deliverable, which was, according to Sondland, a deliverable public statement that President Trump wanted to see or hear before a White House meeting could happen.
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On September 1, Ambassador Sondland participated in Vice President Pence's bilateral meeting with Zelensky in Warsaw, during which Zelensky raised the suspended security assistance. Following that meeting, Sondland approached the senior Ukrainian official to tell him that he believed what could help them move the aid was if the Ukrainian prosecutor general would go to the mic and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation.
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Sondland told Taylor that he had made a mistake by telling the Ukrainians that an Oval Office meeting was dependent on a public announcement of investigations. In fact, everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. But even the announcement by the prosecutor general would not satisfy the president.
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On September 7, Sondland spoke to the president and told Tim Morrison and Bill Taylor about the call shortly thereafter. The president said that although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate. Moreover, an announcement by the prosecutor general would not be enough.
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President Zelensky must personally -- must announce personally that he would open the investigations. Sondland told Taylor that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check.
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The check referred to here was the U.S. military assistance to Ukraine, and Ukraine had to pay up with investigations.
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Throughout early September Volker and Sondland sought to close the deal on an agreement that Zelensky would announce investigations. After Taylor texted Sondland on September 9, 2019, that I think it is crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. 16 days later the transcript of the July 25, call was made public in the American people learn the truth of how our President tried to take advantage of a vulnerable ally.
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Now it is up to Congress as the people's representatives to determine what response is appropriate. If the President abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections, if he sought to condition, coerce, extort or prime in ally into conducting investigations to aid his reelection campaign and did so by withholding official acts, a White House meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars of needed military aid it will be up to us to decide whether those acts are compatible with the office of the presidency.
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Finally, I want to say a word about the President and Secretary Pompeo's obstruction of this investigation. We have not received a single document from the State Department and as Ambassador Sondland's opening statement today will make clear those documents bear directly on this investigation and this impeachment inquiry.
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I think we know now based on a sample of the documents attached to Ambassador Sondland statement that the knowledge of this scheme was far and wide and included among other Secretary of state Pompeo as well as the vice president. We can see why Secretary Pompeo and President Trump have made such a concerted and across the board effort to obstruct this investigation and this impeachment inquiry and I will just say this, they do so at their own peril.
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I remind the President that article 3 of the impeachment articles drafted against President Nixon was his refusal to obey the subpoenas of Congress and with that I recognize Ranking Member Nunes for any remarks that he would wish to make.
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Devin Nunes
I thank the gentleman. As we learned last night -- story time last night we get story time first thing this morning. Ambassador Sondland, welcome. Glad you are here -- I am really not glad you are here but welcome to the fifth day of the circus. As I have noticed -- note -- noted before the Democrats on this committee spent three years accusing President Trump of being a Russian agent.
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In March 2018 after a year-long investigation intelligence committee Republicans issued a 240 page report describing in detail how the Russians meddled in the 2016 elections and making specific recommendations to improve our election security. Announcing the report as a whitewash and accusing Republicans of subverting the investigation the Democrats issued their own report focusing on their now debunked conspiracy theory that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to hack the elections.
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Notably the Democrats about at the time to present day further quote comprehensive report unquote after they finish their investigation into Trump's treasonous collusion with Russia. For some completely inexplicable reason after the implosion of the Russia hoax the Democrats failed to issue that comprehensive report.
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We are still waiting. This episode shows how the Democrats have exploited the intelligence committee for political purposes for three years culminating in these impeachment hearings and their mania to attack the President. No conspiracy theory is too outlandish for the Democrats. Time and time again they floated the possibility of some far-fetched malfeasance by Trump, declared the dire need to investigate it and suddenly drop the issue and moved on to their next asinine theory.
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A sampling of their accusations and insinuations includes these: Trump is a long time Russian agent as described in the Steele dossier. The Russians gave Trump advanced access to emails stolen by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign. The Trump campaign based some of his activities on these stolen documents.
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Trump received of various materials from the Russians through a Trump campaign aide. Trump laundered Russian money through real estate deals. Trump was blackmailed by Russia through his financial exposure with Deutsche Bank. Trump had a diabolical pon -- plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump changed the Republican National Committee platform to hurt Ukraine and benefit Russia.
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The Russians laundered money through the NRA for the Trump campaign. Trump's son-in-law lied about his Russian contacts while obtaining his security clearance. That's a long list of charges, all false and I can go on and on and on but I will spare you for these moments. Clearly these ludicrous accusations don't reflect committee members who are honestly searching for the truth.
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They are the actions of partisan extremists who hijacked the intelligence committee, transformed it into the impeachment committee; abandoned its core oversight functions and turned it into a beachhead for ousting and elected President from office. You have to keep that history in mind as you consider the Democrats latest catalog of suppose it Trump outrages.
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Granted a friendly call with the Ukrainian President wouldn't seem to rise to the same level as being a Russian agent but the Democrats were running out of time. If they waited any longer there impeachment circus would intervene with their own candidates 2020 campaigns. So you have to give them points for creativity in selling this absurdity as an impeachable offense.
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All of this explains why the Democrats have gathered zero Republican support in the house of representatives for their impeachment crusade. In fact, the vote we held was a bi -- bipartisan vote against this impeachment inquiry. Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Schiff and Chairman Nadler, the key figures behind this impeachment crusade, all proclaim that impeachment is so damaging to the contrary that it can only proceed with bipartisan support.
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Are those declarations suddenly no longer true? Did impeachment become less divisive? Of course not. They know exactly what kind of damage they are inflicting on this nation but they have passed the point of no return. After three years of preparation work much of it spearheaded by the Democrats on this committee using all of the tools of Congress to accuse, investigate, and died and smear the President they stoked a frenzy amongst their most fanatical supporters that they can no longer control.
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Ambassador Sondland you are here today to be smeared but you will make it through it and I appreciate your service to this country and I am sorry that you have had to go through this. In closing, the Democrats have zeroed in on anonymous whistleblower complaint that was cooked up in cooperation with the Democrats on this very committee.
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They lied to the American people about that cooperation and refused to let us question the whistleblower to discover the truth. Meanwhile the Democrats lash out against anyone who questions or cast doubt on this spectacle. When Ukrainian President Zelensky denies anything improper happened on the phone call the Democrats say that he's a liar.
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When journalist report on the Ukraine election meddling and Hunter Biden's position on the board of corrupt Ukrainian companies the Democrats label them conspiracy theorist. When the Democrats can't get any traction for their allegations of quid pro quo they move the goalpost and accuse the President of extortion, then bribery and that last resort obstruction of justice.
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The American people sent us to Washington to solve problems not to wage scorched earth political warfare against the other party. This impeachment is not helping the American people, it is not a legitimate use of taxpayer dollars and it is definitely not improving our national security. Finally the Democrats fake outrage that President Trump used his own channel to communicate with Ukraine.
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I will remind my friends on the other side of the aisle that our first President George Washington directed his own diplomatic channels to secure a treaty with Great Britain. If my Democratic colleagues were around in 1794 they would probably want to impeach him too. Mr. Chairman this morning we have transmitted to you a letter exercising our rights under House Resolution 660 to subpoena documents and witnesses.
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We take this step because you have failed to ensure fairness and objectivity in this inquiry. As such we need to subpoena Hunter Biden and the whistleblower for closed-door depositions as well as relevant documents from the DNC, Hunter Biden's firm Rosemont Seneca and the whistleblower. In the interest of some basic level of fairness we expect you to concur with the subpoenas and I will submit that letter for the record and yield back the balance of my time.
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Adam B. Schiff
I thank the gentleman. We are joined this afternoon by Ambassador Gordon Sondland. I'm sorry, this morning. It was a long day yesterday. Gordon Sondland is the U.S. Representative to the European Union with the rank of Ambassador. Before joining the State Department, Ambassador Sondland was the founder and CEO of Providence Hotels, a national owner and operator of full Service Hotels.
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Also prior to his government service, Ambassador Sondland was engaged in charitable enterprises. Two final points before our witness is sworn. First, witness depositions as part of this inquiry were in unclassified -- were unclassified in nature and all open hearings will also be held at the unclassified level.
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Any information that may touch on classified information will be addressed separately. Second, Congress will not tolerate any reprisal, threat of reprisal, or attempt to retaliate against any U.S. government official for testifying before Congress, including you or any of your colleagues. If you would please rise and raise your right hand, I will begin by swearing you in. Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Let the record show the witness has answered in the affirmative.
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Thank you, and please be seated. The microphone is sensitive, so please speak directly into it. Without objection, your written statement will be made part of the record. And with that, Ambassador Sondland, please you are now recognized for your opening statement.
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Gordon Sondland
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, ranking member Nunes. I appreciate the opportunity to speak again to the members of this committee. First, let me offer my thanks to the men and women of the U.S. Department of State who have committed their professional lives to support the foreign-policy work of the United States.
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In particular, I want to thank my staff at that U.S. mission to the European Union. Your integrity, dedication, and hard work often performed without public acclaim or recognition serve as a shining example of true public service, and I am personally grateful to work beside you each and every day. It is my honor to serve as that U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
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The U.S. mission to the EU is the direct link between the United States and the European Union and its members, America's longest standing allies and one of the largest economic blocks in the world. Every day, I worked to support a strong united and peaceful Europe. Strengthening our ties with Europe serves both American and European goals as we together promote political stability and economic prosperity around the world.
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I expect that few Americans have heard my name before these events, so before I begin my substantive testimony, please let me share some of my personal background. My parents fled Europe during the Holocaust. Escaping the atrocities of that time, my parents left Germany for Uruguay and then, in 1953, immigrated to Seattle, Washington, where I was born and raised.
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Like so many immigrants, my family was eager for freedom and hungry for opportunity. They raised my sister and me to be humble, hard-working, and patriotic, and I am forever grateful for the sacrifices they made on our behalf. Public service has always been important to me. As a lifelong Republican, I've contributed to initiatives of both Republican and Democratic demonstrations.
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In 2003, I served as a member of the transition team for Oregon Democratic governor Ted Kulongoski. Governor Kulongoski also appointed me to serve on various statewide boards. In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed me as a member of the commission on White House fellows. I worked with President Bush on charitable events for his foundations of military service initiative and I also worked briefly with former Vice President Joe Biden's office in connection with the vice president's nationwide anticancer initiative at a local Northwest Hospital.
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And of course, the highest honor in my public life came when President Trump asked me to serve as the United States ambassador to the European Union. The Senate confirmed me as an ambassador on a bipartisan voice vote and I assumed the role in Brussels on July 9, 2018. Although today is my first public testimony on the Ukraine matters, this is not my first time cooperating with this committee.
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As you know, I've already provided 10 hours of deposition testimony and I did so despite directives from the White House and the State Department that I refuse to appear, as many others have done. I agreed to testify because I respect the gravity of the moment, and I believe I have an obligation to account fully for my role in these events.
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But I also must acknowledge that this process has been challenging and, in many respects, less than fair. I have not had access to all of my phone records, State Department emails, and many, many other State Department documents. And I was told I could not work with my EU staff to pull together the relevant files and information.
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Having access to that State Department materials would have been very helpful to me in trying to reconstruct with whom I spoke and met and when and what was said. As ambassador, I've had hundreds of meetings and calls with individuals, but I'm not a notetaker or a memo writer. Never have been. My job requires that I speak with heads of state, senior government officials, members of the cabinet, the president, almost each and every day.
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Talking with foreign leaders might be memorable to some people, but this is my job. I do it all the time. My lawyers and I have made multiple requests to the State Department and the White House for these materials. Yet, these materials were not provided to me and they have also refused to share these materials with this committee.
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These documents are not classified and, in fairness, and in fairness, should have been made available. In the absence of these materials, my memory admittedly has not been perfect, and I have no doubt that a more fair, open, and orderly process of allowing me to read the State Department records and other materials would have made this process far more transparent.
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I don't intend to repeat my prior opening statement or attempt to summarize 10 hours of previous deposition testimony. However, a few critical points have been obscured by noise over the last few days and weeks, and I'm worried that the bigger picture is being ignored, so let me make a few key points. First, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the United States.
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We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose a very important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine, so we followed the president's orders. Second, although we disagreed with the need to involve Mr. Giuliani, at the time, we did not believe that his role was improper.
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As I previously testified, if I had known of all of Mr. Giuliani's dealings or his associations with individuals, some of whom are now under criminal indictment, I personally would not have acquiesced to his participation. Still, given what we knew at the time, what we were asked to do, did not appear to be wrong.
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Third, let me say precisely because we did not think that we were engaging in improper behavior we made every effort to ensure that the relevant decision-makers at the National Security Council and the State Department knew the important details of our efforts. The suggestion that we were engaged in some irregular or rogue diplomacy is absolutely false.
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I have now identified certain State Department emails and messages that provide contemporaneous support for my view. These emails show that the leadership at the State Department, the National Security Council, and the White House were all informed about the Ukraine efforts from May 23rd, 2019 until the security aid was released on September 11th, 2019. I will quote from some of those messages with you shortly.
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Fourth, as I testified previously -- as I testified previously, Mr. Giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for a ranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election, DNC server, and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States, and we knew these investigations were important to the president.
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Fifth, in July and August 2019, we learned that the White House had also suspended security aid to Ukraine. I was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid. I was adamantly suppose -- adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid, as the Ukrainians needed those funds to fight against Russian aggression. I tried diligently to ask why the aid was suspended but I never received a clear answer; still haven't to this day.
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In the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 elections and Burisma, as Mr. Giuliani had demanded. I shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid with Senator Ron Johnson, and I also shared my concerns with the Ukrainians.
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Finally, at all times I was acting in good faith. I was acting in good faith. As a presidential appointee, I followed the directions of the president. We worked with Mr. Giuliani because the president directed us to do so. We had no desire to set any conditions. We had no desire to set any conditions on the Ukrainians.
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Indeed, my own personal view, which I shared repeatedly with others, was that the White House and see cutie -- security assistance should have preceded without preconditions of any kind. We were working to overcome the problems, given the facts as they existed. Our only interest and my only interest was to advance long-standing U.S. policy and to support Ukraine's fragile democracy.
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Now, let me provide additional details specifically about Ukraine and my involvement. First, my very first days as ambassador to the EU, which was starting back in July 2018, Ukraine has featured prominently in my broader portfolio. Ukraine's political and economic development are critical to the long-standing and long-lasting stability of Europe.
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Moreover, the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea remains one of the most significant security crisis for Europe and the United States. Our efforts to counterbalance an aggressive Russia depend in substantial part on a strong Ukraine. On April 21st, 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine in -- in an historic election.
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With the expressed support of Secretary Pompeo, I attended President Zelensky's inauguration on May 20th as part of the U.S. delegation, which was led by Energy Secretary Rick Perry. The U.S. delegation also included Senator Johnson, Ukraine Special Envoy Volker, and Lieutenant Colonel Alex Vindman, National Security Council.
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My attendance at President Zelensky's inauguration was not my first involvement with Ukraine. As I testified previously, just four days after assuming my post as ambassador in July 2018, I received an official delegation from the government of then Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko. The meeting took place at the U.S. mission in Brussels and was prearranged by my career EU mission staff, and I have had several meetings since then in Brussels.
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Later, in February 2019, I worked well with U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in making my first official visit to Ukraine for a U.S. Navy visit to the strategic Black Sea port of Odessa. And the reason I raise these prior Ukraine activities, the meetings in Brussels, my visit to Odessa, is to emphasize that Ukraine has been a part of my portfolio from my very first days as the U.S. ambassador.
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Any claim that I somehow muscled my way into the Ukraine relationship is simply false. During the Zelensky inauguration on May 20th, the U.S. delegation developed a very positive view of the Ukraine government. We were impressed by President Zelensky's desire to promote a stronger relationship with the United States.
[00:42:18.320 - 00:42:48.360]

We admired his commitment to reform, and we were excited about the possibility of Ukraine making the changes necessary to support a greater Western economic investment, and we were excited that Ukraine might, after years and years of lip service, finally get serious about addressing its own well-known corruption problems.
[00:42:48.360 - 00:43:18.560]

With that enthusiasm, we returned to the White House on May 23rd to brief President Trump. We advised the president of the strategic importance of Ukraine and the value of strengthening the relationship with President Zelensky. To support this reformer, we asked the White House for two things; first, a working phone call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky; and second, a working Oval Office visit.
[00:43:18.560 - 00:43:55.080]

In our view, both were vital to cementing the U.S./Ukraine relationship, demonstrating support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, and advancing broader U.S. foreign policy interests. Unfortunately, President Trump was skeptical. He expressed concerns that the Ukrainian government was not serious about reform, and he even mentioned that Ukraine tried to take him down in the last election.
[00:43:55.080 - 00:44:24.600]

In response to our persistent efforts in that meeting to change his views, President Trump directed us to "talk with Rudy." We understood that talk with Rudy meant talk with Mr. Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer. Let me say again, we weren't happy with the president's directive to talk with Rudy.
[00:44:24.600 - 00:44:50.840]

We did not want to involve Mr. Giuliani. I believe 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. Nonetheless, based on the president's direction, we were faced with a choice. We could abandon the efforts to schedule the White House phone call and a White House visit between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, which was unquestionably in our foreign policy interest, or we could do as President Trump had directed and talk with Rudy.
[00:44:50.840 - 00:45:36.160]

We chose the latter course not because we liked it but because it was the only constructive path open to us. Over the course of the next several months, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and I were in communication with Mr. Giuliani. Secretary Perry volunteered to make the initial calls with Mr. Giuliani given their prior relationship.
[00:45:36.160 - 00:46:06.320]

Ambassador Volker made several of the early calls and generally informed us of what was discussed.
[00:46:06.320 - 00:46:13.360]

I first communicated with Mr. Giuliani in early August, several months later. Mr. Giuliani emphasized that the President wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing Ukraine to look into the corruption issues. Mr. Giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election including the DNC server and Burisma as to topics of importance to the President.
[00:46:13.360 - 00:46:42.520]

We kept the leadership of these state departments and the NSC informed of our activities and that included communications with the Secretary of State Pompeo, his counselor, Ulrich Brechbuhl; his Executive Secretary Lisa Kenna and also communications with Ambassador Bolton, Dr. Phil, Mr. Morrison and their staff at the NSC. They knew what we were doing and why.
[00:46:42.520 - 00:47:10.880]

On July 10, 2019 senior Ukrainian national security officials met with Ambassador Bolton, Ambassador Volker, Dr. Hill, Secretary Perry, myself and several others in Washington DC. During that meeting we all discussed the importance of the two action items I identified earlier. One, a working phone call and two, a White House meeting between presidents Trump and Zelensky.
[00:47:10.880 - 00:47:44.760]

From my perspective the July 10 meeting was a positive step toward accomplishing our shared goals. While I am now aware of accounts of the meeting from Dr. Hill and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman their recollections of those events simply don't square with my own or with those of Ambassador Volker or Secretary Perry.
[00:47:44.760 - 00:48:10.040]

I recall mentioning the prerequisite of investigations me for is a White House call or meeting but I do not recall any yelling or screaming or abrupt terminations as others have said. Instead after the meeting Ambassador Bolton walked outside with our group and we all took some great pictures together outside on the White House lawn.
[00:48:10.040 - 00:48:32.040]

More important, those recollections of protest do not square with the documentary record of our interactions with the NSC in the days and weeks that followed. We kept the NSC apprised of our efforts including specifically our efforts to secure a public statement from the Ukrainians that would satisfy President Trump's concerns.
[00:48:32.040 - 00:48:56.440]

For example, on July 13 and this is three days after that July 10 meeting I emailed Tim Morrison, he had just taken over Dr. Hill's post as the NSC Eurasia director and I met him that day for the first time. I wrote to Mr. Morrison with these words, the call between Zelensky and POTUS, President of the United States, should have been me for 721 which is the parliamentary elections in Ukraine, sole purpose is for Zelensky to give POTUS assurances of new sheriff in town, corruption ending, unbundling moving forward and -- and I emphasize in the hampered investigations will be allowed to move forward transparently.
[00:48:56.440 - 00:49:49.120]

Goal is for POTUS to invite him to oval. Volker, Perry, Bolton and I strongly recommend. Mr. Morrison acknowledged and said thank you and specifically noted that he was tracking these issues. Again, there was no secret regarding moving forward and the discussion of investigations. Moreover I have reviewed other State Department documents, some of which are not currently in the public domain detailing Mr. Giuliani's efforts.
[00:49:49.120 - 00:50:30.240]

For example, on July 10, the very same day that Ambassador Volker, Secretary Perry and I were meeting with the Ukraine officials in Washington Ambassador Taylor received a communication that Mr. Giuliani was still talking with Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko. In WhatsApp messages with Ambassador Volker and I Ambassador Taylor wrote to us as follows, just had a meeting with Andriy and [Inaudible] referring to Ukraine foreign minister [Inaudible]. Taylor said the Ukrainians were quote very concerned about what Lutsenko told them that according to RG, meaning Rudy Giuliani the Zelensky POTUS meeting will not happen.
[00:50:30.240 - 00:51:14.520]

Volker responded good grief please tell [Inaudible] to let the official U.S. government representatives speak for the U.S. Lutsenko has his own self-interest here. Taylor confirmed that he had communicated that message to the Ukrainians and he added I briefed Ulrich this afternoon on this referring to State Department counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl.
[00:51:14.520 - 00:51:43.400]

Again everyone is in the loop. Three things are critical about this WhatsApp exchange. First, while the Ukrainians were in Washington at the White House Mr. Giuliani was communicating with the Ukrainians without our knowledge. Ambassador Taylor, Ambassador Volker and I were all surprised by this. Second, Mr. Giuliani was communicating with the reportedly corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor Lutsenko and discussing whether a Zelensky Trump meeting was going to happen again without our knowledge and third, with this alarming news ambassador Taylor briefed Ulrich Brechbuhl who is the counselor to Secretary of State Pompeo and even as late as September 24 of this year Secretary Pompeo was directing Kurt Volker to speak with Mr. Giuliani.
[00:51:43.400 - 00:52:53.480]

In a WhatsApp message Kurt Volker told me in part spoke with Rudy per guidance from S, S is the State Department's official designator for the Secretary. Spoke with Rudy per guidance from S. Look, we tried our best to fix the problem while keeping the State Department and the NSC closely apprised of the challenges we faced.
[00:52:53.480 - 00:53:18.000]

On July 25 presidents Trump and Zelensky had their official call. I was not on the call and I don't think I was invited to be on the call. In fact I first read the transcript on September 25, the day it was publicly released. All I had heard at that time was that that the call had gone well. Looking back I find it very odd, very odd that neither I nor ambassador Taylor nor Ambassador Volker ever received a detailed readout of that call with the Biden references.
[00:53:18.000 - 00:54:01.320]

Now there are people who say they had concerns about the call but no one shared any concerns about the call with me at the time which frankly would have been very helpful to know. On July 26, ambassador Taylor, Ambassador Volker and I were all in Kiev to meet with President Zelensky. The timing of that trip immediately after the call between presidents Trump and Zelensky was entirely, entirely coincidental.
[00:54:01.320 - 00:54:45.520]

The key of meetings had been scheduled well before the date that the White House finally fixed the call. During our key of meeting I do not recall President Zelensky discussing the substance of his July 25 call with President Trump nor did he discuss in a request to investigate Vice President Biden wench we all later learned was discussed on the July 25 call and this is consistent with the reported comments from ambassadors Volker and Taylor.
[00:54:45.520 - 00:55:28.840]

After the Zelensky meeting I also met with the Zelensky's senior aid Andriy Yermak. I don't recall the specifics of our conversation but I believe the issue of investigations was probably a part of that agenda or meeting. Also on July 26, shortly after our key of meetings I spoke by phone with President Trump, the White House is finally -- finally shared certain call dates and times with my attorneys confirms this.
[00:55:28.840 - 00:56:02.320]

The call lasted five minutes. I remember I was at a restaurant in Kiev and I have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations. Again, given Mr. Giuliani's demand that President Zelensky make a public statement about investigations I knew that investigations were important to President Trump.
[00:56:02.320 - 00:56:35.080]

We did not discuss any classified information.
[00:56:35.080 - 00:56:41.800]

Other witnesses have recently shared their recollection of overhearing this call. For the most part, I have no reason to doubt their accounts. It's true that the president speaks loudly at times and it's also true, I think we primarily discussed A$AP Rocky. It's true that the president likes to use colorful language.
[00:56:41.800 - 00:57:12.520]

Anyone who has met with him at any reasonable amount of time knows this. While I cannot remember the precise details, again, the White House has not allowed me to see any results of that call and the July 26 call did not strike me as significant at the time. Actually, actually, I would have been more surprised if President Trump had not mentioned investigations, particularly given what we were hearing from Mr. Giuliani about the president's concerns.
[00:57:12.520 - 00:57:49.880]

However, I have no recollection of discussing Vice President Biden or his son on that call or after the call ended. I know that members of this committee frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question. Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.
[00:57:49.880 - 00:58:21.240]

Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election. Mr. Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians and Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these prerequisites for the White House call and the right White House meeting reflected President Trump's desires and requirements.
[00:58:21.240 - 00:59:06.360]

Within by State Department emails, there is a July 19 email. This email was sent. This email was sent to Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Perry, Brian McCormick, who is Secretary Perry's Chief of Staff at the time, Ms. Kenna, who is the acting, pardon me, who is the executive secretariat for Secretary Pompeo, chief of staff Mulvaney, and Mr. Mulvaney's senior advisor, Rob Blair.
[00:59:06.360 - 00:59:37.360]

A lot of senior officials. A lot of senior officials. Here is my exact from that email. "I talked to Zelensky just now. He is prepared to receive protesters call. Will assure him that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will turn over every stone. He would greatly appreciate a call prior to Sunday so that he can put out some media about a friendly and productive call, no details, prior to Ukraine election on Sunday." Chief of Staff Mulvaney responded, "I asked the NSC to set it up for tomorrow." Everyone was in the loop.
[00:59:37.360 - 01:00:26.680]

It was no secret. Everyone was informed via email on July 19 days before the presidential call. As I committed communicated to the team, I told President Zelensky in advance that assurances to run a fully transparent investigation and turn over every stone were necessary and his call with President Trump.
[01:00:26.680 - 01:00:53.080]

On July 19 and a WhatsApp message between Ambassador Taylor, Ambassador Volker, and me, Ambassador Volker stated, "Had breakfast with Rudy this morning." That's Ambassador Volker and Rudy Giuliani. "Teeing up call with Yermak Monday." That's Senior advisor on Andriy Yermak. "Must have helped. Most important is for Zelensky to say that he will help investigation and address any specific personnel issues, if there are any." On August 10, the next day, Mr. Yermak texted me. "Once we have a date," which is a date for the White House meeting, "We will call for a press briefing announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship.
[01:00:53.080 - 01:01:46.040]

Including, among other things, Burisma and election meddling and investigations." This is from Mr. Yermak back to me. The following day, August 11, and this is critical, I sent an email to Counselor Brechbuhl and Lisa Kenna. Lisa Kenna, was frequently used as the pathway too separate. Secretary Pompeo, as sometimes he preferred to receive his emails through her.
[01:01:46.040 - 01:02:22.560]

She would print them out and put them in front of him. With the subject Ukraine, I wrote, "Mike," referring to Mike Pompeo, "Kurt and I negotiated a statement from Zelensky to be delivered for our review in a day or two. The contacts contents will hopefully make the boss happy enough," the boss being the president, "to authorize an invitation.
[01:02:22.560 - 01:02:57.880]

Zelensky plans to help have a big presser," press conference, "on the openness subject, including specifics next week." All of which referred to the 2016 and the Burisma. Ms. Kenna replied, "Gordon, I'll pass to the secretary. Thank you." Again, everyone was in the loop. Curiously, and this was very interesting to me, on August 26, shortly before his visit to Kiev, Ambassador Bolton's office requested Mr. Giuliani's contact information from me. I sent Ambassador Bolton the information directly.
[01:02:57.880 - 01:03:52.840]

A requested Mr. Giuliani's contact information on August 26. I was first informed that the White House was withholding security aid to Ukraine during conversations with Ambassador Taylor on July 18, 2019. However, as I testified before, I was never able to obtain a clear answer regarding the specific reason for the hold, whether it was bureaucratic in nature, which often happens, or reflected some other concern in the interagency process.
[01:03:52.840 - 01:04:32.840]

I never participated in any of the subsequent DoD or DOS review meetings that others have described, so I can't speak to what was discussed in those meetings. Nonetheless, before the September 1 Warsaw meeting, that Ukrainians had become aware that security funds had yet to be dispersed. In the absence of any credible explanation for the hold, I came to the conclusion that the aide, like the White House visit, was jeopardized.
[01:04:32.840 - 01:05:02.240]

In preparation for the September 1 Warsaw meeting, I asked Secretary Pompeo whether a face-to-face conversation between Trump and Zelensky would help to break the logjam, and this was when President Trump was still intending to travel to Warsaw. Specifically, on August 22, I emailed Secretary Pompeo directly copying Secretariat Kenna.
[01:05:02.240 - 01:05:35.800]

I wrote, this is my email to Secretary Pompeo, "Should we block time in Warsaw for a short pull aside for POTUS to meet Zelensky? I would ask Zelensky to look him in the eye and tell him that once Ukraine's new Justice folks are in place in mid-September, that Zelensky, he, Zelensky, should be able took move forward publicly and with confidence on those issues of importance to POTUS and the U.S.. Hopefully, that will help break the logjam." The secretary replied, "yes." I followed up the next day asking to get fit 10 to 15 minutes t on the Warsaw schedule for this.
[01:05:35.800 - 01:06:16.640]

I said would like to know when it's locked so that I can tell Zelensky and brief him. Executive Secretary Kenna replied, "I will try for sure." Moreover, given my concerns about the security aid, I have no reason to dispute that portion of Senator Johnson's recent letter in which he recalls conversations he and I had on August 30. By the end of August, my belief was that if Ukraine did something to demonstrate a serious intention to fight corruption and specifically addressing Burisma and that 2016, then they hold on military aid would be lifted.
[01:06:16.640 - 01:07:03.280]

There was a September 1st meeting with President Zelensky in Warsaw. Unfortunately, President Trump's attendance at the Warsaw meeting was canceled due to Hurricane Dorian. Vice President Pence attended instead. I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in a had become tied to the issue of investigations.
[01:07:03.280 - 01:07:35.480]

I recall mentioning that before the Zelensky meeting. During the actual meeting, President Zelensky raised the issue of security assistance directly with Vice President Pence, and the vice president said that he would speak to President Trump about it. Based on my previous communication with Secretary Pompeo, I felt comfortable sharing my concerns with Mr. Yermak.
[01:07:35.480 - 01:08:10.400]

It was a very, very brief pull aside conversation that happened within a few seconds. I told Mr. Yermak that I believed that the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine took some kind of action on the public statement that we had been discussing for many weeks. As my other State Department callings who testified, this security aid was critical to Ukraine's defense and should not have been delayed.
[01:08:10.400 - 01:08:46.720]

I expressed this view to many during this period, but my goal at the time was to do what was necessary to get the aid released, to break the logjam. I believed that the public statement we had been discussing for weeks was essential to advancing that goal. You know, I really regret that the Ukrainians were placed in that predicament, but I do not regret doing what I could to try to break the logjam and to solve the problem.
[01:08:46.720 - 01:09:15.840]

I mentioned at the outset that throughout these events we State Department leadership and others apprised of what we were doing. State Department was fully supportive of our engagement in Ukraine efforts and was aware that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing. To provide just two examples, on June 5th, the day after the U.S./EU mission hosted our Independence Day, we did a month early, Acting Assistant Secretary Phil Reeker sent an email to me, to Secretary Perry, and to others forwarding some positive media coverage of President Zelensky's attendance at our event.
[01:09:15.840 - 01:10:06.280]

Mr. Reeker wrote, and I quote, "This headline underscores the importance and timeliness of Zelensky's visit to Brussels and the critical -- and the critical, perhaps historic, role of the dinner and engagement Gordon coordinated. Thank you for your participation and dedication to this effort." Months later, on September 3rd, I sent Secretary Pompeo an email to express my appreciation for his joining a series of meetings in Brussels following the Warsaw trip.
[01:10:06.280 - 01:10:41.600]

I wrote, "Mike, thanks for schlepping to Europe. I think it was really important and the chemistry seems promising; really appreciate it." Secretary Pompeo replied the next day, on Wednesday, September 4th, "All good. You're doing great work. Keep banging away." State Department leadership expressed total support for our efforts to engage the new Ukrainian administration.
[01:10:41.600 - 01:11:19.280]

Look, I've never doubted the strategic value of strengthening our alliance with Ukraine. And at all times -- at all times, our efforts were in good faith and fully transparent to those tasked with overseeing them. Our efforts will reported and approved, and not once do I recall encountering an objection.
[01:11:19.280 - 01:11:45.240]

It remains an honor to serve the people of the United States as their United States ambassador to the European Union. I look forward to answering the committee's questions. Thank you.
[01:11:45.240 - 01:11:56.680]
Adam B. Schiff
We will now proceed to the first round of questions. As detailed in the memo provided to committee members, there'll be 45 minutes of questions conducted by the chairman or majority counsel, followed by 45 minutes for the ranking member or minority counsel. Following that, unless I specify additional equal time for extended questioning, we will proceed under the five-minute rule, and every member will have the chance to ask questions.
[01:11:56.680 - 01:12:28.280]

I recognize myself or -- or majority counsel for the first round of questions. Mr. Sondland, there's a lot of new material in your opening statement for us to get through, but I want to start with a few top line questions before passing it over to Mr. Goldman. In your deposition, you testified that you found yourself on a continuum that became more insidious over time.
[01:12:28.280 - 01:12:51.840]

Can you describe what you mean by this continuum of insidiousness?
[01:12:51.840 - 01:12:55.120]
Gordon Sondland
Well, Mr. Chairman, when we left the Oval Office, I believe on May 23rd, the request is very generic for an investigation of corruption in a very vanilla sense and dealing with some of the oligarch problems in Ukraine, which were long-standing problems. And then as time went on, more specific items got added to the menu, including the Burisma and 2016 election meddling specifically, the DNC server specifically.
[01:12:55.120 - 01:13:28.120]

And over this -- over this continuum, it became more and more difficult to secure the White House meeting, because more conditions or being placed on the White House meeting.
[01:13:28.120 - 01:13:40.440]
Adam B. Schiff
And then of course, on July 25th, although you were not privy to the call, another condition was added, that being the investigation of the Bidens.
[01:13:40.440 - 01:13:49.800]
Gordon Sondland
I was not privy to the call and I did not know the -- the condition of -- of investigating the Bidens was a condition, correct.
[01:13:49.800 - 01:13:57.360]
Adam B. Schiff
You saw that in the call record, correct?
[01:13:57.360 - 01:14:01.280]
Gordon Sondland
It was not in any record I received.
[01:14:01.280 - 01:14:02.880]
Adam B. Schiff
But when you did --
[01:14:02.880 - 01:14:03.400]
Gordon Sondland
-- Yes --
[01:14:03.400 - 01:14:03.680]
Adam B. Schiff
-- Receive --
[01:14:03.680 - 01:14:04.120]
Gordon Sondland
-- I saw that in September, correct.
[01:14:04.120 - 01:14:06.680]
Adam B. Schiff
So, under -- on this continuum, the beginning of the continuum begins on May 23rd when the president instruction to talk to Rudy?
[01:14:06.680 - 01:14:21.160]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:14:21.160 - 01:14:21.920]
Adam B. Schiff
And you understood that as a direction by the president, that you needed to satisfy the concerns that Rudy Giuliani would express to you about what the president wanted in Ukraine?
[01:14:21.920 - 01:14:38.840]
Gordon Sondland
Not to me, to the entire group, Volker, Perry, and myself, correct.
[01:14:38.840 - 01:14:46.040]
Adam B. Schiff
Now, in your opening statement, you confirm that there was a quid pro quo between the White House meeting and the investigations into Burisma and the 2016 election that Giuliani was public and promoting. Is that right?
[01:14:46.040 - 01:15:02.600]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:15:02.600 - 01:15:03.240]
Adam B. Schiff
And in fact, you say that other senior officials in the State Department and the chiefs of staff's office, including Mick Mulvaney, Secretary Pompeo, were aware of this quid pro quo that, in order to get the White House meeting, there were going to have to be these investigations the president wanted.
[01:15:03.240 - 01:15:31.120]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:15:31.120 - 01:15:31.360]
Adam B. Schiff
And those, again, our investigations into 2016 and Burisma/the Bidens.
[01:15:31.360 - 01:15:37.440]
Gordon Sondland
2016, Burisma. The Bidens did not come up.
[01:15:37.440 - 01:15:43.960]
Adam B. Schiff
But you would ultimately learn that Burisma meant the Bidens when you saw the call record, correct?
[01:15:43.960 - 01:15:52.720]
Gordon Sondland
Of course. Today I know exactly what it means. I didn't know at the time.
[01:15:52.720 - 01:16:01.360]
Adam B. Schiff
And then on July 26th, you confirm you did indeed have the conversation with President Trump from a restaurant Kiev that David Holmes testified about last week. Is that right?
[01:16:01.360 - 01:16:15.680]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:16:15.680 - 01:16:16.240]
Adam B. Schiff
And you have no doubt -- no reason to doubt Mr. Holmes' recounting of your conversation with the president?
[01:16:16.240 - 01:16:28.640]
Gordon Sondland
The only part of Mr. Holmes' recounting that I take exception with is I do not recall mentioning the Bidens. That did not enter my mind. It was Burisma and 2016 elections.
[01:16:28.640 - 01:16:48.080]
Adam B. Schiff
You have no reason to believe that Mr. Holmes would make that up if that's what he recalls you saying. You have no reason to question that, do you?
[01:16:48.080 - 01:17:00.320]
Gordon Sondland
I -- I don't recall saying Biden. I never recalled saying Biden.
[01:17:00.320 - 01:17:08.080]
Adam B. Schiff
But the rest of Mr. Holmes' recollection is consistent with your own?
[01:17:08.080 - 01:17:18.080]
Gordon Sondland
Well, I can't testify as to what Mr. Holmes might or might not have heard through the phone. I don't know how he heard the conversation.
[01:17:18.080 - 01:17:29.880]
Adam B. Schiff
Are you familiar with his testimony?
[01:17:29.880 - 01:17:32.120]
Gordon Sondland
Vaguely, yes.
[01:17:32.120 - 01:17:33.600]
Adam B. Schiff
And the only exception you take is to the mention of the name Biden?
[01:17:33.600 - 01:17:41.480]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:17:41.480 - 01:17:42.040]
Adam B. Schiff
And I think you said in your testimony this morning that not only is it correct that the president brought up with you investigations on the phone the day after the July 25th call, but that you would have been surprised had he not brought that up. Is that right?
[01:17:42.040 - 01:17:59.720]
Gordon Sondland
Right, because we had been hearing about it from Rudy, and we presumed that Rudy was getting it from the president. And so, it seemed like a logical conclusion.
[01:17:59.720 - 01:18:15.280]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Holmes also testified that you told him President Trump doesn't care about Ukraine; he only cares about big stuff that relates to him personally. I take it from your comment you don't dispute that part of the conversation.
[01:18:15.280 - 01:18:33.120]
Gordon Sondland
Well, he made that clear in the May 23 meeting, that he was not particularly fond of Ukraine, and we had a lot of heavy lifting to do to get him to engage.
[01:18:33.120 - 01:18:49.560]
Adam B. Schiff
So you don't dispute that part of Mr. Holmes' recollection?
[01:18:49.560 - 01:18:53.080]
Gordon Sondland
No.
[01:18:53.080 - 01:18:53.400]
Adam B. Schiff
In August, when you worked with Rudy Giuliani and a top Ukrainian aide to draft a public state for President Zelensky to issue that includes the announcement of investigations into Burisma, you understood that was required by President Trump before he would grant a White House meeting to President Zelensky?
[01:18:53.400 - 01:19:22.080]
Gordon Sondland
That's correct.
[01:19:22.080 - 01:19:25.920]
Adam B. Schiff
And the Ukrainians understood that as well?
[01:19:25.920 - 01:19:29.480]
Gordon Sondland
I believe they did.
[01:19:29.480 - 01:19:31.280]
Adam B. Schiff
And you informed Secretary Pompeo about that statement as well?
[01:19:31.280 - 01:19:38.080]
Gordon Sondland
I did.
[01:19:38.080 - 01:19:38.680]
Adam B. Schiff
Later in August you told Secretary Pompeo that President Zelensky would be prepared to tell President Trump that his new justice officials would be able to announce matters of interest to the president, which could break the logjam. When you say matters of interest to the president, you mean the investigations that President Trump wanted.
[01:19:38.680 - 01:20:13.480]

Is that right?
[01:20:13.480 - 01:20:15.720]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:20:15.720 - 01:20:18.200]
Adam B. Schiff
And that involved 2016 and Burisma or the Bidens?
[01:20:18.200 - 01:20:23.040]
Gordon Sondland
2016 and Burisma.
[01:20:23.040 - 01:20:26.080]
Adam B. Schiff
And you're talking here about breaking the logjam, you're talking about the logjam over the security assistance, correct?
[01:20:26.080 - 01:20:32.560]
Gordon Sondland
I was talking logjam generically because nothing was moving.
[01:20:32.560 - 01:20:36.400]
Adam B. Schiff
Bit that included the security assistance, did it not?
[01:20:36.400 - 01:20:39.520]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:20:39.520 - 01:20:40.520]
Adam B. Schiff
And based on the context of that email, this was not the first time you had discussed these investigations with Secretary Pompeo, was it?
[01:20:40.520 - 01:20:50.840]
Gordon Sondland
No.
[01:20:50.840 - 01:20:50.960]
Adam B. Schiff
He was aware of the connections that you were making between the investigations and the White House meeting and security assistance?
[01:20:50.960 - 01:21:03.760]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[01:21:03.760 - 01:21:04.080]
Adam B. Schiff
Did he ever take issue with you and say, no, that connection is not there or you're wrong?
[01:21:04.080 - 01:21:11.760]
Gordon Sondland
Not that I recall.
[01:21:11.760 - 01:21:14.800]
Adam B. Schiff
You mentioned that you also had a conversation with Vice President Pence before his meeting with President Zelensky in Warsaw and that you raised the concern you had, as well, that the security assistance was being withheld because of the president's desire to get a commitment from Zelensky to pursue these political investigations.
[01:21:14.800 - 01:21:41.120]

What did you say to the vice president?
[01:21:41.120 - 01:21:43.960]
Gordon Sondland
I was in a briefing with several people, and I just spoke up, and I said it appears that everything is stalled until this statement gets made, something -- words to that effect, and that's what I believed to be the case based on, you know, the work that the three of us had been doing, Volker, Perry and myself.
[01:21:43.960 - 01:22:07.960]

And the vice president nodded like, you know, he -- he heard what I said, and that was pretty much it, as I recall.
[01:22:07.960 - 01:22:18.160]
Adam B. Schiff
And you understood that the Ukrainians were going to raise the security assistance with the vice president at this meeting?
[01:22:18.160 - 01:22:28.600]
Gordon Sondland
I didn't know what they were going to raise, but they, in fact, did raise it, Mr. Chairman.
[01:22:28.600 - 01:22:36.040]
Adam B. Schiff
Well it was public by that point that there was a hold on the security assistance, correct?
[01:22:36.040 - 01:22:47.440]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, but I didn't know what they were going to raise. I didn't get a pre-brief from the Ukrainians.
[01:22:47.440 - 01:22:56.400]
Adam B. Schiff
Well, you knew certainly they were concerned about the hold on the security assistance, right?
[01:22:56.400 - 01:23:03.000]
Gordon Sondland
They were concerned, obviously.
[01:23:03.000 - 01:23:07.560]
Adam B. Schiff
And you wanted to help prepare the vice president for the meeting by letting him know what you thought was responsible for the hold on the security assistance?
[01:23:07.560 - 01:23:18.280]
Gordon Sondland
That's fair.
[01:23:18.280 - 01:23:18.920]
Adam B. Schiff
Do you recall anything else the president -- vice president said other than nodding his head when you made him aware of this fact?
[01:23:18.920 - 01:23:30.280]
Gordon Sondland
No, I don't have a readout of that meeting, so I can't remember anything else.
[01:23:30.280 - 01:23:37.400]
Adam B. Schiff
And it was immediately after this meeting between the vice president and Zelensky that you went to speak with Yermak, and you told him similarly that in order to release the military assistance they were going to have to publicly announce these investigations?
[01:23:37.400 - 01:23:53.400]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, much has been made of that meeting, and it really wasn't a meeting. What happened was everyone got up after the bilateral meeting between President Zelensky and Vice President Pence, and people do what they normally do. They get up, they mill around, they shake hands, and I don't know if I came over to Yermak or he came over to me, but he said, you know, what's going on here?
[01:23:53.400 - 01:24:24.320]

And I said I don't know. It might all be tied together now. You know, I have no idea. I was presuming that it was, but it was a very short conversation.
[01:24:24.320 - 01:24:32.080]
Adam B. Schiff
Well, in that short conversation, as you would later relay to Mr. Morrison and Ambassador Taylor, you informed Mr. Yermak that they would need to announce -- announce these investigations in order to get the aid, did you not?
[01:24:32.080 - 01:24:46.880]
Gordon Sondland
Well, Mr. Yermak was already working on those investigation -- or on the statement about the investigations.
[01:24:46.880 - 01:24:55.520]
Adam B. Schiff
And you confirmed for him that he needed to get it done if they were going to get the military aid?
[01:24:55.520 - 01:25:03.320]
Gordon Sondland
I likely did.
[01:25:03.320 - 01:25:05.040]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Morrison and Ambassador Taylor have also relayed the conversation you had with the president following the Warsaw meeting, in which the president relayed to you that there was no quid pro quo. But nevertheless, unless Zelensky went to the mic and announced these investigations, there would be a stalemate over the aid.
[01:25:05.040 - 01:25:34.720]

Is that correct?
[01:25:34.720 - 01:25:35.680]
Gordon Sondland
That's correct.
[01:25:35.680 - 01:25:37.120]
Adam B. Schiff
And that was an accurate reflection of your discussion with the president?
[01:25:37.120 - 01:25:43.120]
Gordon Sondland
Well, that email was not artfully written, I'm the first to admit. What I was trying to convey to Ambassador Taylor, after his frantic emails to me and to others about the security assistance, which by the way I agreed with him. I thought it was a very bad idea to hold that money. I finally called the president, I believe it was on 9 September.
[01:25:43.120 - 01:26:22.480]

I can't find the records, and they won't provide them to me. But I believe I just asked him an open-ended question, Mr. Chairman. What do you want from Ukraine? I keep hearing all these different ideas and theories and this and that. What do you want? And it was a very short, abrupt conversation. He was not in a good mood.
[01:26:22.480 - 01:26:54.480]

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. So I typed out a text to Ambassador Taylor, and my reason for telling him this was not to defend what the president was saying, not to opine on whether the president was being truthful or untruthful, but simply to relay, I've gone as far as I can go. This is the final word that I heard from the president of the United States.
[01:26:54.480 - 01:27:34.760]

If you are still concerned, you Ambassador Taylor, are still concerned, please get a hold of the secretary. Maybe he can help. [Inaudible]
[01:27:34.760 - 01:27:45.120]
Adam B. Schiff
I'm not asking about your text message. I'm asking you about your conversations with Mr. Morrison and Ambassador Taylor after you spoke with the president, either in that call or in a different call.
[01:27:45.120 - 01:27:56.120]
Gordon Sondland
I'm confused, Mr. Chairman. Which conversations with Mr. Morrison and Mr. Taylor?
[01:27:56.120 - 01:28:07.160]
Adam B. Schiff
Well, Mr. Morrison testified that you relayed a conversation you had with the president in which the president told you no quid pro quo, but President Zelensky must go to a microphone and announce these investigations and that he should want to. Similarly, you told Ambassador Taylor that while the president said no quid pro quo, unless Zelensky announced these investigations, they would be at a stalemate, presumably a stalemate over the military assistance.
[01:28:07.160 - 01:28:39.560]

Do you have any reason to question those conversations that Mr. Morrison and Ambassador Taylor took notes about?
[01:28:39.560 - 01:28:47.720]
Gordon Sondland
Well, I think it's tied to my text, Mr. Chairman, because in my text I think I said something to the effect that he wants Zelensky to do what he ran on, I believe is transparency, etc. etc., which was my clumsy way of saying he wanted -- he wanted these announcements to be made.
[01:28:47.720 - 01:29:12.480]
Adam B. Schiff
Again, Ambassador, I'm not asking you about your text message. I'm asking about what you relayed to Ambassador Taylor and Mr. Morrison about your conversation with the president. Do you have any reason to question their recollection of what you told them?
[01:29:12.480 - 01:29:29.360]
Gordon Sondland
All I can say is that I expressed what I told -- or what the president told me in that text, and if I had relayed anything other than what was in that text, I don't recall.
[01:29:29.360 - 01:29:43.480]
Adam B. Schiff
You don't recall?
[01:29:43.480 - 01:29:44.840]
Gordon Sondland
I don't recall.
[01:29:44.840 - 01:29:46.120]
Adam B. Schiff
But you have no reason to question Ambassador Taylor or Mr. Morrison of what they wrote in their notes about your conversation with them?
[01:29:46.120 - 01:29:55.000]
Gordon Sondland
Could you kindly repeat what they wrote?
[01:29:55.000 - 01:29:56.560]
Adam B. Schiff
I'll have Mr. Goldman go through that with you.
[01:29:56.560 - 01:29:59.360]
Gordon Sondland
That would be great.
[01:29:59.360 - 01:30:00.600]
Adam B. Schiff
But let me get to the very -- the top line here, Ambassador Sondland.
[01:30:00.600 - 01:30:06.240]
Gordon Sondland
Okay.
[01:30:06.240 - 01:30:06.760]
Adam B. Schiff
You've testified that the White House meeting that President Zelensky desperately wanted -- and that was very important to President Zelensky, was it not?
[01:30:06.760 - 01:30:22.240]
Gordon Sondland
Absolutely.
[01:30:22.240 - 01:30:23.560]
Adam B. Schiff
You've testified that that meeting was conditioned, was a quid pro quo, for what the president wanted, these two investigations. Isn't that right?
[01:30:23.560 - 01:30:37.120]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:30:37.120 - 01:30:37.960]
Adam B. Schiff
And that everybody knew it?
[01:30:37.960 - 01:30:42.280]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:30:42.280 - 01:30:43.160]
Adam B. Schiff
Now that White House meeting was going to be an official meeting between the two presidents, correct?
[01:30:43.160 - 01:30:49.240]
Gordon Sondland
Presumably.
[01:30:49.240 - 01:30:52.120]
Adam B. Schiff
It would be an Oval Office meeting, hopefully?
[01:30:52.120 - 01:30:54.640]
Gordon Sondland
A working meeting, yes.
[01:30:54.640 - 01:30:57.120]
Adam B. Schiff
Working meeting, so an official act, correct?
[01:30:57.120 - 01:31:05.520]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[01:31:05.520 - 01:31:06.000]
Adam B. Schiff
And in order to perform that official act, Donald Trump wanted these two investigations that would help his reelection campaign, correct?
[01:31:06.000 - 01:31:15.080]
Gordon Sondland
I can't characterize why he wanted them. All I can tell you is this is what we heard from Mr. Giuliani.
[01:31:15.080 - 01:31:23.320]
Adam B. Schiff
But he had -- he had to get those two investigations if that official act was going to take place, correct?
[01:31:23.320 - 01:31:31.800]
Gordon Sondland
He had to announce the investigations; he didn't actually have to do them, as I understood it.
[01:31:31.800 - 01:31:39.000]
Adam B. Schiff
Okay, President Zelensky had to announce the two investigations the president wanted, to make a public announcement, correct?
[01:31:39.000 - 01:31:53.880]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:31:53.880 - 01:31:54.240]
Adam B. Schiff
And those were of great value to the president; he was quite insistent upon them, and his attorney was insistent upon them?
[01:31:54.240 - 01:32:13.640]
Gordon Sondland
I don't want to characterize whether they were value, not value. Again, through Mr. Giuliani, we were led to believe that that's what he wanted.
[01:32:13.640 - 01:32:25.040]
Adam B. Schiff
Well, and you said that Mr. Giuliani was acting at the president's demand, correct?
[01:32:25.040 - 01:32:32.400]
Gordon Sondland
Right. When the president says talk to my personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani, we followed his direction.
[01:32:32.400 - 01:32:43.400]
Adam B. Schiff
And so that official act of that meeting was being conditioned on the performance of these things the president wanted as expressed both directly and through his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, correct?
[01:32:43.400 - 01:32:59.960]
Gordon Sondland
As expressed through Rudy Giuliani, correct.
[01:32:59.960 - 01:33:01.480]
Adam B. Schiff
And you've also testified that your understanding, it became your clear understanding, that the military assistance was also being withheld pending Zelensky announcing these investigations, correct?
[01:33:01.480 - 01:33:19.440]
Gordon Sondland
That was my presumption, my personal presumption based on the facts at the time. Nothing was moving.
[01:33:19.440 - 01:33:29.720]
Adam B. Schiff
And in fact, you had a discussion, a communication with the Secretary of State in which you said that logjam over aid could be lifted if the Zelensky announced these investigations, right?
[01:33:29.720 - 01:33:48.480]
Gordon Sondland
I did not -- I don't recall saying the logjam over aid. I recall saying the logjam. I don't know that --
[01:33:48.480 - 01:33:55.120]
Adam B. Schiff
-- That's what you -- that's what you meant, right, Ambassador?
[01:33:55.120 - 01:33:57.760]
Gordon Sondland
I -- I -- I meant that whatever was holding up the meeting, whatever was holding up our deal with Ukraine, I was trying to break. Again, I was presuming.
[01:33:57.760 - 01:34:12.120]
Adam B. Schiff
Well, here's what you said in your testimony a moment ago --
[01:34:12.120 - 01:34:15.600]
Gordon Sondland
-- Okay --
[01:34:15.600 - 01:34:16.040]
Adam B. Schiff
-- Page 18. But my goal at the time was to do what was necessary to get the aid released, to break the logjam. Okay, that's still your testimony, right?
[01:34:16.040 - 01:34:35.320]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah.
[01:34:35.320 - 01:34:35.320]
Adam B. Schiff
So, the military aid is also an official act, am I right?
[01:34:35.320 - 01:34:39.160]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[01:34:39.160 - 01:34:39.760]
Adam B. Schiff
This is not President Trump's personal bank account he's writing a check from. This is $400 million of U.S. taxpayer money, is it not?
[01:34:39.760 - 01:34:58.720]
Gordon Sondland
Absolutely.
[01:34:58.720 - 01:35:00.240]
Adam B. Schiff
And there was a logjam in which the president would not write that U.S. check, you believed, until Ukraine announced these two investigations the president wanted, correct?
[01:35:00.240 - 01:35:10.800]
Gordon Sondland
That was my belief.
[01:35:10.800 - 01:35:11.960]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Goldman?
[01:35:11.960 - 01:35:13.120]
Daniel Goldman
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In your opening statement, Ambassador Sondland, you -- you detailed the benefits that you have gained from obtaining some additional documents over the past few weeks. Is that right?
[01:35:13.120 - 01:35:25.120]
Gordon Sondland
In terms of refreshing my recollection, that's correct.
[01:35:25.120 - 01:35:27.960]
Daniel Goldman
Right, because reviewing these documents has helped you to remember the events that we're asking about, is that correct?
[01:35:27.960 - 01:35:33.760]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:35:33.760 - 01:35:34.000]
Daniel Goldman
Because you acknowledged, of course, that when you can place a document and a date in a context, it helps to jog your memory.
[01:35:34.000 - 01:35:43.000]
Gordon Sondland
That's correct.
[01:35:43.000 - 01:35:46.440]
Daniel Goldman
And so, you would agree that for people unlike yourself who take notes, that that is very helpful to their own recollection of events, right?
[01:35:46.440 - 01:35:56.560]
Gordon Sondland
I -- I think you asked your question backwards. Are you saying people that take notes, it's helpful to have those documents, or people that don't take notes, it's helpful to have those documents?
[01:35:56.560 - 01:36:08.840]
Daniel Goldman
No, no. You are not a note taker, right?
[01:36:08.840 - 01:36:11.960]
Gordon Sondland
I'm not a note taker, never have been.
[01:36:11.960 - 01:36:13.040]
Daniel Goldman
But you would agree that people who do take contemporaneous notes generally can -- are -- are more able to remember things than people who don't.
[01:36:13.040 - 01:36:23.760]
Gordon Sondland
Some, yes.
[01:36:23.760 - 01:36:24.760]
Daniel Goldman
And there are additional documents that you've been unable to obtain, is that right?
[01:36:24.760 - 01:36:28.400]
Gordon Sondland
That's correct.
[01:36:28.400 - 01:36:30.360]
Daniel Goldman
And I think you even said in your opening statement that the State Department prevented you and your staff from trying to gather more documents, is that correct?
[01:36:30.360 - 01:36:41.520]
Gordon Sondland
Certain documents, yes.
[01:36:41.520 - 01:36:43.360]
Daniel Goldman
Which documents?
[01:36:43.360 - 01:36:43.800]
Gordon Sondland
Documents that I didn't have immediate access to.
[01:36:43.800 - 01:36:47.800]
Daniel Goldman
And who at the State Department prevented you from doing that?
[01:36:47.800 - 01:36:51.200]
Gordon Sondland
You'll have to ask my counsel. He was dealing with them.
[01:36:51.200 - 01:36:55.000]
Daniel Goldman
But certainly, based on the additional memory that you have gained over the past few weeks from reading the testimony of others based on their notes and reviewing your own documents, you have remembered a lot more than you did when you were deposed, is that right?
[01:36:55.000 - 01:37:10.560]
Gordon Sondland
That's correct.
[01:37:10.560 - 01:37:11.200]
Daniel Goldman
And one of the things that you now remember is the discussion that you had with the -- with President Trump on July 26th in that restaurant in Kiev, right?
[01:37:11.200 - 01:37:22.880]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah. What triggered my memory was someone's reference to A$AP Rocky, which was, I believe, the primary purpose of the phone call.
[01:37:22.880 - 01:37:34.840]
Daniel Goldman
Certainly. So, you -- that's one way memory works, isn't it? And you were sitting in a restaurant with David Holmes in Kiev, right, having lunch?
[01:37:34.840 - 01:37:51.520]
Gordon Sondland
I think I took the whole team out to lunch after the meeting, yeah.
[01:37:51.520 - 01:37:58.040]
Daniel Goldman
And it was a meeting -- a one-on-one meeting you had with Andriy Yermak?
[01:37:58.040 - 01:38:02.360]
Gordon Sondland
Again, trying to reconstruct a very busy day without the benefit, but if someone said I had a meeting and I went to the meeting, then I'm not going to dispute that.
[01:38:02.360 - 01:38:15.880]
Daniel Goldman
And particularly if that person took notes at that meeting?
[01:38:15.880 - 01:38:21.720]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:38:21.720 - 01:38:22.680]
Daniel Goldman
Are sat outside the door when you didn't let them in?
[01:38:22.680 - 01:38:26.840]
Gordon Sondland
I have no control over who goes into a meeting in Ukraine. That was the Ukrainians who didn't let them in.
[01:38:26.840 - 01:38:35.520]
Daniel Goldman
And you had also met with President Zelensky, among others, that day, is that right?
[01:38:35.520 - 01:38:45.160]
Gordon Sondland
That's -- that's correct.
[01:38:45.160 - 01:38:46.000]
Daniel Goldman
And you called President Trump from your cell phone from the restaurant, is that right?
[01:38:46.000 - 01:38:55.240]
Gordon Sondland
That's right.
[01:38:55.240 - 01:38:56.520]
Daniel Goldman
And this was not a secure line, was it?
[01:38:56.520 - 01:39:01.040]
Gordon Sondland
No, it was an open line.
[01:39:01.040 - 01:39:04.120]
Daniel Goldman
Did you worry that a foreign government may be listening to your phone call with the president of the United States?
[01:39:04.120 - 01:39:11.640]
Gordon Sondland
Well, I have unclassified conversations all the time from land lines that are unsecured and cell phones. If the topic is not classified, and it's up to the president to decide what's classified and what's not classified, and we were having -- he -- he was aware that it was an open line as well.
[01:39:11.640 - 01:39:33.280]
Daniel Goldman
And you don't recall the specifics of holding your phone outside -- far away from your ear, as Mr. Holmes testified, but you have no reason to question his recollection of that, do you?
[01:39:33.280 - 01:39:45.920]
Gordon Sondland
I mean, it seems a little strange I would hold my phone here. I probably had my phone close to my ear. And he claims to have overheard part of the conversation, and I'm not going to dispute what he did or didn't hear.
[01:39:45.920 - 01:40:03.600]
Daniel Goldman
Well, he also testified that you confirmed it to President Trump that you were in Ukraine at the time and that President Zelensky "loves your ass." Do you recall saying that?
[01:40:03.600 - 01:40:15.360]
Gordon Sondland
That sounds like something I would say. That's how President Trump and I communicate, a lot of four letter words; in this case three letter.
[01:40:15.360 - 01:40:22.680]
Daniel Goldman
Holmes then said that he heard President Trump ask, "Is he," meaning Zelensky, "going to do the investigation," to which you replied, "He's going to do it." And then you added that President Zelensky will do anything that you, meaning President Trump, ask him to. Do you recall that?
[01:40:22.680 - 01:40:40.640]
Gordon Sondland
I probably said something to that effect because I remember the meeting, the president -- or President Zelensky was very -- solicitous is not a good word. He was just very willing to work with the United States and was being very amicable. And so, putting it in Trump speak by saying he loved your ass, he'll do whatever you want, meant that he would really work with us on a whole host of issues.
[01:40:40.640 - 01:41:14.120]
Daniel Goldman
He was not only willing, he was very eager, right?
[01:41:14.120 - 01:41:17.400]
Gordon Sondland
That's fair.
[01:41:17.400 - 01:41:18.160]
Daniel Goldman
Because Ukraine depends on the United States as its most significant ally, is that correct?
[01:41:18.160 - 01:41:26.600]
Gordon Sondland
One of its most, absolutely.
[01:41:26.600 - 01:41:29.440]
Daniel Goldman
So, just so we understand, you -- you were in Kiev the day after President Trump spoke to President Zelensky on the phone. And you now know from reading the call record that in that phone call he requested a favor, for President Zelensky to do investigations related to the Bidens and the 2016 election, right?
[01:41:29.440 - 01:41:58.560]
Gordon Sondland
I do now know that, yes.
[01:41:58.560 - 01:42:01.240]
Daniel Goldman
And you met with President Zelensky and his aides on the day after that phone call. And then you had a conversation with President Trump from your cell phone from a restaurant terrace, and he asked you whether President Zelensky will do the investigations. And you responded that he's going to do them, or it, and that President Zelensky will do anything you ask them to do. Is that an accurate recitation of what happened there?
[01:42:01.240 - 01:42:35.880]
Gordon Sondland
I -- I -- it could have been words to that effect. I don't remember my exact response.
[01:42:35.880 - 01:42:41.120]
Daniel Goldman
But you don't have any reason to dispute Mr. Holmes' recollection, correct?
[01:42:41.120 - 01:42:46.440]
Gordon Sondland
I won't dispute it. But again, I don't recall.
[01:42:46.440 - 01:42:49.280]
Daniel Goldman
After you hung up with the president, Mr. Holmes testified about a conversation that you and he had where he says that you told Mr. Holmes that the president does not care about Ukraine, but the president use the more colorful language including a four letter word that you just referenced to -- or just referenced.
[01:42:49.280 - 01:43:08.680]

Do you recall saying that to Mr. Holmes?
[01:43:08.680 - 01:43:11.400]
Gordon Sondland
Again, I don't recall my exact words, but clearly the president, beginning on May 23rd when we met with him in the Oval Office, was not a big fan.
[01:43:11.400 - 01:43:20.000]
Daniel Goldman
But he was a big fan of the investigations?
[01:43:20.000 - 01:43:22.560]
Gordon Sondland
Apparently so.
[01:43:22.560 - 01:43:23.240]
Daniel Goldman
And in fact, Mr. Holmes said that you -- that you said that President Trump only cares about the "big stuff" that benefits himself. Is that something that you would have said at the time?
[01:43:23.240 - 01:43:34.400]
Gordon Sondland
I don't think I would have said that. I would have -- I would have honestly said that he was not a big fan of Ukraine and he wants the investigations that we had been talking about for quite some time to move forward. That's what I would have said because that's the fact.
[01:43:34.400 - 01:43:55.440]
Daniel Goldman
Mr. Holmes also remembers that you told him, in giving an example of the big stuff, the Biden investigation that Rudy Giuliani was pushing. Do you recall that?
[01:43:55.440 - 01:44:07.040]
Gordon Sondland
I don't. I recall Burisma, not Biden.
[01:44:07.040 - 01:44:11.080]
Daniel Goldman
And -- but do you recall saying -- and at least refer -- referring to an investigation that Rudy Giuliani was pushing? Is that something that you likely would have said?
[01:44:11.080 - 01:44:27.480]
Gordon Sondland
I would have, yes.
[01:44:27.480 - 01:44:29.440]
Daniel Goldman
Now even if you don't recall specifically mentioning the Biden investigation to David Holmes we know that it was certainly on President Trump's mind because just the day before in his call with President Zelensky he mentioned specifically the Biden investigation and I want to show you that exhibit or the excerpt from the call on July 25 where President Trump says the other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stop the presses and a lot of people want to find out about that.
[01:44:29.440 - 01:45:10.880]

So whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me. President Zelensky then responds with a reference to the company that he is referring to and to witnesses yesterday said that when President Zelensky actually said the company he said Burisma.
[01:45:10.880 - 01:45:39.240]

So you would agree that regardless of whether you knew about the connection to the Biden's at the very least that you now know that that is what President Trump wanted at the time through the Burisma investigation?
[01:45:39.240 - 01:45:55.080]
Gordon Sondland
I now know what all of course.
[01:45:55.080 - 01:45:57.560]
Daniel Goldman
And at this time you were aware of the presidents desire along with Rudy Giuliani to do these investigations including the 2016 election interference investigation, is that right?
[01:45:57.560 - 01:46:15.720]
Gordon Sondland
That is correct.
[01:46:15.720 - 01:46:17.040]
Daniel Goldman
And you said President Trump had directed you to talk, you and a cup -- the others to talk to Rudy Giuliani at the Oval Office on May 23, is that right?
[01:46:17.040 - 01:46:28.880]
Gordon Sondland
If we wanted to get anything done with Ukraine it was apparent to us we needed to talk to Rudy.
[01:46:28.880 - 01:46:34.880]
Daniel Goldman
Right. You understood that Mr. Giuliani spoke for the President, correct?
[01:46:34.880 - 01:46:40.960]
Gordon Sondland
That is correct.
[01:46:40.960 - 01:46:41.920]
Daniel Goldman
And in fact President Trump also made that clear to President Zelensky in that same July 25 phone call he said Mr. Giuliani is highly -- a highly respected man, he was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what is happening and he is a very capable guy.
[01:46:41.920 - 01:47:11.200]

And after this President Trump then mentions Mr. Giuliani twice more in that call. Now from Mr. Giuliani by this point you understood that in order to get that White House meeting that you wanted President Zelensky to have and that President Zelensky desperately wanted to have that Ukraine would have to initiate these two investigations, is that right?
[01:47:11.200 - 01:47:47.440]
Gordon Sondland
Well, they would have to announce that they were going to do it.
[01:47:47.440 - 01:47:51.800]
Daniel Goldman
Right, because they -- because Giuliani and President Trump didn't actually care if they did them, right?
[01:47:51.800 - 01:48:02.080]
Gordon Sondland
I never hold, Mr. Goldman, in a one say that the investigations had to start or had to be completed. The only thing I heard from Mr. Giuliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced in some form and that form kept changing.
[01:48:02.080 - 01:48:22.800]
Daniel Goldman
Announced publicly?
[01:48:22.800 - 01:48:23.720]
Gordon Sondland
Announced publicly.
[01:48:23.720 - 01:48:25.760]
Daniel Goldman
And you will of course recognize that there would be political benefits to a public announcement as opposed to a private confirmation, right?
[01:48:25.760 - 01:48:35.760]
Gordon Sondland
Well, the way it was expressed to me was that the Ukrainians have a long history of committing two things privately and then never following through. So President Trump presumably again communicated through Mr. Giuliani wanted the Ukrainians on record publicly that they were going to do these investigations, that is the reason that was given to me.
[01:48:35.760 - 01:48:59.240]
Daniel Goldman
But you never heard anyone say that they really wanted them to do the investigations, just that they wanted to --
[01:48:59.240 - 01:49:06.400]
Gordon Sondland
I didn't hear -- I didn't hear either way.
[01:49:06.400 - 01:49:08.920]
Daniel Goldman
-- announce them.
[01:49:08.920 - 01:49:10.160]
Gordon Sondland
I didn't hear either way.
[01:49:10.160 - 01:49:12.040]
Daniel Goldman
Now your July 26 call with the President was not the only time that you spoke to the president surrounding that Ukraine trip was it?
[01:49:12.040 - 01:49:19.440]
Gordon Sondland
I believe I spoke to him before his call.
[01:49:19.440 - 01:49:22.160]
Daniel Goldman
And that's -- so that would be on July 25, the day before?
[01:49:22.160 - 01:49:25.720]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, I think I was flying to Ukraine and I spoke with him if I recall correctly just before I got on the plane.
[01:49:25.720 - 01:49:34.240]
Daniel Goldman
So that's two private telephone calls with President Trump in the span of two days is that right?
[01:49:34.240 - 01:49:41.240]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[01:49:41.240 - 01:49:41.600]
Daniel Goldman
You had direct access into President Trump, correct?
[01:49:41.600 - 01:49:46.600]
Gordon Sondland
I had occasional access when he chose to take my calls. Sometimes he would, sometimes he wouldn't.
[01:49:46.600 - 01:49:57.120]
Daniel Goldman
Well, he certainly took your call twice as it related to Ukraine on these two days is that right?
[01:49:57.120 - 01:50:05.840]
Gordon Sondland
He did.
[01:50:05.840 - 01:50:06.200]
Daniel Goldman
Now the morning of July 25 you texted Ambassador Volker and we could bring up the next text exchange at 7:54 AM and you said call ASAP. Ambassador Volker did not respond to you for another hour and a half and he said hi, Gordon, got your message. Had a great lunch with Yermak and then passed your message to him.
[01:50:06.200 - 01:50:33.000]

He will see you tomorrow. Think everything in place. Volker though an hour before that and about half an hour before the phone call had texted Andriy Yermak, a top aide for President Zelensky and he wrote good lunch, thanks. Heard from White House. Assuming President Zelensky convinces Trump he will investigate, get to the bottom of what happened in 2016 we will nail down date for a visit to Washington.
[01:50:33.000 - 01:51:05.360]

Good luck see you tomorrow. Ambassador Sondland was this message that Kurt Volker passed to Andriy Yermak the message you left for Kurt Volker on that voicemail that he referenced?
[01:51:05.360 - 01:51:16.840]
Gordon Sondland
You know I don't remember Mr. Goldman but it very well could have been.
[01:51:16.840 - 01:51:20.920]
Daniel Goldman
You don't have any reason to think it wasn't, right?
[01:51:20.920 - 01:51:23.760]
Gordon Sondland
Again I honestly, honestly don't remember but seems logical to me.
[01:51:23.760 - 01:51:27.040]
Daniel Goldman
And if Ambassador Volker testified that he did get that message from you. You have no reason to doubt that, right?
[01:51:27.040 - 01:51:36.000]
Gordon Sondland
Know, if he testified that he got that message from me then I would concur with that.
[01:51:36.000 - 01:51:40.560]
Daniel Goldman
So is it fair to say that this message is what you received from President Trump and that phone call that morning?
[01:51:40.560 - 01:51:47.920]
Gordon Sondland
Again, if he testified to that to refresh my own memory then yes, likely I would have receive that from President Trump.
[01:51:47.920 - 01:51:58.960]
Daniel Goldman
But the sequence certainly makes sense, all right?
[01:51:58.960 - 01:52:04.360]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, it does.
[01:52:04.360 - 01:52:06.360]
Daniel Goldman
You talk to President Trump, you told Kurt Volker to call you, you left a message for Kurt Volker, Kurt Volker sent this text message to Andriy Yermak to prepare President Zelensky and then President Trump had a phone call where President Zelensky spoke very similar to what was in this text message, right?
[01:52:06.360 - 01:52:32.440]
Gordon Sondland
Right.
[01:52:32.440 - 01:52:32.840]
Daniel Goldman
And you would agree that the message in this -- that is expressed here is that President Zelensky needs to convince Trump that he will do the investigations in order to nail down the day for a visit to Washington DC, is that correct?
[01:52:32.840 - 01:52:47.920]
Gordon Sondland
That is correct.
[01:52:47.920 - 01:52:49.680]
Daniel Goldman
Now I'm going to move ahead in time to the end of August and early September when you came to believe I believe as you testified that it wasn't just the White House meeting that was contingent on the announcement of these investigations but the President wanted but security assistance as well. You testified that in the absence of any credible explanation for the hold on security assistance you came to the conclusion that like the White House visit the aide was conditioned on the investigations that President Trump wanted.
[01:52:49.680 - 01:53:38.600]

Is that what you said in your opening statement?
[01:53:38.600 - 01:53:40.840]
Gordon Sondland
It is.
[01:53:40.840 - 01:53:43.200]
Daniel Goldman
So let me break this down with you. By this time you and many top officials knew that the coveted White House meeting for President Zelensky was conditioned on these investigations, right?
[01:53:43.200 - 01:53:59.640]
Gordon Sondland
The announcement of the investigations, correct.
[01:53:59.640 - 01:54:05.440]
Daniel Goldman
Thank you. And that includes Secretary Pompeo, right?
[01:54:05.440 - 01:54:10.480]
Gordon Sondland
Many -- many people.
[01:54:10.480 - 01:54:12.560]
Daniel Goldman
And well -- Secretary Pompeo?
[01:54:12.560 - 01:54:15.160]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[01:54:15.160 - 01:54:15.720]
Daniel Goldman
And acting chief of staff Mulvaney?
[01:54:15.720 - 01:54:18.040]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[01:54:18.040 - 01:54:18.600]
Daniel Goldman
And you testified that this was a quid pro quo is that right?
[01:54:18.600 - 01:54:23.840]
Gordon Sondland
I didn't.
[01:54:23.840 - 01:54:25.360]
Daniel Goldman
And you -- at this point by the end of August knew that the aide had been held up for at least six weeks, is that correct?
[01:54:25.360 - 01:54:34.040]
Gordon Sondland
I believe I found out through Ambassador Taylor that the eight have been held up around July 18 is when I heard originally.
[01:54:34.040 - 01:54:43.800]
Daniel Goldman
And even though you searched for reasons you were never given a credible explanation is that right?
[01:54:43.800 - 01:54:51.080]
Gordon Sondland
That is right.
[01:54:51.080 - 01:54:52.320]
Daniel Goldman
And no one you spoke to thought that the aide should be held to your knowledge, is that right?
[01:54:52.320 - 01:55:01.280]
Gordon Sondland
I never heard anyone advocate for holding the aide.
[01:55:01.280 - 01:55:04.080]
Daniel Goldman
And now by this point at the end of August it went public and the Ukrainians knew about it, right?
[01:55:04.080 - 01:55:10.000]
Gordon Sondland
I believe there were some press reports you know presuming or who knows but I think at that point it became sort of common knowledge that everything might be tied together.
[01:55:10.000 - 01:55:21.320]
Daniel Goldman
And in fact President Zelensky brought it up at that September 1 meeting with Vice President Pence that you were at, right?
[01:55:21.320 - 01:55:34.480]
Gordon Sondland
I don't know if he brought it up specifically but asked where the aide was I think was more -- I think he -- a sort of ask again very vague recollection because I don't have a readout of the -- of the bilateral meeting but why don't I have my check essentially.
[01:55:34.480 - 01:55:51.640]
Daniel Goldman
And you -- you understood the Ukrainians receive no credible explanation is that right?
[01:55:51.640 - 01:55:57.440]
Gordon Sondland
I certainly didn't -- couldn't give them one.
[01:55:57.440 - 01:56:00.600]
Daniel Goldman
So is this kind of a two plus two equals four conclusion that you reached?
[01:56:00.600 - 01:56:06.360]
Gordon Sondland
Pretty much.
[01:56:06.360 - 01:56:09.720]
Daniel Goldman
It is the only logical conclusion to you that given all of these factors that the aide was also a part of this quid pro quo?
[01:56:09.720 - 01:56:18.560]
Gordon Sondland
Yep.
[01:56:18.560 - 01:56:19.440]
Daniel Goldman
Now I want to go back to the conversation that you had with Vice President Pence right before that meeting in Warsaw and you indicated that you said to him that you were concerned that the delay in the aide was tied to the issue investigations, is that right?
[01:56:19.440 - 01:56:33.520]
Gordon Sondland
I -- I don't know exactly what I said to him. This was a briefing attended by many people and I was invited at the very last minute. I wasn't scheduled to be there. But I think I spoke up at some point late in the meeting and said it looks like everything is being held up until the statements get made and that is my you know personal belief.
[01:56:33.520 - 01:56:57.320]
Daniel Goldman
And Vice President Pence just nodded his head?
[01:56:57.320 - 01:57:00.320]
Gordon Sondland
Again, I don't recall any exchange or where he asked me any questions. I think he -- it was sort of a duly noted [Inaudible]
[01:57:00.320 - 01:57:13.200]
Daniel Goldman
Well, he didn't say, Gordon, what are you talking about?
[01:57:13.200 - 01:57:17.760]
Gordon Sondland
No, he did not.
[01:57:17.760 - 01:57:20.720]
Daniel Goldman
He didn't say, what investigations?
[01:57:20.720 - 01:57:23.920]
Gordon Sondland
He did not.
[01:57:23.920 - 01:57:25.560]
Daniel Goldman
Now, after this meeting you discussed this pull-aside you had with Mr. Yermak where you relayed your belief that they needed to announce these investigations prior to the aid being released. Is that right?
[01:57:25.560 - 01:57:45.720]
Gordon Sondland
I said I didn't know exactly why, but this could be a reason.
[01:57:45.720 - 01:57:51.880]
Daniel Goldman
And obviously you had been speaking with Mr. Yermak for quite a while about a public announcement of these investigations, right?
[01:57:51.880 - 01:58:00.400]
Gordon Sondland
We had all been working on -- toward that end, yes.
[01:58:00.400 - 01:58:04.520]
Daniel Goldman
So you indicated to him that in addition to the White House meeting, security aid was now also involved in that?
[01:58:04.520 - 01:58:09.560]
Gordon Sondland
As I said, I said it could have been involved, yes.
[01:58:09.560 - 01:58:13.040]
Daniel Goldman
Now I'm going to show you another text exchange you had on September 1 where Ambassador Taylor says to you, are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are conditioned on investigations? And you respond, call me. Ambassador Taylor recalls that he did call you, and you did have a conversation.
[01:58:13.040 - 01:58:37.040]

And in that conversation you told Ambassador Taylor that the announcement of these investigations by President Zelensky needed to be public and that that announcement was conditioned on -- that announcement would ultimately release the aid. Do you recall that conversation with Ambassador Taylor?
[01:58:37.040 - 01:58:58.000]
Gordon Sondland
Again, my conversation with Ambassador Taylor, my conversation with Senator Johnson, were all my personal belief just based on, as you put it, two plus two equals four.
[01:58:58.000 - 01:59:07.880]
Daniel Goldman
Well, in that -- in his testimony Ambassador Taylor says that you said that President Trump had told you that he wanted President Zelensky to state publicly, as of September 1. Do you have any reason to doubt Ambassador Taylor's testimony, which he said was based on his meticulous contemporaneous notes?
[01:59:07.880 - 01:59:37.200]
Gordon Sondland
President Trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. The only thing we got directly from Giuliani was that the Burisma and 2016 elections were conditioned on the White House meeting. The aid was my own personal, you know, guess based, again, on your analogy two plus two equals four.
[01:59:37.200 - 02:00:00.800]
Daniel Goldman
So you didn't talk to President Trump when Ambassador Taylor says that that's what you told him? Is that your testimony here?
[02:00:00.800 - 02:00:08.120]
Gordon Sondland
My testimony is I never heard from President Trump that aid was conditioned on an announcement of elections.
[02:00:08.120 - 02:00:15.960]
Daniel Goldman
So you never heard those specific words, right? But --
[02:00:15.960 - 02:00:21.360]
Gordon Sondland
Correct, never heard those words.
[02:00:21.360 - 02:00:24.280]
Daniel Goldman
Well, let's move ahead because you have another conversation in -- in a little bit later that both Tim Morrison and Ambassador Taylor recount. But in this September 1 conversation, Ambassador Taylor also says that -- testified under oath that you said that President Trump wanted Zelensky in a public box.
[02:00:24.280 - 02:00:48.320]

Do you recall using that expression?
[02:00:48.320 - 02:00:49.720]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, it goes back to my earlier comment that, again, coming from the Giuliani source because we didn't discuss this specifically with President Trump, that they wanted whatever commitments Ukraine made to be made publicly so that they would be on the record and be held more accountable, whatever those commitments were.
[02:00:49.720 - 02:01:10.360]
Daniel Goldman
You also testified -- or Ambassador Taylor, rather, testified that you told him that you had made a mistake in telling the Ukrainians that only the White House meeting was conditioned on the announcement of the investigations and that, in fact, everything was, including the security assistance. Do you remember saying that?
[02:01:10.360 - 02:01:35.440]
Gordon Sondland
When I referenced a mistake, what I recall was I thought that a statement made by the new Ukrainian prosecutor that these investigations would be started up again or commenced would be sufficient to satisfy Mr. Giuliani/President Trump. As I recall, my mistake was someone came back through Volker otherwise and said no, it's not going to do if the prosecutor makes these statements.
[02:01:35.440 - 02:02:04.920]

The president wants to hear it from Zelensky directly. That's the mistake I think I made.
[02:02:04.920 - 02:02:11.800]
Daniel Goldman
Do you have any reason to question Ambassador Taylor's testimony based on his meticulous and careful contemporaneous notes?
[02:02:11.800 - 02:02:21.160]
Gordon Sondland
I'm not going to question or not question. I'm just telling you what I believe I was referring to.
[02:02:21.160 - 02:02:29.000]
Daniel Goldman
Let me fast-forward a week and show you another text exchange which may help refresh your recollection. On September 8 you had a -- you sent a text to Ambassador Taylor and Ambassador Volker. Can you read what you wrote there?
[02:02:29.000 - 02:02:42.040]
Gordon Sondland
Guys, multiple convos with Zelensky, POTUS. Let's talk.
[02:02:42.040 - 02:02:45.000]
Daniel Goldman
And so this was September 8 at 11:20 in the morning. And Ambassador Taylor responds immediately; now is fine with me. And if we could go to the next exchange, Ambassador Taylor then 15 minutes later says Gordon and I just spoke -- or 20 minutes later, rather -- I can brief you if you and Gordon don't connect, speaking to Ambassador Volker.
[02:02:45.000 - 02:03:08.680]

Then Ambassador Taylor an hour later says the nightmare is they give the interview and don't get the security assistance. The Russians love it, and I quit. You would agree that in this text message, after you had spoken earlier, an hour earlier with Ambassador Taylor, that he is linking the security assistance to this interview, this public announcement by President Zelensky.
[02:03:08.680 - 02:03:43.520]

Is that right?
[02:03:43.520 - 02:03:44.440]
Gordon Sondland
Absolutely.
[02:03:44.440 - 02:03:45.400]
Daniel Goldman
And in fact Ambassador Taylor testified that you did have a conversation with him at that point, and he did -- and that you told him that just as your text message indicates, you did have a conversation with President Trump prior to that text message. Does that help to refresh your recollection that you in fact spoke to President Trump at that time?
[02:03:45.400 - 02:04:10.200]
Gordon Sondland
Again, I don't recall President Trump ever talking to me about any security assistance, ever. What this tells me, refreshing my memory, is that by 8 September it was abundantly clear to everyone that there was a link and that we were discussing the chicken and egg issue of should the Ukrainians go out on a ledge and make the statement that President Trump wanted them to make, and then they still don't get their White House visit and their aid.
[02:04:10.200 - 02:04:52.560]

That would be really bad for our credibility. I think that's what he is referring to.
[02:04:52.560 - 02:04:58.880]
Daniel Goldman
So you do acknowledge you spoke to President Trump, as you indicated in that text, right?
[02:04:58.880 - 02:05:06.640]
Gordon Sondland
If I said I did, I did.
[02:05:06.640 - 02:05:09.480]
Daniel Goldman
And then after that conversation you were still under the impression that the aid was contingent on these public announcements?
[02:05:09.480 - 02:05:16.760]
Gordon Sondland
I did not get that from President Trump, but I was under the impression that absolutely it was contingent.
[02:05:16.760 - 02:05:23.640]
Daniel Goldman
Well, you weren't dissuaded then, right, because you still thought the aid was conditioned on the public announcement of the investigations after speaking to President Trump?
[02:05:23.640 - 02:05:36.080]
Gordon Sondland
By September 8 I was absolutely convinced it was.
[02:05:36.080 - 02:05:42.000]
Daniel Goldman
And President Trump did not dissuade you of that in the conversation that you acknowledge you had with him?
[02:05:42.000 - 02:05:51.440]
Gordon Sondland
I don't ever recall -- because that would have changed my entire calculus. If President Trump had told me directly, I'm not --
[02:05:51.440 - 02:05:58.680]
Daniel Goldman
That's not what I'm asking, Mr. Sondland. I'm just saying, you still believed that the security assistance was conditioned on the investigation after you spoke to President Trump, yes or no?
[02:05:58.680 - 02:06:11.840]
Gordon Sondland
From a timeframe standpoint, yes.
[02:06:11.840 - 02:06:15.600]
Daniel Goldman
Now Ambassador Taylor also testified that -- and Mr. Morrison, both of them testified, that you told them that President Trump said there was no quid pro quo, which you also included in that text message that you referred, but then you went on and they had slight variations as to what you told them, but then you said that -- to Ambassador Taylor, that President Zelensky himself, not the prosecutor general, needed to clear things up in public or there would be a stalemate.
[02:06:15.600 - 02:06:55.080]

And Mr. Morrison recounted something similar. You don't have any reason to doubt that both of their very similar recollections of the conversations they had with you, do you, Ambassador Sondland?
[02:06:55.080 - 02:07:11.200]
Gordon Sondland
Let me break that down, Mr. Goldman. The text, as I said, about the no quid pro quo, was my effort to respond to Ambassador Taylor's concerns to go to President Trump. Apparently Ambassador Taylor had access to Secretary Pompeo. He did not have access to President Trump. So I made the phone call. I said, what do you want?
[02:07:11.200 - 02:07:37.480]

President Trump responded with what I put in the text, and then I strongly encouraged Ambassador Taylor to take it up with the secretary, and he responded, I agree when I said that. As far as the other part of your question relating to whether or not the prosecutor could make the statement or Zelensky could make the statement, I don't recall who told me, whether it was Volker, whether it was Giuliani, or whether it was President Trump, it's got to be Zelensky.
[02:07:37.480 - 02:08:19.080]

It can't be the prosecutor. But that's what I relayed. Whoever I got that information from, I relayed that to, I believe both Mr. -- or excuse me -- Ambassador Taylor and to Mr. Morrison.
[02:08:19.080 - 02:08:37.040]
Daniel Goldman
But as of September 9 you understood, did you not, that President Trump, either himself or through his agents, required that President Zelensky make a public announcement of the two investigations that President Trump cared about in order to get both the White House meeting and to release the security assistance?
[02:08:37.040 - 02:09:03.040]

Is that correct?
[02:09:03.040 - 02:09:03.960]
Gordon Sondland
I believe that is correct.
[02:09:03.960 - 02:09:06.040]
Daniel Goldman
Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
[02:09:06.040 - 02:09:09.200]
Adam B. Schiff
That concludes our 45 minutes. I now recognize Mr. Nunes -- oh, okay. Why don't we take a 5- or 10-minute break?
[02:09:09.200 - 02:09:17.160]
Gordon Sondland
Thank you.
[02:09:17.160 - 02:09:17.680]
Adam B. Schiff
The committee will come to order. I now recognize Ranking Member Nunes and minority counsel for 45 minutes of questions.
[02:09:17.680 - 02:09:27.960]
Devin Nunes
I thank the gentleman. For those of you watching at home that was not a bathroom break, that was actually a chance for the Democrats to go out and hold a press conference ambassador for all of the suppose it bombshells that were in your opening testimony. I want to get back to the facts of the matter here and the thing that the Democrats have been unwilling to accept is that their operatives got campaign dirt from Ukrainians in the -- in the 2016 election.
[02:09:27.960 - 02:10:08.880]

Now they know it, they know it's true because we have financial records that show it. So they were -- the Democrats were heavily involved working with Ukrainians to dirty up the Trump campaign in 2016. So ambassador I want to go through just a few of the incidents that we know. I know you may not know all about them, you may know about them now but I want to walk through some of those examples of why the President may be very upset with Ukraine and think that they are a country that is out to get him as I think both you have said that and Ambassador Volker have said that from that May 23 meeting.
[02:10:08.880 - 02:10:57.200]

The first question I have is were you aware of the anti-Trump efforts by DNC operative Alexandra Chalupa?
[02:10:57.200 - 02:11:05.440]
Gordon Sondland
I am not aware of it.
[02:11:05.440 - 02:11:06.960]
Devin Nunes
So in 2000 -- there is a 2017 article that also quotes a Ukrainian parliamentarian, Artemenko saying quote it was clear that they were supporting meaning Ukraine, supporting Hillary Clinton's candidacy and they did everything from organizing meetings with the Clinton team to publicly supporting her to criticizing Trump.
[02:11:06.960 - 02:11:35.640]

I think that they simply didn't meet with the Trump campaign because they thought Hillary would win. Do you know that Ukrainian official by any chance this --
[02:11:35.640 - 02:11:49.320]
Gordon Sondland
I don't.
[02:11:49.320 - 02:11:49.920]
Devin Nunes
-- that stated that? Were you aware that then Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. Chaly wrote and off bed in the hell during the 2016 presidential campaign criticizing then candidate Trump?
[02:11:49.920 - 02:12:00.920]
Gordon Sondland
Not aware.
[02:12:00.920 - 02:12:01.840]
Devin Nunes
But you know that now after the last few months?
[02:12:01.840 - 02:12:04.200]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[02:12:04.200 - 02:12:06.000]
Devin Nunes
So probably one of the more disturbing ones is the Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister Avakov mocked and disparaged then candidate Trump on Facebook and twitter. Were you aware that Serhiy Leshchenko a Ukrainian parliamentarian admitted that part of his motivation in spreading the information about the so-called black ledger, a disputed document purporting to reveal corruption by former Trump campaign official was to undermine the Trump candidacy?
[02:12:06.000 - 02:12:39.040]
Gordon Sondland
I wasn't aware.
[02:12:39.040 - 02:12:40.560]
Devin Nunes
So you may be familiar the black ledger was used in the 2016 election to dirty up a campaign associate and later Mueller didn't use that as evidence in his report on election meddling. So knowing all of these facts from high-ranking Ukrainian officials ambassador probably makes a little more sense now as to why the President may think that there's problems with Ukraine and that Ukraine was out -- out to get him.
[02:12:40.560 - 02:13:11.560]

Is that correct?
[02:13:11.560 - 02:13:13.320]
Gordon Sondland
I understand your -- I understand your point, yes, Chairman. [Inaudible]
[02:13:13.320 - 02:13:19.320]
Devin Nunes
You said in your deposition I'm just going to make sure this was your -- just read it back to you. On page 279 for your legal team quote they are all corrupt. This is your -- this is what you said about your conversation with the President so this is your words about what the President told you.
[02:13:19.320 - 02:13:41.560]
Gordon Sondland
This is the May 23 meeting?
[02:13:41.560 - 02:13:44.040]
Devin Nunes
That is correct. They are all corrupt, they are all terrible people and you know I don't want to spend any time with that. And he also said they tried to take me down.
[02:13:44.040 - 02:13:57.360]
Gordon Sondland
That's correct.
[02:13:57.360 - 02:13:58.800]
Devin Nunes
[Inaudible] they tried to take him down I think any logical person that wants to do 2+2 = 4 games would say that that was in the 2016 election wasn't it?
[02:13:58.800 - 02:14:11.200]
Gordon Sondland
I believe that is what he was referring to, yes. Ranking Member.
[02:14:11.200 - 02:14:16.720]
Devin Nunes
So during all of this time and remember in the spring the Democrat's Russia hoax which -- witch hunt is still ongoing. They are still claiming that President Trump is a Russian agent, they are out to get -- they are out to get President Trump at the time. His personal attorney is then interested in trying to figure out okay, who are these Ukrainians that are trying to get to my candidate as those of us the Republicans on this committee who are also trying to get to the bottom of who were these sources in the Steele dossier that the Democrats have paid for?
[02:14:16.720 - 02:14:54.280]

The house Republicans wanted to know that all through the spring and even the summer of an event as of today we would still like to know. That is why we have subpoenaed the DNC operatives that they refuse to subpoena. We sent a letter this morning. I doubt we will see those subpoenas. We want to know exactly, get to the bottom of the exactly who were these Democratic operatives that were dirtying up the Trump campaign in 2016 and they just can't get over that the President would send his personal attorney over there to try to get to the bottom of that and ambassador you had very few dealings with Rudy Giuliani, a few text messages.
[02:14:54.280 - 02:17:07.600]
Gordon Sondland
A few text messages and a few phone calls.
[02:17:07.600 - 02:17:23.720]
Devin Nunes
So the whistleblower trying to put together here with their timeline they seem to have a timeline problem because the whistleblower that only they know who they won't subpoena who clearly Mr. Vindman knows who they blocked testimony yesterday from -- would not allow Mr. Vindman to answer our questions that whistleblower says on July 25 that there were all of these promises being made yet the -- I forget what they call it, the drug deal that the Three Amigos were cooking up seems to be there -- their latest.
[02:17:23.720 - 02:17:23.720]

You are part of the Three Amigos and the drug deal. Ambassador, were you aware of any drug deal on July 25 when the phone call actually occurred?
[02:17:23.720 - 02:17:23.720]
Gordon Sondland
I don't know about any drug deal.
[02:17:23.720 - 02:17:23.720]
Devin Nunes
Right. And did you know you were part of the Three Amigos?
[02:17:23.720 - 02:17:23.760]
Gordon Sondland
I am. I am a proud part of the Three Amigos.
[02:17:23.760 - 02:17:24.040]
Devin Nunes
And that is the same thing Ambassador Volker said yesterday because by the time that the phone call that supposedly the whistleblower claims was the reason was the original quid pro quo has now got down to we are now a month later where you are involved and their quid pro quo has gotten down to -- down to the low level of well, they want a statement and you didn't even know about anything to do with on July 25 you knew nothing about military aid being withheld?
[02:17:24.040 - 02:19:10.200]
Gordon Sondland
I knew military aid was withheld beginning I believe on July 18 when ambassador Taylor told both of us that that was the case.
[02:19:10.200 - 02:19:10.200]
Devin Nunes
But on July -- but you don't know about -- you were not on the July 25 call.
[02:19:10.200 - 02:19:10.200]
Gordon Sondland
I was not.
[02:19:10.200 - 02:19:10.200]
Devin Nunes
Where you on the call, at all.
[02:19:10.200 - 02:19:10.200]
Gordon Sondland
Again I just read the readout when everyone else did.
[02:19:10.200 - 02:19:10.200]
Devin Nunes
Well we have had -- everyone has testified that it was on the July 25 call that there was no a discussed on the July 25 call. So then you are in the process, you have no idea that this is tied to Burisma or anybody else. You say you don't realize that until the end of August.
[02:19:10.200 - 02:19:10.200]
Gordon Sondland
I didn't realize that a was tied. The Burisma in 2016 piece was much earlier Mr. or -- Ranking Member.
[02:19:10.200 - 02:19:10.200]
Devin Nunes
I am glad you bring up Burisma because this is another issue that the Democrats don't want to go into. They refuse to. Hunter Biden, Hunter Biden could get to the bottom of all of this. He could come in and talk about whether or not it was appropriate for him to receive over $50,000 a month while his dad was vice president and when they actually were able to stop and get an investigator fired.
[02:19:10.200 - 02:19:10.400]

They could call in Hunter Biden but they don't want to do it but let's -- let's talk about Burisma, ambassador. I know you are the ambassador to the EU. I think some of the members later will get into whether or not it was appropriate for you to be in Ukraine or not. I believe it was, I think you have a clear mandate -- mandate to do it but you wouldn't be the first ambassador to actually be interested in Burisma.
[02:19:10.400 - 02:20:40.960]

Did you know that in September 2015 then ambassador to Ukraine Jeffrey Piatt publicly called for an investigation into Zloch -- Zlochevsky, the president of Burisma? This was the Ukrainian ambassador appointed by President Obama in Ukraine.
[02:20:40.960 - 02:20:40.960]
Gordon Sondland
I wasn't aware of it, no.
[02:20:40.960 - 02:20:40.960]
Devin Nunes
You are not aware of it?
[02:20:40.960 - 02:20:40.960]
Gordon Sondland
No.
[02:20:40.960 - 02:20:40.960]
Devin Nunes
So you would not be the first one to be mentioning that investigation should be done on Burisma because it happened during the Obama administration. Did you know that financial records show Burisma routed more than $3 million to the American accounts tied to Hunter Biden?
[02:20:40.960 - 02:20:40.960]
Gordon Sondland
I did not know that.
[02:20:40.960 - 02:20:40.960]
Devin Nunes
Did you know that Burisma's American lawyers tried to secure a meeting with a new state prosecutor the same day his predecessor Viktor Shokin who the vice president wanted fired was announced?
[02:20:40.960 - 02:20:40.960]
Gordon Sondland
Did not know that.
[02:20:40.960 - 02:20:40.960]
Devin Nunes
We're not going to get to the answer to many of these questions because the witnesses that need to come in and clarify exactly what the Democrats were doing in 2016, you're not -- we're not going to be able to visit with those witnesses. And so it's an inconvenient truth that the Democrats don't want to admit.
[02:20:40.960 - 02:22:21.440]

It's their operatives that were dirtying up the Trump campaign, using Ukrainian sources in 2016, and they do not want us to get to the bottom of it. They don't want you, Ambassador, to get to the bottom of it. They don't want the president's personal attorney, even though he's under a special counsel investigation, that they fed into the FBI, that we've dealt with for over three years.
[02:22:21.440 - 02:23:40.560]

They don't want to get to the bottom of that, Ambassador. I think Mr. Castor has some questions for you.
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Steve Castor
Thank you, Mr. Nunes. Good morning, Ambassador. How are you?
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Gordon Sondland
Good morning Mr. Castor.
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Steve Castor
Welcome back. You were here all day on the 17th , late into the night, so thank you for the your cooperation with the investigation. Did the president ever tell you personally about any preconditions for anything?
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Gordon Sondland
No.
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Steve Castor
Okay, so the president never told you about any preconditions for the aid to be released?
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Gordon Sondland
No.
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Steve Castor
The president never told you about any preconditions for a White House meeting?
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Gordon Sondland
Personally, no.
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Steve Castor
The -- you said you didn't have your records or your documents from the State Department, but if you did there wouldn't be any document or record that ties President Trump personally to any of this, correct?
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Gordon Sondland
Well, I don't want to speculate what would be --
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Steve Castor
Your documents or records.
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Gordon Sondland
I don't recall anything like that
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Steve Castor
Okay. Good heavens, okay. You testified Mr. Giuliani's requests for a -- a quid pro quo for the White House meeting -- and you indicated that you believe that was -- he was evincing President Trump's interests, correct?
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Gordon Sondland
My contact with Mr. Giuliani began, as I said, very late in the process, after August 1 when I was first introduced to him by a text from Ambassador Volker. So we had already begun those discussions, I believe, with the Ukrainians prior to August 1. So everything was being funneled through others, including Mr. Volker.
[02:23:40.560 - 02:23:40.560]
Steve Castor
Okay, but you testified that Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president, correct?
[02:23:40.560 - 02:24:24.160]
Gordon Sondland
That's our understanding, yes.
[02:24:24.160 - 02:24:51.520]
Steve Castor
But how did you know that? Who told you?
[02:24:51.520 - 02:25:01.880]
Gordon Sondland
Well when the president says talk to my personal attorney and then Mr. Giuliani as his personal attorney makes certain requests or demands, we assume it's coming from the president. I don't -- I don't -- I'm not testifying that I heard the president tell Mr. Giuliani to tell us, so if that's your question.
[02:25:01.880 - 02:25:01.880]
Steve Castor
Right, but in your deposition you said the question was at the May 23 meeting when the president said go talk to -- go talk to Rudy, you responded he didn't even say go talk. He said, talk to Rudy. You subsequently said it was sort of like I don't want to talk about this. So it wasn't an order or direction to go talk with Mr. Giuliani, correct?
[02:25:01.880 - 02:25:16.120]
Gordon Sondland
Our conclusion and the conclusion of the three of us was that if we did not talk to Rudy, nothing would move forward on Ukraine.
[02:25:16.120 - 02:25:38.400]
Steve Castor
Okay, and then that was May 23, and then you never had any personal communications with Giuliani until August, right?
[02:25:38.400 - 02:25:42.240]
Gordon Sondland
That's correct.
[02:25:42.240 - 02:25:45.000]
Steve Castor
And Volker was handling -- Ambassador Volker was -- was he the primary --
[02:25:45.000 - 02:26:29.360]
Gordon Sondland
Volker, Perry and others.
[02:26:29.360 - 02:26:33.000]
Steve Castor
Okay. Ambassador Volker, you testified he's a professional diplomat, correct?
[02:26:33.000 - 02:27:02.160]
Gordon Sondland
Yes, he is.
[02:27:02.160 - 02:27:18.760]
Steve Castor
And you said you had a great relationship with him?
[02:27:18.760 - 02:27:18.760]
Gordon Sondland
I do, yes.
[02:27:18.760 - 02:27:18.840]
Steve Castor
You said he was a very smart guy?
[02:27:18.840 - 02:27:33.360]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[02:27:33.360 - 02:27:33.480]
Steve Castor
Ambassador Yovanovitch said he's a brilliant diplomat, in fact. Do you agree with that?
[02:27:33.480 - 02:27:33.680]
Gordon Sondland
He's pretty -- pretty smart.
[02:27:33.680 - 02:27:33.680]
Steve Castor
You stated that he's one of those people I'd hand my wallet to?
[02:27:33.680 - 02:27:33.680]
Gordon Sondland
I would.
[02:27:33.680 - 02:27:33.680]
Steve Castor
And so did you hear his testimony yesterday?
[02:27:33.680 - 02:27:33.680]
Gordon Sondland
I did not.
[02:27:33.680 - 02:27:33.680]
Steve Castor
Okay, because he didn't --
[02:27:33.680 - 02:27:33.680]
Gordon Sondland
I was busy getting ready for you.
[02:27:33.680 - 02:27:33.680]
Steve Castor
He didn't have any -- he didn't have any evidence of any of these preconditions, and he was the one most engaged with the Ukrainians, wasn't he?
[02:27:33.680 - 02:27:33.680]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[02:27:33.680 - 02:27:33.680]
Steve Castor
Okay. I mean, you testified, and you know this was his full-time job, although he was doing it for free.
[02:27:33.680 - 02:27:33.680]
Gordon Sondland
He was the special envoy.
[02:27:33.680 - 02:27:33.680]
Steve Castor
And you testified you came in and out of the events, correct?
[02:27:33.680 - 02:27:36.280]
Gordon Sondland
That's correct.
[02:27:36.280 - 02:27:36.440]
Steve Castor
Okay. At your deposition we asked you about your communications with the president, and we asked you whether there were so many that it would be impossible to chronicle. And you said no, it wasn't -- wasn't that many, and we went down the path of building a list of communications you remember with the president, right?
[02:27:36.440 - 02:29:40.160]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[02:29:40.160 - 02:29:40.160]
Steve Castor
We talked about May 23 in the Oval Office.
[02:29:40.160 - 02:29:40.160]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[02:29:40.160 - 02:29:40.160]
Steve Castor
You mentioned on July 25 before you went to Ukraine you called the president, but there was no material information on the 25th call, correct?
[02:29:40.160 - 02:29:40.160]
Gordon Sondland
Not that I recall.
[02:29:40.160 - 02:29:40.160]
Steve Castor
Okay, then Friday Mr. Holmes came in, and I guess his testimony refreshed your recollection?
[02:29:40.160 - 02:29:40.160]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, what refreshed my recollection was when he mentioned ASAP Rocky. Then all of a sudden it came back to me.
[02:29:40.160 - 02:29:40.160]
Steve Castor
And talking about the -- President Zelensky loving the president and so forth?
[02:29:40.160 - 02:29:40.160]
Gordon Sondland
Well, the whole thing sort of came back to me after he mentioned ASAP Rocky.
[02:29:40.160 - 02:29:40.160]
Steve Castor
And then -- then the next time, you know, we tried to unpack this. The next time you talked with the president was -- on the telephone -- was September 9 according to your deposition, right?
[02:29:40.160 - 02:29:40.160]
Gordon Sondland
I may have even spoken to him on September 6. But again, I just don't have all the records. I wish I could get them. Then I could answer your questions very easily.
[02:29:40.160 - 02:31:04.320]
Steve Castor
Okay. But on September 9, at least at your deposition you were extremely clear. You called the president. You said he was feeling cranky that day, right?
[02:31:04.320 - 02:31:11.640]
Gordon Sondland
He seemed very cranky to me.
[02:31:11.640 - 02:31:11.640]
Steve Castor
And you said in no uncertain terms -- and this is on the heel of -- heels of the Bill Taylor text, right?
[02:31:11.640 - 02:31:11.640]
Gordon Sondland
Right.
[02:31:11.640 - 02:31:11.640]
Steve Castor
And why don't you tell us, what did the president say to you on September 9 that you remember?
[02:31:11.640 - 02:31:11.640]
Gordon Sondland
Well, words to the effect -- I decided to ask the president the question in an open-ended fashion because there were so many different scenarios floating around as to what was going on with Ukraine. So rather than ask the president nine different questions, is it this, is it this, is it that, I just said, what do you want from Ukraine?
[02:31:11.640 - 02:31:11.640]

I may have even used a four letter word. And he said I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. I just want Zelensky to do the right thing, to do what he ran on, or words to that effect. And that gave me the impetus to respond to Ambassador Taylor with a text that I sent. As I said to Mr. Goldman, it was not an artfully written text.
[02:31:11.640 - 02:32:44.760]

I should have been more specific, put it in quotes, something like that. But basically I wanted Mr. Taylor, Ambassador Taylor, to pick up the ball and take it from there. I had gone as far as I could go.
[02:32:44.760 - 02:32:59.880]
Steve Castor
And you believed the president, correct?
[02:32:59.880 - 02:33:01.320]
Gordon Sondland
You know what, I'm not going to characterize whether I believed or didn't believe. I was just trying to convey what he said on the phone.
[02:33:01.320 - 02:33:09.480]
Steve Castor
Okay, and at that point in time the pause in the aid -- the aid was paused for 55 days -- there was a news article in Politico on August 28 talking about it, so by that point in time the president had been receiving calls from Senators. He had been getting pressure to lift the aid, correct?
[02:33:09.480 - 02:33:35.000]
Gordon Sondland
That's what I understand, yes.
[02:33:35.000 - 02:33:37.440]
Steve Castor
I want to turn back to your [Break in video feed] would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations, correct?
[02:33:37.440 - 02:33:49.840]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[02:33:49.840 - 02:33:51.000]
Steve Castor
And you acknowledge that this is speculation, right?
[02:33:51.000 - 02:33:54.120]
Gordon Sondland
It was a presumption.
[02:33:54.120 - 02:33:56.680]
Steve Castor
Okay, but you -- you -- it was a guess, in fact, I think you even said this morning.
[02:33:56.680 - 02:34:02.520]
Gordon Sondland
Well, I want to say that it goes back to Mr. Goldman's point, or Chairman Schiff's two plus two equals four in my mind at that point.
[02:34:02.520 - 02:34:11.600]
Steve Castor
Okay, but you didn't have any evidence of that, correct?
[02:34:11.600 - 02:34:16.680]
Gordon Sondland
Other than the aid wasn't being released, and we weren't getting anywhere with the Ukrainians.
[02:34:16.680 - 02:34:20.800]
Steve Castor
Okay, but did Ambassador Volker clue you in that that was the issue? I mean, this is a pretty high -- I mean, this is a pretty serious conclusion you've reached without precise evidence.
[02:34:20.800 - 02:34:37.320]
Gordon Sondland
Well, I sent that email to Secretary Pompeo to set up a potential meeting between President Trump and President Zelensky in Warsaw, and when I referred to the logjam, I referred to the logjam in a very inclusive way. Everything was jammed up at that point, and Secretary Pompeo essentially gave me the green light to brief President Zelensky about making those -- those announcements.
[02:34:37.320 - 02:35:07.040]
Steve Castor
Okay, we can -- we can turn to that. And then that was your email dated what date?
[02:35:07.040 - 02:35:11.680]
Gordon Sondland
Do you have the page there?
[02:35:11.680 - 02:35:13.800]
Steve Castor
Well, your email to Secretary Pompeo, was that August 11? Sixteen.
[02:35:13.800 - 02:35:23.280]
Gordon Sondland
August 22.
[02:35:23.280 - 02:35:25.040]
Steve Castor
Okay, so you're asking Secretary Pompeo whether we should block time, and I mean is there any discussion of specific investigations? Is there any discussion of Biden or Burisma or anything linking to aid in this email that you sent to Pompeo?
[02:35:25.040 - 02:35:38.960]
Gordon Sondland
No, this -- this was a proposed briefing that I was going to give President Zelensky, and I was going to call President Zelensky and ask him to say what is in this email. And I was asking essentially President Pompeo's permission to do that, which he said yes.
[02:35:38.960 - 02:35:51.240]
Steve Castor
But -- but -- at that -- at that point in time, we're talking about investigations into -- into the origins of the 2016 election. We're not talking about --
[02:35:51.240 - 02:36:02.760]
Gordon Sondland
-- And -- and Burisma --
[02:36:02.760 - 02:36:04.040]
Steve Castor
-- Anything to do with Joe Biden.
[02:36:04.040 - 02:36:06.160]
Gordon Sondland
Joe Biden did not come up.
[02:36:06.160 - 02:36:11.800]
Steve Castor
Okay. Stepping back a page to your -- your email to the State Department on August 11th, you emailed Secretary Pompeo and you say "Kurt and I negotiated a statement from Zelensky to be delivered for our review in a day or two." And the question I have here is that, I mean, that statement never was issued.
[02:36:11.800 - 02:36:42.040]

In fact, Ambassador Volker has testified that he didn't think it was a good idea and ultimately the Ukrainians didn't think it was a good idea. And so, the -- the statement never reached a -- a finalized state.
[02:36:42.040 - 02:37:02.600]
Gordon Sondland
That's correct.
[02:37:02.600 - 02:37:04.920]
Steve Castor
But even if it had, it -- it doesn't talk about Biden's or Burisma or anything insidious, correct?
[02:37:04.920 - 02:37:15.920]
Gordon Sondland
Well, the statement, as -- as I recall, would have mentioned the 2016 elections/DNC server and Burisma.
[02:37:15.920 - 02:37:22.960]
Steve Castor
Okay.
[02:37:22.960 - 02:37:24.200]
Gordon Sondland
It would not have mentioned the Bidens.
[02:37:24.200 - 02:37:27.880]
Steve Castor
And have you heard Ambassador Volker, how he talks about what might be an investigation into Burisma?
[02:37:27.880 - 02:37:36.560]
Gordon Sondland
No.
[02:37:36.560 - 02:37:37.320]
Steve Castor
Okay. I mean, he has said that if there were Ukrainians engaged in violations of Ukrainian law, then the prosecutor general of the new administration ought to investigate that. Did Ambassador Volker ever relate that to you?
[02:37:37.320 - 02:37:52.360]
Gordon Sondland
No, we just talked in generic terms about "investigating Burisma."
[02:37:52.360 - 02:37:56.800]
Steve Castor
Okay. But it had nothing to do with Vice President Biden.
[02:37:56.800 - 02:38:00.480]
Gordon Sondland
I had never heard Vice President Biden come up until very late in the game.
[02:38:00.480 - 02:38:06.200]
Steve Castor
When?
[02:38:06.200 - 02:38:07.040]
Gordon Sondland
I don't recall the exact date, but when it all sort of came together, maybe after the transcript of the July 25th call. I don't know. I don't know the exact date when I made the connection.
[02:38:07.040 - 02:38:19.800]
Steve Castor
Okay. I want to --
[02:38:19.800 - 02:38:20.360]
Gordon Sondland
-- Apparently a lot of people did not make the connection.
[02:38:20.360 - 02:38:25.240]
Steve Castor
Okay. I want to turn to the -- the letter from Senator Johnson. He -- when he -- he heard about some of these issues and the hold of the aid, he -- he wanted -- he called the president. He called the president on August 31st. It's page six of his letter. Senator Johnson states, or he writes, I asked him, the president, whether there was some kind of arrangement where Ukraine would take some action and the hold would be lifted.
[02:38:25.240 - 02:38:58.520]

Without hesitation, President Trump immediately denied such an arrangement existed. Senator Johnson quotes the president is saying no. And he -- he prefaced it with a -- a different word. No way. I would never do that. Who told you that? I have -- Senator Johnson says I have accurately characterized the president's reaction as adamant, vehement, and angry.
[02:38:58.520 - 02:39:26.160]

Senator Johnson's telephone call with the president wasn't a public event. It -- it was capturing a genuine, you know, moment with the president. And the -- and he had -- at this point in time on August 31st, he was adamant, vehement, and angry that there was no connections to -- to aid. There were no preconditions.
[02:39:26.160 - 02:39:51.920]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, I had my meeting with Senator Johnson where, again, I made the presumption that I had made to both Mr. Yermak and the email I had sent to Secretary Pompeo, and we were sort of ruminating about what was going on, and Senator Johnson, I believe, said I'm going to call President Trump, you know, and find out.
[02:39:51.920 - 02:40:21.160]

I mean, he obviously had that phone call. I wasn't involved in that phone call.
[02:40:21.160 - 02:40:29.320]
Steve Castor
Okay. But you have no reason to disbelieve that wasn't the way it went down, right?
[02:40:29.320 - 02:40:38.640]
Gordon Sondland
No, no reason to disbelieve --
[02:40:38.640 - 02:40:40.280]
Steve Castor
-- Okay --
[02:40:40.280 - 02:40:41.080]
Gordon Sondland
-- Senator Johnson.
[02:40:41.080 - 02:40:42.320]
Steve Castor
And -- and now that you've had some time since your deposition and you submitted an -- an addendum relating to the Warsaw get together with Mr. Yermak, as you sit here today, I mean, are we missing a lot of your communications with the president?
[02:40:42.320 - 02:41:03.600]
Gordon Sondland
I haven't had that many communications with the president. And in fact, a bunch of the call records that I have had access to, just the short period of time on the call indicates I never got through. In other words, I was put on hold for one or two minutes and the call never connected, so I really can't give you an accurate count of how many conversations.
[02:41:03.600 - 02:41:38.280]

Plus, Mr. Castor, I've had a lot of conversations with the president about completely unrelated matters that have nothing to do with Ukraine.
[02:41:38.280 - 02:41:51.520]
Steve Castor
So -- but you don't think we're missing any material conversations that you had with the president?
[02:41:51.520 - 02:41:57.840]
Gordon Sondland
I -- I don't recall any material conversations today as I'm sitting here.
[02:41:57.840 - 02:42:02.280]
Steve Castor
Or -- or with Rudy Giuliani?
[02:42:02.280 - 02:42:03.600]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah. My -- my memory about the conversations with Rudy Giuliani, whether they were direct, whether they were conference calls with Ambassador Volker or Secretary Perry is really vague without seeing the -- you know, the -- the call -- the call logs.
[02:42:03.600 - 02:42:20.360]
Steve Castor
Are there any other key fact witnesses that would help us, you know, get to the -- get to the bottom of whether there was any -- any link to the aid and the --
[02:42:20.360 - 02:42:29.640]
Gordon Sondland
-- Maybe Brian McCormack, the chief of staff for Secretary Perry, who was involved in and out as well.
[02:42:29.640 - 02:42:39.360]
Steve Castor
Okay. Now, the -- the aid was ultimately lifted on September 11th, correct?
[02:42:39.360 - 02:42:46.720]
Gordon Sondland
I believe that's correct.
[02:42:46.720 - 02:42:48.360]
Steve Castor
Okay. And Senator Johnson, in his letter on page 6, quotes the president on August 31st, "Ron, I understand your position. We're reviewing it now and you'll probably like my final decision." So, even on August 31st, and this is before any congressional investigation started, the -- the -- the president was signaling to Senator Johnson that he was going to lift the aid -- lift --
[02:42:48.360 - 02:43:19.920]
Gordon Sondland
-- Sound --
[02:43:19.920 - 02:43:21.120]
Steve Castor
-- The -- lift the pause --
[02:43:21.120 - 02:43:21.560]
Gordon Sondland
-- Sounds like it, yeah.
[02:43:21.560 - 02:43:22.760]
Steve Castor
Okay. And most of the other witnesses we talked to, whether it's from the Department of Defense or OMB or -- you know, have told us that all along during this 55 day. They genuinely believed the hold would be lift -- lifted. Was that your feeling too at the time?
[02:43:22.760 - 02:43:41.040]
Gordon Sondland
I didn't know because every time I asked about the hold I was never given a straight answer as to why it had been put in place to begin with.
[02:43:41.040 - 02:43:52.960]
Steve Castor
Now, what do you know about the Ukrainians' knowledge of the hold?
[02:43:52.960 - 02:43:55.800]
Gordon Sondland
Oh, that's very vague. I don't know if the Politico article triggered it. I don't know if they were told by Mr. Giuliani. It would be pure, you know, guesswork on my part, speculation. I don't -- I don't know.
[02:43:55.800 - 02:44:13.680]
Steve Castor
Okay. I mean, we -- during your deposition, you -- you testified that you did not believe the Ukrainians believed the -- the -- were aware of the hold until the Politico article.
[02:44:13.680 - 02:44:25.720]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah. Again, I think -- I think I testified that I was not clear on the exact dates of when these things -- when the light went on. There were a lot of conversations going on with the Ukrainians by a lot of people, so I don't know who communicated what to them.
[02:44:25.720 - 02:44:45.600]
Steve Castor
We have testimony from several witnesses that the president was concerned about foreign aid generally, and so he was -- he had an appetite to put holds on -- on aid because he was trying to be a good steward of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Do you -- do -- do you agree with that?
[02:44:45.600 - 02:45:04.320]
Gordon Sondland
I'm aware that that's been his position on aid in other matters, yes.
[02:45:04.320 - 02:45:07.200]
Steve Castor
And are you way -- aware that he was also interested in better understanding the contributions of our European allies?
[02:45:07.200 - 02:45:15.360]
Gordon Sondland
That I'm definitely aware of.
[02:45:15.360 - 02:45:17.000]
Steve Castor
And there was some back and forth between the State Department officials trying to better understand that information for the president?
[02:45:17.000 - 02:45:26.400]
Gordon Sondland
Yes, that's correct.
[02:45:26.400 - 02:45:28.440]
Steve Castor
And how do you know that wasn't the reason for the hold?
[02:45:28.440 - 02:45:33.600]
Gordon Sondland
I don't.
[02:45:33.600 - 02:45:34.320]
Steve Castor
But yet you -- you -- you speculate that there was, you know, a -- a link to the -- this announcement.
[02:45:34.320 - 02:45:40.760]
Gordon Sondland
I presumed it, yes.
[02:45:40.760 - 02:45:42.200]
Steve Castor
Okay. I want to turn a -- quickly to the July 10th meeting. The -- the July 10th meeting in Ambassador Bolton's office involving Ambassador Volker, Mr. Danyliuk, Mr. Yermak has been the subject of some controversy. Ambassador Volker yesterday testified that it wasn't until the end of the meeting -- Mr. Danyliuk, he said, was going through some -- some real detailed -- some real detailed information about some of the plans he had.
[02:45:42.200 - 02:46:13.600]

But it wasn't until the end of the -- the meeting mist -- Ambassador Volker recollects that you mentioned something general about investigations. What do you remember from that meeting?
[02:46:13.600 - 02:46:26.000]
Gordon Sondland
Well, again, I'm not going to dispute Ambassador Volker's recollection if he -- particularly if he had notes. I -- I know that the desire to have the 2016 election, DNC server, and Burisma were already being discussed by then. Again, I had no direct contact with Mr. Giuliani on -- on July 10th but through Ambassador Volker.
[02:46:26.000 - 02:46:52.760]
Steve Castor
Um-hmm.
[02:46:52.760 - 02:46:53.640]
Gordon Sondland
And I probably mentioned that this needs to happen in order to move the process forward. That seem to be the conventional wisdom at the time. I don't recall any abrupt ending of the meeting or people storming out or anything like that. That would have been very memorable, if -- if someone had stormed out of a meeting based on something I said.
[02:46:53.640 - 02:47:22.480]
Steve Castor
Okay. And nobody accused you at that point in time of being involved with some sort of drug deal?
[02:47:22.480 - 02:47:29.520]
Gordon Sondland
No.
[02:47:29.520 - 02:47:31.040]
Steve Castor
Did Dr. Hill ever relate to you her concerns about you being involved in a drug deal?
[02:47:31.040 - 02:47:38.320]
Gordon Sondland
Never.
[02:47:38.320 - 02:47:38.360]
Steve Castor
Okay. So, you were surprised when testimony emerged that she thought there was a -- a drug deal going on?
[02:47:38.360 - 02:47:46.360]
Gordon Sondland
I was shocked.
[02:47:46.360 - 02:47:47.280]
Steve Castor
Okay. And in fact, after the meeting, you went out and you took a picture, right?
[02:47:47.280 - 02:47:57.160]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, we -- Ambassador Bolton -- or his assistant indicated that he was out of time, that he needed -- he had another meeting to attend. And we all walked out of the White House. Everyone was smiling. Everyone was happy. And we took a picture on the lawn on a nice sunny day.
[02:47:57.160 - 02:48:15.240]
Steve Castor
Okay. Then did -- did you retire to the wardroom?
[02:48:15.240 - 02:48:19.440]
Gordon Sondland
I think Secretary Perry asked to use the wardroom to continue the conversation. And the real subject that was under debate, and it wasn't a angry debate, it was a debate, just should the call from President Trump to President Zelensky be made prior to the parliamentary elections in Ukraine or after the parliamentary elections.
[02:48:19.440 - 02:48:43.400]

And there was good reason for both.
[02:48:43.400 - 02:48:45.600]

We felt Ambassador Perry, Ambassador Volker and I thought it would help President Zelensky to have President Trump speak to him prior to the parliamentary elections because it would give President Zelensky more credibility and ultimately he would do better with his people in the parliamentary elections others I believe pushed back and said no, it's not appropriate to do it before, it should be done after and ultimately it was done after.
[02:48:45.600 - 02:49:09.640]
Steve Castor
There is no mention of Vice President Biden in the wardroom?
[02:49:09.640 - 02:49:13.360]
Gordon Sondland
Not that I remember, no.
[02:49:13.360 - 02:49:15.240]
Steve Castor
For any specific investigation?
[02:49:15.240 - 02:49:16.760]
Gordon Sondland
Just the generic investigations.
[02:49:16.760 - 02:49:19.040]
Steve Castor
When again did the Vice President Biden nexus come to your attention?
[02:49:19.040 - 02:49:22.520]
Gordon Sondland
Very late. Again I don't -- I can't recall the exact date the light bulb went on. It couldn't have been as late as once the transcript was out but it was always Burisma to me and I didn't know about the connection between Burisma and Biden.
[02:49:22.520 - 02:49:36.440]
Steve Castor
And to the best of your knowledge you never understood that anyone was asking Ukrainians to investigate U.S. persons, correct?
[02:49:36.440 - 02:49:47.520]
Gordon Sondland
Ukrainians to investigate U.S. persons?
[02:49:47.520 - 02:49:50.200]
Steve Castor
Right.
[02:49:50.200 - 02:49:50.840]
Gordon Sondland
No.
[02:49:50.840 - 02:49:51.080]
Steve Castor
Okay.
[02:49:51.080 - 02:49:51.280]
Gordon Sondland
No.
[02:49:51.280 - 02:49:51.680]
Steve Castor
And just -- just to sort of being clear ultimately the a was lifted on September 11 there was never any announcement by the Ukrainians about any investigations they were going to do, correct?
[02:49:51.680 - 02:50:03.640]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[02:50:03.640 - 02:50:05.280]
Steve Castor
The Ukrainians never to your knowledge started any of these investigations, correct?
[02:50:05.280 - 02:50:10.000]
Gordon Sondland
Not to my knowledge.
[02:50:10.000 - 02:50:11.000]
Steve Castor
And consequently these allegations that there was a quid pro quo that had to be in force before the aid is released they never came to fruition, right?
[02:50:11.000 - 02:50:30.400]
Gordon Sondland
I don't believe so.
[02:50:30.400 - 02:50:32.480]
Steve Castor
Want to just step back a little bit and just verify with you that the President had some genuinely deep rooted concerns about corruption in Ukraine, correct?
[02:50:32.480 - 02:50:43.240]
Gordon Sondland
That is what he expressed to us, yes.
[02:50:43.240 - 02:50:46.760]
Steve Castor
Okay and you -- you believed him, right, given his business dealings in -- in the region?
[02:50:46.760 - 02:51:02.640]
Gordon Sondland
When we had the conversation I did.
[02:51:02.640 - 02:51:04.600]
Steve Castor
And when you first started discussing the concerns the President had with corruption Burisma wasn't the only company that was mentioned, right?
[02:51:04.600 - 02:51:13.120]
Gordon Sondland
It was a generic as I think I testified to chairmanship it was a generic corruption, oligarchs, just bad stuff going on in the Ukraine.
[02:51:13.120 - 02:51:25.160]
Steve Castor
But other companies came up didn't they?
[02:51:25.160 - 02:51:29.120]
Gordon Sondland
I don't know if they were mentioned specifically. It might have been [Inaudible] because we were working on another issue with the [Inaudible] so that might have been one of them.
[02:51:29.120 - 02:51:38.520]
Steve Castor
At one point in your deposition I believe you said yeah [Inaudible] comes up at every conversation. Is that fair?
[02:51:38.520 - 02:51:45.320]
Gordon Sondland
Probably.
[02:51:45.320 - 02:51:45.920]
Steve Castor
You had I guess Doctor Hill at one point attributed to you the terminology that the President has given you a large remit. Are you familiar with her assertion of that?
[02:51:45.920 - 02:51:58.880]
Gordon Sondland
I didn't understand what she was talking about.
[02:51:58.880 - 02:52:01.560]
Steve Castor
Okay. But you -- you have and we got into this a little bit in your deposition you know you said that the President gave you a special assignment with regard to Ukraine, correct?
[02:52:01.560 - 02:52:13.280]
Gordon Sondland
Well, when the President appointed me to the -- as a U.S. ambassador to the European Union Ukraine was part of my portfolio. What made my assignment larger than just being part of my portfolio were the unique circumstances where there was no current sitting ambassador in Ukraine and there was a new President in Ukraine and the discussions that we had, the three amigos Perry, vulgar and I was that Ukraine needed the extraordinary high level support as it could get from the United States during this period which we cleared with both Ambassador Bolt -- Bolton and with Chief of Staff Mulvaney to continue working on it. So by extension yes, if -- if the national security advisor and the chief of staff approve your remit it really is coming from the President.
[02:52:13.280 - 02:53:20.520]
Steve Castor
Okay. When we ask you that at the deposition you said I was spending a little bit.
[02:53:20.520 - 02:53:26.400]
Gordon Sondland
I was spending about something else I think in the art -- in the interview in -- in Kiev.
[02:53:26.400 - 02:53:33.440]
Steve Castor
And you further testified so when I said the President gave me and then assignment it wasn't really the president, it was the Secretary through the president and -- and that is where I receive my direction, correct?
[02:53:33.440 - 02:53:47.640]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[02:53:47.640 - 02:53:48.600]
Steve Castor
Did Ambassador Taylor ever bring in the concerns to your attention about these so-called the channel he dubbed irregular?
[02:53:48.600 - 02:53:57.960]
Gordon Sondland
No, in fact the opposite. When he came to post I think I know I called him or he called me. I think he spoke with Secretary Perry and Ambassador Volker separately and in the course of the first few weeks he was highly appreciative that a new ambassador coming to post like -- like himself was getting the kind of support he was getting from all three of us having a cabinet member, a special Envoy and a fellow ambassador all helping to raise the profile of Ukraine.
[02:53:57.960 - 02:54:39.080]

He was highly appreciative and highly complementary.
[02:54:39.080 - 02:54:42.400]
Steve Castor
And you maintain an open -- open line with him, correct?
[02:54:42.400 - 02:54:45.440]
Gordon Sondland
Correct. I think there are a number of text some of which I have an some of which I don't where he is reaching out constantly to me and to the others for advice and help.
[02:54:45.440 - 02:55:03.000]
Joaquin Castro
Okay. We had I think try to count them up there's 215 or something text messages between you, Volker and Ambassador Taylor during the -- the early August timeframe. Does that -- does that make sense to you? Is that --
[02:55:03.000 - 02:55:29.880]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, I think he -- I think Taylor started in late June or early July was when he first took post and I think we began communicating fairly shortly thereafter.
[02:55:29.880 - 02:55:43.040]
Steve Castor
And he -- he never communicated any concerns to you during this time frame that he -- he had issues with what was going on?
[02:55:43.040 - 02:55:52.920]
Gordon Sondland
What do you mean by what was going on?
[02:55:52.920 - 02:55:55.120]
Steve Castor
This request for some sort of investigation.
[02:55:55.120 - 02:55:59.320]
Gordon Sondland
Not in the early stages you know as time went on his emails began to be a little more pointed and frantic and that is when we had very little visibility as to what was going on either. I think it had to do more with the aid and as to why the aid was suspended in.
[02:55:59.320 - 02:56:19.240]
Steve Castor
And -- and ultimately you put a period on that issue by having these September 9 communication with the President, correct?
[02:56:19.240 - 02:56:28.960]
Gordon Sondland
That is current.
[02:56:28.960 - 02:56:30.880]
Steve Castor
And when you shared that feedback with Ambassador Taylor was -- was he satisfied that this issue is now behind him?
[02:56:30.880 - 02:56:40.160]
Gordon Sondland
I don't really know the cause he responded when I said get a hold of the Secretary. He said I agree and I never knew whether he reached out to the Secretary or not. That was sort of the end of that --
[02:56:40.160 - 02:56:53.960]
Steve Castor
At one point in your text you said let's get on the phone right and you said you are an individual that doesn't like to walk through these issues on text when you can talk about it on the telephone, correct?
[02:56:53.960 - 02:57:09.640]
Gordon Sondland
I say that to everybody when something becomes more substantive than just a few lines of text I say let's talk.
[02:57:09.640 - 02:57:17.160]
Steve Castor
Okay. And did you talk with Ambassador Taylor?
[02:57:17.160 - 02:57:20.120]
Gordon Sondland
I -- I don't recall. I mean I don't recall whether we spoke right after that, whether he called the Secretary I -- I basically Mr. Castor wanted to get the notion across that I have gone as far as I can go with this. You -- you need to pick up the -- you are the ambassador, you need to pick up the ball and run with it at this point.
[02:57:20.120 - 02:57:48.320]
Steve Castor
Okay. And just getting back to the irregular channel did anyone else express any concerns to you about this so-called irregular channel?
[02:57:48.320 - 02:57:56.360]
Gordon Sondland
I'm not sure how someone could characterize something as an irregular channel when you are talking to the President of the United States, the Secretary of state, the national security advisor, the chief of staff for the White House, the Secretary of Energy, I don't know how that is irregular. If a bunch of folks that are not in that channel are agreed for some reason for not being included I don't know how they can consider us to be the irregular channel and they to be the regular channel when it's the leadership that makes the decisions.
[02:57:56.360 - 02:58:39.680]
Steve Castor
And so the -- the concerns you know raised were never brought to -- were never brought to a head?
[02:58:39.680 - 02:58:47.720]
Gordon Sondland
Well, they were never raised. They were never raised. No one said back off of Ukraine, this is dangerous, you are doing something that is on toward, we have concerns. There was a bad phone call on July 25. There is talk about a drug cocktail or something. No one ever said that to me by phone, by text, by email.
[02:58:47.720 - 02:59:20.600]

I don't remember anybody sounding in the alarm bell because of course had someone mentioned that I would have sat up and taken notice. Everyone's hair was on fire but no one decided to talk to us.
[02:59:20.600 - 02:59:38.120]
Steve Castor
You -- you know when you -- when you talk in your statement about in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid I later came to believe it was just speculation, it was your guess that the reason I'm sure in the security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of 2016
[02:59:38.120 - 03:00:04.320]

and I believe you said that, at this point, you believed everyone, everyone knew -- knew this. Is that correct?
[03:00:04.320 - 03:00:12.360]
Gordon Sondland
I think once that Politico article broke, it started making the rounds that, you know, if you can't get a White House meeting without the statement, what makes you think you're going to get a, you know, $400 million check? Again, that was my presumption.
[03:00:12.360 - 03:00:38.120]
Steve Castor
Okay. But you had no evidence to prove that, correct?
[03:00:38.120 - 03:00:40.680]
Gordon Sondland
That's correct.
[03:00:40.680 - 03:00:41.960]
Steve Castor
You know, you stated that you haven't been able to access your -- your records. Is that correct?
[03:00:41.960 - 03:00:48.960]
Gordon Sondland
Not all of them. And there are lots of notes, records, readouts of calls, can't get to them.
[03:00:48.960 - 03:00:56.240]
Steve Castor
And -- but you've also stated that you don't take notes, right?
[03:00:56.240 - 03:01:01.800]
Gordon Sondland
I don't take notes, but there are a lot of others out there.
[03:01:01.800 - 03:01:06.240]
Steve Castor
And you freely admit that, you know, when [Inaudible] asked in your deposition we put together a list of all the times you said you don't recall. It's like two pages long. So --
[03:01:06.240 - 03:01:20.200]
Gordon Sondland
Is that all?
[03:01:20.200 - 03:01:21.240]
Steve Castor
So, you know, you don't -- on a lot of these questions, I mean there's nuance, there are ambiguities, and we don't have records. We don't have notes. And we don't have recollections, correct?
[03:01:21.240 - 03:01:31.400]
Gordon Sondland
Right. I mean, it's -- it's situational things that sort of trigger memory, especially when I'm -- you know, I'm dealing with the European Union. I'm dealing with the 28 member countries. I'm dealing with other countries that are not in the European Union that are part of my mandate. I'm dealing with the White House leadership.
[03:01:31.400 - 03:02:10.080]

There's a lot of stuff to juggle, and as I said in my -- in my opening statement, a phone call for me with the president of the United States, or the president of fill-in the blank country, while people who get a call like that maybe once in a lifetime, a call like that might be very memorable. They might remember every single thing about it. I'm doing that all day long, and I'm not saying it in a way of being braggadocio or anything like that, but it's part of my routine day.
[03:02:10.080 - 03:02:47.200]

So all of these calls, these meetings with very important people tend to sort of blend together until I have someone that can show me what we discussed, what the subject was. Then all of a sudden it comes back.
[03:02:47.200 - 03:03:04.640]
Steve Castor
I mean, we're trying to get to the facts here. We're trying to find out what actually happened, what's reliable, what's accurate. Bill Taylor kept notes. He brought a little notebook in his pocket at his deposition, and he held it up, and he says when I'm not at my desk and I'm on the phone, I use this notebook.
[03:03:04.640 - 03:03:37.320]

When I'm at my desk, I use a notebook. George Kent said he wrote just innumerable memos to the file. Catherine Croft, she testified that she didn't believe George Kent's notes would be accurate. And so you know, we have all this, you know, back and forth, but you know, as it -- as we get to the end here, you don't have records.
[03:03:37.320 - 03:04:07.680]

You don't have your notes because you didn't take notes. You don't have a lot of recollections. I mean, this is like the trifecta of unreliability. Isn't -- isn't that true?
[03:04:07.680 - 03:04:21.760]
Gordon Sondland
Well, what I'm trying to do today is to use the limited information I have to be as forthcoming as possible with you and the rest of the committee. And as these recollections have been refreshed by subsequent testimony, by some texts and emails that I've now had access to, I think I've filled in a lot of blanks.
[03:04:21.760 - 03:04:41.040]
Steve Castor
But a lot of it's speculation. A lot of it is your guess, and we're talking about, you know, an impeachment of the president of the United States. So the evidence here ought to be pretty darn good.
[03:04:41.040 - 03:04:54.040]
Gordon Sondland
I've been very clear as to when I was presuming, and I was presuming on the aid. On the other things, Mr. Castor, I did have some texts that I read from. So when it comes to those, I'll rely on those texts because I don't have any reason to believe that those texts were, you know, falsely sent or that there is some subterfuge there.
[03:04:54.040 - 03:05:21.000]

They are what they are. They say what they say.
[03:05:21.000 - 03:05:24.160]
Steve Castor
Okay. Thank you, sir.
[03:05:24.160 - 03:05:26.720]
Gordon Sondland
Thank you.
[03:05:26.720 - 03:05:27.320]
Adam B. Schiff
The time of the gentleman has expired. We'll now move to a second staff-led round of 30 minutes. Mr. Volker, I just have a few questions before I turn it back to Mr. Goldman. You testified in response to my colleagues in the minority something along the lines of a lot of people did not make the connection between Burisma and Biden.
[03:05:27.320 - 03:05:49.280]

I think a lot of people have real difficulty understanding that. Tim Morrison testified that I think it took him all of doing a Google search to find out, oh, this is the significance of Burisma. It involves the Bidens. Are you saying during all this time up until the call you never made the connection between Burisma and the Bidens?
[03:05:49.280 - 03:06:31.040]

You just thought that the president and Rudy Giuliani were interested in this one particular Ukrainian company?
[03:06:31.040 - 03:06:48.640]
Gordon Sondland
Again, my role, Mr. Chairman, was just to get the meeting.
[03:06:48.640 - 03:06:55.480]
Adam B. Schiff
I understand that, but my question is are you saying that for months and months, notwithstanding everything Rudy Giuliani was saying on TV and all the discussion with Rudy Giuliani, that you never put Burisma together with the Bidens?
[03:06:55.480 - 03:07:17.720]
Gordon Sondland
I didn't. And I wasn't paying attention to what Mr. Giuliani was saying on TV. We were talking to him directly.
[03:07:17.720 - 03:07:26.760]
Adam B. Schiff
Let me ask -- let me ask you this. Ambassador Volker testified yesterday to a similar epiphany, for lack of a better word. This is what he said. In hindsight I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption involving the Ukrainian company Burisma as equivalent to investigating former Vice President Biden.
[03:07:26.760 - 03:07:50.480]

I saw them very different -- as very different, the former being appropriate and unremarkable, the latter being unacceptable. In retrospect, I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections. Does that sum up your views as well?
[03:07:50.480 - 03:08:20.120]
Gordon Sondland
It does.
[03:08:20.120 - 03:08:22.120]
Adam B. Schiff
Now I think you were asked a question with a bit of a incorrect premise by my colleagues in the minority about Fiona Hill saying that -- referring to a drug deal between you and Mr. Mulvaney. It was Ambassador Bolton who made the comment that he didn't want to be part of any drug deal that Ambassador Sondland and Mulvaney were cooking up. No one thinks they're talking about a literal drug deal here, or a drug cocktail.
[03:08:22.120 - 03:08:57.640]

The import, I think, of the ambassador's comments is quite clear, that he believed that this bargain, this quid pro quo as you've described it over a meeting, the investigations to get the meeting was not something he wanted to be a part of. What I want to ask you about is he makes reference in that drug deal to a drug deal cooked up by you and Mulvaney.
[03:08:57.640 - 03:09:22.440]

It's the reference to Mulvaney that I want to ask you about. You've testified that Mulvaney was aware of this quid pro quo, of this condition that the Ukrainians had to meet that is announcing these public investigations to get the White House meeting. Is that right?
[03:09:22.440 - 03:09:39.800]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, a lot of people were aware of it, and --
[03:09:39.800 - 03:09:40.800]
Adam B. Schiff
Including Amba -- including Mr. Mulvaney?
[03:09:40.800 - 03:09:42.320]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[03:09:42.320 - 03:09:42.600]
Adam B. Schiff
And including the secretary of state?
[03:09:42.600 - 03:09:46.480]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[03:09:46.480 - 03:09:46.840]
Adam B. Schiff
Now have you seen the acting chief of staff's press conference in which he acknowledged that the military aid was withheld in part because of a desire to get that 2016 investigation you've talked about?
[03:09:46.840 - 03:10:05.560]
Gordon Sondland
I don't think I saw it live. I saw it later, yeah.
[03:10:05.560 - 03:10:11.720]
Adam B. Schiff
So you saw him acknowledge publicly what you have confirmed, too, that Mr. Mulvaney understood that two plus two equals four? Is that right?
[03:10:11.720 - 03:10:19.720]
Gordon Sondland
Well, again, I didn't know that the aid was conclusively tied. I was presuming. He was in a position to say yes it was or no it wasn't because --
[03:10:19.720 - 03:10:28.760]
Adam B. Schiff
And he said yes, it was, did he not?
[03:10:28.760 - 03:10:32.160]
Gordon Sondland
He said yes, it was.
[03:10:32.160 - 03:10:33.520]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Goldman.
[03:10:33.520 - 03:10:34.440]
Daniel Goldman
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you again, Ambassador Sondland. We do appreciate your efforts to refresh your recollection through the documents, and we understand -- we share your frustration in not having the documents to help guide this investigation. So we do appreciate those efforts. One of the documents that you provided to us goes back to the conversation you and the chairman were having about Mr. Mulvaney, and you had been trying for some time before the July 25 call to set up that call.
[03:10:34.440 - 03:11:09.600]

Is that right?
[03:11:09.600 - 03:11:10.280]
Gordon Sondland
To set up the call between President Trump and President Zelensky, yes.
[03:11:10.280 - 03:11:15.480]
Daniel Goldman
Correct, yes. And I want to show you an email that you reference in your opening statement that is a July 19 email. And who -- who is this from?
[03:11:15.480 - 03:11:25.080]
Gordon Sondland
It looks like it's -- is it from me? I don't know.
[03:11:25.080 - 03:11:34.840]
Daniel Goldman
It's from you, I believe.
[03:11:34.840 - 03:11:36.440]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, it's from me to -- to the group.
[03:11:36.440 - 03:11:40.440]
Daniel Goldman
Now, who is the group?
[03:11:40.440 - 03:11:42.440]
Gordon Sondland
People mentioned on the email, Blair, Kenna, McCormack, Mulvaney, Perry, Pompeo.
[03:11:42.440 - 03:11:53.520]
Daniel Goldman
And who's Robert Blair?
[03:11:53.520 - 03:11:57.520]
Gordon Sondland
I believe he's a deputy chief of staff or a adviser to the chief of staff.
[03:11:57.520 - 03:12:01.680]
Daniel Goldman
And you've already told us that Lisa Kenna is the executive secretary for Secretary Pompeo. Who's Brian McCormack?
[03:12:01.680 - 03:12:09.080]
Gordon Sondland
The chief of staff for -- he was the chief of staff for Secretary Perry.
[03:12:09.080 - 03:12:12.320]
Daniel Goldman
And then we -- we see Mr. Mulvaney, Secretary Perry, and Secretary Pompeo. Can you read what you wrote on July 19th to this group, please?
[03:12:12.320 - 03:12:24.120]
Gordon Sondland
He is prepared to receive POTUS call. Will assure him that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation, will turn over every stone. He would greatly appreciate a call prior to Sunday so he can put out some media about a friendly and productive call, no details, prior to Ukraine election on Sunday.
[03:12:24.120 - 03:12:43.480]
Daniel Goldman
So, Sunday was the 21st, which was the date of the parliamentary elections in Ukraine, is that right?
[03:12:43.480 - 03:12:50.160]
Gordon Sondland
That's right.
[03:12:50.160 - 03:12:51.720]
Daniel Goldman
When you say will assure him that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will "turn over every stone," what do you mean there?
[03:12:51.720 - 03:13:04.040]
Gordon Sondland
I'm referring to the Burisma and the 2016/DNC server investigations.
[03:13:04.040 - 03:13:11.440]
Daniel Goldman
Later that evening, Secretary Perry responds just to you and Brian McCormack, saying Mick just confirmed the call being set up for tomorrow by NSC, RP. And then a little later, Mr. Mulvaney replies to all, saying I asked NSC to set it up for tomorrow. Were these the only responses that you received to this email?
[03:13:11.440 - 03:13:28.800]
Gordon Sondland
I -- I don't know. If I -- if I have, I would show them. I don't -- I don't know.
[03:13:28.800 - 03:13:33.200]
Daniel Goldman
No one wrote back to you and said what are you talking about in terms of these investigations and turning over every stone?
[03:13:33.200 - 03:13:46.120]
Gordon Sondland
No, there was a chain, and I don't know if it's part of this email or a subsequent email, where I believe Ambassador Bolton pushed back and said he did not want a call to President Zelensky made by President Trump until after the parliamentary elections.
[03:13:46.120 - 03:14:03.720]
Daniel Goldman
So, that would explain why it was moved from the next day, July 20th, to the 25th, right?
[03:14:03.720 - 03:14:13.840]
Gordon Sondland
That's right.
[03:14:13.840 - 03:14:15.240]
Daniel Goldman
But Ambassador Bolton is not on this email, is he?
[03:14:15.240 - 03:14:18.360]
Gordon Sondland
I don't think he is, no.
[03:14:18.360 - 03:14:20.440]
Daniel Goldman
Now, you were asked by Mr. Castor if there are any other key witnesses who might be able to help with our investigation. And you mentioned Brian McCormack, right, the chief of staff for Secretary Perry.
[03:14:20.440 - 03:14:38.760]
Gordon Sondland
I did.
[03:14:38.760 - 03:14:39.440]
Daniel Goldman
You are aware that the committee subpoenaed him, are you not?
[03:14:39.440 - 03:14:41.760]
Gordon Sondland
I wasn't aware of that.
[03:14:41.760 - 03:14:42.680]
Daniel Goldman
And that he refused to come testify. Are you also aware that Mr. Mulvaney was subpoenaed by the committee and refused to come testify?
[03:14:42.680 - 03:14:49.240]
Gordon Sondland
I did read that in the newspaper, yes.
[03:14:49.240 - 03:14:53.200]
Daniel Goldman
Are you also aware that Robert Blair was subpoenaed and refused to come testify?
[03:14:53.200 - 03:14:59.680]
Gordon Sondland
I think I'm aware of that.
[03:14:59.680 - 03:15:01.480]
Daniel Goldman
And that Secretary Perry was asked to come testify and refused?
[03:15:01.480 - 03:15:07.880]
Gordon Sondland
I am aware of that as well.
[03:15:07.880 - 03:15:09.400]
Daniel Goldman
So, would you include them in -- as well as Secretary Pompeo as key witnesses that -- that would be able to provide some additional information on this -- on this inquiry?
[03:15:09.400 - 03:15:26.800]
Gordon Sondland
I think they would.
[03:15:26.800 - 03:15:27.800]
Daniel Goldman
Now, the -- this was not the first time, as you indicated, that Mr. Mulvaney heard about these investigations into Burisma and the 2016 election, is that right?
[03:15:27.800 - 03:15:43.560]
Gordon Sondland
I don't know what Mr. Mulvaney heard or didn't hear. I think there has been a huge amount of exaggeration over my contact with Mr. Mulvaney. It was actually quite limited.
[03:15:43.560 - 03:16:02.160]
Daniel Goldman
Well, he certainly in -- didn't indicate -- he certainly indicated a familiarity with what you were talking about in this July 19th email, is that right?
[03:16:02.160 - 03:16:11.200]
Gordon Sondland
Right, because I think Mr. Mulvaney was in the May 23rd briefing with President Trump. I don't remember, because there were people sitting behind us that were coming and going when we were sitting in front of President Trump's desk.
[03:16:11.200 - 03:16:31.360]
Daniel Goldman
Now, you've said that you don't have a recollection of -- of saying -- referencing Mulvaney in the July 10th meeting in Ambassador Bolton's office, is that -- is that right, or --
[03:16:31.360 - 03:16:44.440]
Gordon Sondland
-- I -- I don't recall.
[03:16:44.440 - 03:16:46.720]
Daniel Goldman
So, when both Fiona Hill and Colonel Vindman testified that, in response to a question from Ukrainian officials at that July 10th meeting about scheduling a White House visit, that you said, well, I -- I spoke with Mr. Mulvaney and it will be scheduled after they announce these investigations, do you have any reason to dispute that characterization?
[03:16:46.720 - 03:17:14.640]
Gordon Sondland
I don't have any reason to agree or dispute. I just don't remember.
[03:17:14.640 - 03:17:18.120]
Daniel Goldman
So, if they both remembered it and they both then went and spoke to the NSC legal advisor about it, you would trust that whatever they relayed to the NSC legal advisor would likely be an accurate reflection?
[03:17:18.120 - 03:17:30.440]
Gordon Sondland
Well, again, I -- I trust that they relayed to the NSC legal advisor. I don't -- I don't know whether I said it, and I don't know which conversation. Again, I've -- I've had very, very limited conversations with Mr. Mulvaney.
[03:17:30.440 - 03:17:46.000]
Daniel Goldman
This email indicates that you spoke to President Zelensky and were relaying what he said to very senior officials, is that right?
[03:17:46.000 - 03:17:55.680]
Gordon Sondland
Which email again?
[03:17:55.680 - 03:17:58.640]
Daniel Goldman
Sorry, the July 19th email, where you say I -- the subject is I talked to --
[03:17:58.640 - 03:18:07.760]
Gordon Sondland
-- Yes --
[03:18:07.760 - 03:18:09.000]
Daniel Goldman
-- Zelensky just now.
[03:18:09.000 - 03:18:10.120]
Gordon Sondland
I've got it.
[03:18:10.120 - 03:18:10.760]
Daniel Goldman
Was there some sort of assurance that President Zelensky needed to provide about what he would say to President Trump in order just to get the phone call?
[03:18:10.760 - 03:18:22.000]
Gordon Sondland
I think that part was verbal, and then there were a lot of communications going around back and forth with the Ukrainians. And that's when someone, and I don't remember who, came up with the idea of a draft statement so there would be no misunderstanding about what in fact the Ukrainians would say and would be willing to say, that we could rely on and negotiate something on a piece of paper.
[03:18:22.000 - 03:18:53.000]
Daniel Goldman
So, just a place you in time, we're going to get to that draft statement, which was in August. This is July 19th, before the July 25th call. Do you remember whether there was a need from any of the White House officials or other national security officials for President Zelensky to provide some assurance of what he would say to President Trump both for a phone call, not the meeting but a phone call, was scheduled?
[03:18:53.000 - 03:19:36.840]
Gordon Sondland
There was initially apparently a condition, but that condition was obviously dropped because the phone call took place and there was no such statement made. The phone call took place, as you said, on the 25th of July.
[03:19:36.840 - 03:20:01.040]
Daniel Goldman
And when you say there was no such statement that took place, what do you mean?
[03:20:01.040 - 03:20:06.040]
Gordon Sondland
Well, the Ukrainians never made their public statement prior to the phone call on 25th of July.
[03:20:06.040 - 03:20:15.400]
Daniel Goldman
Right. But we're not talking about a public statement. I -- I -- what I was asking is whether President Zelensky needed to relay to you or the other American officials that he would assure President Trump that he would do these investigations in a phone call.
[03:20:15.400 - 03:20:40.520]
Gordon Sondland
Well --
[03:20:40.520 - 03:20:41.120]
Daniel Goldman
-- That is --
[03:20:41.120 - 03:20:42.280]
Gordon Sondland
-- In my email, I obviously had just spoken with him, and he -- he being Zelensky, and he said that he was prepared to receive the call and he would make those assurances to President Trump on that call. And then presumably, that would then lead to the White House meeting.
[03:20:42.280 - 03:21:15.600]
Daniel Goldman
And you had been discussing this phone call for quite -- for several weeks now, is that right?
[03:21:15.600 - 03:21:24.480]
Gordon Sondland
Yes, with -- I think with Volker, with Perry, with Giuliani through Volker and Perry.
[03:21:24.480 - 03:21:36.000]
Daniel Goldman
And then right after you sent this email assuring the others that he will discuss the investigations and will turn over every stone, the Burisma and 2016 election investigations, Mr. Mulvaney responded that he asked to set up the call for the next day, is that right?
[03:21:36.000 - 03:22:01.040]
Gordon Sondland
That's what it says.
[03:22:01.040 - 03:22:04.240]
Daniel Goldman
Now, let's go to that press statement that you were discussing in -- in August. And you testified, I believe, that you understood that Rudy Giuliani was representing the president's interests with regard to Ukraine, is that right?
[03:22:04.240 - 03:22:25.280]
Gordon Sondland
That's what we all understood.
[03:22:25.280 - 03:22:27.400]
Daniel Goldman
And when -- you all, who do you mean we all?
[03:22:27.400 - 03:22:31.720]
Gordon Sondland
Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, myself.
[03:22:31.720 - 03:22:39.280]
Daniel Goldman
In August, you and Ambassador Volker were coordinating with Andriy Yermak, the Zelensky aide, about a -- a press statement. And I want to pull up a -- some of the text exchanges that you were referring to which, as you acknowledge, helps you refresh your recollection, is that right?
[03:22:39.280 - 03:23:03.720]
Gordon Sondland
And I think Taylor was involved in those initial discussions as well.
[03:23:03.720 - 03:23:08.840]
Daniel Goldman
Well, he's not on any of these text messages, so perhaps he was. He -- he does not remember that. But let's go to the first one on August 9th. There's an exchange between Ambassador Volker and you where you are discussing setting up -- we'll try to bring it up in the second, but I'll -- I'll just summarize for you.
[03:23:08.840 - 03:23:32.000]

You're discussing trying to set up a -- a White House meeting. Here it is. And you say Morrison ready to get dates as soon as Yermak confirms. Mr. Volker -- Ambassador Volker says, excellent. How did you sway him? You said not sure I did. I think POTUS really wants the deliverable. What did you mean there?
[03:23:32.000 - 03:23:58.360]
Gordon Sondland
The commitment to do the investigations.
[03:23:58.360 - 03:24:01.320]
Daniel Goldman
And how did you know that the president wanted the deliverable?
[03:24:01.320 - 03:24:07.520]
Gordon Sondland
I don't recall. I may have had a conversation with him or I may have heard it from someone else. But I -- I don't recall, again, without all these records.
[03:24:07.520 - 03:24:18.880]
Daniel Goldman
Going to the next exhibit, Exhibit 10 where or August 10 rather this is between you and Andriy Yermak. What did you say initially? In this exchange?
[03:24:18.880 - 03:24:33.160]
Gordon Sondland
Hello, good -- oh, no, that's Yermak. How was your conversation?
[03:24:33.160 - 03:24:42.080]
Daniel Goldman
And Mr. Yermak responds hello, good, my proposal we received date and then we make general statement with discussed things. Once we have a date we will call for a press briefing announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of U.S. Ukraine relationship including among other things Burisma and election meddling and investigations and you respond got it. That was your understanding of what this statement had to say to satisfying Mr. Giuliani, is that right?
[03:24:42.080 - 03:25:10.680]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[03:25:10.680 - 03:25:13.760]
Daniel Goldman
And then ultimately to satisfy the POTUS deliverable?
[03:25:13.760 - 03:25:18.560]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[03:25:18.560 - 03:25:19.240]
Daniel Goldman
Now the next day you write an email to Ulrich Brechbuhl and Lisa Kenna. Are you able to -- to see that on your screen?
[03:25:19.240 - 03:25:26.160]
Gordon Sondland
I can see it on the screen, yeah.
[03:25:26.160 - 03:25:28.440]
Daniel Goldman
What is the subject of the email?
[03:25:28.440 - 03:25:31.320]
Gordon Sondland
Ukraine.
[03:25:31.320 - 03:25:32.360]
Daniel Goldman
And can you read what you wrote there?
[03:25:32.360 - 03:25:35.200]
Gordon Sondland
Mike, and I am referring to Secretary Pompeo Kurt and I negotiated a statement from Zelensky to be delivered for our review in a day or two. The contents will hopefully make the boss happy enough to authorize an invitation. Zelensky plans to have a big presser on the openness subject including specifics next week.
[03:25:35.200 - 03:25:56.880]
Daniel Goldman
In -- in your opening statement you said that the specifics roof -- what did the specifics represent?
[03:25:56.880 - 03:26:08.120]
Gordon Sondland
The 2016 and the Burisma.
[03:26:08.120 - 03:26:13.000]
Daniel Goldman
And when you say the boss who do you mean by that?
[03:26:13.000 - 03:26:18.080]
Gordon Sondland
President Trump.
[03:26:18.080 - 03:26:19.880]
Daniel Goldman
And the invitation is what?
[03:26:19.880 - 03:26:23.600]
Gordon Sondland
The -- to the White House meeting.
[03:26:23.600 - 03:26:27.400]
Daniel Goldman
And Lisa Kenna responds Gordon, I will pass to S. And S is Secretary Pompeo?
[03:26:27.400 - 03:26:34.520]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[03:26:34.520 - 03:26:35.120]
Daniel Goldman
Thank you, Lisa. Now two days later you have a text exchange with Ambassador Volker again and this is at the end of it but the earlier text which we don't have here you may recall includes the press statement, the revised press statement that includes very smart and the 2016 election, do you recall that?
[03:26:35.120 - 03:27:01.440]
Gordon Sondland
Yes if I could see it that would be helpful but yes.
[03:27:01.440 - 03:27:04.960]
Daniel Goldman
So that you ultimately remembered that after your conversation with Mr. Giuliani you did pass along a statement to the Ukrainians that included Burisma and the 2016 election, is that right?
[03:27:04.960 - 03:27:17.520]
Gordon Sondland
I think there were statements being passed back and forth between Volker, the Ukrainians and others to try and negotiate acceptable language.
[03:27:17.520 - 03:27:27.480]
Daniel Goldman
And ultimately the statement was not issued was it?
[03:27:27.480 - 03:27:29.880]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[03:27:29.880 - 03:27:30.960]
Daniel Goldman
In the White House meeting did not --
[03:27:30.960 - 03:27:32.120]
Gordon Sondland
Still hasn't occurred.
[03:27:32.120 - 03:27:34.080]
Daniel Goldman
Still hasn't incurred. But you certainly understood at that time did you not that it was the presidents direction and instruction that a White House meeting with President Zelensky would not occur until President Zelensky announced publicly the investigations that the President wanted, is that right?
[03:27:34.080 - 03:27:52.960]
Gordon Sondland
That is correct.
[03:27:52.960 - 03:27:54.640]
Daniel Goldman
And you now know that the investigations the President wanted were an investigation into the Biden's and an investigation into the 2016 election?
[03:27:54.640 - 03:28:10.680]
Gordon Sondland
I know that now, yes.
[03:28:10.680 - 03:28:14.800]
Daniel Goldman
I'm going to move ahead to August 22 and you wrote an email to Secretary Pompeo, directly to Secretary Pompeo cc'ing Lisa Kenna with the subject of Zelensky and could you please read what you wrote to Secretary Pompeo?
[03:28:14.800 - 03:28:38.960]
Gordon Sondland
Mike should we block time in Warsaw for a short pull aside for POTUS to meet Zelensky? I would ask Zelensky to look him in the eye and tell him that once Ukraine's new justice folks are in place mid-September Zelensky should be able to move forward publicly and with confidence on those issues of importance to POTUS and to the U.S. Hopefully that will break the logjam.
[03:28:38.960 - 03:29:07.640]
Daniel Goldman
And Secretary Pompeo responds to you three minutes later yes. Now I want to unpack this a little bit. You said that in the middle once Ukraine's new justice folks are in place, what did you mean by that?
[03:29:07.640 - 03:29:21.600]
Gordon Sondland
The new prosecutor that was going to be working for President Zelensky, the old prosecutor I believe his term was up for he was being let go, he was the [Inaudible] prosecutor and Zelensky wanted to wait until his person was in place.
[03:29:21.600 - 03:29:41.360]
Daniel Goldman
So once that new prosecutor was in place then President Zelensky should be able to move forward publicly and with confidence on those issues of importance to POTUS. What did you mean by those issues of importance to POTUS?
[03:29:41.360 - 03:30:00.160]
Gordon Sondland
Again the 2016 election and Burisma investigation.
[03:30:00.160 - 03:30:04.120]
Daniel Goldman
Were you aware at this time that Secretary Pompeo had listened in to the July 25 phone call?
[03:30:04.120 - 03:30:14.520]
Gordon Sondland
I was not.
[03:30:14.520 - 03:30:17.920]
Daniel Goldman
If he had do you believe that he would fully understand what the issues of importance to POTUS related to Ukraine would be?
[03:30:17.920 - 03:30:32.000]
Gordon Sondland
I mean I can't characterize his state of mind. He listened in on the phone call and he concluded what he concluded.
[03:30:32.000 - 03:30:49.560]
Daniel Goldman
But now that you have read the phone call it's quite clear what the issues of importance to POTUS are?
[03:30:49.560 - 03:30:55.760]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[03:30:55.760 - 03:30:56.680]
Daniel Goldman
Biden investigation --
[03:30:56.680 - 03:30:59.800]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[03:30:59.800 - 03:31:00.960]
Daniel Goldman
-- and the 2016 election investigation, is that right?
[03:31:00.960 - 03:31:05.600]
Gordon Sondland
That is correct.
[03:31:05.600 - 03:31:07.000]
Daniel Goldman
Then it says hopefully that will break the logjam. Now by this point you were aware that security assistance had been on hold for about five weeks, is that right?
[03:31:07.000 - 03:31:18.560]
Gordon Sondland
I became aware on 18 July.
[03:31:18.560 - 03:31:19.800]
Daniel Goldman
And you -- you understood that there was a lot of activity within the State Department and elsewhere to try to get that cold lifted, is that right?
[03:31:19.800 - 03:31:30.040]
Gordon Sondland
That is right.
[03:31:30.040 - 03:31:31.000]
Daniel Goldman
Just about everybody in the interagency meaning the national security apparatus wanted to list the hold and wanted the a to go to Ukraine?
[03:31:31.000 - 03:31:39.440]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[03:31:39.440 - 03:31:40.080]
Daniel Goldman
So what did you mean here when you said logjam?
[03:31:40.080 - 03:31:42.560]
Gordon Sondland
Well, as I said to chairmanship I meant inconclusively anything that was holding up moving forward on the meeting and the Ukraine-U.S. relationship.
[03:31:42.560 - 03:31:50.760]
Daniel Goldman
And what was holding that up?
[03:31:50.760 - 03:31:53.480]
Gordon Sondland
At that point it was the statements about Burisma and the 2016 elections.
[03:31:53.480 - 03:32:00.440]
Daniel Goldman
But what was being held up?
[03:32:00.440 - 03:32:02.880]
Gordon Sondland
Well, the aid was being held up obviously.
[03:32:02.880 - 03:32:04.600]
Daniel Goldman
Four days later you said in your opening statement that you sent Rudy Giuliani's contact information to John Bolton. Is that right?
[03:32:04.600 - 03:32:11.320]
Gordon Sondland
I did.
[03:32:11.320 - 03:32:12.600]
Daniel Goldman
Did you know why he asked for that?
[03:32:12.600 - 03:32:14.560]
Gordon Sondland
No idea.
[03:32:14.560 - 03:32:16.360]
Daniel Goldman
Did you know that he was going to Ukraine the next day?
[03:32:16.360 - 03:32:20.920]
Gordon Sondland
I knew he was about to go to Ukraine. I didn't know exactly when his trip was but I thought it was kind of an odd request given that the White House can pretty much get anyone's phone number they want.
[03:32:20.920 - 03:32:40.080]
Daniel Goldman
Now in this email to Secretary Pompeo you reference a trip to Warsaw. Ultimately the vice president went on that trip?
[03:32:40.080 - 03:32:51.480]
Gordon Sondland
That is correct.
[03:32:51.480 - 03:32:53.440]
Daniel Goldman
And that was the conversation that you talk to about where you testified earlier to that where you said that we really need to get these investigations from Ukraine in order to release the aid in the pre-meeting?
[03:32:53.440 - 03:33:04.400]
Gordon Sondland
That is right.
[03:33:04.400 - 03:33:05.240]
Daniel Goldman
And Vice President Pence just nodded?
[03:33:05.240 - 03:33:08.120]
Gordon Sondland
A -- he heard what I said.
[03:33:08.120 - 03:33:10.360]
Daniel Goldman
And didn't respond in any way?
[03:33:10.360 - 03:33:12.280]
Gordon Sondland
I don't recall any substantive response.
[03:33:12.280 - 03:33:15.640]
Daniel Goldman
Okay. But you -- you never specifically referenced the Biden's or Burisma in that meeting did you?
[03:33:15.640 - 03:33:23.960]
Gordon Sondland
I don't remember ever mentioning the Biden's. I may have mentioned Burisma.
[03:33:23.960 - 03:33:27.040]
Daniel Goldman
In that meeting you with a group, you were not alone with Vice President Pence?
[03:33:27.040 - 03:33:31.240]
Gordon Sondland
That is --
[03:33:31.240 - 03:33:31.920]
Daniel Goldman
Is that right? And you know that at that bilateral meeting with President Zelensky I believe you testified earlier that Vice President Pence did not mention these investigations at all, right?
[03:33:31.920 - 03:33:48.480]
Gordon Sondland
I don't recall him mentioning the investigations.
[03:33:48.480 - 03:33:49.480]
Daniel Goldman
So that -- your testimony is just simply in a pre-meeting with a group of Americans before the bilateral meeting you reference the fact that the Ukraine needed to do these investigations in order to lift the aid. Is that correct?
[03:33:49.480 - 03:34:03.000]
Gordon Sondland
I -- I think I referenced -- I didn't say that Ukraine had to do the investigations. I think I said that we heard from Mr. Giuliani that that was the case.
[03:34:03.000 - 03:34:22.720]
Daniel Goldman
So that helps inform your presumption, correct?
[03:34:22.720 - 03:34:25.160]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[03:34:25.160 - 03:34:25.600]
Daniel Goldman
So it wasn't really a presumption. You heard from Mr. Giuliani.
[03:34:25.600 - 03:34:30.440]
Gordon Sondland
Well, I didn't hear from Mr. Giuliani about the aide. I heard about the Burisma in 2016.
[03:34:30.440 - 03:34:38.920]
Daniel Goldman
And you understood at that point as we discussed 2+2 = 4 that the aide was there as well?
[03:34:38.920 - 03:34:45.760]
Gordon Sondland
That was the problem Mr. Goldman. No one told me directly that the aide was tied to anything. I was presuming it was.
[03:34:45.760 - 03:34:53.480]
Daniel Goldman
Right. Well I want to go ahead to -- I'm going to go back on September 1 or I'm going to jump actually ahead to September 7, okay? When we discuss those text messages where you said there were multiple convos with President Zelensky and POTUS. Do you recall that?
[03:34:53.480 - 03:35:22.200]
Gordon Sondland
Do you have the email by any chance?
[03:35:22.200 - 03:35:23.240]
Daniel Goldman
We could try to pull it up in a second but you don't remember I showed it to you earlier this morning?
[03:35:23.240 - 03:35:28.160]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, go ahead though with your question.
[03:35:28.160 - 03:35:30.120]
Daniel Goldman
And you -- you confirm that that likely meant as you said it did that you spoke with President Trump, is that right?
[03:35:30.120 - 03:35:36.240]
Gordon Sondland
Again if my email said I spoke with President Trump presumably I -- I did.
[03:35:36.240 - 03:35:40.600]
Daniel Goldman
You are relying pretty heavily in your testimony on the texts and emails that you were able to review. Is that right?
[03:35:40.600 - 03:35:46.160]
Gordon Sondland
That's right.
[03:35:46.160 - 03:35:47.960]
Daniel Goldman
So certainly if someone else had contemporaneous texts, emails or notes, you would presume that what they were saying was accurate. Is that correct?
[03:35:47.960 - 03:35:57.000]
Gordon Sondland
Well, if they had texts or emails, I would. If they had notes, I don't know. Some people's notes are great. Some peoples aren't. I don't know.
[03:35:57.000 - 03:36:15.120]
Daniel Goldman
But certainly it would be a helpful refresher to anyone's memory?
[03:36:15.120 - 03:36:20.760]
Gordon Sondland
Including my own.
[03:36:20.760 - 03:36:23.840]
Daniel Goldman
Now you had a conversation on September 7, according to both Ambassador Taylor and Tim Morrison -- with Tim Morrison where you told Mr. Morrison that President Trump told you that he was not asking for a quid pro quo, but that he did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say that he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself.
[03:36:23.840 - 03:37:02.240]

You don't have any reason to dispute both Ambassador Taylor's and Mr. Morrison's testimony about that conversation, do you?
[03:37:02.240 - 03:37:12.200]
Gordon Sondland
No.
[03:37:12.200 - 03:37:14.640]
Daniel Goldman
On September 8 you then had a conversation directly with Ambassador Taylor about this same phone call where Ambassador Taylor said that you confirmed that you spoke to President Trump as he had suggested earlier to you, and that President Trump was adamant that President Zelensky himself, meaning not the prosecutor general, had to, quote, clear things up and do it in public, unquote.
[03:37:14.640 - 03:37:44.120]

Do you recall -- do you have any reason to think that ambassador Taylor's testimony based on his contemporaneous notes was incorrect?
[03:37:44.120 - 03:37:53.720]
Gordon Sondland
I don't know if I got that from President Trump or I got it from Giuliani. That's the part I'm not clear on.
[03:37:53.720 - 03:38:00.480]
Daniel Goldman
Well, Ambassador Taylor is quite clear that you said President Trump. Mr. Morrison is also quite clear that you said President Trump. You don't have any reason to dispute their very specific recollections, do you?
[03:38:00.480 - 03:38:18.200]
Gordon Sondland
No, if they have notes and they recall that, I don't have any reason to dispute it. I just personally can't remember where I got it from.
[03:38:18.200 - 03:38:28.760]
Daniel Goldman
And you also told Ambassador Taylor in that same conversation that if President Zelensky, that -- rather you told President Zelensky and Andriy Yermak that although this was not a quid pro quo as the president had very clearly told you, it was however required for President Zelensky to clear things up in public or there would be a stalemate.
[03:38:28.760 - 03:38:58.200]

You don't have any reason to dispute Ambassador Taylor's recollection of that conversation you had with President Zelensky, do you?
[03:38:58.200 - 03:39:11.440]
Gordon Sondland
No.
[03:39:11.440 - 03:39:11.960]
Daniel Goldman
And that you understood the stalemate referenced the aid. Is that correct?
[03:39:11.960 - 03:39:18.000]
Gordon Sondland
At that point, yes.
[03:39:18.000 - 03:39:19.600]
Daniel Goldman
Ambassador Taylor also described a comment that you made where you were trying to explain what President Trump's view of this was, and you said that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, the businessman asks the person to pay up before signing the check.
[03:39:19.600 - 03:39:46.680]

Do you recall saying that to Ambassador Taylor?
[03:39:46.680 - 03:39:51.920]
Gordon Sondland
I don't recall it specifically, but I may have.
[03:39:51.920 - 03:39:57.120]
Daniel Goldman
And Ambassador Volker also said that you did.
[03:39:57.120 - 03:40:02.840]
Gordon Sondland
Okay.
[03:40:02.840 - 03:40:03.440]
Daniel Goldman
So just to summarize here, by the end of the first week of September before the aid had been released, you had expressed twice to the Ukrainians that you understood that the aid -- that the investigations needed to be publicly announced on CNN in order for the aid to be released. Do you recall that?
[03:40:03.440 - 03:40:22.120]
Gordon Sondland
I didn't say that they had to be announced on CNN. The Ukrainians said to me or to Ambassador Volker, or both of us, that they had planned to do an interview anyway on CNN, and they would use that occasion to mention these items.
[03:40:22.120 - 03:40:35.880]
Daniel Goldman
And that even though at some point you had calculated 2+2 to equal 4 and therefore you believed that the aid was conditioned on the investigations, that you had a phone call with President Trump, that you relayed to both Tim Morrison and Ambassador Taylor whose accounts of that conversation you do not dispute, where President Trump confirmed that President Zelensky needed to publicly announce the investigations or otherwise the obvious implication of the stalemate would be that the aid would not be released.
[03:40:35.880 - 03:41:16.760]

Is that correct?
[03:41:16.760 - 03:41:18.200]
Gordon Sondland
Again, the implication. I did not hear directly from President Trump that the aid would be held up until the statement was made. I did not hear those words.
[03:41:18.200 - 03:41:35.360]
Daniel Goldman
But you agree that with whatever Mr. Morrison and Ambassador Taylor testified to about the conversation you had with President Trump. Is that right?
[03:41:35.360 - 03:41:48.320]
Gordon Sondland
Remind me again. I don't want to misspeak.
[03:41:48.320 - 03:41:55.840]
Daniel Goldman
Well you just said you have no reason to dispute their accounts based on their detailed notes.
[03:41:55.840 - 03:42:01.000]
Gordon Sondland
Were they saying that I told them that President Trump said that the aid would not be released until the statements were made because I said repeatedly I don't recall President Trump ever saying that to me?
[03:42:01.000 - 03:42:24.040]
Daniel Goldman
Okay.
[03:42:24.040 - 03:42:24.960]
Adam B. Schiff
I think what they said, if I could just finish this line of questioning --
[03:42:24.960 - 03:42:32.520]
Gordon Sondland
Yeah, yeah.
[03:42:32.520 - 03:42:33.040]
Adam B. Schiff
-- was that President Trump was adamant that President Zelensky himself had to clear things up, quote, clear things up and do it in public, unquote. So what they related was although President Trump claimed to you there was no quid pro quo, he also made it clear to you in that call that President Zelensky had to, quote, clear things up and do it in public.
[03:42:33.040 - 03:43:12.200]

You don't have a reason to dispute that's what you [Inaudible]
[03:43:12.200 - 03:43:18.960]
Gordon Sondland
I don't have any reason to dispute the clear things up and do it in public. What I'm trying to be very clear about was President Trump never told me directly that the aid was tied to that statement.
[03:43:18.960 - 03:43:43.920]
Adam B. Schiff
But in that same conversation you had with him about the aid, about the quid pro quo, he told you that President Zelensky had to, quote, clear things up and do it in public, correct?
[03:43:43.920 - 03:44:03.520]
Gordon Sondland
I did not have a conversation with him about the aid. I had a conversation with him, as referenced in my text, about quid pro quo.
[03:44:03.520 - 03:44:15.320]
Adam B. Schiff
Well, the quid pro quo you were discussing was over the aid, correct?
[03:44:15.320 - 03:44:21.240]
Gordon Sondland
No, President Trump, when I asked him the open-ended question, as I testified previously, what do you want from Ukraine? His answer was, I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing. That's all I got from President Trump.
[03:44:21.240 - 03:44:45.600]
Adam B. Schiff
Did you also get from President Trump, as reflected by Ambassador Taylor, that he said he was adamant that President Zelensky had to, quote, clear things up and do it in public?
[03:44:45.600 - 03:44:58.320]
Gordon Sondland
That part I can agree to, yes.
[03:44:58.320 - 03:45:03.200]
Adam B. Schiff
The time is now with the minority for 20 minutes.
[03:45:03.200 - 03:45:08.840]
Unidentified
33.
[03:45:08.840 - 03:45:09.840]
Adam B. Schiff
I'm sorry, 33 minutes.
[03:45:09.840 - 03:45:12.440]
Devin Nunes
33 minutes. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Ambassador, you've been in business for a long time.
[03:45:12.440 - 03:45:21.600]
Gordon Sondland
I have.
[03:45:21.600 - 03:45:23.360]
Devin Nunes
So if you want to get to the bottom of something, somebody that's running a department or one of your buildings or something, who do you go to?
[03:45:23.360 - 03:45:31.760]
Gordon Sondland
The boss.
[03:45:31.760 - 03:45:32.960]
Devin Nunes
Manager of whatever company it is?
[03:45:32.960 - 03:45:35.720]
Gordon Sondland
Exactly.
[03:45:35.720 - 03:45:36.320]
Devin Nunes
Right?
[03:45:36.320 - 03:45:36.720]
Gordon Sondland
Correct.
[03:45:36.720 - 03:45:37.200]
Devin Nunes
So if you want to get to the bottom of foreign aid, probably go to the people that are in charge of foreign aid here in this town, wouldn't you? Because you're not in charge of foreign aid.
[03:45:37.200 - 03:45:47.480]
Gordon Sondland
I'm not in charge of foreign aid.
[03:45:47.480 - 03:45:49.280]
Devin Nunes
And you've had to testify that you presume foreign aid was this or that, and you're guessing that this was tied to foreign aid. But there are people in this town who are in charge of the foreign aid. And in fact, I don't think it's very fair to you at all, or to us, or to the American people, you might be surprised that we had that person here in the capitol in a secret deposition in the basement last Saturday.
[03:45:49.280 - 03:46:16.040]

That testimony might be pretty important to you before you were here to testify, if you could have read that, your lawyers could have went through that because it may have clarified some more things for you about your recollection about the foreign aid. So you know, we've heard -- earlier we heard about the -- we had the chair looking at the cameras telling American people talking about Watergate, with their Watergate fantasies that they continue to -- I guess they fantasize about this at night, and then they come here and talk about obstruction of justice because they're not giving you documents that you think you should have.
[03:46:16.040 - 03:47:00.560]

So now they've laid out their clear Watergate argument for articles of impeachment. So I just have to remind the gentleman -- I know we're not in a court of law because you wrote the rules, the chair here did, but I would think it's obstruction of justice to not give the American people and give the ambassador the right to look at the transcript of the man who was in charge of the foreign aid in this town.
[03:47:00.560 - 03:47:29.520]

Now I could get into what he said, but -- and the chair could release what he said. And we're not even allowed to call that witness here today. So let's talk about things that we do know are facts, okay, as best as I think you and I and most people know them. President Trump does not like foreign aid to start with.
[03:47:29.520 - 03:47:49.120]

Is that correct, Ambassador?
[03:47:49.120 - 03:47:55.400]
Gordon Sondland
I've heard that, yes.
[03:47:55.400 - 03:47:56.760]
Devin Nunes
And you've testified that watching over the EU you have 28 countries, you have neighboring countries that you work with. One of his biggest complaints is the lack of participation that those countries participate in programs around the world. Isn't that correct?
[03:47:56.760 - 03:48:12.000]
Gordon Sondland
That's correct.
[03:48:12.000 - 03:48:12.920]
Devin Nunes
Especially NATO --
[03:48:12.920 - 03:48:14.760]
Gordon Sondland
Yes.
[03:48:14.760 - 03:48:15.080]