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Trump Continues To Clean House, Fires Ambassador Gordon Sondland


Posted By  Ryan Saavedra | DailyWire.com | February 10, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 20: Gordon Sondland, the U.S ambassador to the European Union, makes an opening statement before testifying to the House Intelligence Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill November 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony during the fourth day of open hearings in the impeachment inquiry against U.S. President Donald Trump, whom House Democrats say held back U.S. military aid for Ukraine while demanding it investigate his political rivals and the unfounded conspiracy theory that Ukrainians, not Russians, were behind the 2016 computer hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Donald Trump continued to clean house late on Friday after removing two brothers from the National Security Council, notifying Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union that he was fired.

“I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States ambassador to the European Union,” Sondland said in a statement. “I am grateful to President Trump for having given me the opportunity to serve, to Secretary Pompeo for his consistent support, and to the exceptional and dedicated professionals at the U.S. Mission to the European Union. I am proud of our accomplishments. Our work here has been the highlight of my career.”

Sonland, who testified in Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, initially said during his testimony that there was a quid pro quo involving withholding aid to Ukraine for the announcement of an investigation into Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Later, Sondland later admitted that what he had stated was just his assumption.

HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ADAM 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?

SONDLAND: That was my presumption, my personal presumption, based on the facts at the time. Nothing was moving.

Sondland later continued:

GOP COUNSEL STEVE CASTOR: I want to turn back to your – your opener on Page 5, under – when – when you talk about 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. Correct?

SONDLAND: Correct.

CASTOR: And you acknowledged that this is speculation, right?

SONDLAND: It was a presumption.

Sondland later admitted that he had no evidence to prove his initial claim.

Sondland late confirmed again during his testimony that what he had initially claimed was just his presumption:

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): OK. Well, you know, after you testified Chairman Schiff ran out and gave a press conference and said, he gets to impeach the president of the United States because of your testimony. And if you pull up CNN today right now their banner says “Sondland ties Trump to withholding aid,” is that your testimony today, Mr. — Ambassador Sondland, that you have evidence that Donald Trump tied the investigations to the aid? Because I don’t think you’re saying that.

SONDLAND: I’ve said repeatedly, Congressman, I was presuming. I also said that President Trump —

TURNER: So no one told you. Not just the president — Giuliani didn’t tell you, Mulvaney didn’t tell you — nobody — Pompeo didn’t tell you? Nobody else on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying aid to these investigations, is that correct?

SONDLAND: I think I already testified to that —

TURNER: No, answer the question. Is it correct, no one on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying this aid to the investigations? Because if your answer is yes, then the Chairman’s wrong and the headline on CNN is wrong. No one on this planet told you that President Trump was tying aid to investigations, yes or no?

SONDLAND: Yes.

TURNER: So, you really have no testimony today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations?

SONDLAND: Other than my own presumption.

TURNER: Which is nothing. I mean, that’s what I don’t understand. So you know what hearsay evidence is, Ambassador? Hearsay is when I testify what someone else told me. Do you know what made up testimony is? Made up testimony is when I just presume it.

I mean, you’re just assuming all of these things and then you’re giving them the evidence that they’re running out and doing press conferences and CNN’s headline is saying that you’re saying the president of the United States should be impeached because he tied to investigations and you don’t know that, correct?

SONDLAND: I never said the president of the United States should be impeached.

TURNER: Nope, but you did — you have left people with the confusing impression that you were giving testimony that you did not. You do not have any evidence that the president of the United States was tied to withholding aid from Ukraine in exchange for investigations. I yield back.

WATCH:

Fact Check: No, Gordon Sondland Did Not Prove Ukraine ‘Quid pro Quo’


Reported by Joel B. Pollak | 

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/11/05/fact-check-no-gordon-sondland-did-not-prove-ukraine-quid-pro-quo/

Gordon Sondland, the United States Ambassador to the European Union, adresses the media during a press conference at the US Embassy to Romania in Bucharest September 5, 2019. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

CLAIM: Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland confirmed, contrary to earlier testimony, that there had been a “quid pro quo” between President Donald Trump and the Ukrainian government: military aid for “dirt.”

VERDICT: FALSE. Sondland said that he “presumed” there was a “quid pro quo.” But he did not have any first-hand knowledge of one, and other witnesses have testified that there was no such “quid pro quo” at all.

The House Intelligence Committee began releasing transcripts this week of its behind-closed-doors interviews with witnesses in the “impeachment inquiry.” On Tuesday, it released the transcripts of the appearances of Sondland and former Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker.

Volker testified that there had never been a “quid pro quo” — that he had never heard one discussed, and that Ukrainian officials seemed unaware of any such arrangement at all.

But Sondland, who had also testified earlier that there was no “quid pro quo,” had to amend that testimony after he was apparently contradicted by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, who testified last month that he believed there was a “quid pro quo,” under which the Trump administration was withholding key military aid to Ukraine unless it investigated alleged corruption related to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

In a supplemental declaration filed with the committee, Sondland said that “by the beginning of September 2019, and in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid,” he “presumed that the [Ukraine] aid suspension had become linked to the proposed anti-corruption statement” and the investigation of the Bidens. That led him to tell the Ukrainian government that “resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur” until it complied.

But there are two big logical leaps in Sondland’s statement.

The first is that he only “presumed” there was a “quid pro quo” — that is, he did not have direct knowledge of one.

The second is that he told the Ukrainians that a “quid pro quo” was “likely” — that is, he did not know with certainty.

In their rush to accuse the Trump administration of wrongdoing, Democrats and the media have overlooked one other key fact: the crucial August 2019 Politico article.

The article, “Trump holds up Ukraine military aid meant to confront Russia,” dated August 28, was the first that the Ukrainians ever knew about any withholding of aid — five weeks after the phone call between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky which supposedly prompted the so-called “whistleblower” to approach Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. Sondland refers specifically to September.

Therefore what changed his — and others’ — impression was not anything the administration (or its representatives) did or said. Rather, it was the media.

Since Sondland consumes the same media that everyone else does — indeed, it is part of a diplomat’s job to know what is being said — he drew his own conclusions. But when he asked President Trump directly, Trump told him there was no “quid pro quo”: he just wanted Zelensky to do “the right thing.”

All of this presumes there is something wrong with a “quid pro quo.” But even that seems untrue. In fact, “quid pro quo” arrangements are normal in diplomacy. A House bill passed recently by Democrats would establish a “quid pro quo” that bars Russia from access even to private U.S. funds until it can be shown not to have interfered in U.S. elections. Trump, Democrats say, sought his personal or political interest; it also happened to be a national interest.

For years, Democrats defended the investigations of President Barack Obama’s administration into then-candidate Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign by arguing that the country had to know if a major candidate was corrupt or compromised by a foreign power.

That investigation may have been conducted in an unlawful manner — and a grand jury is now on the case — but the logic they used then is even more appropriate to Ukraine and the Bidens.

Hunter Biden’s role as a go-between for Burisma — a Ukrainian gas company suspected of corruption — and his father’s administration has never been fully investigated. The so-called “whistleblower” worked for Biden at the time; that conflict of interest, too, has never been explored.

If Trump had demanded a “quid pro quo,” he would have been doing his job. As it is, there is no evidence of a “quid pro quo” — certainly not from Gordon Sondland.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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