Sondland refutes Trump: Clear quid pro quo
Sondland wasted no time getting to the guts of the impeachment inquiry, telling lawmakers that Trump pressed Ukrainian leaders to launch investigations into his political opponents by dangling a meeting and a phone call with Ukraine’s newly elected president — both of which Kyiv was desperate to secure amid an ongoing war with Russia.
Instruction came from Trump himself
Based on Sondland’s telling, Trump was dictating Ukraine policy through Giuliani. And Giuliani was demanding a quid pro quo: No White House visit for Ukraine’s new president until Kyiv agreed to publicly announce investigations into Trump’s political rivals.
Everyone was in the loop
Some Republicans have suggested that Sondland, a billionaire hotel magnate and Trump donor with an outsized ego, had gone rogue and wasn’t acting on behalf of Trump or his top brass.
Sondland’s response: He read emails and texts to top Trump officials outlining specific details of the quid pro quo with Ukraine.
“Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret,” Sondland testified.
Diplomats saw Giuliani as toxic
Wednesday’s hearing amplified a recurring theme in the impeachment investigation: Giuliani, numerous witnesses have said, was a toxic figure in Ukraine, one hell-bent on advancing Trump’s political interests — and his own business pursuits — in ways that threatened to undermine U.S.-Ukraine relations and strengthen Russia’s hand in the region.