The Latest: Envoy ‘followed president’s order’ on Giuliani

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and the House impeachment inquiry (all times local):

9:10 a.m.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland is testifying that he “followed the president’s orders” to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine.

Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, is a key witness in the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

He says that he and his colleagues did not want to involve the president’s personal attorney in diplomacy efforts with Ukraine, but they were told to by the president.

Even though they didn’t like it, they also didn’t think it was improper at the time. Had he known that some of Giuliani’s associations with individuals who are now under criminal indictment, he never would have “acquiesced to his participation.”

Because he believed everything to be above board, they made every effort to keep people informed about the efforts.

He said the suggestion that he and others we were engaged in rogue diplomacy was absolutely false.


9:02 a.m.

Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, is confirming that he spoke by phone with President Donald Trump one day after the president prodded Ukraine’s leader to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Sondland tells House impeachment investigators that the White House has also confirmed the newly revealed call and shared call logs with his attorneys.

The July 26 phone call between Sondland and Trump was disclosed by multiple witnesses within the last week. It took place a day after the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymr Zelenskiy that is now at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Sondland says there’s no reason to doubt that he discussed investigations with Trump, as other witnesses have maintained. He says the call did not strike him as significant at that time.


9 a.m.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland says he kept top members of the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the loop about President Donald Trump’s pressure on Ukraine for investigations.

In remarks to a House intelligence panel, Sondland tells lawmakers that it was well-established within the Trump administration that there was a quid pro quo involving Ukraine.

He said the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, openly discussed how Trump wanted Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into the 2016 U.S. presidential election and into Burisma — the Ukraine gas company on whose board Biden’s son, Hunter, sat — as a prerequisite for a coveted White House visit for Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Sondland said he laid out the issue in detail to members of State Department, Energy, and White House staff. Recipients included Pompeo and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, he said.

Everyone understood “Trump’s desires and requirements,” Sondland says. He added: “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.”

Last month, Pompeo acknowledged for the first time he was on Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, but disclosed no details and did not indicate he was kept up to date on the Ukraine pressure efforts.


12:12 a.m.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland faces tough questions when he testifies to a Houses panel Wednesday about his evolving accounts of the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine.

A newly revealed phone call with President Donald Trump shows Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, more directly entangled than any witness yet in the Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and Democrats in the 2016 election.

Sondland is a wealthy hotelier Trump tapped as his ambassador to the European Union. He is more directly entangled than any witness yet in the president’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and Democrats in the 2016 election.

Sondland’s closeness to Trump makes his appearance of particular concern to the White House as the historic impeachment inquiry reaches closer to the president.

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