November 20, 2019 | 4: 17pm
House Republicans on Wednesday seized on Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s acknowledgment — also touted by President Trump — that the commander in chief told him he wanted “nothing” from Ukraine.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan took the lead during the House impeachment inquiry.
“I mean, I’ve never seen anything like this and you told [GOP staff counsel Steve] Castor that the president never told you that the announcement had to happen to get anything. In fact, he didn’t just not tell you that, he explicitly said the opposite,” Jordan asserted.
“You said to the president of the United States, ‘What do you want from Ukraine? The president [said] ‘I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. I want Zelensky to do the right thing. I want him to do what he ran on,’ ” continued Jordan, one of the president’s most ardent defenders.
Ohio Rep. Mike Turner carried on with the same line of questioning, noting that Sondland said he presumed that Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani had conditioned the White House visit and release of $391 million in military aid on Ukraine launching probes into Joe and Hunter Biden and the 2016 elections.
“You’re just assuming all of these things and then giving them the evidence that they’re running out and doing press conferences and CNN headline says the president tied aid to investigations and you don’t know that. Correct?” Turner asked.
“I never said the president of the United States should be impeached,” Sondland replied.
“No, but you left people with the confusing impression you were giving testimony you did not. You do not have any evidence that the president was tied to holding aid from Ukraine,” he declared.
Upstate New York Rep. Elise Stefanik also piled on.
“You testified in fact, ‘Mr. Trump never told me directly the aid was conditioned on the investigations. You said, ‘never heard those words from the president.’ Instead, you testified that in your September 9 call with President Trump said, ‘No quid pro quo. I want nothing. I want nothing,’ ” she said.
Sondland acknowledged that she was correct.
The call — which was first reported in October after Sondland’s closed-door testimony, which he later amended — came the same day that Congress launched an investigation into whether Trump was withholding the military aid until Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to launch the probes that could benefit the president politically.
Rep. Adam Schiff mocked the line of attack, noting that the congressionally approved aid to Ukraine was released only after team Trump “got caught” withholding it.
“My colleagues seem to be under the impression that unless the president spoke the words, ‘Ambassador Sondland, I am bribing the Ukrainian president,’ that there is no evidence of bribery. If he didn’t say, ‘Ambassador Sondland, I’m telling you, I’m not going to give the aid unless they do this,’ that there’s no evidence of a quid pro quo on military aid,” Schiff said.