But the envoy also told lawmakers that in his conversations with the president — including a September phone call — Trump never explicitly conditioned a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president or security assistance to the Eastern European nation on the probes.
Trump seized upon that particular bit of testimony Wednesday.
“I just noticed one thing, and I would say, that means it’s all over,” he told reporters, proceeding to read off the pages of handwritten notes , summarizing Sondland’s remarks.
“So here’s my answer: ‘I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing,” Trump said, re-enacting his conversation with Sondland.
Throughout the House impeachment inquiry, the president has sought to denigrate or at least distance himself from key witnesses in the Democrat-led investigation, including his own administration officials.
Trump early last month hailed Sondland, who contributed $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee, as “a really good man and great American.” Two weeks ago, however, Trump claimed to “hardly know the gentleman.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham echoed her boss’s messaging Wednesday, also referencing the September call between Trump and Sondland.
“Ambassador Sondland’s testimony made clear that in one of the few brief phone calls he had with President Trump, the President clearly stated that he ‘wanted nothing’ from Ukraine and repeated ‘no quid pro quo over and over again,'” Grisham said in a statement. “In fact, no quid pro quo ever occurred. The U.S. aid to Ukraine flowed, no investigation was launched, and President Trump has met and spoken with President Zelensky. Democrats keep chasing ghosts.”
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, also weighed in on Sondland’s testimony after the ambassador told lawmakers that Trump ordered him to coordinate with the former New York mayor on Ukraine matters.
Sondland said that he, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Kurt Volker, a former U.S. envoy for Ukraine negotiations, “did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani” and simply “played the hand we were dealt.”
But Giuliani wrote on Twitter that he “came into this at Volker’s request,” and accused Sondland of “speculating based on VERY little contact. I never met him and had very few calls with him, mostly with Volker.”
In that same tweet, which Giuliani quickly deleted, he added that “Volker testified I answered their questions and described them as my opinions, NOT demands. I.E., no quid pro quo!”