The opening statement from Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, in Wednesday’s impeachment inquiry delivered several bombshells, including Sondland’s own admission that there was in fact a quid pro quo related to a White House meeting between President Trump and Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” Sondland said. “As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
Along with affirming that a White House meeting with Trump was conditioned on Zelensky announcing investigations into Joe Biden and a conspiracy theory related to the 2016 election, Sondland said he believed millions in military aid would only be released if Zelensky did Trump’s bidding.
Other key moments from Sondland’s testimony included his insistence that the conditions Trump set for a meeting with Zelensky were no secret in the White House. “Everyone was in the loop,” he said. That included acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Vice-President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Sondland’s testimony comes in the middle of a busy week in the impeachment inquiry. Following him Wednesday is Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of Defense, and David Hale, undersecretary of State for political affairs. On Thursday, former NSC official Fiona Hill and David Holmes, a diplomat in the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, will testify.