After an explosive appearance from US envoy to the EU Gordon Sondland before an impeachment hearing, US President Donald Trump distanced himself from his statements. “I don’t know him very well. I have not spoken to him much,” Trump told reporters at the White House. Gordon Sondland testified that he followed the president’s orders in seeking a “quid pro quo” deal with Ukraine.
Last month, Trump had described his ambassador to the European Union as “a really good man and great American.”
“It was a very short and abrupt conversation that he had with me,” Trump said.
“’What do you want from Ukraine,’” the president quoted Sondland as asking him.
“Here is my response, that he gave. Just gave. Ready? You have the cameras rolling?” “Here is my answer: ‘I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing,’” added the president, who re-enacted the exchange several times to the reporters gathered on the South Lawn.
“Then he says: this is the final word from the President of the United States. I want nothing.” “I would say that means it’s all over,” Trump said.
In his testimony, Sondland said he was ordered by Trump to seek a “quid pro quo” deal in which Ukraine would probe Biden in exchange for a White House summit.
Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry over claims that Trump pressured Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call to look into what the US leader said were corrupt business deals involving Biden.
Sondland said he “never received a clear answer” on why the White House suspended security aid to Ukraine, which is battling Russian-backed separatists, but that he also “came to believe” it was tied to the investigations sought by Trump.
Last week, Donald Trump dubbed the impeachment proceedings against him as a "double standard never seen" in US history. This came after US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch deposed before the Congressional panel on the second day of impeachment hearings. “A double standard like never seen before in the history of our Country,” Trump tweeted as Yovanovitch was grilled on president's interaction with Ukrainians.
Asserting that he has done no wrong, Trump released transcripts of his first phone to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after his electoral victory.