EU ambassador throws Donald Trump, Pompeo and Mulvaney under the bus: Gordon Sondland says there WAS a quid pro quo, testifies he was ORDERED to 'talk to Rudy,' and says Bidens probe was to benefit the president - who fumes 'I wanted nothing' from Ukraine

Ambassador Gordon Sondland, the most anticipated witness in the impeachment inquiry, implicated Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Vice President Mike Pence in his testimony Wednesday where he said bluntly that a 'quid pro quo' was at work in regards to U.S. policy to the Ukraine.
Sondland implicated everyone but himself in a pressure campaign on the Ukraine to open an investigation into the president's political rivals. At first, the quid pro quo was a White House meeting for the new Ukrainian president. Then military aid was withheld – and Sondland said that he came to the conclusion it was in the quid pro quo too.
'At all times, I was acting in good faith. As a presidential appointee, I followed the directions of the President,' he said.
His bombshell testimony revealed that top level Trump administration officials knew what was happening at the time.
'They knew what we were doing and why,' Sondland told the House Intelligence Committee. 'Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.'
And he said flat-out there was a 'quid pro quo' at work.
'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. 'With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.'
And he said U.S. officials working on Ukraine policy did so at Trump's direction – a direct implication that the president wanted a foreign government to investigate his top political rival in the 2020 presidential election.
'We followed the president's orders,' he said.
At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue Wednesday, a defiant but frantic President Trump insisted his 'final word' to Sondland was an order to demand nothing at all from Zelensky.
''What do you want? What do you want? I hear all these theories. What do you want?'' the president said Sondland had asked him.
'And now here's my response that he just gave. Ready? You have the cameras rolling? ''I want nothing. That is what I want from Ukraine'.'
'That is what I said. ''I want nothing.'' I said it twice.'
Trump was 45 minutes late for his departure to tour an Apple factory in Texas. He read his reconstruction of the scene from his own notes on a White House pad, written in Sharpie block-letters.
The president left via the White House residence, not the Oval Office. An official told that he had been watching 'most of the hearing' starting at 9 o'clock.
He told reporters the same story three times, describing in an ever-more-manic tone what he claims were his marching orders to Sondland.
'I say to the ambassador—response—'I want nothing, I want nothing, I want no quid pro quo',' Trump repeated, pounding the press corps with his message and nothing else. ''Tell Zelensky, President Zelensky, to do the right thing.''
'So,' he said again before walking away as shouted questions fell around him, 'Here's my answer: 'I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing'.'
The president didn't address the rest of Sondland's testimony, speaking for barely three minutes.
Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani tweeted during the hearing: 'During the July 24 conversation @realDonaldTrump agrees to a meeting with Pres. Zelensky without requiring an investigation, any discussion of military aid or any condition whatsoever. 
'This record shows definitively no quid pro quo, which is the same as no bribery. END OF CASE!' 
Giuliani later said in a now-deleted tweet that he 'came into this' at the request of Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker and said Sondland is speculating on 'VERY little contact', adding that he and Sondland never met. 
Sondland, during his testimony, repeatedly blamed Trump for forcing him, special envoy to the Ukraine Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry to work with Rudy Giuliani, despite all of them thinking it was a bad idea.
'Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States. We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt,' he said.
'We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the President's orders,' he added.
But he said they did not believe it was 'improper' for Giuliani to be involved in foreign policy despite holding no formal role in the Trump administration. Giuliani is Trump's personal attorney.
He described instructions they received from the former New York City mayor.
'Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election. Mr. Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians. Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these prerequisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump's desires and requirements,' he said.
He described an effort on Giuliani's part to link U.S. aid and an Oval Office meeting with Trump for Ukraine President Zelensky to an investigation into the Bidens and the 2016 election.
Giuliani pushed for a probe of Joe Biden's actions as vice president in regards to encouraging the Ukraine to dismiss its top prosecutor – which Giuliani claims was done to benefit Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that had Hunter Biden on its board until earlier this year.
The Bidens have denied any wrong doing – Joe Biden pointed out he was following U.S. and international policy - and no charges have been put against them.
Additionally Giuliani pushed an unproven theory it was the Ukraine that hacked the Democratic National Committee's server in the 2016 election and made it look like Russia.
'Mr. Giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the President,' Sondland said.
He admitted that at a July 10 White House meeting with Ukrainian officials he mentioned the 'the prerequisites of investigations before any White House call or meeting.'
But he disputed accounts Bolton ended the meeting.
'Their recollections of those events simply don't square with my own or with those of Ambassador Volker or Secretary Perry,' he said.
'I recall mentioning the pre-requisite of investigations before any White House call or meeting. But I do not recall any yelling or screaming as others have said. Instead, after the meeting, Ambassador Bolton walked outside with the group, and we all took pictures together on the White House lawn,' he said.
Sondland testified that while he wasn't explicitly sure the nearly $400million in U.S. aid to the Ukraine was being held up in exchange for the investigations, he operated as if that were the case.
'I tried diligently to ask why the aid was suspended, but I never received a clear answer. In the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 election and Burisma, as Mr. Giuliani had demanded,' he said.
'In the absence of any credible explanation for the hold, I came to the conclusion that the aid, like the White House visit, was jeopardized,' Sondland said. 'My belief was that if Ukraine did something to demonstrate a serious intention' to launch the investigations Trump wanted, 'then the hold on military aid would be lifted.'
He rejected testimony that he, Giuliani and Perry – nicknamed the 'three amigos' - were engaged in a 'shadow' foreign policy.
'We made every effort to ensure that the relevant decision makers at the National Security Council and State Department knew the important details of our efforts. The suggestion that we were engaged in some irregular or rogue diplomacy is absolutely false,' he said.
Sondland said he was not the July 25 phone call with Trump and Zelensky but heard it went 'well.' He said he only learned the details when the White House released the transcript in September.
But he did share details of a call he had with President Trump on July 26 in a restaurant in Kiev.
He said he did not remember the details but did not dispute witness accounts.
'Other witnesses have recently shared their recollection of overhearing this call. For the most part, I have no reason to doubt their accounts. It is true that the President speaks loudly at times.
'It is also true that we discussed A$AP Rocky. It is true that the President likes to use colorful language. While I cannot remember the precise details --again, the White House has not allowed me to see any readouts of that call - the July 26 call did not strike me as significant at the time. 
'Actually, I would have been more surprised if President Trump had not mentioned investigations,' he said, 'particularly given what we were hearing from Mr. Giuliani about the President's 14 concerns. However, I have no recollection of discussing Vice President Biden or his son on that call or after the call ended.' 
Sondland made multiple statements that indicated he had no doubt Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who refused to testify, was in on the effort to link a White House meeting to investigations, and also included security assistance in an answer.
An August 22 letter began: 'Mike, Should we block time in Warsaw for a short pull-aside for Potus to meet Zelensky?'
Sondland wrote: 'I would ask Zelensky to look him in the eye and tell him that once Ukraine's new justice folks are in place (mid-Sept.) [Zelensky] should be able to move forward publicly and with confidence on those issues of importance to Potus and to the US. Hopefully that will break the logjam.'
Pompeo responded: 'Yes.'
The Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman asked Sondland: ' And when you're talking about here breaking the log jam, you're talking about the log jam over the security assistance, correct?'
'I was talking about the logjam because nothing was moving,' he responded.
'But that included the security assistance,' the lawyer followed.
'Correct,' he said.
'And based on the context of that e-mail, this was not the first time you had discussed these investigations with secretary Pompeo, was it?' Goldman followed up.
'No,' said Sondland.'
'He was aware of the connections that you were making between the investigations and the White House meeting and the security assistance?' the lawyer asked.
'Yes,' Sondland said.
'Did [Pompeo]ever take issue with you and say, no, that connection is not there? Or you're wrong?' Sondland was asked.
'Not that I recall,' he responded.
Republicans struggled to come up with a strategy inside the hearing room as Sondland made a series of revelations about his own determination that millions in congressionally appropriated security aid was being held up for an investigation he later connected to the Bidens. Sondland also cheerfully revealed he didn't take notes, but would benefit from documents he complained the State Department was withholding him – a complaint panel Democrats share.
Top Republican Devin Nunes left during a chunk of House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff's block of time to an anteroom during the hearing. Nunes directed many comments during his speaking time at Democrats and the Russia probe.
GOP counsel Steve Castor repeated ground he and Sondland had already covered during blocks of questioning time. Then, he decided not to use five minutes he had left shortly before lunch – after Nunes in Tuesday's hearing groused about how Schiff was controlling the time and fought for extra minutes.
'I'm really trying to finish up before I can yield some time back,' Castor said with five minutes on the clock.
Sondland's testimony repeatedly implicated other top officials in efforts to push Ukraine to get investigations.
Sondland described a meeting he was part of with Mike Pence when the vice president came to Warsaw in place of Trump, who stayed in the U.S. to deal with Hurricane Dorian. Pence met with Zelensky while in Poland.
'I was in a briefing with several people and I just spoke up and I said, it appears that everything is stalled until this statement gets made, something, words to that effect,' he said.
'The vice president nodded like you know he heard what I said and that was pretty much it as I recall,' he added.
Schiff pressed Sondland for more details, which the ambassador said he didn't remember and pointed out he did not get a readout of the Pence meeting.
'You knew, certainly they were concerned about the hold on the security assistance,' Schiff asked Sondland about the Ukrainians.
'They were concerned, obviously,' Sondland replied.
'And you wanted to help prepare the vice president for the meeting by letting him know what you thought was responsible for the hold on the security assistance?,' Schiff asked.
'That's fair,' Sondland agreed.
'Do you recall anything else the president, vice president said other than nodding his head when you made him aware of this fact?,' Schiff said.
'No, I don't have a readout of that meeting so I can't remember anything else,' Sondland said.
Vice President Mike Pence's office disputed Sondland's testimony that he spoke to Vice President Mike Pence during a group meeting that included the vice president during Pence's trip to Warsaw, where he met President Zelensky.
'He heard what I said. I don't recall any substantive response,' Sondland said of Pence, after Sondland says he himself said 'everything is stalled' on Ukraine.
Pence's office released a statement by chief of staff Mark Short after that portion of Sondland's testimony.
'The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations,' Short said.
'Ambassador Gordon Sondland was never alone with Vice President Pence on the September 1 trip to Poland. This alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador Sondland never happened,' Short said. Sondland had said the conversation was part of a group discussion.
'Multiple witnesses have testified under oath that Vice President Pence never raised Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden, Crowdstrike, Burisma, or investigations in any conversation with Ukrainians or President Zelensky before, during, or after the September 1 meeting in Poland,' Short added.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham provided additional pushback following the president's public comments Wednesday.
'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' she said. '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,' Grisham said. 
There were a few moments of levity Wednesday, including when Sondland described his overheard phone conversation.
Sondland, who says he never takes notes, recalled the conversation took place after he took U.S. diplomats and Ukrainians out to lunch in Kiev.
He didn't dispute others' testimony that they could hear the president, and confirmed other topics that came up, including rapper A$AP Rocky, which he said may have been the purpose of the call.
'I probably had my phone close to my ear,' he said, holding up his hand a few inches away.
He came close to confirming a diplomat's testimony that Sondland told President Trump that President Zelensky 'Loves your ass.'
'Yeah, that sounds like something I would say,' Sondland quipped, to chuckles in the hearing room. 'That's how President Trump and I communicate. A lot of four-letter words. In this case, three letters,' he said.
Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, one of President Trump's staunchest allies on Capitol Hill, used his question time to make a dramatic point about how Zelensky never announced an investigation into the Bidens.
'Ambassador, when did it happen?,' Jordan bellowed at Sondland.
'When did what happen?,' Sondland asked.
'The announcement,' Jordan thundered, his voice booming into the microphone. 'When did President Zelensky announce the investigation would happen?'
Jordan added: 'When the chairman asked you about the security assistance, you said needed to be a public announcement from Zelensky. Simple question, when did that happen?'
'Never did,' Sondland said.
'When did the meeting happen, again?,' Jordan asked.
'Never did,' Sondland repeated.
'You don't know who was in the meeting?,' Jordan said.
'Which meeting are you referring to?,' Sondland asked.
'The meeting that never happened,' Jordan boomed as Sondland chuckled.
Jordan, in a theatrical way, was emphasizing a Republican argument against the impeachment inquiry – that Zelensky never announced an investigation into the Bidens or the 2016 election yet Ukraine still received the U.S. aid money.
Democrats counter the aid money was released after it was revealed a whistleblower filed a complaint about comments President Trump made on his July 25 phone call with Zelensky – a complaint that triggered the impeachment inquiry.
Wednesday's hearing began with another blistering opening statement from House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff about the contours of the effort to get Ukraine to conduct investigations.
'The knowledge of this scheme was far and wide and include among others secretary of state Pompeo as well as the vice president,' Schiff said at the top of the hearing.
He blasted the State Department for withholding notes and call readouts, although Sondland cited new information in his opening statement.
Schiff said he can see why Pompeo and Trump 'have made a concerted and across the board effort and this impeachment inquiry.' But he said they 'do so at their own peril,' and cited the Nixon impeachment.
Ranking Republican Rep. Devin Nunes began by attacking Democrats for waging 'scorched earth political warfare.'
'Ambassador Sondland, you are here today to be smeared,' he told the witness.
He accused Democrats of 'selling this absurdity as an impeachable offense.'
'They know exactly what kind of damage they're inflicting on this nation, but they've passed the point of no return,' he said, bringing up earlier cautious statements by Speaker Nancy Pelosi on impeachment.
'They stoked a frenzy among their most fanatical supporters that they can no longer control,' he said. 
Sondland cited a July 10 WhatsApp exchange to back up his concerns about what Giuliani was dong. Notably, the former New York City mayor uses much stronger language that President Trump does in his own call with Zelensky, where the president asks for a 'favor' – investigations.
Giuliani, operating in what prior witnesses called a separate unofficial channel, puts it as a demand.
The message went from Giuliani to Ambassador Bill Taylor about his communication with Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko.
'In WhatsApp messages with Ambassador Volker and I, Ambassador Taylor wrote to us as follows: 'Just had a meeting with Andriy and Vadym,' referring to Ukraine Foreign Minister Vadym Pristaiko,' Sondland said.
'Taylor said the Ukrainians were, quote: 'Very concerned about what Lutsenko told them — that, according to RG' – meaning Rudy Giuliani – 'the ZEPOTUS meeting will not happen.' Volker responded, 'Good grief. Please tell Vadym to let the official USG representatives speak for the U.S. [L]utsenko has his own self-interest here,' Sondland said. 
Sondland expressed his alarm that Giuliani was in contact with Ukrainians 'without our knowledge.
'Mr. Giuliani was communicating with the reportedly corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor Lutsenko and discussing whether a Zelensky-Trump meeting was going to happen, again without our knowledge' – he said, bringing up the key policy issue diplomats had been working on.
Then, he provided further information about Mike Pompeo.
He said with this 'alarming news,' Taylor briefed a top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ulrich Brechbuehl.
'Even as late as September 24, Secretary Pompeo was directing Kurt Volker to speak with Rudy Giuliani. In a WhatsApp 12 message, Kurt Volker told me in part: 'Spoke w Rudy per guidance from S.' S means the Secretary of State,' he said. 
Democratic committee lawyer Daniel Goldman tried to get Goldman to recall any specific instructions from Trump linking security aid to Burisma probes.
'President Trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. The only thing we got directly from Guiliani was that Burisma and the 2016 elections were conditioned on the White House meeting,' Sondland said.
'The aid was my own personal, you know, guess based again on your analogy two plus two equals four,' he said.
'I never heard from President Trump that aid was conditioned on an announcement of investigations,' he said. 'I never heard those words.'
Earlier, Goldman had asked him how he concluded that the $400 million in aid being held up was linked to the probe.
'Is this kind of a 2 + 2= 4 conclusion that you reached?' Goldman asked him.
'Pretty much,' Sondland agreed.
As the hearing wore on Wednesday, a few Democratic panel members started to tear into the witness.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York told him: 'The president asked you about investigations, he was talking about the Bidens. When he asked you about the Bidens, the investigation who was he seeking to benefit?' Maloney questioned Sondland.
'Who would benefit from an investigation of the president's political opponent?' he repeated.
Sondland tried to avoid a direct answer, prompting tense pusch-back from Maloney.
'Who would benefit from an investigation of the Bidens?' he repeated.
'I assume President Trump would benefit,' Sondland finally responded.
'There we have it. See? Didn't hurt a bit,' Maloney said.
More than six hours after Sondland's appearance began, there were moments of levity. After being pushed on why he recalled some events but not others, Sondland replied: 'I remember the first girl I kissed.'
Conftonted with national security aide Tim Morrison referring to the 'Gordon Problem,' he responded: 'That's what my wife calls me. Maybe they're talking. Should I be worried?,' earning laughs from the crowd.
'Easy come, easy go,' he said after hearing Trump said he hardly knows him.
Sondland said under questioning he has spoken to Trump around 20 times.
When the hearing finally ended Schiff called it a 'seminal moment.'
He called Sondland's testimony 'deeply significant and troubling.'
'The question is, what are we prepared to do about it? Is there going to be any accountability… Are we prepared to say in the words of Mick Mulvaney, get over it, or get used to it. We are not prepared to say that.  
Schiff said Sondland's testimony showed President Trump committed an impeachable offense.
'I think today's testimony is among the most significant evidence to date,' he told reporters on Capitol Hill during a break in the hearing.
'It goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery as well as other potential high crimes or misdemeanors,' he said. 'We now can see the veneer has been torn away.'
He added Sondland's testimony showed why the White House and State Department were refusing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.
'We now can see the veneer has been torn away, just why Secretary Pompeo and President Donald Trump do not want any of these documents provided to Congress, because apparently they show - as Ambassador Sondland has testified - that the knowledge of this scheme to condition official acts, a White House meeting and $400 million in security assistance to an ally at war with Russia, was conditioned on political favors the president wanted for his re-election,' he said.
'I think a very important moment in the history of this inquiry,' he added.
Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House committee, blasted Schiff's comments when the hearing resumed after a five minute break, accusing the chairman of calling the break to hold a press conference.
'To those of you watching at home, that was not a bathroom break, that was actually a chance for the Democrats to go out and hold a press conference, ambassador, for all the supposed bombshells that were in your opening testimony,' he said as he began his questioning of Sondland. 
Sondland, a wealthy hotelier Trump tapped as his ambassador to the EU, is more directly entangled than any witness yet in the attempt to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and an unproven theory it was the Ukraine, and not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 presidential election.   
He is a key witness for both sides in that he was most of the meetings that have became subject to questions during the impeachment inquiry, along with bragging about his close relationship with the president.   
Democrats are investigating allegations Trump held up the nearly $400 million in aid until the Ukraine agreed to investigate the Bidens and another conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.
The White House and Republicans argue the aid was released to the Ukraine, although Democrats point out that happened after a report a whistleblower flagged concerns about Trump's comments on that July 25 call with Zelensky.  

Ukrainians started asking about their military aid the same DAY that Donald Trump's made notorious 'do us a favor' call to country's new president, Pentagon official reveals

Pentagon official Laura Cooper testified to impeachment hearings Wednesday that her office received two separate emails about the hold-up in security assistance for Ukraine on July 25 – the same day as Trump's infamous call with the Ukrainian president.
The Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary's evidence appears to undercut a key claim by Donald Trump's defenders, that Ukraine did not know about the hold-up of $400 million in aid, and that therefore there was no 'quid pro quo.' 
Democrats seized on it as a fresh revelation which strikes a new blow to Trump's defense. 
It came after Trump's hand-picked ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, dropped bombshell after bombshell in hours of testimony in which he said there was a quid pro quo - that Ukraine would not get a White House meeting without investigating 'Burisma'; that he was ordered to talk to Rudy Giuliani; that Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence both knew about a link between 'investigations' and military aid; and that investigating Burisma meant the Bidens, which would benefit Trump.
At a session which started more than three hours later than planned, Cooper provided new information that she said she learned form her staff following her earlier closed door deposition.
She said that on July 25th her staff got two emails, one from the State Department stating that the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Ukrainians were asking about security assistance.
Another email stated the Hill – meaning staff working for lawmakers – and the Ukrainian knew about the foreign assistance situation. Both emails came in the afternoon.
'The Hill knows about the FMF situation and so does the Ukrainian embassy,' the second email said, Cooper testified. FMF stands for 'Foreign Military Financing,' the government term for aid to foreign countries.
The 25th is the day when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky brought up his interest in getting Javelin missiles on a phone call with the president, and Trump asked for a 'favor' including investigations and mentioned Joe Biden specifically.
Cooper testified she did not recall receiving those emails. She said she never talked to the president but heard from people she doesn't recall that 'the president was concerned about corruption. That was all I ever heard.'
'I heard that the president had directed the Office of Management and Budget to hold the funds because of his concerns about corruption in Ukraine,' she said. 
Under oath before the House Intelligence Committee, Cooper said she received emails on July 25 saying that both the Ukrainian embassy in Washington and the House Foreign Affairs Committee were asking about the assistance.
'I would say that, specifically, the Ukrainian embassy staff asked, 'What is going on with Ukrainian security assistance?' Cooper said.
Asked by Representative Adam Schiff if the Ukrainians had been 'concerned,' Cooper replied, 'Yes, sir.'
Trump is accused of improperly withholding aid and a summit with Zelensky as he pressed Ukraine to launch an investigation into his domestic rival Joe Biden.
Trump in the phone call asked Zelensky for 'a favor.' Trump's defenders have argued, in part, that his effort was not improper as Ukraine did not know about the holdup.
Kurt Volker, the US pointman on Ukraine, has said that he was not aware of the aid freeze until Politico ran an article in late August.
Cooper said that her staff received the emails on July 25 and that she had not been personally briefed on them until she conducted research in preparation for her congressional appearance.
She had earlier testified in a deposition behind closed doors and had not known then about the emails, she said Wednesday.
Mike Quigley, a Democrat, said that Cooper's evidence suggested 'there is untold information out there that is being blocked.' 
The Pentagon and State Department are both resisting subpoenas from the Intelligence Committee. 
Pressed by Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas, Cooper said she couldn't state specifically that the emails were about the 'hold' as opposed to foreign assistance generally.
'I don't want to speculate on what it means,' she said. But she said Ukrainians tended to call about 'specific things' not just 'generally checking in on their assistance package. 
'Ms. Cooper, your testimony today destroys two of the pillars of the president's defense and one justification for his conduct,' said Rep. Eric Swallwell of California. 'First pillar: no harm no foul, the Ukrainians didn't know that the hold was in place ... Second pillar, this president was a real champion of anti-corruption,' he said. 
Her testimony came hours after U.S. ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland testified there was a 'quid pro quo' linking a White House visit to investigations the president and Rudy Giuliani were demanding.
Sondland also said he concluded $400 million in military aid to Ukrain was also part of the 'logjam' he was trying to fix. 
Cooper also added: 'Sometime during the week of August 6-10, a Ukraine officer told a member of my staff a Ukrainian official might raise concerns about security assistance in an upcoming meeting.' 
Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, testified she did not recall receiving those emails. She said she never talked to the president but heard from people she doesn't recall that 'the president was concerned about corruption. That was all I ever heard.'
'I heard that the president had directed the Office of Management and Budget to hold the funds because of his concerns about corruption in Ukraine,' she said.
Adam Schiff, in his opening statement, stated that 'no good explanation of the hold was provided' for holding up the aid.
Rep. Devin Nunes once again dwelled on process and blasted Democrats for not providing proper notice of how questioning would get handled. 'The American people are getting a skewed impression of these events,' he groused. He accused Democrats of 'petty tricks,' saying: 'Just this morning they called a break in the hearing in order to press their absurd arguments to TV cameras.'
She said she met with U.S. Ukraine envoy Kurt Volkwer on August 20. 'It was my inference that that would lift the hold on Ukraine security assistance,' she said, in testimony in line with ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, who also testified he made his own conclusions about the linkage. He agreed it was like 'two plus two equals four.'
Under questioning from Conaway, Cooper acknowledged the delay in funding, which was provided after the House announced its investigation, would be limited. 'There was no shortfall in equipment deliveries that were expected within that time frame,' she said. 'There was no shortfall in equipment deliveries that were expected within that time frame.'
The policy expert told Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California, 'I do not know what triggered the release of the funding.' 
Top State Department official David Hale testified about the removal of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. 
Rep. Denny Heck of Washington called Pompeo's silence on the issue a 'betrayal' of his agency. 
'She should have been able to stay at post and continue to do the outstanding work,' said Hale.  He called the ambassador, who lawmakers say got 'smeared' by a campaign driven by Rudy Giuliani, a 'an exceptional officer doing exceptional work.' 
He agreed with Heck's words that she got smeared and served with 'grace and dignity.'
Cooper made clear she did not get her information from the president, as Sondland testified he sometimes did. 
'In a series of interagency meetings, I heard that the president had directed the Office of Management and Budget to hold the funds because of his concerns about corruption in Ukraine. Let me say at the outset that I have never discussed this or any other matter with the president and never heard directly from him about this matter.'
President Trump weighed in with a tweet Wednesday night. 'If this were a prizefight, they'd stop it!' he wrote. 

Rudy Giuliani demands an apology from the REPUBLICAN impeachment lawyer for saying he had business interests in Ukraine

Rudy Giuliani - who's at the center of the impeachment inquiry - demanded an apology from the House Republicans' lawyer who said he has business dealings in Ukraine. 
'Republican lawyer doesn't do his own research and preparation, and is instead picking up Democrat lies, shame,' Giuliani live-tweeted during Wednesday's House Intelligence Committee hearing. 'Allow me to inform him: I have NO financial interests in Ukraine, NONE! I would appreciate his apology.' 
Republican counsel Stephen Castor had said, point-blank, that Giuliani had financial ties with Ukraine as he questioned U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland. 
Sondland testified that President Trump had directed he and the other 'three amigos' - Energy Secretary Rick Perry and special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker - to work with Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer and the former mayor of New York.  
'Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the United States,' Sondland said. 'We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt.'  
Sondland described an effort by Giuliani to pressure the Ukranians into opening up an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden and the 2016 election, dangling over the country's new president $400 million in military aid and an Oval Office meeting. 
He said that he assumed Trump was behind the campaign since the president had told the 'three amigos' to work with Giuilani.  
Castor's query seemed to try to split Giuliani's role from that of the president. 
Besides being ensnared in the impeachment inquiry, Giuilani is under investigation by the Southern District of New York for his business dealings, including whether he neglected to register as a foreign agent. 
On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that federal prosecutors would be speaking with Andrew Favorov, a Ukrainian gas executive, as part of the probe. Favorov works for Naftogaz, the state-owned gas provider for Ukraine. 
Giuliani's associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman - who were arrested on campaign finance charges last month - had approached Favorov while he was attending an energy conference in Texas.  
Parnas and Fruman told Favorov at dinner that they wanted to partner with him and export up to 100 tanker shipments of U.S. liquefied gas into Ukraine a year. Parnas said he'd back Favorov to take over the company from his boss, Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev. While Parnas reportedly told the executive that Trump planned to replace Marie Yovanovitch, then serving as ambassador to Ukraine, with someone more pro-business. 
While Giuliani has said that Parnas and Fruman were his clients - he's denied being involved in their business dealings with the Ukrainian gas company.  
Testimony from the impeachment hearings shows that Giuliani was pushing Ukraine to look into Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company where Hunter Biden sat on the board.  

Mike Pence rushes out emergency statement DENYING Gordon Sondland spoke to him in Warsaw about Ukraine's military aid being linked to a Biden probe – after EU ambassador's bombshell evidence under oath

Mike Pence's office rushed out a statement Wednesday claiming the vice president had never discussed a link between military aid and a Ukrainian investigation with the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, said Sondland was 'never alone' with the vice president during their visit to Warsaw, Poland.
'The vice president never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations,' Short said in a statement Wednesday. 'This alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador Sondland never happened.'
The statement came after Gordon Sondland testified under oath in a public hearing before the House Intelligence Committee that he had a conversation with Pence regarding the aide being dependent on Ukraine investigating Burisma.
The ambassador said he spoke with the vice president before a September 1 meeting in Warsaw with Ukrainian officials.
'I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations,' Sondland testified that he relayed to Pence.
'Everyone was in the loop,' he told the committee, referencing Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 'It was no secret.'
The House impeachment inquiry focuses significantly on allegations that President Donald Trump sought investigations of Biden and his son Hunter, who until earlier this year served on the board of Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings.
Democrats insist the president set a quid pro quo with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by making badly needed military aid dependent on Kiev investigating the Bidens.
Sondland claimed in his testimony Wednesday that Trump had set a quid pro quo, but said the president would set a White House meeting with Zelensky to solidify the two nations' relationship in exchange for an announcement of the investigation.
Trump has denied doing anything wrong.
Before departing the White House Wednesday, Trump told reporters: 'I want nothing. That's what I want from Ukraine. I want nothing… I want no quid pro quo.'
He also said he doesn't know Sondland very well.
Pence aides have previously maintained that the vice president was unaware of efforts to push Zelensky to release a statement announcing an investigation.
The vice president has also said no such push came up during his September meeting with Zelensky in Poland, which Trump was originally supposed to attend, even as the leaders discussed the U.S. military aid that was under review.
Pence press secretary Katie Waldman said Pence also was unaware of the 'brief pull-aside conversation' that Sondland reported having with a top aide to Zelensky following the Pence-Zelenskiy meeting.
Sondland has said he told Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Zelensky, that the 'resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.' 
EU ambassador throws Donald Trump, Pompeo and Mulvaney under the bus: Gordon Sondland says there WAS a quid pro quo, testifies he was ORDERED to 'talk to Rudy,' and says Bidens probe was to benefit the president - who fumes 'I wanted nothing' from Ukraine EU ambassador throws Donald Trump, Pompeo and Mulvaney under the bus: Gordon Sondland says there WAS a quid pro quo, testifies he was ORDERED to 'talk to Rudy,' and says Bidens probe was to benefit the president - who fumes 'I wanted nothing' from Ukraine Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 09:41 Rating: 5

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