Vice President Pence immediately put out a press release after EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland stated he had a meeting with concerning his fears about the withholding of Ukraine military aid, saying the meeting never even happened. Not long after, Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also stated that Sondland’s claims that he met with them were untrue.
Sondland testified to the House Intelligence Committee that he had met and informed Pence of ‘his fears’ just before the vice president met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Warsaw on September 1st. Sondland testified that he had raised concerns with Pence that the freezing of $400 million in security aid to Ukraine was linked to the investigations.
Sondland’s testimony before the committee was heralded by the media and the Democrats as the most damning testimony to date.
The Vice President’s chief of staff Marc Short said Pence not only never spoke to Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens and Burisma, there was not even a meeting.
“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.
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.
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.”
The elephant in the room is that Sondland testified that he didn’t take notes. The Ambassador has struggled to get documents that would help jog his memory from the State Department. It has been obvious that he doesn’t remember as clearly as other witnesses we have seen. Or…obvious that he has been purposely misleading…
NEW: Pence chief of staff pushes back, says VP Pence *never* had a conversation with Sondland about investigations into Bidens, Burisma or conditional release of military aid. pic.twitter.com/28FL905CpB
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) November 20, 2019
But like Pence, Perry and Pompeo seem to have very clear memories and have stated that Sondland is absolutely wrong.
Rick Perry stated that Sondland’s assertion that he was informed of an apparent quid pro quo being put in place by Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani was false.
“Ambassador Sondland’s testimony today misrepresented both Secretary Perry’s interaction with Rudy Giuliani and direction the Secretary received from President Trump,” an Energy Department spokesperson said in a statement.
“As previously stated, Secretary Perry spoke to Rudy Giuliani only once at the President’s request. No one else was on that call. At no point before, during or after that phone call did the words ‘Biden’ or ‘Burisma’ ever come up in the presence of Secretary Perry.”
Pompeo’s team also issued a statement soundly rejecting Sondland’s assertions.
“Gordon Sondland never told Secretary Pompeo that he believed the president was linking aid to investigations of political opponents. Any suggestion to the contrary is flat out false,” State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
Sondland also testified Trump was very clear with the ambassador that Trump wanted no quid pro quo with Ukraine.
During a candid conversation with President Trump on what the president wanted from Ukraine, Sondland told lawmakers that Trump explicitly said “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo.”
Sondland admits Trump told him “I want no quid pro quo.” Also admits his opinion that there was quid pro quo is based on a “presumption” – and is directly contradicted by Volker and Morrison. Reasonable people having different conclusions isn’t compelling evidence to impeach. pic.twitter.com/aYaxH7O2xc
— John Ratcliffe (@RepRatcliffe) November 20, 2019