Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko said Thursday that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland "never" linked aid to Ukrainian investigations into the 2016 elections or former Vice President Joe Biden, which are allegations at the center of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
It is not clear whether the House Intel Committee leading the impeachment probe into President Trump will take the Interfax Ukraine report into account, or follow Trump's suggestion that the "inquiry is now dead" and cancel scheduled hearings. While at that restaurant, President Trump called Sondland and Holmes overheard the two talking about the "investigations", Taylor said.
"I know nothing about that - first time I've heard", Trump said during a news conference Wednesday. "Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and certainly did not tell me, about a connection between the assistance and the investigation'". "The one thing I know about Sondland is that he did speak to me for a brief moment, and I said, 'No quid pro quo'".
Prystaiko said in KIev: 'I have never seen a direct link between investigations and security assistance.
That alleged phone call came one day after Trump's infamous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, during which Trump raised the issue of Ukraine launching a Biden probe after Zelenskiy said Ukraine was anxious to receive additional USA military aid to defend against Russian aggression.
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The Trump administration is accused of withholding about $400 million in military aid unless Ukraine cooperated.
William B. Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, testified during public hearings Wednesday that some of his staff were at a restaurant with Sondland on the day after a July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine's new president. Trump denied there was any quid pro quo and has said the entire inquiry is a witch hunt.
Marc Polymeropoulos, a former CIA official who oversaw the agency's operations in Europe and Russia, told CNN that there was "little doubt that the Russians and perhaps multiple other foreign intelligence services would have intercepted this call".
Sondland, who has extensive firsthand information, will testify publicly next week.
Last month, former National Security Council official Fiona Hill testified that she believed Sondland presented a counterintelligence risk because he frequently gave out personal cell phone numbers and "was often meeting with people he had no information about". "It wasn't a subject of our talk". Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine.