Trump acolyte Gordon Sondland reverses testimony in impeachment inquiry


Mr Sondland testified that he spoke with Mr Pompeo about Mr Giuliani, "and Pompeo rolled his eyes and said: 'Yes, it's something we have to deal with'".

His three-page update, tucked beneath hundreds of pages of sworn evidence from Mr Sondland and former Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker, was released by House investigators as Democrats prepared to push the closed-door sessions to public hearings as soon as next week.

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland implied in revised testimony to House Democrats that a potential meeting between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as the release of military aid to the country, was contingent on the announcement of an anti-corruption probe into Burisma Holdings.

Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Monday transcripts would be released of interviews with Kurt Volker, Trump's former special representative for Ukraine negotiations, and Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union.

While others who had testified have been career diplomats and government officials, Mr Sondland was a major donor to Mr Trump's 2016 election campaign.

Volker said his decision to resign on Sep 27 was because of the impeachment inquiry. He testified to the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight panels for more than eight hours behind closed doors on Oct 3.

Perry, a former Texas governor who said he was resigning from his Cabinet post as of December 1, has refused to testify so far.

People familiar with the matter say David Hale plans to tell congressional impeachment investigators that secretary of state Mike Pompeo and other senior officials determined that defending ambassador Marie Yovanovitch would hurt the effort to free up U.S. military assistance to Ukraine.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and accused Democrats of unfairly targeting him in hope of reversing his surprise victory in the 2016 presidential election.

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Trump froze almost $400 million in US military assistance to Ukraine shortly before speaking to Zelenskiy, prompting accusations from Democrats that he had misused USA foreign policy for personal gain.

The committees began releasing interview transcripts as they prepare for public hearings that could start this month. In that call, Trump, asked for "a favor", the spark for the impeachment inquiry.

Regarding military aid, Sondland wrote in his revised testimony that he had assumed the aid was being held up in connection with the anti-corruption investigations urged by Trump and Giuliani.

Volker turned over text messages concerning Ukraine among himself, Giuliani and other diplomats.

The details appeared to bolster the initial whistleblower complaint that led to the investigation by three US House of Representatives committees.

"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", Sondland said he told a Ukrainian presidential adviser.

The House released the 360-page document containing Volker's testimony on Tuesday.

The no-shows continued yesterday when Wells Griffith, a White House adviser on energy, failed to appear.

Schiff said on Monday that could potentially lead to obstruction of Congress charges against the president.