Ambassador to the European Union (EU) Gordon Sondland told Congress today that he was disappointed by President Donald Trump’s decision to involve his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in the relationship with the Ukrainian government.
Sondland attended today to testify behind closed doors before the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives, part of the investigations carried out by Congress to initiate an eventual impeachment trial of President Trump.
“We were disappointed by the president’s order to involve Giuliani,” Sondland said, according to the 18-page version of his written statement published by The New York Times.
“Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal attorney, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine,” he added.
Congress has focused on the efforts of Trump and some of his collaborators to obtain from the Ukrainian government an investigation into the East European business of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
Joe Biden is now one of the main candidates for the Democratic Party’s presidential candidacy for the 2020 elections, in which Trump will run for re-election.
Trump has denied that his government pressured the Ukrainian government to obtain information harmful to Biden and, after describing the congressional investigation as unconstitutional, has refused to provide the documents demanded by lawmakers.
According to his written testimony, Sondland did not initially understand that Giuliani’s goal may have been an effort “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the campaign for the re-election of the president in 2020,” according to the Times.
Legislators want to have more details about Sondland’s role in a July 25 phone call in which President Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky, as a “favor” to investigate the Biden businesses.
The call came weeks after Trump had ordered the suspension of Washington’s military aid to Kiev to confront Russia’s military activities in eastern Ukraine.
“I want to be clear,” Sondland said in his written testimony, “to invite a foreign government to undertake investigations for the purpose of influencing an imminent U.S. election is wrong”.
“To withhold aid in order to pressure a foreign government to take such steps is wrong,” Sondland added. “I was not, and would never be, involved in such ventures. In my opinion, military aid to Ukraine is in our vital national interest and should not have been delayed for any reason,” he added.