We'll have video in a bit. Meanwhile, enjoy this transcript of Ambassador Gordon Sondland's opening statement, released to the media this am:
Second, although we disagreed with the need to involve Mr. Giuliani, we did not believe
that his role was improper at the time. As I previously testifed, if I had known of all of Mr.
Giuliani’s dealings or of his associations with individuals now under criminal indictment, I
would not have acquiesced to his participation. Still, given what we knew at the time, what we
were asked to do did not appear to be wrong.
Third, let me say: precisely because we did not think that we were engaging in improper
behavior, we made every effort to ensure that the relevant decisionmakers 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. I have now
identified certain State Department emails and messages that provide contemporaneous support
for my view. These emails show that the leadership of State, NSC, and the White House were all
informed about the Ukraine efforts from May 23, 2019, until the security aid was released on
September 11, 2019. I will quote from some of those messages with you shortly.
Fourth, as I testified previously, 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.
Fifth, in July and August 2019, we learned that the White House had also suspended
security aid to Ukraine. I was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid, as the Ukrainians
needed those funds to fight against Russian aggression. 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. I shared concerns of the potential quid pro
quo regarding the security aid with Senator Ron Johnson. And I also shared my concerns with
Finally, at all times, I was acting in good faith. As a presidential appointee, I followed
the directions of the President. We worked with Mr. Giuliani because the President directed us
to do so. We had no desire to set any conditions on the Ukranians. Indeed, my personal view -which I shared repeatedly with others -- was that the White House meeting and security
assistance should have proceeded without pre-conditions of any kind. We were working to
overcome the problems, given the facts as they existed. Our only interest was to advance longstanding U.S. policy and to support Ukraine’s fragile democracy.
Read the entire transcript: