An ally of Donald Trump has updated his impeachment inquiry testimony to confirm that the US president offered Ukraine a quid pro quo to investigate a political rival.
The transcript of four pages of sworn testimony by the US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, was made public on Tuesday and revealed more than he previously disclosed.
It showed that Sondland told a senior official in Ukraine the country was unlikely to receive nearly $400m in congressionally approved military aid until it made a public commitment to investigate corruption, including allegations concerning a gas company with ties to the former vice-president Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
Recalling a discussion with Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on 1 September, Sondland told the inquiry: “I said that resumption of the US aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”
The hotelier and Trump mega-donor has been placed by other witnesses at multiple key crossroads in the Ukraine affair, including at White House meetings on 10 July in which he pursued Ukrainian officials through the building to press the demand for an investigation of Biden.
Sondland testified for more than 10 hours on 17 October to three House committees running the inquiry, which began releasing transcripts this week.
He had told investigators he took Trump at his word that there was never a quid pro quo attaching aid or a White House visit to investigations. But as additional witnesses testified and more information became public, Sondland appeared to have a change of heart. The week after his deposition, Sondland returned with lawyers to Capitol Hill to “review” his testimony.
In the updated statement, Sondland said withholding the aid was “ill-advised” and added: “I presumed that the aid suspension had become linked to the proposed anticorruption statement.”
In a text message exchange with Bill Taylor, the acting US ambassador in Ukraine, Sondland had said Trump insisted there was no quid pro quo. He subsequently indicated this was merely what Trump told him.
The House committees also released a transcript of their interview last month with Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine.
The congressional committees have requested that Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff and former director of the budget office, appear for a deposition on Friday.
Mulvaney is the most senior official yet to be approached and the prospect of his appearance on Capitol Hill is likely to escalate a showdown between Congress and the White House, which has tried to stop administration officials from testifying.
Mulvaney did not immediately respond to the request. Previous witnesses have described him as playing a central role in an alleged effort by the Trump administration to manufacture political dirt in Ukraine about the Bidens, in exchange for a White House visit.
Owing to his role in the budget office, Mulvaney could also potentially describe the circumstances for the suspension of the military aid in mid-July.
“Based on evidence gathered in the impeachment inquiry and public reporting, we believe that you possess substantial first-hand knowledge and information relevant to the House’s impeachment inquiry,” the appearance request said.
The rolling release of witness testimony seems designed to deliver a new haymaker to the White House each afternoon.
On Monday, transcripts showed that a top state department deputy resigned because the Trump administration hijacked US diplomacy to “procure negative political information for domestic purposes”.
With televised impeachment hearings anticipated as early as next week, additional releases could strictly curtail moves available to Trump.
In front of the cameras, the president denies all wrongdoing and accuses investigators of corruption. His administration has denied there was ever a quid pro quo. But a White House summary of a call between Trump and Zelenskiy, messages between diplomats, the testimony of a dozen witnesses and public statements by Republicans including Mulvaney belie that denial.
In the background the White House has continued to try to tilt the field of play in the president’s favor.
After the failure of two witnesses to comply with subpoenas on Monday, two more witnesses failed to appear on Tuesday. The House intelligence committee chair, Adam Schiff, has said a White House gag order on witnesses amounts to an obstruction of Congress that could be grounds for an additional article of impeachment.
The no-shows on Tuesday included a deputy in the Office of Management of the Budget, the agency that informed the Pentagon and the state department in mid-July that Trump had suspended the military aid.
Mulvaney aside, this week could see the biggest no-show of all. John Bolton, the former national security adviser who attended key meetings and who has been quoted as calling the Ukraine-Biden plot a “drug deal”, is scheduled to appear on Thursday.
The justice department asserted in a letter to Congress first obtained by CNN on Tuesday that testimony taken by the impeachment investigators was “legally invalid” unless a government lawyer accompanied the witnesses.
Schiff dismissed the assertion, noting that personal lawyers had accompanied witnesses and saying the rules for depositions were consistent with “uniform policy practices of the House”.
On Monday, lawyers for Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s emissary in Ukraine, said the Ukrainian-born American had changed his mind about speaking with investigators after he saw Trump had denied knowing him.
Trump and Parnas have been photographed together frequently and Giuliani was so close with Parnas, his client, that he took him as a guest to the funeral of president George HW Bush.
“We are willing to comply with the subpoena to the extent that it does not violate any appropriate privilege that Mr Parnas may properly invoke,” a lawyer for Parnas told the New York Times. “Mr Parnas was very upset by President Trump’s plainly false statement that he did not know him.”
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