Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, has told lawmakers leading the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump that he told a Ukrainian official that resumption of US military aid to Kyiv “would likely not occur” unless the country launched investigations demanded by Mr Trump.
Mr Sondland disclosed the conversation in a new sworn statement that was released on Tuesday, along with a transcript of his earlier appearance before Congress in a closed-door session on October 17.
Democrats said the statement provided further evidence of Mr Trump attempting to leverage a “quid pro quo” arrangement over his Ukrainian counterpart.
On Monday, Mr Sondland’s lawyers sent Adam Schiff, the Democrat chairing the House intelligence committee and de facto leader of the impeachment inquiry, a signed statement from the ambassador saying that separate testimony from William Taylor, America’s top diplomat in Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, Mr Trump’s leading Russia adviser, had “refreshed” his “recollection about certain conversations in early September 2019”.
In revised testimony, Mr Sondland said he “now” recalls a conversation on September 1 with Andrey Yermak, a top adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. The ambassador said he told Mr Yermak “resumption of US aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks”.
Other US officials who have testified before the impeachment inquiry have described how Mr Sondland and Mr Trump urged Mr Zelensky to publicly launch an investigation into former US vice-president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who had held a board position at Burisma, a Ukrainian oil and gas company. Mr Trump also reportedly sought an investigation into alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
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