U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland admitted to impeachment investigators that President Trump and his acolytes may have broken the law by pushing for Ukrainian investigations of Joe Biden’s family, effectively throwing the president and Rudy Giuliani under the bus, according to a transcript of his closed-door deposition released Tuesday.
Sondland, a Trump campaign mega donor who was handpicked to his cushy spot by the president, made the concession during a heated back-and-forth on Giuliani’s Trump-endorsed bid to coax Ukrainian officials into launching investigations into unsubstantiated corruption claims about Biden and his son, Hunter.
“It would be improper to do that,” Sondland said during his Oct. 17 testimony.
An unidentified impeachment investigator pressed, “And illegal, right?”
“I’m not a lawyer,” Sondland replied, “but I assume so.”
The Sondland transcript was released by Democratic impeachment leaders along with a transcript of the deposition of Kurt Volker, Trump’s former special envoy to Ukraine.
The lengthy depositions shed more light on the lengths to which Trump and his allies went in pressuring President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials to boost his 2020 election chances by investigating his political rivals.
The transcripts came on the heels of impeachment leaders calling on acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to testify in the impeachment inquiry, saying he has “substantial first-hand knowledge” of Trump’s Ukrainian pressure campaign.
Reps. Adam Schiff, Carolyn Maloney and Eliot Engel, the three House chairs spearheading the investigation, cited previous testimony attesting to Mulvaney’s involvement in some of Trump’s attempts to strong-arm Ukrainian officials into investigating Joe Biden and other Democrats before the 2020 election.
The impeachment leaders also noted that it has been revealed Mulvaney played a major role in holding up nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine while pressuring the country’s president to satisfy Trump’s politically-charged desires.
“The investigation has revealed that you may have been directly involved in an effort orchestrated by President Trump, his personal agent, Rudolph Giuliani, and others to withhold a coveted White House meeting and nearly $400 million in security assistance in order to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pursue investigations that would benefit President Trump’s personal political interests,” the chairs wrote.
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