What You Need to Know About Wednesday's Impeachment Hearing

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Posted: Nov 20, 2019 8:55 AM
What You Need to Know About Wednesday's Impeachment Hearing

The first witness during Wednesday's impeachment inquiry hearing is Gordon Sondland, the United States Ambassador to the European Union. The hearing will begin at 9 a.m.

Like the witnesses that have gone before him, Sondland, a donor to the president's inaugural committee, was not on the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. He was not aware of the contents of the call until the White House released the transcript on Sept. 25. 

His testimony is unpredictable, as he amended his Oct. 17 closed-door testimony after seeing other witness statements. He first testified that he was unaware of holding up military aid to Ukraine but then on Nov. 4 his lawyers sent an addendum to the House Intelligence Committee recalling a conversation he had with Ukrainian official, Andriy Yermak. 

"I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks," the addendum states.

According to the Daily Beast, Sondland is going to place blame on Rudy Giuliani during his opening statement.

“Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States,” Sondland said. “We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the President’s orders.” …

“Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky,” Sondland’s statement says. “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.”

Sondland’s statement also says he “shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid” with Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin who had visibility into the administration’s thinking on Ukraine.

The second panel on Wednesday will begin at 2:30 p.m. where Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary at the Defense Department, and David Hale, the undersecretary of state for political affairs at the State Department, will testify. Neither Cooper nor Hale were on the July 25 call. Hale previously testified that he was not aware of conditions on Ukrainian aid.