Speed Reads

impeachment inquiry

Lawmakers give mixed reviews of Sondland's testimony

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified for 10 hours on Thursday as part of the House's impeachment inquiry against President Trump, telling lawmakers he was "disappointed" by Trump's order to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Ukraine policy.

Before starting his closed-door testimony in front of members of three House committees, Sondland released his opening remarks, and distanced himself from Giuliani and attempts to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. "For purposes of the impeachment inquiry, it really doesn't matter whether Sondland was a knowing participant in this scheme or if he was an unwitting pawn," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said. "He was still executing the policies of Rudy Giuliani and Rudy was following the orders of the president."

Lawmakers said Sondland responded "I don't know" and "I don't recall" throughout his testimony, but Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) told reporters that he was still able to shed light on something. "It is clear you have a shadow shakedown going on by Giuliani," he said. "I think it is just important for the American people to understand Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump and Donald Trump is Rudy Giuliani. If Rudy Giuliani is doing something it is because he's the lawyer for Donald Trump, and lawyers don't take actions that are not authorized by their clients."

Sondland, a Trump donor and political appointee, has been mentioned by other witnesses, including George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for Ukraine. During testimony earlier this week, Kent said he was told in May by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney that he needed to "lay low," as Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker — who called themselves the "three amigos" — would now handle Ukraine policy.