Speed Reads

impeachment inquiry

Top diplomats wanted a meeting with Ukraine. Rudy Giuliani was standing in their way.

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Kurt Volker, the former special representative to Ukraine, all wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to drop by the White House for a visit with President Trump, Sondland testified before Congress in the House impeachment inquiry. But that never happened, thanks to Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

In Sondland's testimony, which was released Tuesday, he revealed that he, Perry, and Volker — who have become known as the "three amigos" — understood that Zelensky's visit was dependent on "satisfying" Giuliani's demands that Ukraine issue a public anti-corruption statement in relation to Kyiv's investigation into the gas company, Burisma, where former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter once served on the board, and other allegations of nefarious activities.

So even though the three officials, who were playing active roles in the Trump administration, believed the bilateral sit-down was "in the mutual interest of the United States and Ukraine," it turned out that the wishes of Giuliani — who was not a White House official — took precedent. Tim O'Donnell