Speed Reads

Trump impeachment hearings

William Taylor just blew a giant hole in Gordon Sondland's impeachment story

Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, has been hard for congressional investigators to pin down.

A close ally of President Trump, Sondland is deeply entangled in the scandal over the Trump administration's potential mishandling of Ukrainian aid; the ambassador notably updated his inital testimony to clarify there had been what resembled a quid pro quo arrangement. That new statement was also a possible effort to make his story match up with those given by other witnesses, including U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine William Taylor, who publicly testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

There, Taylor continued to reiterate how closely Sondland was involved in the aid process, testifying that it was Sondland who told Ukraine that U.S. security assistance "pended" on the country opening a probe into the Bidens. In his opening statement, Taylor additionally claimed that one of his staff members overheard a conversation between Sondland and Trump in a restaurant, in which Trump asked the ambassador about "the investigations." The staff member, according to Taylor, then "asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine" and "Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden."

Importantly, that info links Sondland to taking orders directly from Trump, which is crucial because, as Vox notes, "the extent to which [Sondland] was simply interpreting his boss' desires versus personally consulting with Trump [hadn't] been clear." Sondland is now even more of an unreliable character, seeing as he'd previously testified that he "wasn't aware" of preconditions for the release of Ukraine's aid, that he'd "never heard the word 'Biden' mentioned with aid," and that he couldn't remember conversations with Trump about the topic. Thanks to Taylor, such claims now appear to be lies. Watch below. Jeva Lange