US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland admitted to House committees he eventually became aware that Ukraine aid was held up to entice Ukrainian corruption investigations, and eventually realized the investigation was linked to the Bidens, according to transcript excerpts released today.
“Finally at some point I made the Biden-Burisma connection, and then the transcript was released,” Sondland said during his testimony.
He said he couldn’t remember specific dates, and for some time hadn’t made the connection between the Bidens and Burisma, the Ukrainian natural resources company for which Hunter Biden sat on the board.
Sondland previously had maintained he didn’t make the connection to the Bidens until well after President Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president.
“I did not know until more recent press reports that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma,” he had said in a prepared opening statement released before his testimony.
Sondland also gave the committees a full overview of how Trump sent him and other officials to work with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and how his request for help from the Ukrainians developed.
“You know, this whole thing was sort of a continuum, starting at the May 23rd meeting, ending up at the end of the line when the transcript of the call came out. And as I said to counsel, it started as talk to Rudy, then others talk to Rudy. Corruption was mentioned. Then, as time went on—and, again, I can’t nail down the dates—then let’s get the Ukrainians to give a statement about corruption. And then, no, corruption isn’t enough, we need to talk about the 2016 election and the Burisma investigations. And it was always described to me as ongoing investigations that had been stopped by the previous administration and they wanted them started up again. That’s how it was always described. And then finally at some point I made the Biden-Burisma connection, and then the transcript was released. So I can’t tell you on that continuum when, what dates, but that’s kind of what happened,” he said.
He also described how the administration held up aid to Ukraine in exchange for political help.
“And then at the end of that continuum I became aware that there might be a link between the White House visit and aid to the Ukraine that was being held up when I couldn’t get a straight answer as to why the aid was being held up, both Senator Johnson and Ambassador Taylor raised the possibility that there might be a link,” he said, according to the excerpts. “And then the aid was released, and then this whole thing blew up.”