President Donald Trump attempted to lash out against House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry to the point of a White House lawyer insisting that he wouldn’t comply with any part of it — but this Thursday, Congressional investigators are hearing from E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland anyway. A copy of his prepared opening statement came out on Thursday morning, and in his remarks, Sondland perhaps surprisingly to many tears into the president, insisting that he did not support Trump’s decisions like involving his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in efforts to bend Ukraine to the president’s will and pausing already approved military aid during that process.
Giuliani’s role included that of a “middle man” in the president’s scheme to get Ukraine to produce dirt on the Bidens related to completely unsubstantiated corruption allegations.
Sondland bluntly insists, including now former U.S. Special Envoy Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry in his remarks:
‘We were also disappointed by the President’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani. Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the President’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine.’
Sondland acknowledges, beyond even those points, that a meeting with Ukrainian leaders in D.C. was made contingent on addressing those concerns that Trump pointed them to Giuliani for. In other words, point after point of some of the most condemning reporting surrounding this scandal so far are getting confirmed by Sondland, not denied.
Sondland insists that he had no personal part in a scheme to push Ukraine for dirt on the Bidens and supposedly did not initially understand that “Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”
Sondland is not the only current or former Trump official to offer condemning testimony about Trump to Congress this week. Former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill and former top Pompeo adviser Michael McKinley did the same in the days before the E.U. Ambassador. Hill explained — among other things — that then-national security adviser John Bolton himself asked her at one point to alert National Security Council lawyers to the Trump-Giuliani scheme surrounding Ukraine. McKinley, meanwhile, who had served in the State Department for decades, told Congress that he resigned in part because he was “disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents.”
Others to testify already include former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who confirmed that Trump had personally directed her ouster over completely baseless allegations that she was harboring some kind of conspiracy plan against him — and getting in the way of his Ukraine scheme.
The testimonies are all in stark contrast to the president’s insistence that at no point did he do anything wrong in dealing with Ukraine. He’d probably still insist that he did nothing wrong even if he, say, put a burning cross on the lawn outside the White House, though.