EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, a key actor in President Donald Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine for dirt on his political rivals, was in the hot seat Wednesday as Democrats built their case for impeaching the US leader.
Here are some of the key quotes from his opening statement.
– Following Trump’s orders –
– “As a presidential appointee, I followed the directions of the president. We worked with (Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy) Giuliani because the president directed us to do so.
“We had no desire to set any conditions on the Ukranians. Indeed, my own personal view — which I shared repeatedly with others — was that the White House meeting and security assistance should have proceeded without pre-conditions of any kind.”
– Rudy Giuliani –
– “Secretary (Rick) Perry, Ambassador (Kurt) Volker and I worked with Mr Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States.
“We did not want to work with Mr Giuliani. Simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt … So we followed the President’s orders.”
– Investigations for aid/’quid pro quo’ –
– “I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’
“As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
– “Mr Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma.
“Mr Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the president.”
– “In the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 election and Burisma, as Mr Giuliani had demanded.
“I shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid with Senator Ron Johnson. And I also shared my concerns with the Ukrainians.”
– State Department/White House refusal to release emails –
– “As Ambassador, I have had hundreds of meetings and calls with individuals. But I am not a note taker, or a memo writer … My lawyers and I have made multiple requests to the State Department and the White House for these materials.
“Yet, these materials were not provided to me. They have also refused to share these materials with this committee. These documents are not classified and, in fairness, should have been made available.”
– Everyone was in the loop –
– “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret. Everyone was informed via email on July 19, days before the presidential call.”
– July 25 Trump-Zelensky call –
– “As I communicated to the team, I told President Zelensky in advance that assurances to ‘run a fully transparent investigation’ and ‘turn over every stone’ were necessary in his call with President Trump.”
– July 26 Sondland-Trump call –
– “I remember I was at a restaurant in Kiev, and I have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations.
“Again, given Mr Giuliani’s demand that President Zelensky make a public statement about investigations, I knew that the topic of investigations was important to President Trump. We did not discuss any classified information.”
Lindsey Graham keeps begging Fox Views viewers for donations: ‘They’re killing me money-wise’
Embattled Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham went on Fox News multiple times on Thursday to beg their right-wing audience for campaign donations.
Graham started his day on the Fox News show "Fox and Friends" -- where he begged for money.
“My opponent will raise almost $100 million in the state of South Carolina,” said Graham.
“The most money ever spent in the state on a Senate race was by me in 2014 when I spent $13 million. He raised $6 million from the time Justice Ginsburg passed away, within 72 hours and God bless Justice Ginsburg. We’re celebrating her life. I appreciate waiting ’til Saturday to announce her replacement. But I am being killed financially," he admitted. "This money is because they hate my guts.”
‘Breonna’s Law’ legislator arrested by Louisville police for first-degree rioting: report
A spokesman for a police union in Louisville announced on Thursday that the only black woman in the Kentucky legislator had been arrested while protesting the lack of charges for the killing of Breonna Taylor by the Louisville Metro Police Department.
"Kentucky State Rep. Attica Scott, author of legislation known as "Breonna’s Law," was arrested with others Thursday evening during protests demanding justice for Breonna Taylor," WDRB-TV reports. "Scott, a Louisville Democrat, was among a group of individuals arrested near the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library and First Unitarian Church at the intersection of South Fourth and York streets, according to Tracy Dotson, a spokesman for Louisville Corrections Lodge #77 Fraternal Order of Police union. Scott was charged with first-degree rioting and failure to disperse, Dotson said."
WATCH: Late-night hosts go off on Trump for ‘chilling’ plan ‘to steal the election’
Late-night television hosts harshly criticized President Donald Trump for refusing to say there would be a peaceful transition of power if he loses the November election.
"In one of the more chilling moments of his presidency -- and they've been a few -- Donald Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power as Republicans formulated the plan to steal the election through the courts," Seth Meyers explained.
"We're as close as we've ever been to losing our democracy and watching our government transform into an autocratic regime," he continued. "It's happen right in front our eyes right now, you don't need to wait for Trump to roll down Pennsylvania Avenue on a tank in green fatigues with a long chin-beard -- especially since if he did try to grow one he'd probably just look like a very sick chihuahua."