President Donald Trump’s call with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland was a “cranky” one according to testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. New records and witness testimony raise questions about the timeline about what Trump knew and when he knew it.
The Washington Post was burning the midnight oil Thanksgiving eve, discussing another call between Trump and Sondland that occurted days earlier than the notorious “no quid pro quo” call.
In that call, Trump reportedly “made clear that he wanted his Ukrainian counterpart to personally announce investigations into his political opponents,” namely former Vice President Joe Biden, who had announced he was running for president.
Trump’s team is scrambling to find details they can use to exonerate Trump from bribery revealed in the summary of a call to Ukraine he released himself.
The White House is searching for a record of the call coming into the switchboard, but Trump is known for handing out his personal cell phone number to many officials and world leaders. White House staff claim that Sondland never used the personal cell number, however, and always used typical government channels.
According to a Post source, when Trump talks to someone on his cellphone, the calls aren’t always recorded into the logs, especially if the calls happen while he’s outside of the West Wing. Usually, Trump stays there until about 10:30 a.m. in “executive time.”
“Trump has also rotated cellphones over time, and he has occasionally asked others to call people and put them on speaker phone for him,” The Post reported.
“So if Trump did tell Sondland flatly that he wanted ‘no quid pro quo,’ he did so knowing there was growing scrutiny of his posture toward Ukraine,” The Post wrote Wednesday.
According to witness testimony, Trump claimed he was not seeking a “quid pro quo,” but he demanded the ambassador tell Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky personally and publicly announce an investigation in to Biden on a U.S. news outlet. He didn’t actually want an investigation, but he demanded the investigation be announced. Whether Trump proclaimed “no quid pro quo,” he then followed up with the quid pro quo.
“After Sondland described that conversation to him on Sept. 7, then-National Security Council official Tim Morrison had a sinking feeling, he told acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor Jr., as both men later testified,” The Post continued. ‘Morrison told lawmakers he ‘did not think it was a good idea for the Ukrainian president to . . . involve himself in our politics,” according to a transcript of his closed-door deposition. He was so concerned about Sondland’s description of his conversation with the president that he said he reported it to White House lawyers, Morrison said.”