In front of the US Congress, a key witness in the Ukraine affair has confirmed a major allegation against Donald Trump. US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland said under oath at a public hearing in the House of Representatives that he had worked with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in dealing with Ukraine, at Trump's express request. Giuliani demanded a quid pro quo for a meeting of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj with Trump in the White House. Trump has always denied that there was a "quid pro quo" with Selenskyj.
Sondland's statements continue to press Trump into impeachment proceedings against him – and are a success for the Democrats. They accuse the president of having abused his office in order to urge the Ukrainian government to interfere in his favor in the US election campaign. Accordingly, Kiev should announce investigations that could have hurt Trump's political rival Joe Biden. It is suspected that the US President used military aid to Ukraine as a means of pressure to achieve the desired investigation.
The main statements of Sondland at the hearing:
"We followed the instructions of the President." Sondland said he and other Trump advisors had put pressure on the government of Ukraine, "because the president told us to do so."
"Everyone was up to date, it was no secret." According to Sondland, he has regularly informed Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo and other senior officials about his efforts to pressure Ukraine.
"I told Vice-President Pence before the meeting with the Ukrainians that I have concerns that the delay of the aid is related to the investigation." Sondland said it warned Pence against a "quid pro quo" for Ukraine's $ 391 million security investigation.
"Was there a quid pro quo? The answer is yes." Sondland counteracted, inter alia, Trump's statement. The US president had repeatedly said that there had been no "quid pro quo" – that is, investigations as a prerequisite for a phone call or meeting of Ukraine's President Selenskyi with Trump in the White House.
Trump feels relieved
Trump distanced himself from the Ambassador, according to the statements of the country. He does not know Sondland "very well," said Trump. "I have not talked much with him." At the beginning of October, Trump Sondland, whom he had made the US ambassador to Brussels, praised on Twitter as a "really good man and a great American".
Trump was also relieved by the statements of the country. He quoted the ambassador's testimony when he reported a phone conversation with Trump in early September. Sondland said he had asked the president in that conversation what he wanted from Ukraine. "I do not want anything," Trump replied. "I do not want a quid pro quo. Just tell Selenskyj to do the right thing." Trump said that's exactly what he said in that phone call to Sondland. The matter was done with it.
The hearings of Sondland and other witnesses are part of the investigation begun by the Democrats in September for possible impeachment against Trump. Whether the Democrats will actually open the impeachment process with their majority in the House of Representatives has not yet been decided.
The fact that Trump is dismissed from the position would, according to the current state, even in the case of an impeachment procedure are extremely unlikely. This would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate, dominated by Trumps Republicans. So far, Republicans in Congress are firmly standing by Trump (see a video analysis by Washington correspondent Roland Nelles).