An attorney for U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland disputed some key claims made by William Taylor, a top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, during Taylor's testimony before House impeachment inquiry committees, according to the Washington Post.
Taylor's testimony has been portrayed by Democrats as the most damaging information against President Donald Trump to date, as Taylor explicitly claimed that there was a quid pro quo arrangement set up by President Trump tying security aid money to Ukraine to the Ukrainian government's cooperation and help with investigations into 2016 election interference and Burisma.
However, Sondland, who testified for the inquiry before Taylor did, has disputed some of the key claims Taylor made in his deposition, creating some doubt about the connections between aid money and investigations, and whether such alleged connections were made explicit to Ukraine.
In his testimony Taylor recalled a conversation he had with a Tim Morrison of the National Security Council on Sept. 1. Taylor said Morrison told him that Sondland told Andriy Yermak, a representative for Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, that the aid money to Ukraine would not be released until Zelensky committed to pursuing an investigation of Burisma, the energy company where Hunter Biden sat on the board.
Not true, Sondland's attorney said — or at least, he doesn't recall such a conversation.
"Sondland does not recall any conversation in Warsaw concerning the aid cutoff, although he understood that the Ukrainians were, by then, certainly aware of the cutoff and raised the issue directly with [Vice President Mike] Pence," Sondland attorney Robert Luskin wrote to the Post.
Taylor also testified that on Sept. 7 Morrison told him that President Trump told Sondland that he was insisting that Zelensky "go to a microphone" to say he is opening investigations into 2016 election interference and into Biden's Ukraine business dealings. The president allegedly said that although he wasn't asking for a "quid pro quo," if Zelensky didn't go public with the investigations, then things would be at a "stalemate."
Sondland's lawyer denies such a call ever took place.
"[Sondland] was asked about all of his interactions with Trump on this subject matter," Luskin wrote. "These did not include another call on the 7th."
As House Democrats continue investigations that could lead to actual impeachment in the near future, Republicans are growing frustrated that access to the depositions is limited to members of certain committees. Although some Republicans are indeed allowed to attend, some Republicans are pushing for greater public transparency.
(H/T: The Hill)