Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testified Wednesday that he raised concerns to Vice President Mike Pence that security aid to Ukraine was contingent upon Ukraine announcing investigations into 2016 election interference and Joe and Hunter Biden — but the VP's office is denying any such conversation ever took place.
Sondland, testifying before the House Intelligence Committee as a part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, said the conversation with Pence took place on Sept. 1, just before Pence met with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky.
"I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations," Sondland said. The ambassador said Zelensky raised concerns about the delayed aid during the meeting, and that Pence responded by telling Zelensky he would address the matter with President Trump.
Sondland's revelation was significant, as it was the first piece of testimony tying the vice president to the alleged bribery/extortion/quid pro quo scandal Democrats are using as the basis of their impeachment effort. But Pence, through his chief of staff, denied that the conversation occurred.
"The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations," the statement read. "Ambassador Gordon Sondland was never alone with Vice President Pence on the September 1 trip to Poland. This alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador Sondland never happened.
"Multiple witnesses have testified under oath that Vice President Pence never raised Hunter Biden, Crowdstrike, Burisma, or investigations in any conversation with Ukrainians or President Zelensky before, during, or after the Sept. 1 meeting in Poland," it concluded.
A spokesman for Energy Secretary Rick Perry also claimed that Sondland's sworn testimony was inaccurate.
"Ambassador Sondland's testimony today misrepresented both Secretary Perry's interaction with Rudy Giuliani and direction the Secretary received from President Trump," the statement read. "As previously stated, Secretary Perry spoke to Rudy Giuliani only once at the President's request. No one else was on that call. At no point before, during, or after that phone call did the words 'Biden' or 'Burisma' ever come up in the presence of Secretary Perry."