Vice President Mike Pence, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo each categorically denied EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s claims that the three White House officials were aware of Trump’s alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in a quid pro quo for military aid.
During testimony delivered to the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday on day four of the Democrats’ latest round of partisan impeachment hearings, Sondland said he informed each, Pence, Perry, and Pompeo that the ambassador raised concerns about the president withholding aid to Ukraine as part of a quid pro quo to investigate the Biden family, the central issue at the heart of the Democratic impeachment inquiry.
“I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in [US military aid to Ukraine] had become tied to the issue of investigations,” Sondland told lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
The vice president’s office however, denied the conversation ever took place.
“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 on potential investigations,” said Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short in a statement.
“Multiple witnesses have testified under oath that Vice President Pence never raised Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden, Crowdstrike, Burisma, or investigations in any conversation with Ukrainians or President Zelensky before, during, or after the September 1 meeting in Poland,” Short pointed out.
NEW: Pence chief of staff pushes back, says VP Pence *never* had a conversation with Sondland about investigations into Bidens, Burisma or conditional release of military aid. pic.twitter.com/28FL905CpB
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) November 20, 2019
Energy Secretary Perry also pushed back on Sondland’s assertion that he too, was informed of an apparent quid pro quo being put in place by Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani.
“Ambassador Sondland’s testimony today misrepresented both Secretary Perry’s interaction with Rudy Giuliani and direction the Secretary received from President Trump,” an Energy Department spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
Pompeo’s team also issued a statement rejecting Sondland’s accusations.
“Gordon Sondland never told Secretary Pompeo that he believed the president was linking aid to investigations of political opponents. Any suggestion to the contrary is flat out false,” State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
Sondland’s testimony before the committee was paraded by Democrats and the media as the most damning testimony to date, where Sondland implicated a wider range of White House officials to include Pence, Perry, and Pompeo as complicit in Trump’s alleged scheme to conspire with a foreign leader to investigate political opponents at home.
However, Sondland also testified Trump was very clear with the ambassador that Trump wanted no quid pro quo with Ukraine.
During a candid conversation with President Trump on what the president wanted from Ukraine, Sondland told lawmakers that Trump explicitly said “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo.”
Sondland admits Trump told him “I want no quid pro quo.” Also admits his opinion that there was quid pro quo is based on a “presumption” – and is directly contradicted by Volker and Morrison. Reasonable people having different conclusions isn’t compelling evidence to impeach. pic.twitter.com/aYaxH7O2xc
— John Ratcliffe (@RepRatcliffe) November 20, 2019
Later in his testimony, Sondland also advanced the case to investigate the Biden family over what appeared to be a conflict of interest where former Vice President Joe Biden’s son served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company for $50,000 a month despite no prior experience in the industry while Joe Biden dictated U.S. policy towards Ukraine.
“Clearly it’s an appearance of a conflict of interest,” Sondland told New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik when pressed on whether the situation raised any red flags.
WATCH: Ambassador Sondland admits Hunter Biden serving on the board of Burisma had the appearance of a conflict of interest. Yet Adam Schiff refuses to allow this Committee to call Biden as a witness. pic.twitter.com/6OSIpYWoPo
— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) November 20, 2019