Sondland lawyer refutes pivotal parts of Taylor’s ‘smoking gun’ testimony

Testimony from the top diplomat to Ukraine is partly being disputed by an attorney for  U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland.

Sondland’s lawyer Robert Luskin told The Washington Post that his client “did not recall” a conversation that acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor, alleged he had with Ukrainian officials.

(Image: YouTube screenshot)

Taylor made the bombshell claims of quid pro quo during his testimony before a House committee Tuesday as part of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Trump for his dealings with Ukraine.

Taylor told lawmakers in closed-door testimony that Sondland had personally spoken to Andriy Yermak, a representative for Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, about releasing nearly $400 million in military aid if the country would help in investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Democrats touted the “explosive” testimony by the diplomat as the smoking gun in Trump’s allegedly corrupt demands from the Ukraine leader, which Zelensky has repeatedly dismissed.

“This was the first time I had heard that the security assistance — not just the White House meeting — was conditioned on the investigations,” Taylor told House lawmakers.

“Ambassador Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations,” he added.

But Luskin pushed back on Taylor’s claims.

“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 Pence,” Luskin told The Post.

Taylor had also testified about National Security Council official Tim Morrison informing him of a conversation between Trump and Sondland last month on Sept. 7 during which the president allegedly said Zelensky should “go to a microphone” and commit to “opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference.”

But Luskin told the Post that this was not the case, as the ambassador “was asked about all of his interactions with Trump on this subject matter. These did not include another call on the 7th.”

Taylor also claimed that Sondland told him in June “that he did not wish to include most of the regular interagency participants in a call planned with President Zelensky. . . . Sondland said that he wanted to make sure that no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelensky to the call.”

Luskin pushed back on this claim as well, asserting that Sondland “believes that it was monitored routinely and that an appropriate file memo was prepared. He never suggested otherwise.”

Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News Tuesday that although he was not able to share details from the closed-door session due to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, he could relate that testimony from the Ukrainian envoy was quickly dismantled by a Republican colleague.

“In 90 seconds, we had John Ratcliffe destroy Taylor’s whole argument,” McCarthy said. “What we’re finding is that just his questioning in 90 seconds refuted everything of what Adam Schiff leaves out there; there is no quid pro quo.”

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Frieda Powers

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