- Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the European Union, confirmed to President Donald Trump over a July 26, phone call that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would do “anything you ask him to,” a State Department aide who overheard the call testified to Congress in a closed-door hearing on Friday.
- The July 26, phone call was first revealed on Wednesday during the first day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. Acting US Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor told lawmakers and the public that a member of his staff David Holmes had overheard the conversation.
- According to Holmes’ opening statement that was published by CNN, Sondland told Trump that Ukraine would investigate Biden because Zelensky will do “anything you ask him to.” Sondland also told Trump that Zelensky “loves your arse,” Holmes testified.
Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the European Union, told President Donald Trump over a July 26 phone call that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would do “anything you ask him to,” according to new testimony from a State Department aide David Holmes.
Holmes, a staffer at the US Embassy in Kiev, testified during a closed-door congressional hearing on Friday afternoon. His damning 10-page opening statement was published Friday night by CNN.
In his opening statement, he wrote that while out to lunch with Sondland and two other aides in Kiev, Sondland called the president.
“While Ambassador Sondland’s phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the President’s voice through the earpiece of the phone,” Holmes said in his statement. “The President’s voice was very loud and recognisable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume.”
This July 26, phone call was first revealed on Wednesday during the first day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. During his testimony, acting US Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor told lawmakers that a member of his staff had overheard a conversation where Trump and Sondland discussed Ukraine and investigations.
“Sondland told Trump that Zelensky ‘loves your arse,'” Holmes wrote in his opening statement. “I then heard President Trump ask, ‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation?’ Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it,’ adding that President Zelensky will do ‘anything you ask him to.'”
Holmes also writes that he asked Sondland if it was true that the president doesn’t “give a s— about Ukraine.” Sondland, according to Holmes, confirmed this and said that Trump only cares about “big stuff,” which was later defined as, “‘big stuff’ that benefits the President, like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.”
The call between Trump and Sondland took place one day after President Trump spoke to Zelensky in a now infamous July 25, phone call where Trump discusses the Bidens and an unfounded claim about Ukraine and the 2016 election, and asks for “a favour.” The contents of that July 25, call became the impetus for a whistleblower complaint, eventually sparking the impeachment inquiry looking into whether Trump attempted to use his office for political gain.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and maintained that the call was “perfect.”
In addition to confirming Taylor’s testimony, Holmes’ description of the phone call itself raises questions about security, as The Washington Post points out.
“The security ramifications are insane – using an open mobile phone to communicate with the president of the United States,” Larry Pfeiffer, a former chief of staff to former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden and a senior director of the White House Situation Room, told The Post. “In a country that is so wired with Russian intelligence, you can almost take it to the bank that the Russians were listening in on the call.”