- GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham is refusing to look at new evidence of a quid pro quo involving President Donald Trump and military aid to Ukraine.
- In September, Graham said evidence of Trump withholding military aid from Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden did “not exist.”
- A transcript of testimony from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, released by House committees on Tuesday, offers evidence of an explicit quid pro quo in this regard.
- Graham on Tuesday told a reporter he wouldn’t look at the new evidence and said the entire process surrounding the inquiry was “BS.”
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A little over a month ago, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said anyone looking for evidence of a quid pro quo involving US military aid to Ukraine and a request from the president for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden would be “disappointed.”
Now that yet another witness in the impeachment inquiry has confirmed the existence of such a quid pro quo in President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the South Carolina lawmaker is refusing to look at the evidence and said he has “written off” the whole process.
“If you’re looking for a circumstance where the President of the United States was threatening the Ukraine with cutting off aid unless they investigated his political opponent, you’d be very disappointed. That does not exist,” Graham, a top Trump ally in Congress, said on September 25.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: "If you're looking for a circumstance where the President of the United States was threatening the Ukraine with cutting off aid unless they investigated his political opponent, you'd be very disappointed. That does not exist." pic.twitter.com/io19f19725
— The Hill (@thehill) September 26, 2019
The House committees spearheading the impeachment inquiry into Trump released transcripts on Tuesday from the testimony of Kurt Volker, the former US special envoy to Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union.
Sondland, in a revision to his earlier testimony to House investigators, confirmed there was a quid pro quo involving $US400 million of US military aid to Ukraine and Trump’s request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an inquiry into Biden and his son Hunter.
When asked on Tuesday if he would read the newly released transcripts, Graham told the CBS News reporter Alan He that he would not. He added: “I’ve written the whole process off … I think this is a bunch of BS.”
Sondland, a Trump loyalist, offered damning evidence against the president
In his earlier testimony on October 17, Sondland said he knew of only one quid pro quo, pushed by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for an investigation into the Bidens in exchange for a meeting between Trump and Zelensky.
Sondland in an addendum submitted to the committees leading the inquiry, which is dated November 4, said testimony from other witnesses “refreshed his recollection.”
The EU ambassador acknowledged telling one of Zelensky’s advisers that the “resumption of US aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”
Sondland said that “by the beginning of September 2019, and in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I presumed that the aid suspension had become linked” to Ukraine not publicly committing to an investigation into Biden, as well as a conspiracy theory linked to the 2016 election, which Trump also discussed in his call with Zelensky.
Trump urged Zelensky to open such an investigation during a July 25 phone call. Days before that, Trump had moved to place the roughly $US400 million in military aid on hold.
The July 25 phone call sparked a whistleblower complaint from a US intelligence official. The complaint ultimately catalyzed the impeachment inquiry, which has increasingly revealed that Trump’s request for a probe into the Bidens went far beyond a single phone call.
Sondland – a Trump loyalist and Republican campaign donor – was nominated by the president to be the EU ambassador in 2018. The president has asserted, without evidence, that those who’ve offered damning testimony against him are “Never Trumpers” and motivated by political bias. It will be hard for Trump to make the same case against Sondland.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing as the impeachment inquiry escalates, and has denounced the process as a sham.
- Read more:
- Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the EU, is the latest witness to confirm a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine
- Former diplomat Kurt Volker says Rudy Giuliani was a ‘direct conduit’ to Ukraine and demanded they publicly announce an investigation into the Bidens
- Trump’s ex-Ukraine envoy said she felt ‘shocked’ and threatened when Trump told Ukraine’s president she was ‘going to go through some things’
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