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Sondland Claims Giuliani Demanded 'Quid Pro Quo' From Ukraine At Trump's Request

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In closely watched Congressional testimony, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland claimed President Donald Trump directed his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to demand a "quid pro quo" from Ukraine.

Sondland told members of the House Intelligence Committee that Giuliani made clear to the Ukrainians that a phone call and meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was conditional on Ukraine announcing investigations into the 2016 elections and Burisma Holdings.

Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company, is linked to the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"I know that members of this Committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a 'quid pro quo?'" Sondland said in prepared remarks. "With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes."

He added, "We all understood that these prerequisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump's desires and requirements."

Sondland also said he came to believe security aid was being withheld until Ukraine committed to the investigations of the 2016 election and Burisma, as Giuliani had demanded.

The testimony by Sondland is the latest in a series of public hearings House Democrats have called as part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Democrats have accused Trump of abusing the power of his office in an effort to coerce a foreign power into digging up dirt on a political rival.

Despite Sondland's claims, most Republicans have steadfastly denied any wrongdoing by the president and are likely to raise questions about the U.S. Ambassador's credibility.

Sondland was previously forced to amend closed-door Congressional testimony after his recollection of events was disputed by other officials.

A White House statement released in response to Sondland's testimony noted he previously denied Trump requested a "quid pro quo."

"Ambassador Sondland previously testified that the president told him directly that he was not interested in a quid pro quo," the White House said. "He testified that President Trump repeatedly made it clear he wanted no quid pro quo."

Sondland's public testimony subsequently seems unlikely to sway Senate Republicans, who would need to undergo a dramatic change of heart to support removing Trump from office.

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