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Trump Continues To Clean House, Fires Ambassador Gordon Sondland
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: Gordon Sondland, the U.S ambassador to the European Union, makes an opening statement before testifying to the House Intelligence Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill November 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony during the fourth day of open hearings in the impeachment inquiry against U.S. President Donald Trump, whom House Democrats say held back U.S. military aid for Ukraine while demanding it investigate his political rivals and the unfounded conspiracy theory that Ukrainians, not Russians, were behind the 2016 computer hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Donald Trump continued to clean house late on Friday after removing two brothers from the National Security Council, notifying Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union that he was fired.

“I was advised today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United States ambassador to the European Union,” Sondland said in a statement. “I am grateful to President Trump for having given me the opportunity to serve, to Secretary Pompeo for his consistent support, and to the exceptional and dedicated professionals at the U.S. Mission to the European Union. I am proud of our accomplishments. Our work here has been the highlight of my career.”

Sonland, who testified in Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, initially said during his testimony that there was a quid pro quo involving withholding aid to Ukraine for the announcement of an investigation into Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Later, Sondland later admitted that what he had stated was just his assumption.

HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF: And you’ve also testified that your understanding — it became your clear understanding that the military assistance was also being withheld, pending Zelensky announcing these investigations. Correct?

SONDLAND: That was my presumption, my personal presumption, based on the facts at the time. Nothing was moving.

Sondland later continued:

GOP COUNSEL STEVE CASTOR: I want to turn back to your – your opener on Page 5, under – when – when you talk about in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations. Correct?

SONDLAND: Correct.

CASTOR: And you acknowledged that this is speculation, right?

SONDLAND: It was a presumption.

Sondland later admitted that he had no evidence to prove his initial claim.

Sonland late confirmed again during his testimony that what he had initially claimed was just his presumption:

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): OK. Well, you know, after you testified Chairman Schiff ran out and gave a press conference and said, he gets to impeach the president of the United States because of your testimony. And if you pull up CNN today right now their banner says “Sondland ties Trump to withholding aid,” is that your testimony today, Mr. — Ambassador Sondland, that you have evidence that Donald Trump tied the investigations to the aid? Because I don’t think you’re saying that.

SONDLAND: I’ve said repeatedly, Congressman, I was presuming. I also said that President Trump —

TURNER: So no one told you. Not just the president — Giuliani didn’t tell you, Mulvaney didn’t tell you — nobody — Pompeo didn’t tell you? Nobody else on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying aid to these investigations, is that correct?

SONDLAND: I think I already testified to that —

TURNER: No, answer the question. Is it correct, no one on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying this aid to the investigations? Because if your answer is yes, then the Chairman’s wrong and the headline on CNN is wrong. No one on this planet told you that President Trump was tying aid to investigations, yes or no?


TURNER: So, you really have no testimony today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations?

SONDLAND: Other than my own presumption.

TURNER: Which is nothing. I mean, that’s what I don’t understand. So you know what hearsay evidence is, Ambassador? Hearsay is when I testify what someone else told me. Do you know what made up testimony is? Made up testimony is when I just presume it.

I mean, you’re just assuming all of these things and then you’re giving them the evidence that they’re running out and doing press conferences and CNN’s headline is saying that you’re saying the president of the United States should be impeached because he tied to investigations and you don’t know that, correct?

SONDLAND: I never said the president of the United States should be impeached.

TURNER: Nope, but you did — you have left people with the confusing impression that you were giving testimony that you did not. You do not have any evidence that the president of the United States was tied to withholding aid from Ukraine in exchange for investigations. I yield back.


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