Ambassador Gordon Sondland is likely to be unpredictable when he faces questions about his evolving accounts of the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine and a newly revealed summertime phone call with President Donald Trump, The Associated Press reported.
Sondland, a wealthy hotelier Trump tapped as his ambassador to the European Union, is more directly entangled than any witness yet in the President’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and Democrats in the 2016 election. Yet Sondland has already amended his testimony once – “I now do recall,” he said, talking to Ukraine about investigations, AP adds.
Sondland’s appearance at Wednesday morning’s hearing, and his closeness to Trump, is of particular concern to the White House as the historic impeachment inquiry reaches closer to the President, pushing through an intense week with nine witnesses testifying over three days in back-to-back sessions.
Trump has recently tried to suggest that he barely knows his hand-picked ambassador, but Sondland has said he has spoken several times with the President and was acting on his direction.
Sondland is likely to face tough questions from lawmakers of both parties about Trump’s July 25 call when he asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the political investigations at the same time as U.S. military aid for the ally was being stalled.
The ambassador routinely bragged about his proximity to Trump and drew alarm from the foreign service and national security apparatus as part of an irregular channel of diplomacy led by the President’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.