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Good morning and welcome back to #ImpeachmentInquiry Land. I'm your host, Brandi, and today's programming will be sponsored by Caffeine.

Caffeine, it's what's running through my veins!
Today's testimony: First up and with all eyes fixed on him: U.S. Amb. to the EU, Gordon Sondland. Then we hear from Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secy at State and David Hale undersecy. of State for political affairs.
Will Sondland plead the 5th? What version of testimony will he offer under oath today? Will POTUS distance himself from Sondland altogether despite testimony as recent as 12 hours ago from Tim Morrison who said *each* time Sondland/Trump planned to meet, he verified they did?
How much further will other high ranking officials be drawn into the inquiry? Expect to hear "Secretary Pompeo" a lot today.
I am seated inside the chamber and the public spectator line inside was the longest I've seen it for the hearing days so far. Testimony begins in about 40 minutes.
Be sure you are following along with @KlasfeldReports and I.
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews Today will be a good day for a searchable transcript.
Link to Gordon Sondland's transcript here:
CC: @KlasfeldReports
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews We are moments away. Public is filing in, snapping selfies. You can feel the room swelling with anticipation.
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews There is a hush over the room. Only cameras can be heard clicking and whirring. Gordon Sondland is seated.
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews Schiff begins with his opening remarks.
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews Trump put his personal and political interests above those of the U.S., Schiff says.

As Sondland would later tell David Holmes after speaking to the president, Trump did not give "a shit about Ukraine."
Sondland was a skilled deal maker, but found himself increasingly embroiled in policy and process "far outside the norm," the chairman adds.

May 13 - POTUS orders Pence not to attend Zel. inaug. instead, dispatches Energy Secy Perry, Sondland and Amb. Kurt Volker
After coming back from Ukraine inaug. delegation, they briefed Trump. Urged him to meet with Zel. But Trump was "decidedly hostile."
That's when Trump said "Talk with Rudy."

We'll be hearing a lot about Rudy today.
Sondland became more clearly involved in Ukr. policy making by June. June 10 - Perry held conf. call w/Sondland, John Bolton, Volker et al. They reviewed Ukr. strat, decided Perry, Sondland, Volker to assist Bill Taylor in Ukr. and discuss Trump wish for Giuliani involvement.
Sondland pressed for meetings even after the Bolton meeting where Bolton swore he did not want to be a part of any "drug deal" cooked up by Sondland and Mulvaney.
On July 25th, the day of the Trump – Zelensky call, Volker had lunch in Kyiv with a senior aide to Ukrainian President Zelensky and later texted the aide to say that he had "heard from White House - assuming President Z convinces...
trump he will investigate / "get to the bottom of what happened" in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck!"

Ambassador Sondland spoke to President Trump a few minutes before the call was placed, but was not on the call.
During that now infamous phone call with Zelensky, Trump responded to the Ukrainian’s expression of appreciation for U.S. defense support and said: “I would like you to do us a favor, though.”
Trump asked Zelensky to investigate the discredited 2016 conspiracy theory, and even more ominously, look into the Bidens.
Neither had been part of the official preparatory material for the call, but they were in Donald Trump’s personal interest, and in the interests of his re-election campaign.
And the Ukrainian president knew about both in advance, in part because of Ambassador Volker and Ambassador Sondland’s efforts to make him aware of what the President was demanding.
Around this time Ambassador Sondland became aware of the suspension of security assistance to Ukraine, which had been announced on a secure interagency videoconference on July 18
(Cont.) "...telling us that it was “extremely odd” that nobody involved in making and implementing policy towards Ukraine knew why the aid had been put on hold.
During August, Sondland participated in conference calls and text messages with Volker and Giuliani, and said that the “the gist of every call was what was going to go in the press statement.”
In an August 9 text exchange with Volker, Sondland stated, “I think potus really wants the deliverable,” which was, according to Sondland “a deliverable public statement that President Trump wanted to see or hear before a White House meeting could occur.”
On September 1, Ambassador Sondland participated in Vice-President Pence’s bilateral meeting with Zelensky in Warsaw on September 1, during which Zelensky raised the suspended security assistance.
Following that meeting, Sondland, approached a senior Ukrainian official to tell him that he believed that “what could help them move the aid was if the [Ukrainian] prosecutor general would to go the mike and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation.”
Sondland told Taylor that he had “made a mistake” by telling the Ukrainians that an Oval Office meeting "was dependent on a public announcement of investigations. In fact, everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.”
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews Schiff says Pompeo is obstructing the impeachment investigation. And adds, Sondland's opening stmt will make clear, those documents "bear directly on this inquiry."
The knowledge of the scheme was "far and wide," the chairman adds.
But even the announcement by the Prosecutor-General would not satisfy the President.

On September 7, Sondland spoke to the President and told Tim Morrison and Bill Taylor about the call shortly thereafter.
The President said although this was “not a quid pro quo”, if President Zel did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate. Moreover an announcement by the Prosecutor-General would not be enough; Pres. Zel must announce personally he would open the investigations.
Sondland told Taylor that “President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check.”
The “check” referred to here was the United States’ military assistance to Ukraine. And Ukraine had to “pay up” with investigations.
Throughout early September, Volker and Sondland sought to close the deal on an agreement that Zelensky would announce investigations. After Taylor texted Sondland on September 9, 2019, that “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
Sixteen days later, the transcript of the July 25 call was made public and the American people learned the truth of how our President, tried to take advantage of a vulnerable ally.
Gordon Sondland says he agreed to testify today because he "respects the gravity of the moment" and believes he has "an obligation to account fully" for his role.
CC: @KlasfeldReports
@KlasfeldReports Sondland will also say that he has been denied access to all of his phone records and emails at State. "I was told I could not work with my EU Staff to pull together the relevant files," he will say.
@KlasfeldReports Sondland says the WH has ignored requests for records from both himself and his lawyers.
@KlasfeldReports Sondland: "Secy Perry, Amb. Volker & I worked with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States. We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt."
cc: @KlasfeldReports
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews Sondland will testify under oath today.
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews Sondland says he and others named above disagreed w/the need to involve Giuliani. "We did not believe
that his role was improper at the time."
Sondland says if he had known "all
Giuliani’s dealings or of his associations with individuals now under criminal indictment" he would not have "acquiesced to his participation."
Sondland says "precisely because we did not think that we were engaging in improper behavior" he made every effort to ensure that the relevant decisionmakers at the National Security Council and State knew the "important details" of the efforts underway.
"The suggestion that we were engaged in some irregular or rogue diplomacy is absolutely false," Sondland says in his opening remarks.
Sondland is unequivocal.
"Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for
arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma."
Sondland continues: "Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we
knew that these investigations were important to the President."
cc: @KlasfeldReports
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews He continues: In July and August of this year, Sondland learned the WH suspended Ukr. military aid. "I was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid, as the Ukrainians needed those funds to fight against Russian aggression."
"I tried diligently to ask why the aid was
suspended, but I never received a clear answer," Sondland testifies.
In the absence of a "credible explanation" for the delay, he came to believe that aid would ersume once Zel issued annoucnement for POTUS.
And as Giuliani demanded, Sondland adds.

"I shared concerns of the potential quid pro
quo regarding the security aid with Senator Ron Johnson. And I also shared my concerns with the Ukrainians."
Sondland says "at all times" he was acting in good faith. "As a presidential appointee, I followed the directions of the President. We worked with Mr. Giuliani because the President directed us to do so."
"We had no desire to set any conditions on the Ukranians. Indeed, my personal view -which I shared repeatedly with others -- was that the White House meeting and security
assistance should have proceeded without pre-conditions of any kind." - Sondland
The ambassador continues: "We were working to overcome the problems, given the facts as they existed. Our only interest was to advance longstanding U.S. policy and to support Ukraine’s fragile democracy."
Sondland says any suggestion that he "muscled" his way into the Ukraine portfolio is "simply false."
Sondland says he kept the leadership of the State and the NSC informed of activities.
That included: Secy Pompeo, counselor Ulrich
Brechbuehl, and Executive Secretary Lisa Kenna at State Department; comms w/Amb. Bolton, Fiona Hill, Timothy Morrison, and their staff at the NSC.
The July 10 meeting was one Sondland viewed as "positive." Vindman and Hill account of Bolton abrupt outrage "dont square" w/his memory or Secy Perry's. "I recall mentioning the pre-requisite of investigations before any
White House call or meeting."
"But I do not recall any yelling or screaming as others have said. Instead, after the meeting, Amb. Bolton walked outside with the group, and we all took
pictures together on the White House lawn."
Most important, those recollections of protest do not square with the documentary record
of our interactions with the NSC in the days and weeks that followed, he adds.
On July 10, same day Volker, Perry and Sondland met Ukr. Officials in D.C., Taylor rec'd a message that Giuliani was still talking to Ukr. prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko.
Taylor text Sondland et al: “Just had a meeting with Andriy and Vadym,” referring to Ukraine Foreign Minister
Vadym Pristaiko. Taylor said the Ukrainians were, quote: “Very concerned about what Lutsenko told them -- that, according to RG - the ZEPOTUS meeting will not happen.”
RG = Rudy Giuliani, ZEPOTUS = Zelensky
Volker responded, “Good grief. Please tell Vadym to let the official USG representatives speak for the U.S. [L]utsenko has his own self-interest here.”
"We tried our best to fix the problem, while keeping the State Department and the NSC closely apprised of the challenges we faced," Sondland testifies.
Sondland: 'Looking back, I find it very odd that neither I, nor Amb. Taylor, nor Amb. Volker ever received a detailed read-out of that call w/the Biden references."
"Now, there are people who say they had concerns about that call. No one shared any concerns about the call
with me at the time, when it would have been very helpful to know," Sondland says.
On July 2 - Taylor, Volker, Sondland in Kiev to
meet w/Zelensky. The timing was entirely coincidental. The Kiev meetings had been scheduled well before the
date of the White House call was eventually fixed.
During our Kiev meeting, I do not recall
President Zelensky discussing the substance of his July 25 call with President Trump. Nor did
he discuss any request to investigate Vice President Biden (which we all later learned was discussed on the July 25 call).
Was there a quid pro quo?
The answer is yes, Sondland says.
Trump wanted Zelensky committing to investigation into Burisma and 2016 election. Giuliani expressed that wish directly to Ukrainians and to Sondland and others.
@CourthouseNews Sondland: "Within my State Depat emails, there is a July 19 email that I sent to Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Perry, Brian McCormack (Perry’s Chief of Staff), Ms. Kenna, Acting Chief of Staff and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney (White House), and Mulvaney’s Sr Advisor
Robert Blair.
"A lot of senior officials," Sondland addss.
Here is my exact quote from that email:
“I Talked to Zelensky just now… He is prepared to receive Potus’ call. Will assure him
that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will ‘turn over every stone’.
"He would greatly appreciate a call prior to Sunday so that he can put out some media about a ‘friendly and productive call’ (no details) prior to Ukraine election on
Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney responded: “I asked NSC to set it up for tomorrow.”
"Everyone was in the loop"
DEVELOPING. A former hotelier who landed a big diplomatic post following a $1 million donation to Trump’s inaugural committee, Amb. Gordon Sondland took a startling about-face Wednesday in scorching testimony against POTUS and his atty Rudy Giuliani.
"I really regret that the Ukrainians were placed in that predicament, but I do not regret doing what I could to try to break the logjam and to solve the problem," Sondland testifies.
We begin with the first round of questions from Schiff. There is much new material, but we're hitting the top line items first.
In depo, Sondland said he was on a continuum that became more insiduous over time. What does that mean exactly?
Sondland says the request for investigation into corruption on May 23 was very generic. But as time went on, "more specific items got added to the menu" incl. Burisma, 2016 election meddling specifically, the DNC servers specifically.
"It became more and more difficult to secure this meeting because more conditions were placed on this meeting," Sondland says.
Schiff: You say other senior State Dept officials, incl. Mulvaney, Pompeo were aware of this quid pro quo (WH meeting for investigations Trump wanted into 2016/Burisma)
The Bidens hadn't come up yet at that point, but today he says, he knows exactly what shorthand "Burisma" meant
David Holmes testified that Trump only cares about 'big stuff' that effects Trump personally. This is what he told Sondland.
Today, Sondland does not dispute that account.
When Sondland says "matters of interest to the president" that means the investigations Trump wanted, that involved 2016 and Burisma.
On Sondland talk w/VP Pence before mtg in Warsaw. Sondland raised concerns about frozen sec assistance.
"I was in a briefing w/several ppl. I spoke up and said it appears everything is stalled until this statement gets made."
Pence nodded as if he heard what Sondland said.
After meeting with Pence. Schiff asks if Sondland told Zel aide Yermak that they needed to make announcement if they wanted the aid.
Sondland said he did.
"I thought it was a very bad idea to hold that money." -Sondland
Sondland asked what was wanted of Ukr.
"It was short, abrupt, he was in a foul mood and said I want nothing, I want nothing, I want no quid pro quo, Tell Zel. to do the right thing."
Sondland: "So I typed out a text for Amb. Taylor. Not to offend or opine, simply relayed the message: I've gone as far as I can go." Told Taylor if still concerned, "get ahold of the Secy, maybe he can help you."
The meeting was conditioned, was a quid pro quo for what the investigations President Trump wanted and "everybody knew it," Schiff asks Sondland.
Sondland affirms, that is correct.
@CourthouseNews Schiff: You understood the military assistance was being withheld pending Zelensky annoucnement of these investigations?
Sondland: That was my presumption at the time, because nothing was moving.
The $400M is U.S. taxpayer money, Schiff notes. Not coming out of Trump's personal account.
Sondland affirms.
I did not predict A$AP Rocky being discussed in the same breath as impeachment inquiry proceedings, if I'm being totally honest.
Pres. Zelensky "loves your ass" comment - Dem counsel Goldman asks - is that something Sondland would say?
Sondland says, "That sounds like something I would say. POTUS and I communicate in a lot of four letter words. In this case, a three letter word."
Zelensky was willing and eager to coordinate with U.S. on Trump request?
Sondland agrees that is the posture from Ukr.
Goldman asking about David Holmes recollection regarding the convo from restaurant terrace where Trump asked if Zel. would "do the investigations."
Sondland does not dispute Holmes account; does not necessarily recall his exact words about Trump "not giving a shit." But he adds:
Trump was "not a big fan of Ukraine" And Sondland says what he definitely would have said is "Trump wants the investigations that we had been talking about for quite some time to move forward."
"That's what I would have said, because that's the fact," Sondland says.
Roughly 17 mins on the clock remaining for first round of Dem counsel questioning.
Goldman gets Sondland to say it again.
"You testified this was a quid pro quo?"

"I did," Sondland said.
Sondland: Trump never told me directly the aid was conditioned on meetings, the only thing we got directly from Giuliani was that the Burisma/2016 elections were conditioned on WH meeting. "The aid was my own personal guess, to use an analogy 2+2 = 4."
"I never heard from President Trump was conditioned on announcement of elections.
Goldman: You never heard those specific words?
Sondland: Correct, I never heard those words.
Taylor testified that Sondland said he "made a mistake" and that "everything" hinged on the security assistance.
Sondland says he thought the stmt ade by the new Ukr. prosecutor suggesting investigations would be started up, would be "sufficient to satisfy Giuliani/Pres. Trump.
Sondland: "Someone came back through Volker, and said it wouldn't do. POTUS wants to hear it from Zelensky directly. That's the mistake I think I made."
Dem counsel Goldman asks: As of Sept. 9, Sondland understood that Trump required Pres. Zelensky make an announcement about investigations into 2016/Burisma?
Sondland affirms.
We are back and Nunes has begun his 45 minute round of questions, per the rules of the inquiry. Nunes immediately slamming Schiff for holding a small press conf. w/reporters just outside hearing room.
"The veneer has been torn away," Schiff said of Sondland's testimony.
Nunes railing on Dems for not calling in Hunter Biden. Nunes argues that Hunter Biden could shed light on all of this. (In case anyone was unsure: Hunter Biden did not work at State, nor did he work at the WH during the time Trump/Giuliani first pushed for pressure campaign)
Nunes has handed the floor to Steve Castor, GOP counsel.
Did POTUS ever tell him about any preconditions for aid being released or a WH meeting?
Sondland: Personally? No.
Castor: But if you did, you wouldn't have any docs/records?
Sondland: I don't recall anything like that
Castor: You said Giuliani was "Expressing desires of POTUS" but how did you know that, who told you?
Sondland: When POTUS says talk to my personal attorney and Giuliani is his personal atty, you assume it's coming from the pres.
Castor suggests that Trump saying "talk to Rudy, talk to Rudy" was a comment made out of exasperation and not a directive
Castor asks if Sondland heard Kurt Volker's testimony yesterday and Sondland shoots back "I was busy getting ready for you."
Can we get an A$AP Rocky counter. Send tweet.
Sept 9 - Sondland called POTUS, said Trump seemed "very cranky" that day.
Castor: What did POTUS say to you?
Sondland: I decided to ask POTUS the question in an open ended fashion because there were so many diff. scenarios going on to Ukraine. Instead of saying is it this, is it that, I said what do you want from Ukraine? I may have even used a four letter word.
Sondland: He said nothing, no quid pro quo, "I just want Zelensky to make the stmt"
What we're parsing here is the difference between Burisma and Biden.
"A lot of people did not make the connection," Sondland says.
It's true. People weren't making connection that Burisma was shorthand for Biden. We heard this yesterday from Volker/Morrison.
Castor has 20 minutes left for questioning.
Castor asks if committee is missing a lot of his records related to communications with POTUS.
Sondland says he doesnt have a lot of records of conversations; beyond call logs, essentially.
The aid was lifted on Sept. 11. Castor notes letter from Sen Ron Johnson to Trump re: concerns on Ukraine dated on Aug 31. Trump was signaling to Johnson he was going to lift the aid even before an investigation, Castor notes.
Sondland was unable to confirm that. The above statement was an insinuation by the GOP counsel.
To the best of his knowledge, Sondland says he has no knowledge that Ukraine was asked to investigate any U.S. persons (Aside from the investigation into former VP Joe Biden)
When POTUS appointed him to amb. to EU, Ukr. was part of his portfolio. What made that part larger was a series of unique circumstances, including a vacancy for the sitting amb. role in Ukraine.
Sondland refers to himself, Secy Perry and Amb. Volker as the "three amigos."
Yesterday, Volker said he cringed at its use. "I never used that term."
Castor: Sondland stated that he hasn't been able to access his records?
Sondland: Not all of them. There are notes, records, readouts of calls.
Castor: but you don't take notes?
Sondland: I don't take notes but there are a lot out there.
Sondland said areas where he doesn't recall information should be chalked up to the amount of issues he's juggling.
"A phone call for me with POTUS or another president, - while people who get a call like that once in a lifetime, a call like that may be very memorable. I'm doing it all day long."
Sondland says he's not saying it in a way that is braggadocious
While Sondland delivered devastating testimony to the official White House narrative, Trump said of Sondland:
“I don’t know him very well. I haven’t spoken to him much. This is not a man I know well. He seems like a nice guy though."
The suggestion by the President that he doesn’t know Sondland – who donated $1 million to his inaugural campaign and was appointed to the role by president– is hard to believe.
Democrats appeared to anticipate that the president may distance himself from Sondland during proceedings just a day earlier.
When lawmakers were piecing together the chain of command with Tim Morrison, Morrison stated each time he suspected Sondland and Trump might be meeting or discussing issues related to Ukraine foreign policy – or not – he verified that they met on his own accord and kept a record
Vice President Mike Pence also eschewed his ties to Sondland, who travelled with him to Warsaw, Poland on Sept. 1.
The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations."
Pence also contends he was “never alone” with Sondland during the September trip.
We're looking at a text from Aug 13 when Sondland was discussing the statement created for Zel: re announcement of Ukr. investigations. The stmt wasn't issued and WH mtg never occured, but Sondland affirms it was POTUS direction that mtg w/Zel. doesnt occur until announcement
"It wasn't an order, it was more, it you want to work on this, this is who you must talk to," Sondland says of Trump suggestion of Giuliani as point of contact for Ukr.
So many Qs on how this functioned at State.
Did Pompeo give tacit approval of unofficial foreign policy ops?
That backfired.
Castor reviewed an email from Aug 22 where Sondland writes to Pompeo about time for mtg betwen Trump and Zel in Warsaw (Before Pence went in Trump's place).
Castor quotes Sondland email, asks what "important issues to POTUS" were?
Sondland:"The 2 investigations"
We are on a short break for now. Perfect time for you to catch up and read the developing story:
cc: @KlasfeldReports
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews We are back. We will have 5 minute rounds but first
Schiff wants to correct record about Mark Sandy testimony from Saturday. (Sandy is reviewing his transcript today for accuracy today.)
Schiff: If minority wants to use any of Sandy's testimony for Qs, they can. They chose not to take advantage of that,
But then he says, let's make a far more significant point: Sandy is *not* the top official at OMB responsible for processing mil. aid.
The responsible parties would be Russell Vought and Michael Duffey. Both have refused to comply with congressional requests for records and testimony.
Republican John Ratcliffe wants to turn to quid pro quo.
He suggests media representation of Sondland testimony today is false.
On part that relates to military assistance, Ratcliffe says Sondland has no direct evidence, just his connective 2+2 presumption.
Himes picking up thread on who was in charge here:
Sondland tells Rep Himes "yes" when Himes asks if it was Kurt Volker who told him the conditioning and investigations were at the request of the president.
Himes on the public July 26 call between POTUS and ambassador:
Sondland doesn't dispute Holmes characterization of the call but without a transcript of that call, all we have is Sondland recollection.
Himes wants to know about Sondland state of mind
Himes: Holmes said POTUS did not give a "fig" - not the word used - about Ukraine, is it plausible Holmes that he heard that?
Sondland: I think that's too strong. Based on their meeting, the president was down on Ukraine for the reasons mentioned and would need convincing
"That's why we were pushing so hard for the meeting. Once they met, we thought POTUS impression of Ukr. would go up," he said.
Then, Himes asks if Sondland believes, today, that POTUS primarily cares about the big stuff that benefits POTUS only.
Sondland: POTUS said that to me on the phone call. He mentioned investigations.
Jordan lacing into Sondland. Jordan repeating Trump stmt when he said 'I want nothing, no quid pro quo, I want Zelensky to make announcement,' demands to know why Sondland didn't include in his opener. Sondland contends it wasn't pertinent.
"I thought the quid pro quo was the White House visit in return for the 2016 DNC server and Burisma investigation," Sondland tells Rep. Terri Sewell
He did not understand it as "code" for the Bidens at that time. He made the connection later, but he does not recall the date.
Sewell asks if he believes this was bribery?
Sondland says he is not a lawyer, so he won't speculate.
Sondland testified before that he followed Trump's orders to connect with Giuliani to engage with Ukr.
Sewell: You said suggestions you were engaging in rogue diplomacy was false
Sondland: By rogue diplomacy, I mean I would not involve State or WH.
Sewell: Everyone knew about Giuliani's efforts to get Burisma?
Son.: POTUS told us to work w/Giuliani. Leadership at State, NSC knew about it.
Sew.: But Amb. Taylor said he knew nothing about it. He's the amb. to Ukr. You're amb. to EU. Wouldn't Taylor know
Son: He should have.
Rep Turner: You said when you & Volker were working on stmt for Ukr. it was clear to Volker that a mtg wouldn't happen w/o Burisma/2016 invstgns.
Volker said Tues it wasn't a req. Sondland strongly disagrees.
"If it wasn't a req., we wouldn't have worked so hard to get it.
Rep Turner, R-OH asking if anyone "on this planet" told Sondland that Trump was tying aid to investigations.
Because if answer is yes, then Schiff wrong, every headline wrong, Turner says. Sondland emphasizes it was his presumption on aid, again, the 2+2 rationale used earlier
Rep Wenstrup, R-Ohio, says yes 2+2= 4 but the "2" in the Sondland equation is presumption + presumption, there was no quid pro quo.
Huge applause in the chamber when Rep Speier says POTUS has "5 Pinnochios a day" after Republican jab about Sondland statements today being rated "3 Pinnochios"
Rep Swalwell: State Dept. employees have said they don't want to make "legal definitions" around what was being leveraged for investigations sought by Trump. But you called it a quid pro quo, right?
Sondland: I did.
Will Hurd asks if Sondland has knowledge about other Ukr. official Giuliani may have been talking to or meeting with. Sondland says no.
Rep Castro bringing up the infamous Mulvaney Oct 17 presser where Mulvaney makes admission on quid pro quo and says it is par for the course.
Sondland: I only had 1 formal mtg w/Mulvaney, unrelated to this.
Most of communication was via email. He may have seen him casually and kept in touch, but had no back and forth, Sondland says.
Was it his sense that Mulvaney had a direct line to Trump as acting chief of staff?
Sondlan: Absolutely.
Castro notes how Mulvaney said during presser it was president that wanted the investigations. Asks Sondland to affirm. Sondland does.
"I have news for everybody, get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy." - Mick Mulvaney, Oct. 17
Castro to Sond.: Does he agree it is wrong to ask a foreign govt to investigate a political rival?
Sondland says there's a difference between political influence and asking for investigations, but when it comes to investigations, it would be wrong.
Let us back up a moment - Sondland said he only had one formal mtg with Mulvaney and it had nothing to do w/Ukraine. But when Fiona Hill testified behind closed doors she said that Sondland met "repeatedly" with Mulvaney. Expect this to come up later when she goes public.
In private, Hill also said she frequently saw Sondland coming/going from West Wing. Here's the rub: In her testimony, she said when she saw Sond. coming and going, she'd ask around and found "from talking to the staff that he'd only been up to see Mick Mulvaney" (p. 204)
Here's a searchable version of Fiona Hill's transcript:
Sond: I would have preferred POTUS met w/Zel. right away. Our assessment was POTUS and Zel would get along famously. Zel is smart and funny. We thought good things would happen, thats why we pushed for a meeting
Rep Welch laments, that's why its "unfortunate" conditions imposed
Rep Maloney: Who would benefit from an investigation of POTUS political opponent?
Sond: The person who asked for the investigation.
Maloney: And who is that? Who would benefit from an investigation of POTUS political opponent? Sond at first wouldn't say Trump by name.
Maloney pushes, asks him to just say who it would be because what is being discussed right now isn't a hypothetical.
Sondland, his voice slightly softer, says it would be Trump.
Public bursts into applause in chamber
Sondland tells Rep. Maloney he has tried to be forthcoming. Sondland looking for a bit of succor. But Maloney having none of it and interrupts Sondland - "We appreciate yiour candor but let's be really clear about what it took to get it out of you."
@CourthouseNews And that concludes member questioning for Sondland. We have closing remarks from Rep Nunes first.
@CourthouseNews Nunes says testimony today provides "zero evidence" of wrongdoing, or conditions put on aid.
Observation from inside the gallery - I spied at least three spectators shaking their head when Nunes said this.
@CourthouseNews Schiff is delivering his closing remarks and has rattled off at least a half dozen of Sondland's key remarks today. One of those statements cited by Schiff from Sondland sums it up cleanly:
"I know members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: was there a quid pro quo, with regard to the White House call and the White House meeting? The answer is yes." - Gordon Sondland, U.S. Amb to EU
Schiff says he has a lot of strong feelings about Trump, but he does not believe Trump would allow himself to be "led by the nose" by Giuliani or anyone else.
Schiff: Who was refusing the meeting w/Zel. that Sondland, Volker, everyone thought should take place?
Who stood in way of meeting?
Only one answer to that question: It is Donald J. Trump, 45th president of the United States.
Schiff: Who was holding up the mil. assiatnce? Was it you, Sondland? Taylor? Volker? Kent? Secy Pompeo? Who had decision to release the aid. It was 1 person. Donald J. Trump, President of the United States.
Schiff: "My colleagues seem to think unless he says the magic words, "if I bribe Ukrainians," there's no evidence of it.
But let's look at his intent. On the whole. On the aid. Let's look at what is disputed about what POTUS has to say."
Schiff: You know how we know what he has to say? It's not what you have to say. We have a record of his converation with another President.
"Rudy very much knows what is happening he's a very capable guy... if you could speak to him that would be great."
Schiff, not paraphrasing, quoting Trump: "The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son... so whatever you can do with the attorney general, that would be great. Biden went around bragging that he could stop the election." What's on Trump's mind when he threatens aid?
"Biden," Schiff says. "There's no mistaking what Donald Trump's interest was or what he meant when he had a call with Sondland on unsecure phone... He meant Biden
Schiff: "The question is not what he meant or if he responsible for holding up aid. He was."
Schiff: "The question is what are we prepared to do about it? Or are we forced to conclude this is just now the world we live in, when a POTUS can witthold vital military aid from an ally at war w/Russians, fighting our fight too, to defend our country against Russian aggression.
Schiff: "Are we prepared to say, in words of Mick Mulvaney, get over it or get used to it? We are not prepared to say that."
Then, the chairman commends Sondland for not opining on whether Trump should be impeached or if bribery committed.
"That's for us to decide," he says.
Schiff: "I resisted this whole idea of going down the road to impeachment for over a year. It was made necessary not by the whistleblower but by the actions of the president."
With Sondland testimony over, we head next into the hearing for David Hale and Laura Cooper. The line of spectators waiting to get inside the hearing room is still fairly long. Even at this late hour.
What. A. Hearing.
Didn't have a chance to watch? Didn't catch live-tweets from @KlasfeldReports or myself? We have just the remedy for that.
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews Can confirm - there will be no staff question rounds tonight for Cooper and Hale. Testimony ended after 8PM last night. And there is still a full block of testimony tomorrow so a reasonable finish to today's hearings would be welcome!
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews Lawmakers are seated or taking their seats. The witnesses will talk through the doors to the chamber at any moment and we will be underway for testimony from Laura Cooper and David Hale.
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews Cooper and Hale are seated as photographers surround them and snap their photos.
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews Both of our witnesses are veteran national security professionals. Cooper is Deputy Ass't Secy for Defense (Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia) and Hale is under secy of State for Political Affairs.
Amb. Marie Yovanovitch reached out to Hale about the attacks she faced, Hale pushed to get state to issue a statement praising her.
"But there was silence and there still is," Schiff said
Cooper met with Kurt Volker, discussed hold on security assistance and according to her testimony, Volker revealed to her that he was engaged in effort to get Zelensky to make investigations announcement Trump sought.
In his opening remarks, Rep. Nunes laments proceedings, calls it "smoke and mirrors" by Dems, says "POTUS was skeptical of foreign aid generally, and especially skeptical of Ukraine"
Nunes says no one knows why we are here conducting the inquiry.
Hale and Cooper stand to be sworn in ahead of their testimony.
@CourthouseNews In her opening remarks, Cooper speaks to the necessity of military aid for Ukraine from the U.S.
The *ongoing* human toll of the hot war between Russia and Ukraine has claimed at least 14,000 lives since Russia's invasion there 5 years ago.
@CourthouseNews She pursued three tracks to get the aid unfreezed:
- During an interagency mtg on July 31, she "made clear" to leadership once DoD reaches funding deadline for fiscal year, there are only 2 legal options to discontinue aid: POTUS-directed withdrawal or DoD-directed reprogramming
@CourthouseNews Then, she spoke to appropriate security assistance officials to understand when they would reach the point that they would be unable to obligate all the funds by end of fiscal year.

She rec'd several updates and in Sept. 5, she was informed $100M+ could not be fulfiled by 9/30.
@CourthouseNews Next, she advocated for a mtg of Cabinet level officials w/POTUS to explain why assistance should go fwd.
"Although I heard attempts to discuss the issue with POTUS, I never received details about any conversations other than the status update that the hold hadn't been lifted."
@CourthouseNews Schiff says the claims by GOP that they are not able to call witnesses is false. Hale was called by the minority party. Morrison was as well.
@CourthouseNews Schiff: As early as July 25, same day Trump spoke to Zelensky, Cooper rec'd a call from someone at Ukrainian embassy. The staff member asked, specifically, she notes, "What is going on here?"
Cooper affirms.
Cooper then says that State Dept was contacted by Ukrainians w/same Q.
@CourthouseNews Schiff asks Cooper if she recalls whether she was privy to discussions about the WH meeting conditions. She waits a moment. Thinks. Says she cannot recall if there was.
@CourthouseNews Hale tells Rep Ratcliffe yes, it is fair to say that since Trump was elected, he has reviewed priorities around U.S. foreign assistance.
Ratcliffe, w/a softball, is the intent based in Trump's wish to save taxpayers $? Hale affirms.
@CourthouseNews Ratcliffe is it is "normal" to have delay in aid. It's not common, but it occurs, Hale said.
Ratcliffe notes how US aid has been withheld from Pakistan, Lebanon etc.
Hale asserts that aid is occasionally withheld, sometimes with explanation, sometimes not.
@CourthouseNews Rep. Himes says GOP defense is that POTUS is asking on some deep concern about corruption in Ukr., he's decided to hold up aid and be prudent/judicious.
"The first part of that is pretty easy to dispose of," Rep Himes says.
@CourthouseNews Correction - acting* not asking.
@CourthouseNews Congress is also concerned about corruption, Himes says. Wants to make sure U.S. foreign assistance is used properly so it is not used to fund even more corrupt activities.
There are anti-corruption benchmarks that must be met, per the legally-specified process.
@CourthouseNews Himes notes: There had already been months devoted to ensuring that Ukraine was on the level with corruption issues by the time the aid was frozen, correct?
Cooper says yes.
Himes cited The Impoundment Control Act next. It prohibits POTUS from withholding assistance funds w/o congressional approval for *any reason.*
Is that Cooper's understanding?
She isn't a lawyer, she admits, but that is her "approximate understanding."
The letter from John Rood at DoD, certifying Ukraine beat back corruption sufficiently and that it was deserving of U.S. aid.
cc: @KlasfeldReports
@KlasfeldReports Russia violated the sovereignty of Ukraine's territory, illegally annexed territory belonging to Ukr. and denied access to a naval base and Russia continues to build its capability to expand Russian forces in the region, Cooper testifies.
If we were to withdraw our support, it would embolden Russia, Cooper tells Rep Andre Carson.
Carson: And who stands to benefit the most if U.S. cuts aid to Ukraine?
Cooper: Russia.
@CourthouseNews The timing Republicans are relying on since hearings began and as recently as this morning is dubious.

During Sondland testimony, Jim Jordan said:
Jordan: "So it gets held up for 55 days, gets held up on July 18 and then is released on September 11. But it seems to me more important than the 55 day pause is the 14 days when Ukraine realized aid was held up on August. I mean, Ukraine learns aid is held up on August 29."
But, Cooper said tonight Ukr. inquired about the aid on the same day Trump had call w/Zel. on July 25. Defense Dept got an email that same day from Ukr. embassy asking about aid. Cooper said her staff was directly contacted by Ukr. emb officials on 25th asking "what's going on"
During closing remarks, Nunes gives the floor over to Schiff for what he described as his "story time"
Schiff, totally unmmoved, "Thank you as always for your comments."
Laughter rang out in the chamber.
Schiff speaking on smear campaign launched against Amb. Yovanovitch and the defense by Trump and GOP lawmakers that what theyw ere after was an anti-corruption campaign for Ukraine:
"That isn't anticorruption. That is corruption."
"Let's look at POTUS words on July 25. Does he ask, how is that reform coming? What are you doing to root out corruption? Of course not! Of course not! Are we to believe that was his priority? What does he ask?" Schiff says, before quoting Trump: "I want you to do us a favor"
Every now and then, there's a conversation that says all you really need to know. It doesn't seem all that significant. But this one really struck me. It was from Volker's testimony. In Sept. when he's talking to Andriy Yermak, Zel's aide and he's advising him...
"You may not want to go through an investigation or prosecution of Poroshenko," is what Volker said to Yermak.
Schiff says what strikes him about this is the hypocrisy.
Though inquiry testimony has concluded, the committee voted to table motions from minority for whistleblower subpoena, as well as subpoena seeking docs related to Hunter Biden's time on board of Burisma, and subpoena for Alexandra Chalupa.
And with that, we are wrapped for the day.
cc: @KlasfeldReports
@KlasfeldReports @CourthouseNews And don't sleep on this folks.

Today was the first time since televised public hearings began that lawmakers have referred to the Impound Control Act of '74 by name.
The legislation, enacted in 1974, prohibits the president from withholding assistance funds without congressional approval. Its creation and passage was a response to President Richard Nixon’s refusal to release appropriated funds to programs he personally opposed.
Himes was the first to mention it Wednesday night, asking Cooper if she understood how the legislation worked.

Though she said she is “not a lawyer,” Cooper affirmed her understanding that the bill was put in place to place a check on the president’s powers.
Under the legislation, the president must send a “special message” to Congress identifying the funds he wishes to claw back as well as the reasons for doing so.
Those reasons must also include explanations of the budgetary and economic effects the withdrawal will have and how it may impact other federal programs or policies.
Once the president notifies Congress, the president can continue to withhold the funds for up to 45 days. If the withdrawal is approved but not enacted within 45 days, then the targeted funds must be made available for their original purpose.
A 2018 legal opinion from the Government Accountability Office – which remains in force – stipulated further: If the president holds or withdraws funds, he must make the affected funds ready and available before a funding deadline runs out.
This, according to an October statement from the House Committee on Budget, means “that the president cannot strategically time a rescission request for late in the fiscal year and withhold the funding until it expires, thus achieving a rescission without congressional approval.”
I strongly suspect that lawmakers will rely on this legislation, or some version of it, when they forward articles of impeachment.
Goodnight, Longworth.
COOPER AND HALE: Easily digestible and ready for you to zoom through. A wrap up by the talented @ByTimRyan:
@ByTimRyan SONDLAND: The quick hits ready for your consumption from Sondland's testimony this morning. Once again, by @ByTimRyan.
@ByTimRyan .@MMineiro_CNS pulls back from the impeachment inquiry fray, slows things down and gives us a deeper look into a singular aspect from the day.
"I'm not a note taker. Never have been" is where this particular story begins.
READ: courthousenews.com/note-taking-to…
There were many major "moments" today. Take a look this one, with coverage from @KlasfeldReports.
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