Ambassador Gordon Sondland, a key player in the Ukrainian case at the heart of the impeachment process targeting Donald Trump, passes to the US Congress grill on Wednesday, 20 November. This businessman appointed ambassador after funding the Donald Trump campaign is a direct witness, who has regularly spoken with the US president about his Ukrainian policy.
Gordon Sondland's televised audition is important in many ways. One of the Republican lines of defense is to mock an accumulation of second-hand accounts: here is a man at the heart of diplomacy between Kiev and Washington.
Democrats hope that Gordon Sondland will confirm that the Republican billionaire has conditioned the resumption of military aid frozen by Washington at the launch, by Kiev, of an investigation aimed indirectly at Joe Biden, a possible Democratic opponent of Donald Trump in the presidential election. 2020. This pressure on Kiev, if proven, would constitute, according to them, an "abuse of power" punishable by dismissal.
In view of the various testimonies already received by parliamentarians, Ambassador Sondland is depicted at the center of a parallel diplomacy with Ukraine, set up by Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and which answers only to the republican billionaire. With US envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker and US Energy Minister Rick Perry, Gordon Sondland forms a trio called "Three Amigos", named after a 1980s school comedy.
The audition of Gordon Sondland is all the more awaited, that the man had until now some problems of memory. In his first statement in mid-October in camera, the ambassador had ducked many questions, explaining he no longer remember meetings or telephone exchanges reported by other witnesses. For example, he said he had "not participated" in actions to "freeze aid to pressure" Kiev. According to him, such an attitude would be "inappropriate", even "illegal", if it was intended "to influence an American election". But faced with contradictions, he suddenly remembered a conversation with Andrei Yermak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president.
Members of Congress will also question him on another episode ignored.
According to an employee of the US embassy in Kiev, Gordon Sondland spoke on the phone with Donald Trump from a restaurant in the Ukrainian capital on July 26, the day after the controversial call with Volodymyr Zelensky. "I heard President Trump ask, 'So, will he start the investigation?' Ambassador Sondland replied, 'He will do it', adding that President Zelensky would do 'whatever you ask' "he said.
The call ended, continued the witness, Gordon Sondland told him that Donald Trump "did not care about Ukraine" because he was only interested in "important things that benefit the president," as " Biden investigation ".
Even though the ambassador was careful to point out that the president had always assured him that there was "no give-away" for electoral purposes, the Republican side has already begun to downplay the importance of the links between the two. men.