As impeachment proceedings on President Donald Trump continue, a senior US diplomat has directly implicated him in a scheme to force Ukraine to probe a political rival.
On Wednesday, Gordon Sondland, the US envoy to the European Union and a Trump ally in a bombshell testimony to a televised impeachment hearing told lawmakers he followed Trump’s orders in seeking a “quid pro quo” deal for Ukraine to probe Democrat Joe Biden in exchange for a White House summit.
The US leader said Trump directed him and other diplomats to work with his personal lawyer Giuliani, who he said mounted a pressure campaign on the government of Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Giuliani’s demands, he said, were for Kiev to investigate Biden and to probe a conspiracy theory, espoused by Trump, that Ukraine helped Democrats against him in 2016.
Far from being a “rogue” operation outside normal US diplomatic channels, Sondland told the hearing top officials in the White House and State Department — including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — were kept constantly informed.
“We followed the president’s orders,” in working with Giuliani, he testified before the House Intelligence Committee.
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