Sondland: The three amigos worked with Rudy Giuliani ‘at the express direction’ of Trump
Sondland testified that he, outgoing energy secretary Rick Perry, and former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker “worked with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States.”
Giuliani is Trump’s personal lawyer who spearheaded the Ukraine pressure campaign.
“We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani,” Sondland testified. “Simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt.”
Sondland added that while they didn’t feel the need to involve Giuliani, they didn’t believe his role was “improper.”
“If I had known all of Mr. Giuliani’s dealings, or associations, with individuals, some of whom are now under criminal investigation, I would not have personally acquiesced” to working with the former New York mayor, Sondland said.
He was referring to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two of Giuliani’s Ukrainian associates who were indicted last month for campaign finance violations. Both men helped facilitate Giuliani’s efforts to get Ukraine to deliver political dirt to Trump.
They also aided Giuliani in engineering the ouster of Masha Yovanovitch, the US’s ambassador to Ukraine who was abruptly recalled in May after she refused to help Giuliani carry out his shadow foreign policy agenda.
“Precisely because we did not think we were engaging in improper behavior, we made every effort to ensure that the relevant decision makers at the National Security Council and State Department knew the important details of our efforts,” Sondland testified. “The suggestion that we were engaged in some irregular and rogue diplomacy is absolutely false.”