- A Trump administration official has told The Washington Post that the White House has been unable to find any record of the September 9 call between President Donald Trump and EU ambassador Gordon Sondland.
- Both men have said that during the call that Trump told Sondland he sought “no quid pro quo” deal, and wanted “nothing” in return for dealings with Ukraine.
- The call has been pivotal to Trump’s impeachment defense, with the president reading out sections of the call to reporters on the day Sondland delivered his testimony to the impeachment probe.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The White House has been unable to find any record of the September 9 phone call in which President Donald Trump allegedly told EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that there was “no quid pro quo” with Ukraine and that he wanted “nothing” in his dealings with the country, according to a report from The Washington Post.
An administration official told The Post that White House staff had searched switchboards at the president’s official residence on that date and found no record of the call, and no witnesses or documents have emerged to corroborate Trump and Sondland’s account of the call.
In his defense against the impeachment probe, Trump has seized on the call as evidence that he sought no personal advantage in pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a leading Democratic contender for the 2020 presidential nomination.
Sondland has testified to the House impeachment probe that in the call Trump told him he sought no “quid pro quo” deal with Ukraine, or deal in which the delivery of $400 million in military aid was made conditional on Ukraine announcing a probe into Biden.
On the day Sondland gave his public testimony to the House impeachment probe, November 20, Trump in a briefing to reporters read out sections of the conversation from a hand-written note, based on Sondland’s account of it.
“This is Ambassador Sondland speaking to me,” Trump told reporters last week. “Here’s my response that he just gave: ‘I want nothing … I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo.'”
The timing of Trump’s claim that he sought no quid pro quo has come under renewed scrutiny this week, after it was revealed that the president was briefed about a whistleblower’s complaint about his July 25 call with Zelensky in late August.
Those timings mean he was aware that his dealings with Ukraine were under scrutiny before he started issuing denials that he sought something from Ukraine.
Other impeachment witnesses have recalled Sondland telling them about a calls before the alleged September 9 call — on September 1 and September 7 – in which the president told him he wanted no “quid pro quo,” but did want Ukrainian president to personally announce a Biden probe.
Sondland’s attorney, Robert Luskin, told the Post: “He is aware of your story and will not comment beyond his descriptions of these matters in his deposition and public testimony.
“To the extent that the recollections of various witnesses differ in some respects, we leave to the committee the task of reconciling those differences,” he added.