Newly disclosed text messages show Gordon Sondland, the United States Ambassador to the European Union, defended President Donald Trump’s July 25 telephone call with the leader of Ukraine, affirming the president has said “no quid pro quo of any kind” took place between the heads of state, according to a report.
On Thursday, ABC News published excerpts of the texts in which Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, wrote to Sondland, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” seemingly a reference to allegations brought forward by a partisan CIA officer in a complaint that stated the president sought to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the business ties of Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President and 2020 White House hopeful Joe Biden.
The messages then show Sondland suggested the discussion be moved offline, writing, “I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.”
The texts were reportedly exchanged days prior to the White House releasing roughly $400 million in U.S. military assistance to Ukraine to combat Russia and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The texts were provided by Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, during a closed-door deposition before House investigators on Thursday.
The Trump-Zelensky call sparked House Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry into the president last week — despite the fact that both presidents denied any pressure was applied to probe into the Biden family. To underscore no wrongdoing occurred, the White House also released a transcript of the call — one day before the House Intelligence Committee released the so-called “whistleblower” complaint.
In what has given many observers pause over the impeachment inquiry, the House Intelligence Committee’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), was reportedly privy to some of the Deep Stater’s allegations against the president before his complaint was submitted to the intelligence community.
According to the New York Times, the officer contacted a House Intelligence Committee aide to discuss the Trump-Zelensky call, who then shared several of his claims with Schiff. However, the California Democrat previously claimed his panel had “not spoken directly” with a federal bureaucrat, raising questions about what he knew about the allegations before they were submitted to the inspector general.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Schiff attempted to downplay the Times’ report, saying it is routine for whistleblowers to consult Congress as to how to submit a complaint.
“This is a regular occurrence, given the Committee’s unique oversight role and responsibilities. Consistent with the Committee’s longstanding procedures, Committee staff appropriately advised the whistleblower to contact an Inspector General and to seek legal counsel,” Patrick Boland, Schiff’s spokesman said. “[A]t no point did the Committee review or receive the complaint in advance… The Committee did not receive the complaint until the night before the Acting Director of National Intelligence’s open hearing before the Committee.”