Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko said Thursday that U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland had “never” linked U.S. aid to Ukrainian investigations of the 2016 elections or the Biden’s role in stopping a probe of Burisma.
Prystaiko spoke the day after the first public hearings in the House Intelligence Committee as part of the “impeachment inquiry,” where two witnesses said they came to believe there had been such a link — though only some time after Politico reported on August 28 that aid had been held up by the Trump administration.
One of the witnesses, Chargé d’affaires Bill Taylor, introduced new evidence that a staffer told him recently that he overheard Sondland speaking to President Donald Trump the day after his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, discussing “investigations.” The staffer also told Taylor that Sondland said that Trump was more interested in investigations than anything else.
As Breitbart News’ Kristina Wong noted, that new evidence — which is fourth-hand hearsay, plus opinion — added little new information, but was cited by Democrats and journalists as evidence that aid might have been linked to investigations Trump had asked the new Ukrainian government to pursue.
On Thursday, Prystaiko said that there had been no link in discussions at the time with Sondland, as Reuters reported:
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said on Thursday that U.S. ambassador Gordon Sondland did not explicitly link military aid to Kiev with opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Interfax Ukraine reported.
“Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and certainly did not tell me, about a connection between the assistance and the investigations. You should ask him,” Prystaiko said about Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
“I have never seen a direct relationship between investigations and security assistance,” Prystaiko was quoted as saying by Interfax. “Yes, the investigations were mentioned, you know, in the conversation of the presidents. But there was no clear connection between these events.”
In his closed-door testimony last month, which was released by the House Intelligence Committee several days ago, Sondland told the committee that he had spoken frequently with Prystaiko and other Ukrainian officials during the period in question.
Sondland is due to testify in the public hearings next week.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.