Energy Dept.: Sondland ‘misrepresented’ Perry’s role in Ukraine
In his opening statement, Sondland testified that Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, “conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election.”
“Everyone was in the loop,” Sondland later testified. “It was no secret. Everyone was informed via email on July 19, days before the presidential call.”
According to Sondland’s testimony, Perry was included on — and replied to — that July 19 email in which Sondland said Zelensky would tell Trump he “intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will ‘turn over every stone’” in a public announcement.
Under questioning from Democratic Counsel Daniel Goldman, Sondland said that it was understood among the recipients of the email that “investigation” referred to the allegations related to Burisma and the 2016 elections.
Sondland added that he thought both Perry and McCormack, among others, would be “key witnesses” for the ongoing inquiry.
When asked whether Perry would change course and agree to offer testimony, DOE spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes replied,”The committee has refused to allow him that opportunity in an open and transparent setting with executive branch counsel present.”
Trump and Guiliani have raised complaints related to Hunter Biden’s time as a board member of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma, as well as unsubstantiated allegations that the Ukraine government had interfered in the U.S. 2016 presidential election.
Perry has repeatedly denied any knowledge of requests for specific investigations, and he told The Associated Press in late October he never heard the words Burisma mentioned over the course of his work in Ukraine.
Perry also told The Wall Street Journal on Oct. 16 that Giuliani explained that Trump did not trust Ukraine because of a belief that it played a role against him in the 2016 election. But Perry told the paper that Giuliani did not on that call give specific directions to him.
“Rudy didn’t say they gotta do X, Y and Z,” Perry told the WSJ. “He just said, ‘You want to know why he ain’t comfortable about letting this guy come in? Here’s the reason.’”
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said the emails released with Sondland’s deposition show “knowledge of this scheme was far and wide” throughout the administration.
Sondland underscored that he, Volker and Perry did not want to consult with Giuliani and did so only at the “express direction” of Trump.
“We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani,” he testified. “Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the President’s orders.”
Sondland stated, as he did during his deposition, that Perry made the first outreach to Giuliani “given his prior relationship.” Perry had endorsed Giuliani’s 2008 presidential bid.
Sondland also reiterated his view that a July 10 White House meeting was cordial and did not include any “yelling and screaming” as others have said. Sondland, like Perry, suggested that a photo at the White House with senior U.S. and Ukrainian officials proves that the meeting ended without acrimony.
In addition, Sondland testified that Perry was the person who suggested a smaller group of U.S. and Ukrainian officials from that meeting hold an impromptu second gathering after then-national security adviser John Bolton adjourned the original July 10 session. Several other witnesses testified Perry left almost immediately and stuck to his “ usual talking points” about fighting corruption that day.
Sondland also says the record of subsequent texts and emails show that he, Perry and Volker kept National Security Council officials informed of their actions.
“We kept the NSC apprised of our efforts, including, specifically, our efforts to secure a public statement from the Ukrainians that would satisfy President Trump’s concerns,” he says in his opening statement.