Sondland a day after Trump's call Ukraine: The US will increase Ukraine's support in carrying out "promised" reforms
Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, said in an interview with Radio Liberty on July 26, what these reforms were. He only said that there was a "long list of reforms" and that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would have to show this "political will" to do it.
Sondland will publicly testify on Wednesday before the House Intelligence Committee, where it is at the center of allegations that the Trump administration of Ukraine has withheld military assistance to put pressure on the government to announce an investigation against Trump's political rival, the former Vice President Joe Biden, and a debunked conspiracy theory, according to which Ukraine 201
6 was behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee of CNNs KFile as part of a review of Sondland's public comments on Ukraine. Sondland's comments in the interview shed new light on his mind when Trump telephoned Zelensky on July 25. Sondland spoke to Trump before and after this call, as stated in Congress and in an interview with Ukrainian television.
The interview with Sondland shows that "promised" reforms were in the foreground – although it is unclear whether Sondland is referring to Zelensky's promise to the Ukrainian people or their willingness to yield to Trump's demands. Zelensky championed promises to reform Ukraine and stem the corruption that has plagued the country for years. Sondland's public statements in the interview were the exact same day that he told Trump privately that Zelensky "loves your ass" and "conducts" Biden's investigation, according to Congressional statements.
"We have a team in Washington with the State Department in the White House, which are all focused on all aspects of Ukrainian relations: military energy, business, politics, everything," said Sondland at Radio Liberty, one of the US government funded broadcaster broadcast in Eastern Europe.
Asked about the specific reforms, Sondland said: "There is a long list of reforms, but you know the good news is that in many cases they are not difficult and need political will." And I believe that President Zelensky Execution is the key Speech is good, execution is better. "
At the beginning of the interview, Sondland said," We have a whole list of problems, that we are working on Ukraine … on energy security, war, the team that puts together President Zelensky around him, rule of law, Naftogaz, all sorts of things. "
Naftogaz, Ukraine's national oil and gas company, is out several reasons for the impeachment investigation. Energy Minister Rick Perry urged Ukraine to change the board of directors of the company in control, and two employees of Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani tried to change management. The Democrats want to know if Trump was involved in these efforts and whether they were meant to promote everyone's personal business interests, not US national interests.
A handful of US officials said on Capitol Hill that Zelensky was considered to be someone who kept his promise to eradicate corruption. However, at the time of the interview with Sondland, the situation was still fluid: Zelensky had been elected and his party won the majority in parliament, but US diplomats and officials were waiting for the concrete measures that Zelensky would take. Since then he has signed several groundbreaking anticorruption laws.
During Trump's telephone conversation with Zelensky on July 25, Trump repeatedly urged the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden, and called on the Ukrainian leader to cooperate with Giuliani and US Attorney General William Barr on this matter. Zelensky told Trump in reply that he would "guarantee" that "all investigations will be open and open".
A witness has testified that they will ask Trump on the phone the next day, on July 26, whether "the investigation he wants" would be announced, with Sondland answering that they, formerly added, the Ukrainian president "loves ass."
Sondland and US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker met with Zelensky and his staff on 26 July.
In an interview published earlier on 26 July, Sondland said that Trump had given him special assignments, including Ukraine.
"President Trump has not only honored me as a US Ambassador to the EU, but has also given me other special assignments, including Ukraine," he told a Ukrainian media company.
CNN's Rene Marsh contributed to this report.