Time is reporting in an exclusive this morning that Ukrainian official Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to the President of Ukraine, is contradicting key testimony by Gordon Sondland.
Sondland had testified before Adam Schiff’s ‘impeachment inquiry’ that he’d pulled Yermak aside after a meeting with VP Mike Pence and essentially told him that he likely wouldn’t get the aid unless they announced investigations into Hunter Biden and Ukraine’s 2016 interference:
“I told Mr. Yermak that I believed that the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine took some kind of action on the public statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Sondland testified.
This statement was allegedly intended to announce two investigations: one into the discredited claims that Ukraine helped Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the 2016 presidential election, and another related to the work that Hunter Biden, the son of presidential candidate Joe Biden, did for a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, while his father was the U.S. Vice President.
This was even put in the Democrat impeachment report:
Based on the testimony from Sondland and other witnesses, the final report from the House Intelligence Committee concluded last week that Sondland made this offer of a quid pro quo clear to Yermak that day in Warsaw. “Following this meeting, Ambassador Sondland pulled aside President Zelensky’s advisor, Mr. Yermak, to explain that the hold on security assistance was conditioned on the public announcement of the Burisma/Biden and the 2016 election interference investigations,” the report states.
However, Yermak says none of this ever happened:
Yermak disputes this. “Gordon and I were never alone together,” he said when TIME asked about the Warsaw meeting. “We bumped into each other in the hallway next to the escalator, as I was walking out.” He recalls that several members of the American and Ukrainian delegations were also nearby, as well as bodyguards and hotel staff, though he was not sure whether any of them heard his brief conversation with Sondland. “And I remember – everything is fine with my memory – we talked about how well the meeting went. That’s all we talked about,” Yermak says.
Time asked Sondland’s lawyer about this, but he said they are standing by Sondland’s testimony:
In a statement, Sondland’s lawyer said “Ambassador Sondland stands by his prior testimony and will not comment further.”
Further, Yermak states they NEVER thought the aid was tied to investigations or any specific issue:
The new interview with Yermak is likely to revive that debate. When TIME asked him whether he had ever felt there was a connection between the U.S. military aid and the requests for investigations, Yermak was adamant: “We never had that feeling,” he says. “We had a clear understanding that the aid has been frozen. We honestly said, ‘Okay, that’s bad, what’s going on here.’ We were told that they would figure it out. And after a certain amount of time the aid was unfrozen. We did not have the feeling that this aid was connected to any one specific issue.”
Yermak said he’s never been contacted about any of this by the House committees:
Yermak said no one from the congressional committees that are overseeing the impeachment inquiry have contacted him to seek his testimony, nor have any other U.S. officials.
What’s amazing is that this comes out on the day that the House announces articles of impeachment against Trump, and as Mark Meadows points out, completely undercuts Sondland’s testimony:
Bombshell. On the same day Democrats introduce their impeachment articles, a President Zelensky top aide undercuts the Democrats' star witness, Gordon Sondland. He says Ukraine wasn't told (and never believed) aid and political investigations were connected.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) December 10, 2019
Why did Democrats never call Yermak to testify? And in case you aren’t sure whether you should trust him, remember, he’s not the only one to say this. Volker was Schiff’s first witness and he also testified there was never a quid pro quo and that Ukrainians had no idea why the aid was frozen.
Read Time’s full article for more…