Donald Trump’s request for Ukraine to dig up dirt on political opponent Joe Biden amounted to a quid pro quo, a U.S. ambassador at the center of the impeachment inquiry reportedly told members of Congress.
A lawyer for U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told The Wall Street Journal that during his testimony to Congress, Sondland said Trump’s actions amounted to a quid pro quo. Trump has been accused of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, based on what appears to be an unfounded theory that the Bidens were engaged in corruption there. Trump reportedly withheld military aid and conditioned a White House visit on Ukraine launching the investigation.
The lawyer for Sondland, Robert Luskin, said that when asked if the arrangement amounted to a quid pro quo, and Sondland said he believed it was, though admitted he was not a lawyer.
Sondland was thrown into the middle of the impeachment inquiry when Congress released text messages between him and fellow U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor in which Taylor pushed back against the arrangement, saying “it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
Donald Trump has, at times, pushed back vehemently against the idea that there was a quid pro quo regarding Ukraine, saying that he was only trying to address corruption in Ukraine. But White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney later said that there was a quid pro quo, telling reporters that it was a normal part of international relations and told reporters to “get over it.”
Republicans have pushed back against the impeachment inquiry, though many have focused not on the actual allegations against Trump but rather the complaints that Democrats have not been fair in the way the inquiry has operated.
As The Hill reported this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged Republicans to focus their attacks on the “process” as many Republicans did not feel they could defend Trump on the actual allegations of his actions regarding Ukraine.
“As a result, he’s telling his members they have plenty of reason to offer a vigorous defense of Trump, as the president publicly urged them to do Monday, by focusing on Democratic tactics that McConnell and Trump view as unfair,” the report noted.
Some Republicans have spoken out against Donald Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine, however, including Utah Senator Mitt Romney who has said that Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine were improper.