Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence viewed Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s opening statement during Wednesday’s impeachment hearing as a victory, championing the fact that Mr. Sondland said he “followed the president’s orders.”
A senior Democratic staffer working on the impeachment inquiry highlighted Mr. Sondland’s key takeaways in the first hour of his testimony, saying the ambassador acknowledged there was a quid pro quo between the president and securing corruption investigations from Ukrainian officials.
Other points the staffer highlighted as notable include:
• Mr. Sondland said he told his Ukrainian colleague that he “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.”
• He said he is testifying despite the White House and State Department directing him not to appear.
• He said the Trump administration — the White House and State Department — refused to make documents available for him to prepare for his testimony.
Chairman Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, noted officials from the administration that refused to turn documents over to the committee “do so at their own peril,” suggesting obstruction of justice is a possible impeachment charge.