U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified Wednesday afternoon that “every meeting at the White House has conditions,” under questioning from Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) in the fifth public hearing in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
Swalwell suggested that the idea that the White House had insisted on certain conditions before it would meet with newly-elected Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky was somewhat suspicious:
Swalwell: Would you agree that it is wrong for the President of the United States to ask the leader of a foreign government to investigate the President of the United States’s political opponent?
Swalwell: Would you agree that, in addition to making that request for an investigation, leveraging a visit at the White House, that a foreign government leader desperately needs, is also wrong?
Sondland: Leveraging in what respect?
Swalwell: A meeting at the White House. If someone really needs a meeting at the White House to show their legitimacy to their people, that leveraging that meeting and asking for an investigation would be wrong.
Sondland: To be candid, Congressman, every meeting at the White House has conditions placed on it. I have never worked on a meeting at the White House that doesn’t have a host of conditions placed on it.
Swalwell: If one of those conditions is to investigate a political opponent, you would agree that would be wrong.
Sondland: The political opponent, yes. but making announcements or investigations per se, no.
Sondland testified that a White House meeting was held out as a “quid pro quo” in exchange for Ukraine starting investigations, including into allegations of corruption by Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
However, he also testified that he never actually heard the president tell him about preconditions for a meeting.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.