Key Trump ally admits quid pro quo in Ukraine scandal

Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union and a key witness in the ongoing impeachment inquiry against US president Donald Trump’s Ukraine dealings, has revised his testimony to admit a quid pro quo, revealing that Mr Trump made US military aid to Ukraine conditional to launching a probe against former US vice president Joe Biden, his chief political rival.

“I now recall speaking individually with Mr Yermak, where I said resumption of US aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” wrote CNN, quoting the revised testimony.

Andriy Yermak is a close friend and personal aide to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

His statement adds to the evidence that the US president linked 400 million US dollars of foreign and security aid for Ukraine to investigations into the Ukrainian dealings of Mr Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company, as well as Mr Trump’s alleged Ukrainian interference into the 2016 US presidential election.

There has been no evidence of wrongdoing to back up the US president’s claims.

Mr Sondland’s testimony came during the latest of a series of congressional hearings launched by US Democrats who claim Mr Trump has abused presidential power.

Transcripts of earlier testimonies from Mr Sondland and former US special envoy Kurt Volker published on November 5 also seem to confirm that Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s personal attorney pushed Mr Zelensky to issue a statement against the Bidens.

In his testimony, the US ambassador to the EU said that Mr Giuliani’s push “kept getting more insidious” as time went on, suggesting that his efforts to bring down Mr Biden might have been illegal.

Last week, the US House voted to formalise the impeachment procedure, allowing the publication of the contents of closed-door congressional depositions given by state department officials.

Meanwhile, Ruslan Riaboshapka, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, told the press that he would not investigate Burisma Holdings. “There is no Burisma case. It exists in the mind of the person who invented it,” wrote UNIAN, quoting the prosecutor general.