Vice President Mike Pence’s office wasted no time shooting down a claim made during Wednesday’s impeachment hearing by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.
During his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Sondland claimed he told Pence in September about an alleged quid pro quo involving President Donald Trump and the Ukrainian government.
House Democrats have seized on a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as proof that Trump was planning to withhold military aid from Ukraine until that nation’s government investigated Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
While he was vice president, Joe Biden — who was the Obama administration’s point man for issues related to Ukraine — called for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had investigated a natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden served on the board.
Sondland said Wednesday he spoke to Pence about the military aid to Ukraine allegedly being linked “to the issue of investigations.”
That discussion took place on Sept. 1, Sondland said, when Pence was in Poland.
“[Pence] heard what I said,” Sondland added.
“I don’t recall any substantive response,” he said.
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) November 20, 2019
The military aid to Ukraine ended up being released later that month, even though Ukraine never investigated the Bidens.
Pence’s office issued a defiant statement denying Sondland’s claim.
“The vice president never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations,” Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said in a statement as Sondland was still testifying.
Statement from Marc Short, Pence chief of staff: “The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations.”
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) November 20, 2019
“This alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador Sondland never happened,” he added, according to the Washington Examiner.
“Multiple witnesses have testified under oath that Vice President Pence never raised Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden, Crowdstrike, Burisma, or investigations in any conversation with Ukrainians or President Zelensky before, during, or after the September 1 meeting in Poland,” the statement said, as The Hill reported.
“Multiple witnesses have testified under oath that Vice President Pence never raised Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden, Crowdstrike, Burisma, or investigations in any conversation with Ukrainians or President Zelensky before, during, or after the September 1 meeting”
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 20, 2019
Sondland claimed his conversation with Pence came prior to a meeting between Pence and Zelensky.
On Tuesday, Pence aide Jennifer Williams, who was present during the meeting, testified that the vice president said nothing about the reason the aid to Ukraine was being withheld.
“The vice president did not specifically discuss the reason behind the hold, but he did reassure President Zelensky of the strongest U.S. unwavering support for Ukraine, and they talked about the need for European countries to step up and provide more assistance to Ukraine as well,” she said.