The ambassador to the European Union who denied a quid pro quo with Ukraine now plans to tell Congress he isn't sure if President Trump was truthful about the denial.
A person familiar with Gordon Sondland's upcoming testimony told the Washington Post that the content of a text message in which he denied a quid pro quo was relayed to him directly by the president during a phone call. He plans to tell lawmakers he does not know if Trump was telling the truth at the time.
"It’s only true that the president said it, not that it was the truth," the person said.
In a September text message exchange between Sondland and acting Ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor, the former pushed back on concerns that Trump threatened to "withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign" during his July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president, which is at the center of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.
At the time, Sondland replied, "I believe your are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign."
Now, Sondland will hold out on the possibility that Trump was untruthful when denying a quid pro quo as well as the possibility that the president changed his mind about the scheme when he faced scrutiny for withholding $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine and delaying a visit with the foreign leader.
"Whether he’s deciding it’s getting too hot to handle and he backs off whatever his position really was a month earlier, I don’t know," the person said about Sondland.
The EU ambassador was originally slated to testify before Congress this week, but the Trump administration blocked his testimony just hours before he was set to appear. He is now scheduled to testify on Thursday instead despite Trump's objection.
House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry last month to find out whether Trump used his power to pressure the Ukrainian leader into opening an investigation into his political rival, former vice president and 2020 Democratic front-runner Joe Biden.