Sondland states

From Gordon Sondland’s prepared statement to the impeachment inquiry:

On May 23, 2019, three days after the Zelensky inauguration, we in the U.S. delegation debriefed President Trump and key aides at the White House. We emphasized the strategic importance of Ukraine and the strengthening relationship with President Zelensky, a reformer who received a strong mandate from the Ukrainian people to fight corruption and pursue greater economic prosperity. We asked the White House to arrange a working phone call from President Trump and a working Oval Office visit. However, President Trump was skeptical that Ukraine was serious about reforms and anti-corruption, and he directed those of us present at the meeting to talk to Mr. Giuliani, his personal attorney, about his concerns. It was apparent to all of us that the key to changing the President’s mind on Ukraine was Mr. Giuliani. It is my understanding that Energy Secretary Perry and Special Envoy Volker took the lead on reaching out to Mr. Giuliani, as the President had directed.

And that right there is stark raving mad. Why should they talk to Trump’s personal anything about a foreign policy matter? What business does Trump have “directing” them to do so? None in both cases.

Indeed, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and I were disappointed by our May 23, 2019 White House debriefing. We strongly believed that a call and White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky was important and that these should be scheduled promptly and without any pre-conditions. We were also disappointed by the President’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani. Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the President’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine.

Which is not so much a “view” as just obvious reality. How should an administration deal with other countries? By going out and collecting some random people to do the work, or by continuing to rely on the people trained and qualified and security-cleared to do the work? The president’s personal lawyer should no more take over that work than the president’s dentist should.

Sondland and Volker and Perry decided obeying the order to rope in Rudy was preferable to ditching the meeting, so they went ahead.

But I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the President’s 2020 reelection campaign.

It’s not the kind of thing you’d expect…from a normal president.

Trump’s hair will be on fire all day today.

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