Representatives for Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry disputed testimony given to House investigators by Ambassador Gordon Sondland on Wednesday as part of the House’s ongoing impeachment efforts.
In his opening statement, Sondland said that he told Pence about his concerns that a delay in U.S. military aid had become tied to “the issue of investigations.” This would have been before Pence was scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Warsaw, Poland.
“There was a September 1 meeting with President Zelensky in Warsaw,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately President Trump’s attendance at the Warsaw meeting was cancelled due to Hurrican[e]Dorian. Vice President Pence attended instead. I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations.”
He was also asked about the interaction later in the hearing.
Amb. Sondland says he told Vice Pres. Pence ahead of Warsaw meeting with Zelenskiy, "It appears that everything is stalled until this statement gets made, words to that effect."
— ABC News (@ABC) November 20, 2019
However, Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said that discussion simply didn’t happen.
“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,” Short said in a statement. “Ambassador Gordon Sondland was never alone with Vice President Pence on the September 1 trip to Poland. This alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador Sondland never happened.”
At another point during the his opening statement, Sondland claimed that he, Ambassador Kurt Volker, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry were all in communication with President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the course of “several months” and “worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States.”
A Department of Energy spokesperson, however, said that “Ambassador Sondland’s testimony today misrepresented both Secretary Perry’s interaction with Rudy Giuliani and direction the Secretary received from President Trump.”
So now both Pence and Perry's offices have contradicted Sondland's public impeachment testimony.
DOE spox: "Sondland's testimony today misrepresented both Secretary Perry's interaction with Rudy Giuliani and direction the Secretary received from President Trump." pic.twitter.com/hzLSBAeqSb
— Nate Madden (@NateOnTheHill) November 20, 2019
The disparity between accounts comes as Sondland’s spotty recollection of events related to the Ukraine matter came into question in other ways during Wednesday’s hearing. At one point, he blamed part of his difficulty in reconstructing events on the fact that he is “not a note-taker or a memo-writer.” Republican counsel Steve Castor later critiqued the witness’ lack of notes, records, and recollection as a “the trifecta of unreliability.” Sondland responded that his recollections had been “refreshed by subsequent testimony, by some texts and emails that I’ve now had access to.”
Republican Counsel Castor: "You don't have records. You don't have your notes because you didn’t take notes. You don't have a lot of recollections. This is like the trifecta of unreliability. Isn't that true?
Ambassador Gordon Sondland: "I think I filled in a lot of blanks." pic.twitter.com/0pQc4zP4nD
— CSPAN (@cspan) November 20, 2019