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Politico.eu | Trump's man in Brussels at center of impeachment inquiry
Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to EU
U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland's role at the center of the impeachment scandal can be traced to one of Donald Trump's obsessions -- not with Joe Biden and the Democrats, but with Germany's reliance on Russian gas and Berlin's support for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline being built by Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled energy behemoth.

It was Trump's fury at Germany, which he voiced directly to Chancellor Angela Merkel before a NATO summit in July 2018

The President: "When I was speaking to Angela Merkel she talks Ukraine, but she doesn't do anything. A lot of European countries are the same way so I think it's something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine."
and his fixation on increasing sales of U.S. liquified natural gas that led to Sondland being deployed as one of three U.S. officials responsible for managing relations with Ukraine, which fiercely opposes the Nord Stream 2 project.
According to other messages, that "deliverable" appears to have been a draft statement, ultimately never issued by the Ukrainian president, in which he was supposed to announce an investigation of Hunter Biden's connection to a Ukrainian gas company, as well as into allegations of Ukrainian connections to interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Ukrainian Aide Seeks White House Date First: On August 10, 2019, President Zelensky's aide, Andrey Yermak, pressed Ambassador Volker for a date for the White House visit before committing to a statment announcing an investigation explicitly referencing the 2016 election and Burisma:
[8/10/19, 5:01:32 PM] Andrey Yermak: Hi Kurt. Please let me know when you can talk. I think it's possible to make this declaration and mention all these thins. Which we discussed yesterday. But it wil be logic to do after we receive a confirmation of date. We inform about date of visit and about our expectations and our guarntees for future visit. Let discuss it
[8/10/19, 5:02:18 PM] Kurt Volker: I agree with your approach. Let's iron out statement and use that to get date and then PreZ can go forward with it?
[8/10/19, 5:26:17 PM] Andrey Yermak: OK
[8/10/19, 5:38:43PM] Kurt Volker: Great. Gordon [Sondland] is available to join as well
[8/10/19, 5:41:45 PM] Andrey Yermak: Excellent
[8/10/19, 5:42:10 PM] Andrey Yermak: Once we have a date, will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US-UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations
[8/10/19, 5:42:30 PM] Kurt Volker: Sounds great!
In June, Kushner attended a dinner that Sondland organized as part of a U.S. Independence Day celebration -- oddly held one month early -- that was also attended by Zelenskiy and [U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick] Perry. As part of that celebration, Sondland arranged a stand-up comedy performance in Brussels by Jay Leno, the former host of "The Tonight Show."
Some weeks earlier, Sondland met in Brussels with Perry and a top adviser to Zelenskiy, Oleksandr Danyluk, to discuss gas and other energy issues. Zelenskiy would later name Danyluk as head of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council.
State Department Officials on Withholding Security Assistance: On September 9. 2019, Ambassador Taylor and Ambassador Sondland had the following exchange regarding the withholding of military assistance to Ukraine:
[9/9/19, 12:34:44 AM] Bill Taylor: Counting on you to be right about this interview, Gordon.
[9/9/19, 12:37:16 AM] Gordon Sondland: Bill, I never said I was "right". I said we are where we are and believe we have identified the best pathway forward. Lets hope it works.
[9/9/19, 12:47:11 AM] Bill Taylor: As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.
[9/9/19, 5:19:35 AM] Gordon Sondland: Bill, I believe you 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 I suggest we stop the back and forth by text If you still have concerns I recommend you give Lisa Kenna or S a call to discuss them directly. Thanks.
Sondland and Volker were first in Ukraine together last February, on a trip to the port city of Odesa, where a U.S. Navy destroyer, the U.S.S. Donald Cook, was docked on a symbolic visit. The two Americans were part of a delegation that also included a senior European Commission official,  Jean-Christophe Belliard, and was intended to show support for Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia.
"We have what are called the three amigos," [Sondland] said. "And the three amigos are Secretary Perry, again Ambassador Volker and myself. And we have been tasked with sort of overseeing the Ukraine-U.S. relationship between our contacts at the highest levels of the U.S. government and now the highest levels of the Ukrainian government."
< wipes tears >

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Oct 6th, 2019 at 03:37:41 AM EST
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