On Thursday evening, House Democrats released text messages turned over during a deposition of former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker.
The exchanges revealed that Volker and EU ambassador Gordon Sondland drafted a statement in August for Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky that would have committed the country to pursuing investigations of Donald Trump’s political rivals.
They also included an exchange between Volker, Sondland and Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, during which Taylor said this: “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign”.
After speaking to the White House, Sondland tried to do some damage control. “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s”, he texted to Taylor, nearly five hours later.
There was nothing “crystal clear” about Trump’s intentions, unless you mean it the other way around – that is, most people involved “clearly” believed there was, in fact, a quid pro quo.
In another exchange, from September 1, Taylor asks Sondland “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigation?”
“Call me”, Sondland responds.
Fast forward to Friday and guess what? Trump barely knows these people!
“The one text message that I saw was just about the last tesstmessage”, Trump stammered, in remarks to reporters. “I don’t even know most of these ambassadors. I don’t even know their names”.
“But the text message that I saw from ambassador Sondland, who is highly respected, was ‘there’s no quid pro quo'”, Trump insisted, forgetting to mention that the reason Sondland had to say that was precisely because America’s top diplomat in Ukraine though that there was, in fact, a quid pro quo.
Trump also didn’t mention the five-hour gap shown in the screengrab of the texts above.
“There is no quid pro quo”, the president went on to say, his voicing rising. “Now for Biden there is!”
Read more on Volker, Sondland: