We know from documentary evidence that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the EU, told William Taylor, our ambassador to Ukraine [correction, the chargé d’affaires], that there was no quid pro quo involved in connection with Ukraine investigating the Bidens. Sondland appears to have been the president’s point person within the diplomatic corps for dealing with Ukraine in these matters.
Sondland will testify before a congressional committee this week. According to the Washington Post, Sondland will say that his “no quid pro quo” message came from President Trump. In other words, Trump told him there was no such arrangement.
Post reporters Aaron Davis and John Hudson quickly point out, and point out more than once, that Sondland doesn’t know whether Trump was telling the truth when he said no quid pro quo. It quotes a source as follows:
It’s only true that the president said it, not that was true.
Sondland isn’t a mind reader. Of course, he can’t know that Trump was telling the truth when he said no quid pro quo during the conversation in question.
However, the fact that Trump said no quid pro quo is probative evidence on the question of whether there was one. If there was a quid pro quo on the table, someone had to put it there. Trump didn’t do it in his famous conversation with Ukraine’s president.
Unless Trump had other such conversations, someone else would have had to communicate the quid pro quo offer to Ukraine. And for Trump to be implicated in such a communication, he would have to have said he wanted a quid pro quo arrangement.
As noted, Sondland was Trump’s point person on this matter within the diplomatic corps. If Trump told Sondland there was no quid pro quo, and if he didn’t tell Sondland otherwise in some other conversation, that’s significant. If our ambassador to Ukraine was told there was no quid pro quo, and he was, that’s significant too.
It’s not dispositive. Trump might have told someone else (maybe Rudy Giuliani) that there was a quid pro quo and that person might have so informed Ukraine. Maybe Trump himself communicated this to Ukraine in a different conversation than the one that has been made public.
But the Post (along with MSNBC and countless other anti-Trump outlets) is wrong to dismiss as insignificant Sondland’s statement that Trump said there is no quid pro quo.