Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union who had a starring role in President Trump’s anti-Biden crusade in Ukraine, reportedly communicated privately with Ukrainian officials over WhatsApp for months before the now infamous July 25 call between Trump and the Ukrainian president that sparked an impeachment inquiry.
According to sources cited by The Washington Post late Saturday, Sondland was busy texting on WhatsApp with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during his trip to Kyiv in late July—the same trip where he was overheard offering Trump reassurances that Zelensky would do “the investigation” and, in fact, “anything” Trump asked for just a day after the July 25 call.
Sondland is said to have used the messaging app for discussions with other Ukrainian officials as well, for months both before the July visit and after, according to the Post. It was not immediately clear who else was included on the messages.
Those messages have apparently evaded scrutiny in the impeachment probe, as the State Department has reportedly refused to turn them over despite a subpoena from the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees.
Sondland, who is said to have told another top official he was placed “in charge” of Trump’s dealings in Ukraine despite the country not even being part of the EU, also met one-on-one with Yermak during the same visit, with a State Department aide testifying that he was barred from attending the meeting as a note-taker.
That meeting reportedly took place just before Sondland phoned Trump while sitting in the outdoor section of a restaurant in central Kyiv and reassured him that Zelensky “loves your ass.” Within full earshot of passing waiters, and with the president apparently speaking loudly enough on the other end of the phone that the conversation could be overheard, Sondland reportedly told Trump that Zelensky would do “anything you ask him to,” including the “investigation” Trump had been pushing for.
Sondland is said to have later told the same State Department aide who testified about overhearing the conversation that Trump doesn't “give a s—t about Ukraine,” not even the war in the east, only the “big stuff” that benefits him personally like the Biden investigation.
Those candid comments from Sondland were apparently made around the same time Zelensky’s office put out a statement saying the new Ukrainian president had just met with Sondland and then-U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker to thank them for America's help in bringing an end to the war.