1. Ambassador Gordon Sondland stands to take the oath
2. Wide shot of hearing room as Sondland starts testifying
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the EU:
"Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the expressed direction of the President of the United States. We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose a very important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the President's orders."
4. Cutaway of committee members
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the EU:
"I know that members of this Committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a 'quid pro quo?' As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes. Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelenskiy committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election. Mr. Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians and Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these prerequisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump's desires and requirements."
++WHITE FLASH BETWEEN SOUNDBITES++
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the EU:
"The suggestion that we were engaged in some irregular or rogue diplomacy is absolutely false. I have now identified certain State Department emails and messages that provide contemporaneous support for my view."
7. Wide shot of hearing
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the EU:
"Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret. Everyone was informed via email on July 19th, days before the presidential call. As I communicated to the team, I told President Zelenskiy in advance that assurances to run a full transparent investigation and turn over every stone were necessary in his call to President Trump."
++WHITE FLASH BETWEEN SOUNDBITES++
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the EU:
"At all times, I was acting in good faith. I was acting in good faith. As a presidential appointee, I followed the directions of the President. We worked with Mr. Giuliani because the President directed us to do so. We had no desire to set any conditions, we had no desire to set any conditions on the Ukranians. Indeed, my own personal view -- which I shared repeatedly with others -- was that the White House and security assistance should have proceeded without pre-conditions of any kind."
Ambassador Gordon Sondland told House impeachment investigators Wednesday that Rudy Giuliani had pushed a "quid pro quo" with Ukraine that he had to go along with because it's what President Donald Trump wanted.
Sondland, the most highly anticipated witness in the public impeachment probe, made clear that he believed Trump was pursuing his desire for investigations in return for the Oval Office meeting that the Eastern European nation's president sought.
Sondland said he later came to believe military aid for Ukraine was also being held up until the investigations were launched.
"I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a 'quid pro quo?' As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes," he said.
The impeachment inquiry focuses significantly on allegations that Trump sought investigations of Democrat Joe Biden and his son — and the discredited idea that Ukraine rather than Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election — in return for the badly needed military aid as well as the White House visit.
Sondland, a wealthy hotelier and Trump donor, has emerged as a central figure in an intense week in the impeachment prone that has featured nine witnesses testifying over three days. Both Democrats and Republicans were uncertain about what Sondland would testify to, given that he had already clarified parts of his initial private deposition before lawmakers.
His opening statement included several key details. He confirmed that he spoke with Trump on a cellphone from a busy Kyiv restaurant the day after the president prodded Ukraine's leader to investigate political rival Joe Biden. He also said he kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top administration officials aware of his dealings with Ukraine on the investigations Trump sought.
"Everyone was in the loop," Sondland testified in opening remarks. "It was no secret."
Sondland insisted, twice, that he was "adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid" for Ukraine. "I was acting in good faith. As a presidential appointee, I followed the directions of the president."
The son of immigrants who he said escaped Europe during the Holocaust, Sondland described himself as a "lifelong Republican" who has worked with officials from both parties, including Biden.