Trump’s gobsmacking handwritten notes
DONALD Trump's handwritten notes were exposed as he addressed reporters during an ongoing impeachment inquiry against him.
The notes, written in the President's trademark style, included the phrases "I want nothing" and "I want no quid pro quo".
The notes stated: "I WANT NOTHING, I WANT NOTHING, I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO. TELL ZELENSKY TO DO THE RIGHT THING. THIS IS THE FINAL WORD FROM THE PRES OF THE US."
Snaps of the President's notes have made the rounds online, with some questioning whether they or not they were genuine:
Donald Trump’s handwritten talking points on impeachment (no, this is not a joke or satire). pic.twitter.com/oUfnLZQvC0— Karine Jean-Pierre (@K_JeanPierre) November 20, 2019
Trump’s handwritten notes: like a modernist poem by a cretin. pic.twitter.com/tIbEefikQq— Stig Abell (@StigAbell) November 20, 2019
Trump did what any rational, even-tempered, innocent person would do in this scenario: he took notes on his own quoted statement in an a Sharpie the size of George Kent's water bottle and and then shouted a statement at reporters. https://t.co/4Eo7Q5KBI2— R. Eric Thomas (@oureric) November 20, 2019
Sharpie ✓— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) November 20, 2019
Yuge font ✓
Random all caps ✓
Zelensky spelled wrong ✓
Yep, Trump wrote this pic.twitter.com/PN9S5ZFUw3
His address to reporters came as Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, was the first witness with a direct line of communication to the President to testify in public to the Democratic-led inquiry.
EXPLAINED: What's going on with the Ukraine scandal?
Mr Sondland spoke to Mr Trump half a dozen times from mid-July to mid-September, witnesses said, meaning he may be able to shed light on whether the President abused his power by offering the Ukraine security aid in exchange for digging up dirt on his political rival Joe Biden and his son Robert Hunter Biden.
The President claimed the testimony Mr Sondland gave in the House impeachment inquiry today exonerated him, saying "it's all over".
"I just noticed one thing and I would say that means it's all over," he told reporters while clutching his notes. "'What do you want from Ukraine?' he asks me. 'What do you want from Ukraine? I keep hearing all these different ideas and theories'. This is Ambassador Sondland speaking to me, just happened, to which I turned off the television.
"And now here's my response that he gave. Ready? Do you have the cameras rolling? 'I want nothing. That's what I want from Ukraine," Mr Trump said, continuing to read from his notes. "I said it twice."
A few hours later, the Press Secretary released a statement entitled: "Ambassador Sondland Completely Exonerates President Trump of Any Wrongdoing."
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNT FROM SONDLAND'S TESTIMONY?
Mr Sondland spent over six hours in the witness chair.
In that time, he contradicted Mr Trump's address by stating there was a clear "quid pro quo" in the Ukraine scandal and pointed the finger at several other key administration figures.
"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 Sondland said.
He accused the President of "ordering" himself, then-US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry to work with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine policy.
"Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States. We did not want to work with Mr Giuliani," said Mr Sondland. "Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine.
"So we followed the President's orders."
However, he was more ambiguous on whether the "quid pro quo" was directly related to nearly $US400 million in military aid to Ukraine.
He said despite having "tried diligently" to discover why the aid was suspended, he "never received a clear answer".
He later said it was his "personal presumption, based on the facts at the time".
Mr Sondland acknowledged a direct line with Mr Trump, confirming he'd held a July 26 phone call with the President.
Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, testified that Mr Trump asked Mr Sondland on that phone call if Ukraine would investigate alleged corrupt acts involving the Bidens and a conspiracy theory relating to the 2016 election.
"I have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations," said Mr Sondland. He also said he did not disagree with the accounts of the calls given by other witnesses.
However, he did note he had "no recollection of discussing Vice President Biden or his son on that call or after the call ended".
In an especially damning moment, Mr Sondland implicated Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former national security adviser John Bolton and several other top officials.
He said he'd made Mr Pompeo and Mr Bolton fully aware of what his team was doing regarding Ukraine policy at every turn. He included emails to prove it.
He also said he directly told Vice President Mike Pence of his concerns about the possible link between the release of military aid to the Ukraine and the investigations into Burisma Holdings.
"I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations. I recall mentioning that before the Zelensky meeting," Mr Sondland said.
He also said Mr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, "raised the issue of security assistance directly with Vice President Pence" and that Pence said "he would speak to President Trump about it".