(3) Covering up the withholding of aid.
Sondland insisted in his deposition that he was unaware of any conditions placed on the delivery of security assistance (Sondland testimony, p. 104) and that he did not participate in any schemes to use the security assistance to pressure Ukraine, which he says would be illicit: “Withholding foreign aid in order to pressure a foreign government to take such steps [i.e., undertake a partisan investigation] would be wrong” (Sondland testimony, p. 36).
Sondland’s supplemental written testimony partially cleaned up this conflict in the record. He says he now remembers that he did, in fact, participate in a scheme to pressure Ukraine using the security assistance. His memory having been jogged, Sondland now says that on September 1, he told Yermak that Ukraine would not receive the security assistance without announcing investigations (Sondland supplement, p. 2).
That is a significant admission. Despite Republican claims that there was no quid pro quo, Sondland has conceded that he told the Ukrainians that they would not receive a White House meeting or security assistance without announcing investigations. However, even in his supplemental testimony, Sondland has still maintained that he did not receive any explanation for why the aid was withheld, so he “presumed” that the suspension of the aid “had become linked to the proposed anti-corruption statement”—that is, the Ukrainian announcement of investigations.
This is a rather comical statement: Sondland is saying that he told Ukrainian officials that their country would not receive security assistance without announcing an investigation of the president’s political opponent and 2016 conspiracy theory, and that he did that based on absolutely no direction from the president.