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Key Moments From 2nd Week Of Trump Impeachment Inquiry Hearings

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Where does the impeachment inquiry into President Trump go now, after a week of explosive testimony before the House Intelligence Committee? In a moment, we'll put that question to one of the members of that committee, Texas Democrat Joaquin Castro. But first, some quick highlights from this week's testimony.

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GORDAN SONDLAND: Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.

MARTIN: That was U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a Trump appointee and one of the key players in the administration's campaign to pressure Ukraine. Here's NPR's Tim Mak to remind us why that bit of testimony was so explosive.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: What's so important about this statement is that Republicans have been pushing against this idea that there was a quid pro quo, this idea that there was the leveraging of U.S. foreign policy for personal favors for the president. And here you have the president's own ambassador saying, in fact, there was a quid pro quo. I understood there to be a quid pro quo. And basically, the quid pro quo was the exchange of a White House meeting in exchange for politically motivated investigations.

MARTIN: Sondland also made it clear in his testimony that all major players in the administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, knew about the effort to get Ukraine to announce investigations against the president's political opponent Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

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SONDLAND: Everyone was in the loop.

MARTIN: Then last night, more evidence emerged of Secretary Pompeo's being involved in this pressure campaign against Ukraine. The State Department released a batch of documents that show Pompeo spoke with the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, twice in March, both before and after Giuliani handed the State Department a packet of information on the Bidens related to Ukraine.

Another big moment of this week's testimony came from Fiona Hill. She is a Russia expert who worked at the White House under national security adviser John Bolton. During her appearance, she reflected on a previous moment in the hearings when some of Ambassador Sondland's emails were put up for display.

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FIONA HILL: It struck me when - yesterday, when you put up on the screen Ambassador Sondland's emails and who was on these emails, and he said these are the people who need to know, that he was absolutely right. Because he was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy. And those two things had just diverged.

MAK: You know, we talked a lot about this - regular channel versus the irregular channel, and Fiona Hill sees herself in the regular channel. She works on policy, and she works on national security. And what she didn't realize at the time was there was an irregular channel which was interested in a political aspect of the relationship between Ukraine and the United States - that there was this irregular channel led by folks like Rudy Giuliani and Ambassador Sondland that were seeking these investigations that the president wanted for personal and political interests, not for the national interests.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Tim Mak speaking there. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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