Transcript for Sondland now contradicts Trump on quid pro quo
To Washington and that major twist in the impeachment showdown. A key witness reversed himself and conceded there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine contradicting trump's core defense and Mary Bruce has the good morning, Mary. Reporter: Good morning, George. Gordon sondland was the president's hand-picked point person in Ukraine, a trump megadonor turned diplomat. He was quick to defend the president and initially testified that he could not recall many of the details but other key witnesses here did, raising questions about whether sondland was telling the truth and now facing growing pressure, sondland has revised his testimony. In a stunning reversal, Gordon sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the eu, revising his testimony detailing a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Saying he told a top Ukrainian official they would likely not receive $400 million in military aid unless they publicly committed to investigate trump's political rivals. That's not what he initially testified. When asked if there were any preconditions on the aid, sondland originally aegised, no, but sondland says his memory was, quote, refreshed by other key witnesses who contradicted his initial testimony. It's never too late to do the right thing. Reporter: In a text exchange with another U.S. Diplomat in September, sondland claims the president has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind which trump often pointed to in his defense. The ambassador who I heard was tremendous, and a tremendous person, he was 100% for what we're saying. 100% and if you look, he also said there was no quid pro quo. That's the whole ball game. Reporter: But sondland told investigators he was just repeating what the president told him on a phone call. Sondland also said the president delegated Ukraine policy to his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, that the president just kept saying talk to Rudy, talk to Rudy and that the state department was aware. Sondland says when he discussed Giuliani's role with secretary of state Mike Pompeo, Pompeo rolled his eyes and said, yes, it's something we have to deal with. The white house is dismissing sondland's revised testimony and the top Republican in the senate says it's not likely to sway Republicans. I will say I'm pretty sure how it's likely to end, if it were today, I don't think there's any question it would not lead to a removal. Reporter: House investigators are now summoning the president's acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to testify here on Friday. Mulvaney, of course, undercut the president's defense when he admitted that there was a quid pro quo during a press briefing last month. A statement that Mulvaney later retracted. But the white house has instructed officials not to comply with this inquirely and, George, Mulvaney is not expected to appear. Let's bring in Kate Shaw, constitutional law professor. I think a lot don't know you can go back and revise your testimony. He was doing this because he feared threat of prosecution. I think he was facing a real perjury possibility so it looked quite different and very much contradicted by some of this testimony we've seen come out over the last 24 hours and I think he was rightly concerned about the possibility of perjury exposure so I think that's why we've seen them. Got the evidence piling up and piling up that there, in fact,s with a quid pro quo and undercuts the president's defense and narrows the options for the president's defenders. Yeah, I mean look, so they have staked so much on this argument that there was no quid pro quo and I think that has totally collapsed and not just the president but his congressional allies who have been all in on this no quid pro quo. So -- Especially his original testimony. Sondland's original testimony. One thing they might do, say, okay, so there was a quid pro quo but that's diplomacy. Exchanges and promises and even threats are part of diplomacy. And that's true but diplomacy is about the U.S. National interests, using governmental resources to advance personal political objective, that's not diplomacy. That looks like corruption. One final possibility they can say what the president was wrong but not iimpeachable. I think we will see every time I think the president and his team require congressional allies to sort of scramble to find some new sort of path, you know, you could see a weakening the of the support and as sort of we see polls shift I think the dynamicsen 0 the hill could very much change but I think that if there's already going to be a concession something wrong happened, it's a question of how serious that is but if it looks like abuse of power and corruption, those are sort of at the heart of what the impeachment process is designed to target. Finally we have the president now putting up a wall from all of his aides testifying. How strong an article of impeachment for obstruction will be? That's what Adam Schiff says he will try to do. One article against president Nixon was obstruction and noncooperation with congress so there's precedent for drafting an article totally based on this failure to cooperate with congress. The substantive offenses will make for stronger articles but I would expect them to add one along those lines as well. Kate, thanks very much.
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