Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, said President Donald Trump directed him and other diplomats to work with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, when it came to relations with Ukraine. Sondland spoke to three House committees on Thursday, and multiple news outlets obtained a copy of his opening statement.
Sondland was part of the American delegation that attended Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration earlier this year.
Sondland said, just days after their return to the U.S., the delegation debriefed President Trump and other officials at the White House, and urged him to arrange a call and White House meeting with Zelensky.
But, Sondland said, President Trump was "skeptical that Ukraine was serious about reforms and anti-corruption," and he told the delegation to speak to Giuliani about his concerns.
Sondland said he was "disappointed" by the president's direction but ultimately agreed to follow his orders. He said he didn't understand until later that Giuliani's agenda might have included an effort to pressure Ukraine into investigating former vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Sondland is considered a key witness in Democrats' impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. He and several other officials became entangled in the Ukraine controversy after text messages showed they had pressured Ukraine to investigate President Trump's political opponents.
Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.