US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told Congress on Thursday that he considered former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch "great" and that he has nothing negative to say about his job performance, although ousted by President Donald Trump.
A person with knowledge of Sondland's testimony tells NBC News that Yovanovitch was a capable and professional diplomat and had no problem with her. The person spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity.
Yovanovitch told House impeachment investigators Last week Trump personally pressured the State Department to remove her from her position. Sondland is expected to testify under subpoena on Thursday as part of the impeachment inquiry.
Sondland will also testify that after taking part in the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in May, he met Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and former US Special Envoy Kurt Volker at the Oval Office. At that meeting, Sondland will say, Trump told them that any personal meeting between Trump and Zelenskiy would have to be approved by Rudy Giuliani.
Sondland will testify that only later did he realize that the public commitment of the new Ukrainian government to fight corruption – including Burisma Holdings – was aprerequisite for a Trump-Zelenskiy meeting.Sondland will also say that by the time he learned of this, he did not know that Burisma was linked to the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter.
In a July 25 interview with Ukrainian state television, Sondland said he spoke directly to Trump before the president's phone call with Zelenskiy the same day, when the president pressed Zelenskiy to investigate the Biden family. The July call triggered a torrent of events that led to the impeachment inquiry.