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By Andrew Feinberg
REUTERS

Nearly three years after Donald Trump tried extorting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in the 2019 phone call which led to his first impeachment trial, former US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland now says he regrets his role in the blackmail scheme.

Mr Sondland, a hotel chain owner and frequent donor to Republican causes, was Mr Trump’s man in Brussells from 2017 to 2020. But it was the former president’s machinations with respect to Ukraine — a country that was not in Mr Sondland’s portfolio — that made the hotelier a household name.

It was during the House Intelligence Committee hearings on Mr Trump’s blackmail scheme that he told the panel there had indeed been a “quid pro quo” in which Mr Zelensky would announce investigations into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, in exchange for a White House visit and approval to purchase the Javelin missiles Ukraine’s defence forces have been using to defend against the invasion Russia launched in February. At the time, Mr Biden was seen as a potential 2020 presidential contender.

“I really regret that the Ukrainians were placed in that predicament,” Mr Sondland said during his testimony in 2019. But I do not regret doing what I could to try to break the logjam and to solve the problem”.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Mr Sondland called himself a “doofus” for his part in the hearings, but in hindsight said one “had to have been there” when asked if he wished he had tried to stop the arrangement, which was largely brokered by Mr Trump’s then-personal lawyer, ex-New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

“None of us are perfect,” he explained.

In a subsequent phone interview, Mr Sondland said his “own mistake” was “was probably buying into the whole Giuliani narrative and allowing a nongovernmental actor to interfere in a very ambiguous way with US foreign policy”.

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Dive Deeper:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky's iconic fleece sells for £90,000 at London auction
The war leader's now-iconic outerwear went for £90,000 at a Christie's auction in the Tate Modern attended by Boris Johnson…
Rudy Giuliani backs out of interview with Capitol attack committee
Former Trump lawyer was expected to appear at the interview on Friday, but canceled when the panel denied his request…
Jill Biden pays surprise visit to Ukraine and meets president’s wife
US first lady Jill Biden has made an unannounced visit to western Ukraine, holding a surprise meeting with her Ukrainian…
Rudy Giuliani pulls out of meeting with Capitol riot committee
‘If he refuses to comply the committee will consider all enforcement options,’ committee spokesperson says
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Fifty civilians walk from siege steel works amid fears of renewed attack
Ukraine said 50 civilians were evacuated from the bombed-out Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol yesterday, accusing Russia of violating a truce…
Giuliani withdraws from interview with Jan. 6 committee
Rudy Giuliani, who led Donald Trump’s court efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, has withdrawn from…
Get all your news in one place