Ambassador Sondland, in his opening statement, throws Trump and his Republican minions under the bus

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry/read-gordon-sondland-s-explosive-opening-statement-impeachment-hearing-n1086621

Link to PDF

…I don’t intend to repeat my prior opening statement or attempt to summarize ten hours of previous deposition testimony. However, a few critical points have been obscured by noise over the last few days, and I’m worried that the “bigger picture” is being ignored. So, let me make a few key points.

First, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States. We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the President’s orders.

Second, although we disagreed with the need to involve Mr. Giuliani, we did not believe that his role was improper at the time. As I previously testifed, if I had known of all of Mr. Giuliani’s dealings or of his associations with individuals now under criminal indictment, I would not have acquiesced to his participation. Still, given what we knew at the time, what we were asked to do did not appear to be wrong.

Third, let me say: precisely because we did not think that we were engaging in improper behavior, we made every effort to ensure that the relevant decision makers at the National Security Council and State Department knew the important details of our efforts. The suggestion that we were engaged in some irregular or rogue diplomacy is absolutely false. I have now identified certain State Department emails and messages that provide contemporaneous support for my view. These emails show that the leadership of State, NSC, and the White House were all informed about the Ukraine efforts from May 23, 2019, until the security aid was released on September 11, 2019. I will quote from some of those messages with you shortly.

Fourth, as I testified previously, Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the President….

UPDATE:

NBC News has Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s opening statement in today’s impeachment inquiry hearings on Donald Trump, and it’s everybody-going-under-the-bus day. Oh, and yes, there was quid pro quo.

Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland is pointing the finger at President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton in explosive public testimony on Wednesday in which he says explicitly there was a “quid quo pro” linking a White House visit for Ukraine’s president to investigations into Trump’s political opponents. […]”They knew what we were doing and why,” Sondland plans to tell the House Intelligence Committee, according to his opening statement obtained by NBC News. “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.”

Apparently he’s not taking the Fifth, and apparently he’s going to try to bring everybody down with him.