Recap: Hale & Cooper testify after bombshell 7-hour testimony from Sondland

Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON (WFLA) – Another day, another impeachment hearing on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, one of the most anticipated witnesses in the public hearings will face tough questions from lawmakers.

Here’s what happened in Wednesday’s hearings. Click here for a full breakdown.

The House Intelligence Committee began questioning Cooper and Hale. Instead of long question and answer sessions in the beginning of the hearing, all members got five minutes for questions.

Cooper said during testimony that some Ukraine officials knew military assistance was being withheld. According to Cooper, the officials knew on the same day – or possibly earlier – than the July 25 call between President Trump and President Zelensky.

During his time, Rep. Himes spoke with Cooper about the aid withheld from Ukraine and claims it was due to corruption in Ukraine.

“By the time President Trump froze the aid, the Department of Defense had spent weeks – if not months – determining the Ukrainian government met every requirement in law and made significant strides combating corruption. Is that correct?” he asked.

Cooper replied, “That is correct, we made that determination in May.”


5:55 p.m. – Laura Cooper and David Hale have been sworn in and are beginning to deliver their opening statements.


Laura Cooper and David Hale are expected to begin the second public impeachment hearing of the day around 5:30 p.m.

Cooper is the deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Defense. She gave closed-door testimony on Oct. 23. According to NPR, she told investigators she came to understand that Mick Mulvaney was holding up military aid for Ukraine. She added that it was “unusual” to have congressional funds suddenly halted that way.

Hale is the undersecretary of state for political affairs at the State Department. Hale gave closed-door testimony earlier in November and was asked by Republicans to appear in the public hearings.


Testimony from Ambassador Sondland wrapped up just before 4 p.m., after nearly seven hours.


Committee members are taking 5-minute turns questioning Ambassador Sondland.

Rep. Sean Maloney tangled a bit with Sondland during his 5-minute turn to question the ambassador.

“Mr. Maloney, I’ve been very forthright,” Sondland said when answering a question. “I resent what you’re trying to do.”

Maloney responded, pointing out this is now Sondland’s “third try.”

“Didn’t work so well the first time, did it? We had a little declaration come in after, remember that?” Maloney said. “Now we’re here a third time and we got a doozie of a statement from you. All due respect, we appreciate your candor but let’s be clear about what it took to get it out of you.”

Rep. Mike Quigley, during his turn, compared the whistleblower to someone who pulls a fire alarm.

“If we were investigating an arson, you all would indict the person who pulled the fire alarm,” he said. “That person’s job is done. We’ve seen the smoke. We’ve seen the fire.”

During his turn, Rep. Chris Stewart argued that withholding aid is a common occurrence in foreign policy.

“President Bush did it,” he said. “President Trump did it last year with Afghanistan over corruption. And no one suggest they impeach them for it.”

Rep. Schiff made a point during his questioning that while a statement was not made and no meeting was arranged, “they got caught.”

“You’re aware that two days before aid was lifted, Congress announced it was investigating this scheme. You’re aware of that, ambassador?” Schiff said. Sondland responded, “I am now.”

Rep. Turner pressed Sondland about his testimony, asking if anyone actually told him directly Trump was tying aid to the investigations.

“So you have no testimony tying Trump to a scheme to withhold aid?” he asked. Sondland replied, “other than my own presumption.”

Rep. Jim Jordan asked Sondland about the “meeting that never happened.”


12:40 p.m. – Rep. Nunes and the GOP lawyer are questioning Sondland once again.


12:10 p.m. – The GOP side has wrapped up its questioning and Rep. Schiff, along with the Democratic lawyer, are questioning Sondland again.


12 p.m. – President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both responded to Ambassador Sondland’s testimony.

The president told reporters outside the White House, “I don’t know (Sondland) very well. I have not spoken to him much. This is not a man I know well. Seems like a nice guy, thought, but I don’t know him well. He was with other candidates. He actually supported other candidates, not me, came in late.”

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 20: U.S. President Donald Trump holds his notes while speaking to the media before departing from the White House on November 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump spoke about the impeachment inquiry hearings currently taking place on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

During Sondland’s testimony, the ambassador said he told the vice president about concerns he had that aid to Ukraine had been frozen due to investigations of the Bidens and the 2016 election. The vice president denied that testimony in a statement released to NBC News.

“The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations,” the statement said.


11:20 a.m. – Rep. Devin Nunes and the GOP lawyer have started questioning Sondland after a brief break.



WATCH: Full opening statement from Ambassador Gordon Sondland



10:15 a.m. – Rep. Adam Schiff and the Democratic lawyer have started questioning Ambassador Sondland.


9:40 a.m. – Ambassador Sondland delivered a bombshell opening statement to Congressional impeachment investigators, testifying there was quid pro quo.

“Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky,” he said.

“I was acting in good faith. I followed the direction of the president. We worked with Mr. Giuliani because the president directed us to do so,” he said. “Let me say again: We weren’t happy with the president’s directive to talk with Rudy. We did not want to involve Mr. Giuliani.”


9:15 a.m. – Ambassador Gordon Sondland has arrived on Capitol Hill for the first half of Wednesday’s public impeachment hearings.

Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, gave closed-door testimony in October. He later submitted a three-page amendment to his testimony after reviewing statements from two other witnesses – Ambassador William Taylor and Tim Morrison.

Sondland said he personally told a top aide that the release of United State aid to Ukraine was linked to investigations.

In his opening statement, Sondland reportedly says, “Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

You can read Ambassador Sondland’s full opening statement here.


9 a.m. – Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s opening statement was released online just before Wednesday’s testimony was set to begin.

According to the statement, obtained by NBC News, Sondland will testify that, “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,” the statement continues. “Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt.”


Join host J.B. Biunno and political reporter Evan Donovan beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET for step-by-step analysis and expertise during the impeachment inquiry today and Thursday.

Gordon Sondland is the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and Democrats are hoping to grill Sondland on new details that emerged from the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor last week about a critical phone call between Sondland and President Donald Trump about Ukraine.

Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images

Sondland told House investigators that he delivered a key message to a Ukrainian official this year: Trump would not unfreeze more than $390 million in assistance for Ukraine unless Ukraine made a public statement committing to investigations Trump believed might help him in the 2020 election, NPR reported. That was revealed after he gave closed-door testimony in October and then submitted a three-page amendment in November after reviewing statements from Ambassador William Taylor and Tim Morrison.

Sondland is expected to testify beginning at 9 a.m. ET.

Lawmakers will also hear from Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs, and David Hale, the undersecretary of state for political affairs.

Our experts will break down the latest developments and what it all means throughout the day’s testimony.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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