October 17, 2019 / 1:38 PM / 25 days ago

U.S. ambassador to tell House impeachment panel 'wrong' to seek foreign influence in election

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland arrives to testify behind closed-doors as part of the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to the European Union plans to tell the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine that asking a foreign country to act to influence a U.S. election “would be wrong.”

According to prepared testimony, Ambassador Gordon Sondland will also tell three Democratic-led House committees that “inviting a foreign government to undertake investigations for the purpose of influencing an upcoming U.S. election would be wrong.”

He will tell the panel that he was not on a July 25 call between Trump and the president of Ukraine, and did not know that Trump brought up former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s potential rivals in 2020 elections.

He will say that diplomats and officials were disappointed by Trump’s decision to involve his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in dealings with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

“I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters,” Sondland said in his prepared testimony.

“However, given the president’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelenskiy, we agreed to do as President Trump directed.”

Reporting by Karen Freifeld, writing by Scott Malone, editing by Andrew Heavens and Bernadette Baum

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