Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze by August, Undermining Trump Defense

But by early August, the Ukrainians were struggling to get clear answers from their American contacts about the status of the assistance, according to American officials familiar with the Ukrainians’ efforts.

In the days and weeks after top Ukrainian officials were alerted to the aid freeze, Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, then the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, were working with Mr. Giuliani to draft a statement for Mr. Zelensky to deliver that would commit him to pursuing the investigations, according to text messages between the men turned over to the House impeachment investigators.

The text messages between Mr. Volker, Mr. Sondland and the top Zelensky aide did not mention the hold up of the aid. It was only in September, after the Warsaw meeting, that Mr. Taylor wrote in a text message to Mr. Sondland, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

After being informed on Sept. 1 in Warsaw that the aid would be released only if Mr. Zelensky agreed to the investigations, Ukrainian officials, including their national security adviser and defense minister, were troubled by their inability to get answers to questions about the freeze from United States officials, Mr. Taylor testified.

Through the summer, Mr. Zelensky had been noncommittal about the demands from Mr. Volker, Mr. Sondland and Mr. Giuliani for a public commitment to the investigations. On Sept. 5, Mr. Taylor testified, Mr. Zelensky met in Kiev with Senators Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, and Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut.

Mr. Zelensky’s first question, Mr. Taylor said, was about the security aid. The senators responded, Mr. Taylor said, that Mr. Zelensky “should not jeopardize bipartisan support by getting drawn into U.S. domestic politics.”

But Mr. Sondland was still pressing for a commitment from Mr. Zelensky, and was pressing him to do a CNN interview in which he would talk about pursuing the investigations sought by Mr. Trump.

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