Analysis after Gordon Sondland, Laura Cooper and David Hale's impeachment testimony

Image: Day 4 of Impeachment hearings with Laura Cooper and Gordon Sondland
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

The fourth day of public hearings in the House's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump saw testimony from three Trump administration officials.

Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, and David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs, testified before the House Intelligence Committee at just before 6 p.m. ET Wednesday. Their appearance followed testimony from U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who appeared before the committee for a hearing that began more than eight hours earlier.

Trump impeachment highlights:

Trump impeachment explained.

Trump impeachment timeline.

Who are the attorneys questioning the witnesses?

Transcript of Trump's conversation with Ukrainian president

Download the NBC News mobile app for the latest news on the impeachment inquiry

Live Blog

White House: Trump, on Sondland call, ‘wanted nothing’ from Ukraine

“Ambassador Sondland’s testimony made clear that in one of the few brief phone calls he had with President Trump, the president clearly stated that he ‘wanted nothing’ from Ukraine and repeated ‘no quid pro quo' over and over again," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Wednesday in response to the ambassador's testimony.

"In fact, no quid pro quo ever occurred. The U.S. aid to Ukraine flowed, no investigation was launched, and President Trump has met and spoken with President Zelenskiy. Democrats keep chasing ghosts.” 

Nunes says Democrats have ‘Watergate fantasies’

Nunes suggested during his second round of questioning that Democrats are trying to make the impeachment inquiry into Trump as significant as Watergate. 

Democrats have “Watergate fantasies,” he said. 

“I guess they fantasize this at night,” he added.

In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said last week that Trump’s actions in Ukraine makes what happened during Watergate “look small.”

Sondland being careful to not get 'knocked with perjury'

Giuliani accuses Sondland of 'speculating'

Giuliani later deleted this tweet, which others had captured.

Most Republicans have left the room

As we work our way through this second round of staff questions, almost all the Republicans have left the hearing room.

Still present: Castor, Jordan, Ratcliffe and Stefanik. 

Everyone else has left. 


Sondland's 6 most important lines during impeachment testimony

Sondland delivered explosive testimony in the House impeachment inquiry Wednesday. Here are some of his best lines:

1. "I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a 'quid pro quo'? With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes."

2. "We followed the president's orders.”

3. "Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret" — on how Pence, Pompeo, Bolton and others were aware of his efforts in Ukraine.

Read the best lines.

GOP calls Sondland’s testimony unreliable because of lack of documents. They're blocked by State and WH.

Republicans tried to use Sondland’s lack of documents and records to their advantage, suggesting his recollection of events is simply just “speculation.” 

“You don’t have records,” Castor said. “This is the trifecta of unreliability.” 

Sondland made clear in his lengthy opening statement that the State Department and White House have blocked his access to relevant documents and communication logs pertaining to his work on Ukraine. 

“What I’m trying to do today is to use the limited information” I have, said Sondland, who added that his recollections have been “refreshed by subsequent testimony” and text messages to which he does have access. 

“A lot of it is speculation,” Castor shot back. “A lot of it is your guess.” 

Castor said that the evidence for an impeachment inquiry “ought to be pretty darn good” and pointed out that while other impeachment witnesses have taken meticulous notes, Sondland said in his opening statement that he is not a note-taker. 

Sondland, however, defended his testimony, saying that the only presumption he has made was regarding the link between the withheld aid to Ukraine and the demand for Ukraine to announce investigations. He suggested the text messages he has, on the other hand, are definitive and reliable. 

Trump reads his Sondland hearing notes to press, underscores ‘I want no quid pro quo’

Schiff allows second round of staff questions

Schiff announced there will be a second round of staff questions for Sondland. Democrats and Republicans will each get an additional 30 minutes for staff questions, but each side does not have to use the entire allotted time. After this round concludes, we expect to begin the five-minute round for member questions. 

President Donald Trump holds his notes while speaking to the media before departing from the White House on November 20, 2019.Mark Wilson / Getty Images