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Photographer captures Trump's handwritten talking points responding to Sondland

The president stopped to speak to reporters outside the White House amid impeachment testimony in Congress.
Image: President Donald Trump talks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 20, 2019.
President Donald Trump talks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 20, 2019.Jacquelyn Martin / AP

The president brought his own talking points, written out by hand, possibly with one of those Sharpies he's known to prefer.

President Donald Trump, departing the White House on his way to Texas to visit an Apple factory, stopped in front of reporters to defend himself amid U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's testimony Wednesday by reading from hand-written notes insisting he did not want a "quid pro quo."

Trump began reading notes of what he says he spoke about during an early September phone call with Sondland, who was trying to figure out whether the roughly $400 million in military aid was being linked to whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy would publicly announce investigations into the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy involving Democrats and the 2016 election.

At least some of Trump's talking points were captured by a Reuters photographer outside the White House.

President Donald Trump holds notes on Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony as he departs the White House on Nov. 20, 2019.Erin Scott / Reuters

"I want nothing/I want nothing/I want no quid pro quo/Tell Zellinsky (sic) to do the right thing," Trump's notes show, apparently referencing testimony from Sondland that that was the president's response when he asked what he wanted from Ukraine.

Trump has been photographed reading from similar, Sharpie-written notes throughout his presidency. Those notes, with letters written in a large, bold font, have contained misspellings like "Achomlishments" during a White House news conference in May and "no colusion" in July 2018.

Fond of using the black markers, Trump famously appeared to doctor a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map of Hurricane Dorian's projected path in September, enlarging the area that may be affected with a Sharpie to include Alabama in order to defend his inaccurate claim from days earlier that Alabama was at risk of substantial impact.

Trump's comments from the White House South Lawn came as Sondland delivered high-stakes testimony Wednesday. Sondland said there was a clear quid pro quo with regard to Ukraine and that "everyone" was in on it. He said he did not realize that "Burisma" — the Ukrainian gas company former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter sat on the board of — was interchangeable with probing the Bidens.