Opening Statement before the United States House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
The Honorable Gordon D. Sondland U.S. Ambassador to the European Union  November 20, 2019
Thank you Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to speak again to the Members of this Committee. First, let me offer my thanks to the men and women of the U.S. Department of State, who have committed their professional lives to support the foreign policy work of the United States. In particular, I want to thank my staff at the U.S. Mission to the European Union. Your integrity, dedication, and hardwork -- often performed without public acclaim or recognition -- serve as a shining example of true public service, and I am personally grateful to work beside you each and every day. It is my honor to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union. The U.S. Mission to the EU is the direct link between the United States and the European Union and its members, America’s longest-standing allies and one of the largest economic blocks in the world. Every day, I work to support a strong, united, and peaceful Europe. Strengthening our ties with Europe serves both American and European goals, as we together promote political stability and economic prosperity around the world.
Personal Background
I expect that few Americans have heard my name before these events. So before I begin my substantive testimony, please let me share some of my personal background. My parents fled Europe during the Holocaust. Escaping the atrocities of that time, my  parents left Germany for Uruguay, and then in 1953 emigrated to Seattle, Washington, where I was born and raised. Like so many immigrants, my family was eager for freedom and hungry for opportunity. They raised my sister and me to be humble, hardworking, and patriotic, and I am forever grateful for the sacrifices they made on our behalf. Public service has always been important to me. As a lifelong Republican, I have contributed to initiatives of both Republican and Democratic administrations. In 2003, I served as a member of the transition team for Oregon Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski. Governor Kulongoski also appointed me to serve on various statewide boards. In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed me as a member of the Commission on White House Fellows. I worked with President Bush on charitable events for his foundation’s Military Service Initiative. And I also worked briefly with former Vice President Joe Biden’s office in connection with the Vice President’s nationwide anti-cancer initiative at a Northwest hospital. And, of course, the highest honor in my public life came when President Trump asked me to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union. The U.S. Senate confirmed me as Ambassador on a bipartisan voice vote, and I assumed the role in Brussels on July 9, 2018.
Prior Testimony
Although today is my first public testimony on the Ukraine matters, this is
 my first time cooperating with this Committee. As you know, I have already provided ten hours of deposition testimony. I did so despite directives from the White House and the State Department that I refuse to appear, as many others have done. I agreed to testify because I respect the gravity of the moment and believe I have an obligation to account fully for my role in these events.
Lack of Documents
But, I also must acknowledge that this process has been challenging and, in many respects, less than fair. I have not had access to all of my phone records, State Department emails, and other State Department documents. And I was told I could not work with my EU Staff to pull together the relevant files. Having access to the State Department materials would have been very helpful to me in trying to reconstruct with whom I spoke and met, when, and what was said. As Ambassador, I have had hundreds of meetings and calls with individuals. But I am not a note taker, nor am I a memo writer. Never have been. My job requires speaking with heads of state and senior government officials every day. Talking with foreign leaders might be memorable to some people. But this is my job. I do it all the time. My lawyers and I have made multiple requests to the State Department and the White House for these materials. Yet, these materials were not provided to me. They have also refused to share these materials with this Committee. These documents are not classified and, in
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