PHOTO: Eric Marrapodi/CNN
Now playing
03:11
Sondland talks about talking to President Trump
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:55
Schiff: Trump's lawyers make best case for Bolton testimony
Now playing
03:09
Schiff: This 2018 Trump moment was 'unforgettable,' even for Putin
Now playing
14:42
All your impeachment inquiry questions answered
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:16
GOP lawmaker interrupts fiery exchange during hearing
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:04
Dem lawyer: Trump's efforts 'present danger' to elections
Now playing
01:14
Ex-lawmaker cautions GOP ignoring impeachment inquiry evidence
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) speaks during testimony by constitutional scholars before the House Judiciary Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 4, 2019 in Washington, DC.
PHOTO: Drew Angerer/AFP/POOL/Getty Images
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) speaks during testimony by constitutional scholars before the House Judiciary Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 4, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
01:58
Report released outlining arguments for impeachment
Impeachment hearing bitter ending Nadler vpx_00000000.jpg
Impeachment hearing bitter ending Nadler vpx_00000000.jpg
Now playing
01:55
Watch bitter ending to impeachment hearing
Now playing
02:08
GOP lawmaker has fiery exchange with professor during impeachment hearing
karlan hearing
PHOTO: CNN
karlan hearing
Now playing
01:38
Law professor invokes President's son during hearing
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:46
Karlan: A President who cares about the Constitution would've said this instead
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
00:57
UNC professor: If this is not impeachable then nothing is
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
04:30
Nadler quotes Founders' warnings in impeachment inquiry
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
04:14
Republican criticizes Trump then hints at how he'll vote
David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump
PHOTO: Andrew Harnik/AP
David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Now playing
02:13
David Holmes: It was obvious what the President wanted
(CNN) —  

Gordon Sondland made a LOT of news in his opening statement to the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. There was a quid pro quo between the Americans and the Ukrainains. Everybody in the White House knew about it. And the Ukrainians knew too.

But there was one piece of Sondland’s testimony that didn’t get as much attention as it should have. Under questioning from Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-California) about the specific nature of the quid pro quo between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Sondland said this:

“He had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it.”

Which, to be clear, means that in order for Zelensky to get the White House meeting he so coveted, he needed to simply announce that Ukraine was looking into Joe and Hunter Biden – despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by either of them – as well as the whereabouts of the hacked Democratic National Committee server.

Not conduct the investigation. Not prosecute anyone. Just announce it.

Sondland expanded on that idea when asked to elaborate by Democratic counsel Dan Goldman. Here’s that exchange:

GOLDMAN: Giuliani and President Trump didn’t actually care if they did them, right?

SONDLAND: I never heard, Mr. Goldman, anyone say that the investigations had to start or be completed. The only thing I heard from Mr. Giuliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced. … President Trump presumably, communicated through Mr. Giuliani, wanted the Ukrainians on-record publicly that they were going to do those investigations.

Now ask yourself this. If Trump’s true interest in raising the Democratic National Committee server conspiracy theory and the Bidens on the July 25 call with Zelensky was to root out corruption in Ukraine, wouldn’t you think it would be more important to press the Ukrainians on ensuring a free, fair and thorough investigation into any alleged wrongdoing?

If, on the other hand, the goal was simply to have a political card to play against the leading Democratic presidential nominee, then it would be less important whether the investigation actually happened and much more important that the president of Ukraine announced it in a very high-profile manner.

Which is what, according to Sondland, Trump was interested in. That view is corroborated by Sondland’s conversation – as relayed by State Department aide David Holmes (under oath!) – with Trump on the day after the July 25 call. After that phone call, Sondland made clear to Holmes (and others who were at the table with him) that Trump didn’t care about Ukraine or corruption in the country more broadly. He cared about the Bidens and getting an investigation into them announced.

So, yeah. This isn’t rocket science. Sondland’s testimony on what Trump really wanted out of Zelensky tells you everything you need to know about how deeply committed the American President was – and is – to rooting out corruption in Ukraine. He’s not.