White House: Sondland 'exonerates' Trump

The White House has seized on one portion of the testimony from US envoy Gordon Sondland during a House of Representatives' impeachment hearing and says it "completely exonerates" President Donald Trump.

"Though much of today's testimony by Ambassador Sondland was related to his presumptions and beliefs, rather than hard facts, he testified to the fact that President Trump never told him that a White House meeting or the aid to Ukraine was tied to receiving a public statement from (Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy," White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, said he "followed the president's orders" to work with Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was pushing Ukraine to carry out two investigations that would benefit Trump politically as he runs for re-election in November 2020.

Sondland's testimony was among the most significant in the four days of public hearings in the Democratic-led House of Representatives impeachment inquiry that has captivated Washington and threatens the presidency of Trump, a Republican.