Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, distanced himself Wednesday from President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, telling lawmakers in the House impeachment inquiry that top administration officials did not want the former New York City mayor involved in dealings with Ukraine.

“First, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States. We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt,” Sondland said in his opening statement. “We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the president’s orders.”

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