WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 -- Gordon Sondland, the US envoy to European Union, told impeachment investigators on Wednesday that efforts by him and others to force Ukraine to probe Democrats were carried out at the "express direction" of President Donald Trump.

The star witness also tied others to the efforts, saying "everyone was in the loop". Vice President Mike Pence knew and secretary of state Mike Pompeo had signed off on it, he added.

Sondland said he, energy secretary Rick Perry and special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker worked with Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters "at the express direction of the president."

"We did not want to work with Mr Giuliani. Simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt," Sondland to...