Politics: Impeachment witness says Ukraine ‘gradually came to understand’ Trump’s desired investigation was tied to aid, meeting - - PressFrom - US
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Politics Impeachment witness says Ukraine ‘gradually came to understand’ Trump’s desired investigation was tied to aid, meeting

06:20  19 november  2019
06:20  19 november  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Impeachment witness says Ukraine ‘ gradually came to understand ’ Trump ’ s desired investigation was tied to aid , meeting . David Holmes, a career diplomat and the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukaine, leaves Capitol Hill on Friday.

Asked if Ukraine felt pressured to launch investigations into the president’ s political rivals, Holmes said : “I think the Ukrainians gradually came to understand that they were being asked to do something in exchange for the meeting and the security assistance hold being lifted.”

David Hale et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie: David Hale, under secretary of state for political affairs, center, departs after giving closed-door testimony on Capitol Hill earlier this month.© Al Drago/Bloomberg David Hale, under secretary of state for political affairs, center, departs after giving closed-door testimony on Capitol Hill earlier this month.

A counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine told lawmakers last week that he was shocked to overhear a phone call in which a top diplomat assured President Trump that Ukrainian officials would pursue an investigation of interest to the U.S. commander in chief — a probe which the diplomat later suggested was of former vice president Joe Biden, Trump’s political rival.

The counselor, David Holmes, also testified that the Ukrainians “gradually came to understand that they were being asked to do something in exchange” for a White House meeting or military aid, which was held back as the president and his allies pressed for the Biden investigation, according to a transcript of his testimony released Monday.

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The Trump – Ukraine scandal is an ongoing political scandal in the United States. It revolves around efforts by U. S . President Donald Trump to coerce Ukraine and other foreign countries into providing

Gordon D. Sondland recounted how he told Ukrainian officials that military aid was tied to their commitment to investigations President Trump How a loyal Trump donor found himself at the center of the impeachment investigation — and why Republicans are now accusing him of betrayal.

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Democrats released the transcript of Holmes’s testimony — along with that of another diplomatic official, under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale — as they kicked off what will be perhaps the most intense week yet of their impeachment inquiry into whether Trump sought to engage the Ukrainians in a corrupt bargain to help him get reelected.

Nine witnesses are scheduled to testify publicly in the coming days, starting on Tuesday with four current and former officials who are expected to reveal behind-the-scenes details of Trump and his allies’ activities, especially those of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

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Donald Trump personally kept up pressure on Ukraine to carry out investigations he had requested in a phone After Sondland amended his own testimony to admit that military aid to Ukraine was being made Another impeachment witness , former national security council senior director Fiona Hill

He said Trump also dislikes sending money overseas. "President Trump is not a big fan of foreign aid . Never has been , still isn't. He doesn't like spending money President Trump ' s supporters are holding an anti- impeachment rally today in front of the US Capitol. Republican congressmen are expected to

Democrats on Monday added Holmes to their lineup for later in the week — hopeful that his colorful account will advance their case that Trump inappropriately pressed a foreign leader for a political benefit, perhaps holding up military aid or a White House meeting in the process.

Trump said on Twitter Monday he would “strongly consider” testifying, perhaps in writing, in the probe — though the prospects of him doing so seem slim.

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Trump wrote.

Holmes is an important witness in part because he overheard a phone call between Trump and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, then chatted with Sondland afterward about Trump’s attitude on Ukraine.

The encounter, Holmes testified, was so “extraordinary” that he immediately told his direct supervisor at the embassy, “You’re not going to believe what I just heard,” according to the transcript of his testimony.

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Impeachment witness says he overheard Trump demand ‘ investigation ’ of Bidens by Ukraine . David Holmes, a career diplomat, told lawmakers Friday that he overheard a phone call in Kyiv between President Trump and Gordon Sondland, the U. S . ambassador to the European Union, during which

Trump “could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants,” she said . He should come to the committee and testify under oath. Multiple witnesses overheard a phone call in which Trump and Sondland reportedly discussed efforts to push for the investigations .

Sondland, Holmes said, had assured Trump that Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky “loves your a--,” and “will do anything you ask him to,” including conduct an investigation that Trump seemed to want. When the call was over, Holmes asserted, Sondland said that a probe of Biden was of greater interest to the president than other matters having to do with Ukraine.

Much of Holmes’s account already had been made public, after CNN and others obtained a copy of his opening statement. But the transcript of his testimony added noteworthy detail.

Holmes testified that he was surprised that Sondland would discuss such sensitive matters so bluntly on a call he took in Ukraine — where officials operate under the assumption their calls are being monitored. Holmes said that when the call was over, he asked Sondland if it was true that the President “doesn’t give a s--- about Ukraine” — because, Holmes said, “it had been very difficult for us to get the President interested in what we were trying to do in Ukraine.”

Sondland said “he only cares about big things,” Holmes testified, including “this Biden investigation that Giuliani is pushing,” but not Ukraine’s war with Russia.

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Impeachment hearings: Trump says he will 'strongly consider' testifying – live. He should come to the committee and testify under oath. Multiple witnesses overheard a phone call in which Trump and Sondland reportedly discussed efforts to push for the investigations .

Several witnesses in the impeachment inquiry have said that Trump bears significant hostility toward Ukraine , stemming Volker then said he planned to meet with Zelensky in Toronto on July 2 to secure his commitment to “get to the bottom of things,” a cryptic reference that Taylor sensed was tied to the

In addition to raising potential issues for Trump, Holmes’s account raises questions for Sondland — who has insisted he was not aware in real time Trump wanted an investigation of Biden in particular.

“This was an extremely distinctive experience in my Foreign Service career,” Holmes testified. “I’ve never seen anything like this, someone calling the President from a mobile phone at a restaurant, and then having a conversation of this level of candor, colorful language. There’s just so much about the call that was so remarkable that I remember it vividly.”

Hale, meanwhile, described a nebulous effort — advanced by Giuliani and conservative media and eventually endorsed by Trump himself — to smear and then remove Marie Yovanovitch from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Hale, the state department’s top career official, said he felt the effort was unfair, and that Yovanovitch was doing an “exceptional” job.

He said he advocated for the department to issue a “robust” defense of her work — simultaneous with her issuing a statement of her own — but was ultimately overruled, “most likely” by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He said that he had reviewed records and determined Pompeo and Giuliani twice had calls in the time frame the statement was being considered, around March.

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Taylor says tying aid to election investigation was ‘wrong’. They have focused on Trump ’ s efforts to pressure Ukraine to conduct that investigation into his political rival at a time when military aid But then, Giuliani met twice in January and February with Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko.

Sondland also said Trump wanted an investigation of a theory about election interference by Ukraine , according to Taylor. "During that phone call "He drew a very direct line in the series of events he described between President Trump ’ s decision to withhold funds and refuse a meeting with Zelensky

“The impression we had was that it would only fuel further negative reaction. And our plan at that point was to try to contain this and wait it out,” Hale said. He added: “One point of view was that it might even provoke a public reaction from the President himself about the Ambassador.”

Hale, though, testified that he and his fellow ambassadors at the most senior levels of the State Department had no knowledge of the effort to pressure the Ukrainians to open investigations that would be politically advantageous to the Trump administration.

Witnesses have testified throughout the inquiry how the normal channels were essentially subverted by Giuliani and others not assigned to handle diplomacy with Ukraine. Holmes said aides to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry were “very aggressive in terms of promoting an agenda” in Urakine, as well as in “excluding Embassy personnel from meetings without giving explanations.”

Holmes said he was “struck,” too, by how much the Ukrainians “seemed to not raise” the issue of investigations “with the Embassy personnel.”

“They confined that to a different track in which Mr. Yermak was very prominent,” Holmes said, referring to Andriy Yermak, a top Zelensky aide.

Trump’s Republican allies continued to attack the impeachment inquiry Monday, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asserting he “can’t imagine a scenario” in which it would ultimately lead to Trump’s removal. If the House successfully impeached the president, at least two thirds of members in the Republican-controlled Senate would have to vote for Trump’s ouster.

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House Democrats are investigating whether the administration withheld nearly 0 million in aid and promised a White House summit between the two leaders in And 41% of those who support Trump ’ s impeachment and removal from office say they made up their minds before the matter came to light.

Several witnesses in the impeachment inquiry have said that Trump bears significant hostility toward Ukraine , stemming Volker then said he planned to meet with Zelensky in Toronto on July 2 to secure his commitment to “get to the bottom of things,” a cryptic reference that Taylor sensed was tied to the

“I can’t imagine a scenario under which President Trump would be removed from office with 67 votes in the Senate,” McConnell said, according to a report by the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Any such vote, though, is likely still months away, as Democrats in the House have not yet even settled on what will be a part of their impeachment case, and what won’t. The House general counsel, for example, asserted Monday that among the topics Democrats are investigating is whether President Trump lied during former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

The remark dame during a court hearing over lawmakers’ request to have secret grand jury evidence from the Mueller report released urgently for the impeachment inquiry.

Though Democrats have previously asserted they believed Trump might have lied to Mueller’s team, their allegation seemed to get renewed credence after the conviction of longtime Trump friend Roger Stone.

A high-ranking Trump campaign official testified at Stone’s trial that he overheard a conversation in which Stone and Trump seemed to discuss the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks releasing hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign. That calls into question Trump’s assertion in written answers to Mueller that he remembered no such discussions with Stone.

Democratic lawmakers have privately debated whether articles of impeachment should include allegations against Trump for obstruction of justice in connection with Mueller’s investigation. So far, the private and public testimony they have gathered as part of the impeachment inquiry has focused on Ukraine.

On Tuesday morning, lawmakers are scheduled to question Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, European affairs director at the National Security Council and Jennifer Williams, Vice President Pence’s special adviser on Europe and Russia.

Jordan slams Sondland for omitting Trump’s ‘no quid pro quo’ claim from statement

  Jordan slams Sondland for omitting Trump’s ‘no quid pro quo’ claim from statement Rep. Jim Jordan blasted Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland for omitting President Trump’s apparent claim that he wanted “no quid pro quo” with Ukraine from his opening statement, during his testimony at Wednesday's impeachment hearing.The story of the Trump-Sondland exchange emerged as a key moment for Republicans defending Trump's role in the Ukraine issue. While not mentioning it in his opening statement, Sondland eventually said under questioning that Trump told him "I want nothing, I want no quid pro quo" -- apparently concerning whether military aid and more was tied to his requests for politically advantageous investigations from Ukraine.

Several witnesses in the impeachment inquiry have said that Trump bears significant hostility toward Ukraine , stemming Volker then said he planned to meet with Zelensky in Toronto on July 2 to secure his commitment to “get to the bottom of things,” a cryptic reference that Taylor sensed was tied to the

Vindman was among those who listened in on Trump’s controversial July 25 call with Zelensky, and he has described behind closed doors how he was so alarmed about what was said that he shared his concerns with the top lawyer for the National Security Council. Williams also heard the call and has described what she knew about Office of Management and Budget preventing the release of military aid to Ukraine — which Democrats believe was done so Trump would have a lever to press his counterpart in that country to investigate former Biden, a potential opponent in the 2020 presidential election.

On Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers will hear from Kurt Volker, a former Trump administration envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on the National Security Council.

Volker has privately described how he worked with Giuliani and others to set up the phone call — and a potential White House visit for Zelensky — while pushing for the investigations the president sought. Morrison has talked of how Sondland, who is scheduled to testify Wednesday, was working at Trump’s behest in that effort.

Trump and his allies have signaled some willingness to attack those who testify, and those efforts are likely to testify as witnesses describe on national television what they saw as possible wrongdoing in the White House. Two top officials recently enlisted by the White House to help on impeachment strategy — Pam Bondi and Tony Sayegh — urged Senate Republican aides on Monday to argue on the substance of the case against Trump, even as congressional allies continue to largely focus on perceived process fouls by Democrats.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) suggested in an extensive letter Monday outlining his own interactions with Trump on Ukraine that Vindman might be among group of executive branch staffers who “have never accepted President Trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style and his intrusion onto their ‘turf.’”

“They react by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage his policies and, if possible, remove him from office,” Johnson said. “It is entirely possible that Vindman fits this profile.”

Rachael Bade, Rosalind S. Helderman, Spencer S. Hsu, Greg Jaffe, Seung Min Kim, Ann E. Marimow, Greg Miller, Brittany Shammas, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner contributed to this report.

a man wearing a suit and tie: David Holmes, a career diplomat and the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukaine, leaves Capitol Hill on Friday.© Jose Luis Magana/AP David Holmes, a career diplomat and the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukaine, leaves Capitol Hill on Friday.

Jordan slams Sondland for omitting Trump’s ‘no quid pro quo’ claim from statement .
Rep. Jim Jordan blasted Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland for omitting President Trump’s apparent claim that he wanted “no quid pro quo” with Ukraine from his opening statement, during his testimony at Wednesday's impeachment hearing.The story of the Trump-Sondland exchange emerged as a key moment for Republicans defending Trump's role in the Ukraine issue. While not mentioning it in his opening statement, Sondland eventually said under questioning that Trump told him "I want nothing, I want no quid pro quo" -- apparently concerning whether military aid and more was tied to his requests for politically advantageous investigations from Ukraine.

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