Impeachment Hearing Day 3: Witnesses To Confirm Key Details Of Bribery Plot

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9 mins read

Today, four additional witnesses to Trump’s bribery plot will testify before House investigators and the American people:

  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council and decorated Iraq war veteran
  • Jennifer Williams, State Department official who serves as a special advisor to Pence on European and Russian affairs
  • Tim Morrison, former NSC top adviser for Russia and Europe and long-time Republican staffer
  • Kurt Volker, American diplomat who served as the U.S. Ambassador to NATO

Here’s how they fit into Trump’s bribery scheme:

JULY 10 MEETING: VINDMAN CONFIRMS SONDLAND MADE EXTORTION DEMAND TO UKRAINIANS

During a pivotal meeting on July 10, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland told Ukrainian officials that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky could only meet with Trump if he announced an investigation into Burisma [the Bidens].

Vindman testified that: 

  • He was present at the July 10 meeting and that Sondland issued the extortion demand; 
  • White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney signed off on it;
  • He confrontedSondland about it.

JULY 25 CALL: VINDMAN, MORRISON, WILLIAMS EXPRESSED DEEP CONCERNS; VOLKER TOLD UKRAINIANS IN LEAD UP TO CALL THAT WHITE HOUSE VISIT WAS LINKED TO INVESTIGATIONS 

On July 25, Trump had a phone call with Zelensky. Trump responded to Zelensky’s request for military assistance by asking for “a favor though” to investigate the Bidens. He said he’d have Giuliani follow up. 

Vindman testified that:

  • He was on the call;
  • He was concerned by the call, saying “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen”;
  • He reported the call to NSC Counsel John Eisenberg, who instructed him a few days later not to talk to anyone about it and proposed storing the transcript on a highly classified system. 

Morrison testified that:

  • He was on the call;
  • Sondland briefed Trump on the morning of July 25, before his call with Zelensky; 
  • He reported the call to NSC Counsel Eisenberg.

 Williams testified that:

Both Williams and Vindman confirmed the public call summary was edited to omit the word “Burisma.”

Text messages show Volker linked a White House meeting with political investigations hours before the Trump-Zelensky phone call:

  • Volker confirmed that Giuliani wanted Zelensky to commit to investigations on the upcoming July 25 call.
  • Volker toldsenior Ukraine official Andriy Yermak that a visit to the White House was contingent on Zelensky convincing Trump that he’d launch an investigation.

MORRISON CONFIRMED SONDLAND DELIVERED EXTORTION DEMAND TO UKRAINIANS IN WARSAW AND WAS WORKING ON TRUMP’S ORDERS

Morrison testified that:

  • Sondland told Yermak that the release of security aid was contingent on investigations.
  • Sondland claimed to be acting on Trump’s orders and was in fact regularly speaking with Trump. [Morrison Testimony, 10/31/19]

“A: Sir, in the context of what I understood to be the parallel process, Ambassador Sondland believed and at least related to me that the President was giving him instruction. […]

Q: And he understood his responsibilities to be doing what the President asked him to do?

A: He related to me he was acting—he was discussing these matters with the President.

Q: And, in fact, every time you went to check to see whether he had, in fact, talked to the President you found that he had talked to the President?

A: Yes, Mr. Chairman.”

  • Taylor’s testimony was accurate: Sondland told Morrison that Zelensky needed to publicly announce the opening of investigations. [Morrison Testimony, 10/31/19]

“Q: And what did Ambassador Sondland tell you in the phone call?

A: In the phone call, he told me that he had just gotten off the phone—the September 7th phone call—he told me he had just gotten off the phone with the President. I remember this because he actually made the comment that it was easier for him to get a hold of the President than to get a hold of me, which led me to respond, “Well, the President doesn’t work for Ambassador Bolton; I do,” to which Ambassador Sondland responded, “Does Ambassador Bolton know that?” But that’s why I have a vivid recollection of this. And he wanted to tell me what he had discussed with the President.

Q: And what did he tell you?

A: He told me, as is related here in Ambassador Taylor’s statement, that there was no quid pro quo, but President Zelensky must announce the opening of the investigations and he should want to do it.”

  • He had a “sinking feeling” about the situation in Ukraine.[Morrison Testimony, 10/31/19]

“Q: And do you think—was Ambassador Sondland—had he related to you that the President had said this?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. And you had a sinking feeling about this. Could you explain why?

A: Well, it’s September 7th. September 30th is coming. I was growing pessimistic that we would be able to see the tumblers align to get the right people in the room with the Presidents to get the aid released. I also did not think it was a good idea for the Ukrainian President to—at this point I had a better understanding— involve himself in our politics. […]

Q: Ambassador Taylor says that you said that he—you—had a sinking feeling after learning about this conversation from Ambassador Sondland. According to you, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland that he was not asking for a quid pro quo, but President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 interference and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself. Is that an accurate recitation of what you told Ambassador Taylor on September 7th?

A: Yes.

Q: Okay. Do you recall anything else about the conversation with Ambassador Taylor? Did you tell him anything else about what Ambassador Sondland and President Trump had discussed?

A: I mean, not to my knowledge. I believe what’s related here by Ambassador Taylor is correct.”

VOLKER WAS KEY TO NEGOTIATING DRAFT STATEMENT ANNOUNCING INVESTIGATIONS IN EXCHANGE FOR WHITE HOUSE MEETING

Evidence shows that:

  • Sondlandtold Volker to say that they’d only schedule a time for a White House meeting when they get the “deliverable”—a press conference—from Zelensky.
  • Yermak told Volker that once a White House meeting was scheduled they would call for a “press briefing” to announce an investigation into “Burisma” [the Bidens].
  • Volker, Sondland, and Giuliani coordinated a time to discuss what Zelensky needed to say in his draft statement announcing the investigations.
  • Volker and Sondlanddiscussed including a pledge to investigate Burisma [the Bidens] in a draft statement to be issued by the Ukrainians.
  • Sondland askedVolker to confirm that they wanted Zelensky to include an investigation into Burisma [the Bidens] in a draft statement.
  • Giuliani insisted that a draft statement submitted by Yermak was not good enough because it did not include a specific reference to investigating Burisma [the Bidens], according to Volker’s testimony.

Originally posted at Impeachment HQ. Re-posted with permission.


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