Republican lawmakers have trotted out a series of floundering defenses of President Donald Trump in the wake of evidence of his efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch politically motivated investigations. This week, those defenses are set to blow up in spectacular fashion. They are expected to give firsthand accounts of his attempts to strongarm Ukraine to deliver political dirt on his rival ahead of the election.
Republican lawmakers have trotted out a series of floundering defenses of President Donald Trump in the wake of damning evidence of his efforts to strongarm Ukraine into delivering him political dirt while withholding military aid and a White House meeting as leverage. The GOP has been grasping at straws to defend Trump in an impeachment inquiry sparked by a whistleblower complaint outlining a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
During that call, the US president repeatedly pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to launch investigations that would benefit his reelection campaign. One would focus on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, and another would examine a bogus conspiracy theory suggesting it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the election in collusion with the Democrats. Trump publicly confirmed that he wanted Ukraine to deliver political dirt by investigating Biden ahead of the election.
All this happened before public impeachment hearings. Then, last week, a slate of career foreign-service officers gave damning testimony that the phone call was just one data point in a months-long pressure campaign in which the president leveraged US foreign policy, froze military aid, and held up a White House meeting to strongarm a critical ally into acceding to his personal demands. These facts alone have made it difficult for Republicans to settle on a consistent defense of the president.
On Tuesday, Congress will hear public testimony from Lt. Last week, Taylor testified that in several conversations he had with Morrison, Morrison conveyed to him that Trump did not want to sign off on any security assistance to Ukraine unless Zelensky committed to pursuing an investigation into Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian natural-gas company whose board employed Hunter Biden until earlier this year.
The other two were Sondland and Rick Perry, the outgoing energy secretary. Sondland, who will testify beginning at 9 a. Sondland already testified to Congress behind closed doors once but went back and amended his testimony after it was contradicted by Taylor in a closed session. Sondland apparently had the conversation with Trump while he was out to dinner with Holmes at a restaurant in Kyiv on July 26, and Trump was speaking loudly enough on the phone that Sondland had to hold the device away from his ear.
Two officials, in addition to Holmes, are said to have overheard the call. Because he was in contact with the president throughout the entire Ukraine scandal, Sondland is one of the most significant witnesses against Trump. To that end, his testimony would severely undercut the GOP talking point that none of the witnesses in the impeachment inquiry spoke with Trump personally. If he does so, it will be the most direct link yet between the president and the push for Ukraine to launch political investigations in exchange for critical US military aid and a White House meeting.
Later Wednesday, Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs, will appear in an open hearing, as will David Hale, the undersecretary of state for political affairs. She is the official whom Morrison replaced on the council. Hill said she heard Sondland discuss how he had an agreement with Mulvaney that the Ukrainians were going to go forward with investigations.
Deel dit artikel. Lees ook op Business Insider. Foto: Army Lt. Alexander Vindman, a military officer on the National Security Council. Foto: Tim Morrison, a former top national security adviser to Trump.
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