A blog on Trump’s impeachment.
President Trump has been caught putting an investigation into Joe Biden’s son, and some other party political issues in Ukraine dating back to 2016 ahead of the pressing need to provide military aid to keep Russian-backed forces at bay, as laid down by Congress.
Taylor said he heard from National Security Council aide Tim Morrison that on September 1, Sondland told Zelensky aide Andriy Yermak that the military aid to Ukraine was dependent on Zelensky’s pursuit of the Burisma investigation. Taylor cited Sondland telling him in a call that Trump wanted Zelensky to publicly announce he would order the two investigations, thus placing Zelensky “in a public box”. Taylor quoted Sondland stating “everything” including military aid and a Trump–Zelensky meeting was contingent on that announcement.
I then took the opportunity to ask Ambassador Sondland for his candid impression of the president’s views on Ukraine,” Holmes said. “In particular, I asked Ambassador Sondland if it was true that the president did not give a shit about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland agreed that the president did not give a shit about Ukraine.”
“I asked why not, and Ambassador Sondland stated, the president only cares about ‘big stuff,'” Holmes continued. “I noted that there was ‘big stuff’ going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia. And Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant ‘big stuff’ that benefits the president, like the ‘Biden investigation’ that” Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani “was pushing.”
Sondland, who did not mention this call in either his initial October deposition and or in subsequent written testimony he gave this month, will appear publicly before impeachment investigators on Wednesday.
Lt Col Vindman told the US House intelligence committee that he had been concerned by the president’s demands to investigate Mr Biden.
“It was probably an element of shock that maybe, in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukrainian policy could play out was playing out,” he said.
“It was improper for the president to request – to demand – an investigation into a political opponent, especially [from] a foreign power where there is at best dubious belief that this would be a completely impartial investigation and that this would have significant implications if it became public knowledge,” he told the committee.
He had reported the “inappropriate” discussion to NSC lawyers “out of a sense of duty”.
Sondland testified that there was an explicit quid pro quo. “I know that members of this Committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ ” Sondland said. “As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
Impeachment inquiry: Five key moments from Sondland hearing
Additionally, Cooper testified that regardless of the reason the Trump administration held back the aid to Ukraine, the simple act of withholding the funds without first getting Congressional approval is against the law, specifically, the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (ICA). The ICA precludes the president or other government officials from impounding, either permanently or temporarily, federal funds that Congress has designated to be spent for a specific purpose.
The phone call between Trump and Zelenskyy was on July 25.
“At least one week before President Trump spoke by phone with newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in late July, he instructed his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold off on releasing nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine that had already been appropriated by Congress, CBS News has confirmed. “
Trump lifted the hold September 11 ( wikipedia )
In her opening statement, Ms Hill – the former top Russia experts to the White House – accused other Republicans of sowing doubt about Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
“Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country – and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did,” she said.
She urged lawmakers not to promote “politically driven falsehoods” that cast doubt on Russia’s interference in US elections.
“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” she said.
During Ms Hill’s testimony, Democratic lawyer Daniel Goldman asked her: “So is it your understanding then that President Trump disregarded the advice of his senior officials about this theory and instead listened to Rudy Giuliani’s views?”
“That appears to be the case, yes,” she replied.
In her later testimony, she warned that Mr Giuliani had been making “explosive” and “incendiary” claims about Ukraine.
Even host Steve Doocy seemed somewhat taken aback by Trump’s claims and responded by asking him, “Are you sure they did that? Are you sure they gave it to Ukraine?”
Trump’s sourcing was weak, to put it mildly.
“Well, that’s what the word is,” he said.
Two White House budget officials resigned in part out of frustration with President Donald Trump’s order to freeze U.S. military assistance to Ukraine, a senior budget official told House impeachment investigators.
Mark Sandy, whose closed-door deposition transcript was released Tuesday, said the initial concerns about the hold on military aid caused at least two officials within the Office of Management and Budget to resign.
One of those officials, a lawyer, stepped down over concerns that the hold was violating the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, which sharply curbs the executive branch’s authority to alter congressionally appropriated funds; another resigned over “frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold.”
BBC Timeline ( 27 November )