Trump cared more about 'investigations' than Ukraine, impeachment witness says




  • In US
  • 2019-11-13 18:04:20Z
  • By Reuters

By Jan Wolfe

Nov 13 (Reuters) - A witness testified at Wednesday's first public impeachment hearing that President Donald Trump seemed to care more about his own political interests than about Ukraine's welfare as the U.S. leader assessed ties with that country.

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, disclosed that a member of his staff overheard a July 26 phone call in which Trump asked Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about "the investigations."

Sondland responded that the Ukrainians were "ready to move forward," Taylor told the congressional committee hearing.

Taylor's staff member was in Kiev with Sondland when the phone call took place, Taylor said. Earlier that day, Sondland and Taylor's staff member had met a top adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The day before Trump spoke from the White House with Zelenskiy by phone and pressed the Ukrainian leader to investigate a political rival, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, and Biden's son Hunter.

Asked about the incident by U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Wednesday, Taylor said Sondland told the staffer Trump was most focused on probes into Biden, the former vice president, and Hunter Biden.

"I take it that the import of that is he (Trump) cares more about that (the investigations) than he does about Ukraine?" Schiff asked.

"Yes, sir," Taylor replied.

Taylor said he was more alarmed by a hold Trump had placed on security assistance to Ukraine than the dangling of a possible Trump-Zelenskiy White House meeting:

"It's one thing to try to leverage a meeting in the White House," Taylor said.

"It's another thing, I thought, to leverage security assistance - security assistance to a country at war, dependent on both the security assistance and the demonstration of support. It was much more alarming," he added.

The focus of the inquiry has been on Trump's July 25 call urging Zelenskiy to open a corruption investigation into the Bidens and a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

Hunter Biden had worked for a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma.

Democrats are also looking into whether Trump abused his power by withholding $391 million in security aid to Ukraine - a vulnerable U.S. ally facing Russian aggression - as leverage to pressure Kiev into conducting investigations politically beneficial to Trump.

The money - approved by the U.S. Congress to help Ukraine combat Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country - was later provided to Ukraine. (Reporting by Jan Wolfe, additional reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Donald Trump, House Democrats strike deal on revised trade pact with Mexico, Canada
Donald Trump, House Democrats strike deal on revised trade pact with Mexico, Canada

Donald Trump and House Democrats strike deal to revise a trade pact with Canada and Mexico, giving the president a win on a legislative priority.

Chris Wallace: DOJ IG Report
Chris Wallace: DOJ IG Report 'Didn't Find the Things' Trump and Barr Think It Did

Shortly after the Department of Justice's inspector general reported there was no political bias, and that the FBI had sufficient evidence to launch the Russia probe on Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said the real headline should be that the top watchdog "didn't find the things" that President Trump and Attorney General William Barr have long alleged.Minutes following Monday's release of the report, and after other Fox News personalities had already spun the results in a pro-Trump fashion, Wallace explained his view of the findings as "a reporter" and not as a partisan pundit."Remember, this comes against the backdrop of Donald Trump talking about the...

FBI wiretap of Trump campaign aide was riddled with errors, but Russia probe was legally justified, IG report finds
FBI wiretap of Trump campaign aide was riddled with errors, but Russia probe was legally justified, IG report finds

DOJ IG Michael Horowitz's report, released Monday, says the FBI was not driven by bias against President Donald Trump in launching the Russia probe.

Shouting matches and protesting kick off combative impeachment hearing  - the latest
Shouting matches and protesting kick off combative impeachment hearing - the latest

A partisan dispute erupted over Democratic counsel Barry Berke's recitation about President Trump's alleged wrongdoing.

Ted Cruz says Ukraine
Ted Cruz says Ukraine 'blatantly interfered' in 2016 election during testy exchange with Chuck Todd

Sen. Ted Cruz only could point to one op-ed from a former ambassador to the U.S. as proof that "Ukraine blatantly interfered in our election."

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US