The Latest: Witness describe Trump dealing with Ukraine
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and the House impeachment inquiry (all times local):
Key White House officials told impeachment investigators that President Donald Trump’s deal with Ukraine was a straight-out trade: If Ukraine’s new leader wanted an Oval Office welcome he would have to open a public probe into Joe Biden and his son.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council, said, “There was no ambiguity.”
Vindman’s testimony was one of two transcripts released Friday by House Democrats leading the impeachment probe. They also released a transcript of testimony from Fiona Hill, a former White House Russia adviser.
Former national security adviser John Bolton has information about “many relevant meetings and conversations” related to Ukraine that House impeachment investigators have not yet heard testimony about.
That’s according to a letter that Bolton’s attorney, Charles Cooper, sent Friday to the House that suggests Bolton would appear in the probe only if a court orders him to do so.
In the letter, Cooper says there’s a tall barrier to forcing Bolton and his former deputy, Charles Kupperman, to testify because any testimony that they would give would implicate sensitive matters of national security and foreign affairs. Kupperman has sued to request a judge’s guidance on whether he can be forced to appear.
The letter says both Bolton and Kupperman are prepared to appear if a federal judge resolved the dispute in Congress’s favor.
Two national security officials who testified before House impeachment investigators say there was no evidence to suggest Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Both Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill, whose transcripts were released Friday, said there was no basis for the suggestion.
Hill was the senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council. She described the idea as “fiction” that Ukrainians were looking “to mess with our Democratic systems.”
She said that other national security officials had tried to explain to President Donald Trump that it wasn’t plausible.
She called it a debunked theory and said officials were disheartened to see the president suggest it to Ukraine’s new president when they spoke.
Vindman, an Army officer also assigned to the NSC, said he was unaware of any “authoritative basis” for the theory.
A national security official told House impeachment investigators the transcript of the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s leader at the center of the probe was edited to remove a reference to the energy company with ties to Joe Biden’s son.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said it seemed that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had been prepped for the call with Trump. He said that Zelenskiy specifically referenced looking into the situation with Burisma, the company linked to Hunter Biden.
But Vindman said the rough transcript was edited to read: “the company.”
Vindman also said the editing process for the rough transcript of the call went through a different, more secure system. And he had a difficult time logging into the system and had to get a hard copy and make edits on paper.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has appointed one of President Donald Trump’s strongest defenders to the House intelligence committee days before the panel begins public impeachment hearings against him.
McCarthy announced Friday that Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan is joining the committee and another member, Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford, is “temporarily stepping aside.” Crawford will rejoin the panel after impeachment, McCarthy said.
Jordan is the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee and has been the top GOP spokesman as the intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees have led closed-door depositions with impeachment witnesses. Only the House intelligence panel is holding the public hearings, a move that shut Jordan out of the process.
McCarthy said Jordan “has been on the front lines in the fight for fairness and truth.”
A national security official called in to testify before House committees on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump says a diplomat specifically mentioned that the Ukrainians would have to investigate the Bidens.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman says in testimony that there was “no ambiguity.”
He says the conversation happened during a White House meeting with Ambassador Gordon Sondland, Ukrainian officials and others.
Transcript of Vindman’s testimony was released Friday.
Vindman is an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council.
House Democrats have released two new transcripts as they wrap up closed-door depositions in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Impeachment investigators released the testimony of Fiona Hill, a former White House Russia adviser, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council. Both testified about their concerns as Trump pushed Ukraine for investigations of Democrats.
Vindman listened in to the July 25 call where Trump personally appealed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the investigations of political rival Joe Biden and his family and also Ukraine’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
A whistleblower’s complaint about that call triggered the impeachment probe.
President Donald Trump says he’s considering releasing the transcript of an April call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He says that, if House investigators want to see a summary of the April 21 call, he has “no problem” giving it to them.
That call came three months before the July 25 call that sparked the impeachment inquiry into his efforts to push Zelenskiy to investigate his political rivals.
Trump on Friday also dismissed the significance of the impeachment inquiry testimony that has been released so far as he left the White House for a trip to Georgia.
He says, “No one seems to have any first-hand knowledge” and claims that, “Every one of those people canceled themselves out.”
He’s also criticizing Democrats in the House for planning public hearings, even though the White House pushed for them to happen.
There were three words President Donald Trump wanted to hear from the Ukraine president: Investigations, Biden, Clinton.
That’s according to the transcript, released Thursday, of an impeachment inquiry interview with career State Department official George Kent.
Kent told investigators that that was his understanding of what Trump wanted Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to say in order to unlock U.S. military aid, as relayed to the official by others, including those in direct contact with the president.