2019-11-18 20:29:481 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
Yet another person is willing to stand up and testify to what he heard regarding Donald Trump's desire to have Ukraine investigate the 2016 election as well as former President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. No longer can the Republicans continue to say this is all secondhand information.
David Holmes, a U.S. embassy staff member in Ukraine, was called out initially last week during the public impeachment testimony of Acting U.S. Ambassador Ukraine Bill Taylor. The ambassador testified last week that Holmes had overheard a phone conversation between Trump and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland regarding the investigations.
Holmes took the stand behind closed doors on Friday and testified to what he heard during that call as well as Sondland's statement immediately afterward that the president was more interested in an investigation of the Bidens than he was Ukraine.
According to three people who read his opening statement, the aide testified that he overheard the phone call between Trump and Sondland that took place one day after the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky where the American president asked his peer to conduct investigations of his political opponents. Holmes was in the same restaurant as Sondland.
He testified Trump wanted to know if Zelensky would "do the investigation," and that "Ambassador Sondland replied that 'he's gonna do it,' adding that President Zelensky will do 'anything you ask him to.' "
This is the firsthand knowledge that the Republicans said didn't exist and implicates Trump in the quid pro quo of promising a White House visit and military aid if Zelensky conducted the investigations.
He said he overheard parts of Trump's conversation with Sondland because he was speaking so loudly that others sitting at a nearby table could overhear what he was saying through the phone," said the sources.
When he asked Sondland, after the phone call, about Trump's views regarding Ukraine, Sondland told Holmes Trump didn't care about Ukraine and was mostly interested in the investigations that his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was pushing.
Holmes's testimony was just after former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified in a public hearing regarding the smear campaign Trump and Giuliani were conducting to push her out of office.
While she was on the stand, Trump tweeted negative comments about her, leading House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), who was conducting the hearing, to say it amounted to witness tampering. The GOP tried to focus on what little Yovanovitch knew of the quid pro quo scheme, but Trump's tweets about her suggest he believes what she has to say could be damaging to him.
This increases the pressure on Sondland, who is set to testify in the impeachment hearing this week. This call was not mentioned in his deposition last month, as he proclaimed to not know much about the investigations Trump was seeking.
With the plethora of live testimony arriving this week, it's only going to get more and more damaging to Trump and Sondland, unless the ambassador throws the president under the bus.
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