According to a new bombshell report published by The Hill on Saturday, a senior White House official told House impeachment investigators month that President Trump’s hand-picked Ambassador to Europe had pushed — on behalf of Trump himself — for Ukraine’s president to launch two investigations that could help Trump politically.
The official, Tim Morrison, said Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the E.U., had huddled with a top Ukrainian representative on Sept. 1, when he relayed the message that the release of U.S. military aid to the besieged country hinged on Kyiv opening the investigations Trump sought.
“What he communicated was that he believed … what could help them move the aid was if the prosecutor general would go to the mic and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation,” official told investigators, The Hill reported, citing a transcript released Saturday by Democrats leading the impeachment investigation.
“Ambassador Sondland related to me that the president was giving him instruction,” Morrison added.
“On Sept. 7, the marching orders changed, Morrison said, after Sondland spoke directly with Trump, who insisted that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky himself should announce the investigations into Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 elections — both of which could help Trump politically heading into 2020.
Even while Trump was insisting vocally that there was no quid pro quo, Morrison testified, he was demanding that Sondland convey to Kyiv that very thing.
“[Sondland] related the president told him there was no quid pro quo, but President Zelensky had to do it and he should want to do it,” Morrison said.
Morrison was among the national security officials on the now-famous July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky, in which Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart for “a favor” in the form of the investigations.”
Morrison listened in on the July 25 call with Zelensky and said that he became concerned about it in particular when Trump brought up the DNC server. He said that the call reaffirmed fears expressed by Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia expert, about a “parallel process” regarding U.S. policymaking towards Ukraine.
“I heard issues related to the server. And I was concerned that Dr. Hill was correct about this parallel process. And I grew concerned that the call was not the full-throated endorsement of the Ukraine reform agenda that I was hoping to hear,” Morrison told investigators.
Morrison also said that he approached NSC lawyer John Eisenberg because he wanted them to “have eyes” on the call and he was afraid that leaks about it could be “damaging.”