STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Impeachment: White House officials describe Ukraine dealing

From front-row seats at the White House, two government officials are providing impeachment panels vivid testimony of the Trump administration's efforts pushing Ukraine to investigate Democrats and Joe Biden.

Posted: Nov 8, 2019 12:18 PM

By LISA MASCARO, MARY CLARE JALONICK and ZEKE J. MILLER Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — From front-row seats at the White House, two government officials are providing impeachment panels vivid testimony of the Trump administration's efforts pushing Ukraine to investigate Democrats and Joe Biden.

According to transcripts released Friday in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, Fiona Hill, a former White House Russia adviser, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council, both described firsthand views of extraordinary scenes during a single day of meetings with Ukraine officials at the White House.

In one, Trump's national security adviser John Bolton "immediately stiffened" as Ambassador Gordon Sondland "blurted out" that he had worked out a trade — Ukrainians' probe for an Oval Office welcome — with Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

"Well, we have an agreement with the chief of staff for a meeting if these investigations in the energy sector start," Hill recalled -- a reference to the firm, Burisma, where Biden's son was on the board.

And then? Hill said Bolton abruptly ended the meeting.

In another episode in the Ward Room at the White House, Vindman testified that Sondland told Ukrainians they would need to investigate the Bidens if they hoped to have that coveted meeting with Trump.

"He was calling for something, calling for an investigation that didn't exist into the Bidens and Burisma," Vindman said. "The Ukrainians would have to deliver an investigation into the Bidens."

Into the Bidens? the investigators pressed.

"To the best of my recollection, yes," he said. "My visceral reaction to what was being called for suggested that it was explicit. There was no ambiguity."

Both officials testified behind closed doors last month in the probe. The hundreds of pages of transcripts showed a deeper reach into the White House ahead of next week's public hearings.

Vindman alerted superiors on two occasions, including after he listened to the July call in which Trump personally appealed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate political rival Biden and the outlier theory of a Ukrainian role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

A whistleblower's complaint about that call triggered the impeachment probe.

Trump insisted earlier Friday he has not been damaged by testimony and Republicans complain the witnesses generally are relying on secondhand accounts of the events central to the probe.

Speaking to reporters as he left on a campaign trip to Atlanta, Trump said he was "not concerned about anything" that has been disclosed so far.

But the new testimony, particularly the day of meetings July 10 at the White House, has become pivotal. It puts Mulvaney more directly involved in the shadow diplomacy being run through Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, and Sondland, the wealthy businessman-turned-ambassador to the European Union.

After Bolton left the one meeting, he told Hill to follow the group into the next and report back to him.

She testified at the second White House meeting, Sondland "as I came in, was talking about how he had an agreement with Chief of Staff Mulvaney for a meeting with the Ukrainians if they were going to go forward with investigations."

She said she heard Sondland mention Burisma as part of this exchange. When she reported it back to Bolton, he called it a "drug deal" and told her to report it to the National Security Council lead counsel, John Eisenberg.

She testified:

"This is a direct quote from Ambassador Bolton: 'You go and tell Eisenberg that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this, and you go and tell him what you've heard and what I've said.'"

Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican, sought to portray Trump's request for a favor in his phone call with the Ukrainian president as falling short of a demand.

But Vindman disagreed.

"When the president of the United States makes a request for a favor, it certainly seems, I would take it as a demand," he retorted.

Vindman, a veteran of the Iraq War, then added: "Congressman, as a military officer if my superiors tell me to do something, I take that not as a request , I take that as a demand."

At one point in Vindman's testimony, his lawyer objected to questions from Republicans he believed were intended to draw out the identity of the whistleblower who filed the initial complaint.

Vindman had already said in an opening statement that he was not the whistleblower and did not know who was. His lawyer, Michael Volkov, said his client would not answer questions about how many people he had told about his concerns.

Pressed repeatedly, Volkov said, "He tells you he's not the whistleblower, OK? He says he feels uncomfortable about it. Try and respect his feelings at this point."

A person then identified only as "voice" interjects: "We're uncomfortable impeaching the president."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 20635

Reported Deaths: 348
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah476293
Washington299124
Marion283769
Umatilla222127
Clackamas150039
Malheur75513
Deschutes5829
Lane5653
Jackson4472
Yamhill42913
Lincoln4129
Union3942
Morrow3493
Jefferson3464
Polk30812
Linn27110
Klamath2012
Hood River1810
Wasco1813
Benton1646
Douglas1481
Josephine1132
Columbia910
Coos900
Clatsop840
Crook431
Baker380
Tillamook340
Lake320
Wallowa191
Sherman150
Curry140
Harney100
Gilliam40
Grant40
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 546814

Reported Deaths: 10133
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2042584919
Riverside40452799
Orange38754704
San Bernardino34939497
San Diego31127583
Kern22009160
Fresno16625157
Alameda12884206
San Joaquin12119192
Santa Clara11336196
Sacramento10544155
Tulare10475196
Imperial9601240
Stanislaus9408151
Contra Costa8760136
Ventura803582
San Francisco732664
Santa Barbara665268
San Mateo5978120
Marin525778
Monterey515635
Merced485562
Kings445356
Solano395939
Sonoma335844
Madera226736
Placer209920
San Luis Obispo204716
Yolo166042
Santa Cruz12294
Butte10608
Napa104610
Sutter8936
El Dorado7161
San Benito6994
Lassen6380
Yuba5724
Shasta4119
Mendocino36310
Colusa3624
Glenn3603
Nevada3211
Humboldt2804
Tehama2711
Lake2202
Amador1620
Mono1531
Tuolumne1472
Calaveras1361
Del Norte960
Siskiyou920
Inyo863
Mariposa602
Plumas340
Trinity50
Modoc40
Sierra30
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 68°
Brookings
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 74°
Crater Lake
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 68°
Grants Pass
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 70°
Klamath Falls
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 68°
Sunny and warm summer weekend
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events