Hours before the hearing, Trump lashed out at Democrats, contending the deck is stacked against him. Democrats are trying to show the public that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden at a time when U.S. military aid to Ukraine was being withheld.
●Historic impeachment hearings are set to begin, with GOP and Democratspushing dueling messageson Trump’s conduct.
●Aides are counseling Trumpnot to fire Mick Mulvaney, as the acting White House chief of staff changes course again.
●At a donor dinner, an associate of Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani said hediscussed Ukraine with the president, according to people familiar with his account.
●How thedecline of publictrust shaped Trump’s, Nixon’s and Clinton’s endgames.
November 13, 2019 at 11:30 AM EST
Trump asked Sondland about ‘the investigations,’ Taylor says he was told
Taylor added new information to his opening statement Wednesday, describing a July phone call between Trump and U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland overheard by a member of Taylor’s staff in which Trump purportedly asked about “the investigations.”
Taylor said one of his aides told him that Sondland called Trump from a Kyiv restaurant on July 26 to update him on meetings he was having in the city.
The aide heard Trump through the phone asking about “the investigations” and Sondland said the Ukrainians were ready to move forward, according to Taylor.
The phone call purportedly took place after Sondland met with Andrey Yermak, a top aide to Zelensky, and one day after Trump asked Zelensky to pursue investigations into his political opponents in a controversial phone call.
Taylor said that after the call, the aide asked Sondland what Trump thought about Ukraine and Sondland said that Trump cares “more about the investigations of Biden” that the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, “was pressing for.”
Taylor said he had not provided this account to impeachment investigators during his Oct. 22 deposition because his staff member only told him about the episode last Friday.
“I am including it here for completeness,” Taylor said of the information. “… It is my understanding that the Committee is following up on this matter.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday dismissed the House impeachment hearing as “a lot of noise” and said the inquiry had been unfair to State Department employees and U.S. citizens.
In an interview with Hugh Hewitt, whose son works at the State Department, Pompeo was asked whether he agreed with Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) that the hearings create “a permissive atmosphere for communists and the authoritarians.”
“Look, there’s a lot of noise,” Pompeo said. “There’ll be noise today. There’ll be noise for the rest of this week. … I’ve told the team to stay focused. There’s all this chatter, but then there’s challenges and opportunities for America around the world, and our mission set has to be to make sure that the risk that Representative Gallagher identified doesn’t come to bear.”
Pompeo repeated his complaint that no State Department lawyers were present when officials testified in private meetings with investigators.
“I regret that for the team that works for me here at the State Department that I believe has been treated incredibly unfairly,” he said. “But most importantly, I regret it for the American people that we haven’t had a process that has allowed an inquiry to proceed in a way that’s fair and equitable and gets the facts in an appropriate way to the American people. I hope that’ll change.”
Quiet reigned at the State Department as the impeachment hearing started. In the public areas, the television sets were all turned to the internal channel that did not air any of the testimony. But many working in private offices were watching at least part of what their colleagues had to say. Several employees said they admired their willingness to speak publicly.
“We want to watch,” one said.