Following Wednesday’s first televised hearing in the impeachment inquiry against him, Donald Trump said he was not aware of a phone call in which he allegedly pressed Ambassador Gordon Sondland for information on whether Ukraine would open an investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, according to an ABC News report.
The call denied by Trump was reportedly made just one day after a call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the commander-in-chief pressed Zelensky to “look into” into Biden.
An account of the second call surfaced in bombshell testimony by acting United States Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor in his opening statement at Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. In that sworn testimony, Taylor said that on July 26, an aide on his staff dined at a restaurant with Sondland. During that dinner, according to the aide’s account testified to by Taylor, the aide overheard Trump “on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations.'”
Trump’s call with Zelensky in which he pressed the Ukraine president for the “favor” of investigating Biden occurred on July 25. That phone call was the catalyst for the impeachment inquiry into whether he abused the power of his office by withholding congressionally approved military aid in order to force Ukraine into opening a Biden investigation.
The big, new NEWS: Taylor testifies that his staff overhead a phone call between Trump and Sondland in which Trump asked about investigations in Biden. Sondland then told staff that "Trump cares more about the investigations into the Bidens" than Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/YtVQDoE9jC— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) November 13, 2019
Following the call between Sondland and Trump, the ambassador reportedly told the aide that the president “cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for,” than about Ukraine itself, according to Taylor’s testimony.
At a brief press availability on Wednesday during a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump was asked by Fox News reporter John Roberts about the call described in Taylor’s testimony. The president claimed to be unaware of the call, according to Mediaite.
“I know nothing about that. First time I’ve heard it,” Trump responded.
When pressed by Roberts on whether he remembered the call described in Taylor’s testimony, Trump reiterated he did not, “not even a little bit,” as quoted by Mediaite.
Taylor did not identify the staff member who informed about the phone call. But an NBC News report said that the aide was David Holmes, counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.
Holmes was recently added to the list of witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. His initial testimony is scheduled for Friday, November 15, according to the NBC News report. But the hearing to hear Holmes’ testimony will not be open to the public.
Sondland declined to comment through a lawyer when NBC News reached out to him for more details about the phone call described by Taylor.