A top aide to Vice President Mike Pence who was listening in on Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president told members of Congress that his attempts to press for an investigation into Joe Biden were “inappropriate,” a newly released court transcript shows.
Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy aide to Pence, testified in a closed-door impeachment hearing that Trump’s attempts to call for an investigation into unfounded conspiracy theories about Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election and the business interests of Biden’s son “struck me as unusual and inappropriate.” As the New York Post noted, Williams described the discussion between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “more political in nature” than Trump’s other calls with foreign leaders and said there were specific references to Trump’s “personal political agenda.”
The call was the subject of a whistleblower complaint that has now become a full impeachment investigation of Trump and his alleged action to pressure Ukraine into digging up dirt on Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, related to Hunter’s business interests in Ukraine. Both Trump and congressional Republicans have attacked the process, saying that the witnesses called so far in the public portion of the hearings did not have direct knowledge of the call in question and were only relaying secondhand information. But Williams’ testimony showed that someone listening in on the call in real-time raised the same concerns as those who have already testified in public.
The House of Representatives on Saturday also released testimony from former White House aide and National Security Council member Tim Morrison, who backed up the concerns that Williams had about the call.
“I was not comfortable with any idea that President Zelensky should allow himself to be involved in our politics,” Morrison said, though he declined to say if he believed the call was illegal or improper.
While the phone call with Zelensky is at the heart of the impeachment hearings, the House Intelligence Committee has also investigated a number of other actions that include Trump withholding military aid to Ukraine that had been approved by Congress. Morrison testified that Gordon Sondland, the American envoy to the European Union, spoke to a top aide to Zelensky and relayed that the military funding would only be released once Zelensky committed to investigating the energy company where Hunter Biden was employed.
“He told me that in his — that what he communicated was that he believed the—what could help them move the aid was if the prosecutor general would to go the mic and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation,” Morrison said.
Both Williams and Morrison are scheduled to testify in public hearings in the coming week.