President Donald Trump’s top Russia aide corroborated aspects of a key U.S. diplomat’s testimony connecting the president to a quid pro quo with Ukraine, according to a person familiar with the aide’s testimony to House impeachment investigators.
Tim Morrison, the Europe and Russia chief for the National Security Council, was cited more than a dozen times in William Taylor’s opening statement to investigators last week. Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, said he was told that Trump sought to withhold military aid to Ukraine and refuse a White House meeting with the country’s president until it launched investigations into Trump’s political rivals.
But Morrison, a former longtime GOP congressional aide, was careful to not directly criticize the president’s actions, according to another person familiar with his closed-door testimony.
According to Taylor’s testimony, Morrison said he had a “sinking feeling” after learning about a phone call between Trump and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, during which Trump demanded that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announce investigations into Joe Biden and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.
Taylor also described a conversation, relayed to him by Morrison, between Sondland and a senior Ukrainian official. Taylor testified that Sondland told the Ukrainian official that critical military assistance to the eastern European country would be withheld unless Zelensky “committed to pursuing” a Biden investigation.
Morrison was set to resign his post imminently, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. He became the second current White House official to testify to impeachment investigators, two days after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine and Russia expert on the NSC, testified he believed Trump’s overtures to Ukraine undermined U.S. national security.
The White House sought to block Morrison’s testimony, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry. Morrison was served with a subpoena and was cooperating with the three committees leading the inquiry, the official added.
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