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The probe probe deepens a split of the Trump team



The lines are most easily seen in witnesses called to testify in open hearings so far: The Democrats' first public hearings last week included Taylor, Kent and Yovanovitch and will continue this week with Sondland, Williams and Pentagon official Laura Cooper, among others. Republicans, however, have called for another nine witnesses, only a few of whom have been green-lit by the majority, including Volker, National Security Council official Tim Morrison and Trump nominee David Hale.

Several of the witnesses have offered contradictory stories or interpretations of certain events, which have sometimes made it difficult to reach a decisive judgment on who is right. The following are some of the most prominent examples where important witnesses have been separated:

A July 1
0 meeting in the White House

A meeting at John Bolton's office with two Ukrainian officials – top Zelensky adviser Andriy Yermak and national security adviser Oleksandr Danyliuk – who was joined by former NSC official Fiona Hill, Vindman, Sondland and Volker has become a rallying point for the anchoring investigation as it strengthened White House officials' suspicions that a shadow Ukraine policy was being implemented to pursue Trump's political goals, according to Hill and Vindman's testimony.

Bolton and his deputy Charles Kupperman have so far declined to testify.

Kupperman asked a federal judge to clarify the legal dispute between the legislative and executive branches, but his trial was made when Congress withdrew its vote for him, citing time limits.

At the same time, their shared lawyer, Chuck Cooper, told lawmakers that Bolton has knowledge of "many relevant meetings and discussions that have not yet been discussed in the testimony but so far will not testify until a federal judge resolves the dispute between Congress and the White House.

Both Hill and Vindman told lawmakers that Bolton briefly adjourned the meeting when Sondland began discussing specific investigations that Ukraine would need to launch to meet Trump, but that Sondland continued the discussion in a later debriefing in the White House assembly room that Bolton did not attend. also testified that Hill and Vindman informed him of the meeting at Bolton's office and Sondland's mention of investigations in a conversation on July 19.

"Ambassador Sondland began talking about Ukraine delivering specific investigations to secure the meeting with the President," witnesses testified, "at which time Ambassador Bolton canceled the meeting shortly … after that meeting it was a planned debriefing during which Ambassador Sondland emphasized the importance of Ukraine delivering the investigations in the 2016 elections, Bidens and Burisma. "

Hill testified that Sondland" basically began talking about discussions he had with the Chief of Staff, "Mick Mulvaney." Giuliani, but then I interrupted him because I didn't want to get into this discussion at all. "

She also brought Volker directly with her when asked if she personally heard Sondland mention Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter Biden sat. "Mr. The windman was also there?" Hill was asked. "Right," she replied. "And Kurt Volker."

Volker, however, testified that neither Giuliani nor investigations were mentioned during the meetings. "No," he replied when asked about Giuliani's activities in Ukraine or "something about the investigations" was recorded.

Sondland testified that he does not "remember" that he raised the issue of Burisma or mentioned investigations in both meetings. "I cannot say that the word & # 39 ; Burisma & # 39; I didn't know if I mentioned it or if Ambassador Volker did or if Mr. Vindman – I have no idea. "

July 25 conversation

Witnesses' interpretations of the July 25 conversation between Trump and Zelensky, where Trump specifically asked Zelensky to investigate Bid's and investigate any Ukrainian interference in 2016, has also varied, including within certain officials' own deposits.

Morrison, a former Republican Senate staff and gun control specialist selected by Bolton to replace Hill as the top European and Russia adviser on NSC, testified that he "was not worried about anything illegal

But he informed White House Attorney John Eisenberg about the call immediately after it ended, he said, because he was worried it would leak, and recommended that access to the call register be restricted.

Morrison however, also said that Giuliani, Burisma and Electoral Disorders 2016 "were all issues I tried to stay alive take away … because it had nothing to do with our political process ", noting that he became" concerned "about how" subsequent "Zelensky was to Trump and about the" parallel process "that occurred in Ukraine as Hill had warned him before he replaced her.

According to texts exchanged between Volker and Sondland on August 9, Morrison reluctantly set up a Trump-Zelensky meeting because Trump wanted "the delivery", according to Sondland, probably by Ukraine's promise to launch the requested investigations.

Morrison also told lawmakers that he kept Taylor informed of the efforts of the back channel, informed him of the July 25 call, talks between Sondland and Trump, talks between Sondland and Yermak and Trump's desire to withhold all security support from Ukraine – which Taylor said that he was ready to step down.

Morrison testified that his conversations with Taylor were "a normal part of the coordination process" because he was Taylor's "chief information officer related to the White House deliberations" on Ukraine. According to Taylor's testimony, Morrison told him that on July 25, the conversation "could have been better," a comment the NSC official explained to reflect his disappointment that the two leaders had not discussed Zelensky's "reform agenda."

Vindman, meanwhile, testified that he was deeply concerned about the July 25 call. He said that although he could not determine if something illegal had happened because he is not a lawyer, he also informed Eisenberg of its contents and considered Trump's request that Ukraine investigate an American citizen inappropriate.

Volker testified that he warned the Ukrainians not to be "sucked in" to US domestic policy after being informed of the telephone call. But he sent a text message to Yermak on the morning of July 25 conditional on a Trump-Zelensky White House meeting on investigations, and negotiated a public statement from Zelensky that would bind him to open the probes that Trump required.

"Assuming that President Zelensky convinces Trump that he will investigate / get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down the dates of visits to Washington. Good luck, ”Volker wrote on July 25.

Handling the Call Record

An important disagreement has arisen as to why the record for the July 25 call was placed in a top secret system used by NSC to store code level information at word level, and whether it was edited to remove the word "Burisma" . "

Morrison told lawmakers that when he could not find the record for the call in the normal portal, he learned from the executive secretary's staff that they had put it in the highly classified system on Eisenberg's order – but Eisenberg told Morrison that the staff had misunderstood his request to "restrict access" to the call and did not think it would be placed in the password system, known as NICE.

However, the call was not removed from the system after that conversation. When Morrison was preparing for the Trump-Zelensky meeting at the UN in September, he tried to gain access to the conversation again, without any benefit. "So I remember talking to John at that time, John, have we ever figured out how to get this thing moving down?" He testified.

Vindman's testimony meanwhile suggested that the disc was deliberately placed in the system. He told lawmakers that Michael Ellis, a White House lawyer and Eisenberg's deputy, was the first to propose that the record from Trump's 25-year talks with Zelensky be included in the system. Eisenberg, as NSC's highest legal advisor, called the last call to place the call post there after Ellis proposed the idea, he said.

Vindman said he did not believe Ellis had "malicious intent" when he suggested that the call be placed on the top-secret server, and that Eisenberg ultimately "gave the ready signal" to do so.

Investigators have sought testimony from Eisenberg and Ellis, but the White House has prevented them from testifying, citing an aggressive interpretation of previous precedents of executive privilege and casting the entire impeachment process as illegal and unconstitutional.

Morrison also seemed to disagree with both Vindman and Williams – Pence's support for State Department loans – about whether the word "Burisma" came up during the Trump-Zelensky call July 25.

Vindman and Williams, who both listened to the conversation, testified that Zelensky mentioned Burisma by name.

Vindman, a fluent Ukrainian speaker, said he eventually proposed several edits to the conversation that the White House eventually released to the public in September – some of which he described as "significant." He said these changes were never included in the final version that was published.

One of these edits was the addition of a phrase in which Trump referred to" recordings "and detailed

Vindman also told investigators that while the call record says that Zelensky only mentioned "the company," he remembers Zelensky and instead said, "Burisma that you mentioned."

The fact that Zelensky identified Burisma was important, Vindman said, because it "seemed to suggest to me that he was prepared for this call," and he knew that Trump's reference to Biden specifically referred to Burisma.

But a final summary of the White House call does not mention Burisma, and Morrison testified that he did not "believe" Burisma was specifically mentioned in the conversation, nor did he remember anyone who suggested changes to the record to reflect Zelensky 's menti on Burisma.

"Did I remember or have in my notes mentioned, yes, I would have agreed to the editing," Morrison said.


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