A top National Security Council (NSC) official who listened to President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky testified to Congress today that he did not believe Trump had discussed anything illegal during the conversation.
“I want to be clear, I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” former NSC Senior Director for European Affairs Tim Morrison testified today, according to a record of his remarks obtained by The Federalist.
Morrison testified that Ukrainian officials were not even aware that certain military funding had been delayed by the Trump administration until late August 2019, more than a month after the Trump-Zelensky call, casting doubt on allegations that Trump somehow conveyed an illegal quid pro quo demand during the July 25 call.
“I have no reason to believe the Ukrainians had any knowledge of the [military funding] review until August 28, 2019,” Morrison said. That is the same day that Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chief anti-Trump inquisitor in the U.S. House of Representatives, disclosed on Twitter that funding had been held up. Politico also published a story that day, sourced to anonymous leaks, that military funding had been temporarily held up.
Although Schiff claimed that neither he nor his staff ever spoke to the anti-Trump whistleblower, The New York Times reported that the complainant, whom RealClearInvestigations identified as Eric Ciaramella, coordinated with Schiff’s office before filing his complaint with the intelligence community inspector general on August 12. While Schiff initially demanded that the anti-Trump complainant be allowed to publicly testify, he quickly changed course following the reports that he and his staff had secretly colluded with the whistleblower and then lied about the interactions.
Morrison also pointed out key factual inaccuracies in testimony provided by William Taylor, a State Department official who works in the U.S. embassy in Kiev, Ukraine. Morrison said that, contrary to Taylor’s claims, Morrison never met with the Ukrainian National Security advisor in his private hotel room.
Morrison also said Taylor falsely claimed that Ambassador Gordon Sondland demanded a public statement from the Ukrainian president committing to investigate Burisma, a controversial Ukrainain energy company that paid Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter millions of dollars to sit on its board.
“My recollection is that Ambassador Sondland’s proposal to [Ukrainian National Security Advisor Andriy] Yermak was that it could be sufficient if the new Ukrainian prosecutor general — not President Zelensky — would commit to pursue the Burisma investigation,” Morrison testified.
Morrison testified that the transcript of the phone call that was declassified and released by Trump in late September “accurately and completely reflects the substance of the call,” and that he was concerned that the substance of the call would be leaked to the media. Morrison said he immediately informed a NSC lawyer about his concerns that the phone call would be leaked. Democrats have alleged that security measures taken to prevent leaks of the top secret call transcript prove that Trump should be removed from office.
He also told lawmakers that the national security process worked as designed in the case of the military funding that Congress appropriated for Ukraine.
“I am pleased our process gave the president the confidence he needed to approve the release of the security sector assistance,” he said. “I am proud of what I have been able, in some small way, to help the Trump administration accomplish.”
Democrats on Thursday morning voted to rubber-stamp Schiff’s efforts to impeach Trump with secret hearings and lopsided rules that prevent Republicans from subpoenaing witnesses or evidence without first obtaining Schiff’s permisison. A bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans opposed the measure.