Aide recounts actions tying Trump to delay in Ukraine funds

Devin Nunes et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie Representative Devin Nunes talks with committee members and aides during a break in the hearing

Multiple people overheard Trump-Sondland call, Democratic lawmaker says

Morrison said this irregular channel differed from the "normal process" that the U.S. government uses for foreign policy. NPR's Tamara Keith is going to walk us through what happened.

Many Republicans have refrained from echoing Trump's direct attacks on the whistleblower, mindful of federal legal protections accorded such individuals. "What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them and, working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a US ambassador".

He also broke with other witnesses who have spoken out against the call, telling House investigators he heard nothing wrong. On Wednesday, it was George Kent and William Taylor. As of Saturday, eight witnesses, not seven, are on the schedule, including David Hale, the undersecretary of state for political affairs.

"There was the normal process, where decision-making went through the duly appointed personnel, whether that's the Chief of Mission, Ambassador (William) Taylor, (former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Envoy Kurt) Volker, the appropriate personnel from the Departments of State and Defense and Energy and intelligence agencies and so forth, as we normally do business...", Morrison said.

WILLIAM TAYLOR: Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26.

"He related to me he was acting - he was discussing these matters with the President", Morrison said.

Morrison, the former US National Security Council's Russian Federation and Europe director, gave his testimony during a closed hearing on 31 October before the US House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee, Oversight and Reform Committee, and Foreign Affairs Committee as part of the House's impeachment inquiry launched by the Democrats into President Trump over his dealings with Ukraine.

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.), appearing on CNN's "State of the Union", said Sondland, who was given his ambassadorial post after making a $1-million contribution to Trump's inaugural, "has to decide whether his primary loyalty is to America, or if his primary loyalty is to the president".

Mr Holmes said: "Sondland told Trump that Zelenskiy "loves your ass".

The House is investigating whether Mr. Trump withheld the aid to try to get Ukrainian officials to publicly announce investigations, including into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

A few days later, on September 7, Sondland was on the phone telling Morrison he had just gotten off a call with the president.

The concerns about Moscow linger even after special counsel Robert Mueller's almost two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election dogged Trump for much of his first term and led to the conviction of five campaign advisers or close associates of the president.

KEITH: This was new.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill November 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. That is until an hour later, when Trump fired off a tweet hotly critical of Yovanovitch as she was testifying. But Morrison said the unusual move was unintentional. Rob Portman of OH "convinced the president that the aid should be disbursed immediately", said Morrison, who said he was briefed about the meeting but did not attend it. He keys in on something that she said during her opening statement, about having been in numerous hardship positions, including Mogadishu, Somalia.

Trump claimed "everywhere" she went "turned bad". "She started off in Somalia, how did that go?" the president tweeted as the hearing was underway.

Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes read it into the record live on TV, and it appeared that the White House and House Republicans had finally gotten on the same messaging page.

Setting the scene less than an hour into the hearing, the president erupted spectacularly on Twitter with an attack on the highly-regarded former envoy. What effect do you think that has on other witnesses' willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?

Asked for her response, Ms Yovanovitch called it "very intimidating".

Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the impeachment panel, returned home Saturday to California where thousands of Democratic activists greeted him like a rock star at the state party's fall convention.

"I fully support the president".

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