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Friday, January 22, 2021

Ex-White House adviser testifies in impeachment probe

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Ex-White House adviser testifies in impeachment probe
Ex-White House adviser testifies in impeachment probe

The former Russia expert on Donald Trump's national security council testified before a Congressional impeachment inquiry Thursday.

Zachary Goelman reports.

As lawmakers cast the first vote on an impeachment inquiry, the fast-moving probe continued to gather evidence Thursday (October 31).

A former top White House official testified behind closed doors.

Tim Morrison was - until last night - the top Russia expert on President Donald Trump's National Security Council.

And Morrison's name has come up again and again in other witnesses' testimony as lawmakers investigate whether Trump tried to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Morrison listened in on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the heart of the probe.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING (OCTOBER 28): "I had a great conversation with the Ukraininan president." Trump has denied any wrongdoing and described the impeachment probe as a witch hunt.

Last week, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, told lawmakers about a diplomatic back-channel through which Trump communicated to Ukraine that $391 million in U.S. military aid was conditioned upon Kiev publicly declaring it would investigate Biden and his son.

Morrison was mentioned 15 times in Taylor's statement to lawmakers.

Taylor said that Morrison had confided to him that he had a "sinking feeling" after a phone conversation in which Trump told another ambassador he wanted Ukraine's president to "go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference." Morrison resigned from the NSC Wednesday night, hours before he appeared before investigators.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF, SAYING (OCTOBER 28): "Thanks to the courageous testimony of many State Department, Defense Department and other national security officials..." As Democrats leading the impeachment probe praised what they called the courage of career officials willing to speak out against Trump, Republican allies of the president on Thursday continued to criticize the process.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE JIM JORDAN, SAYING: "They still have all the power and no rights are extended to the White House or the minority.

It obviously keeps Chairman Schiff in complete control so that he can continue to run this unfair and partisan, unfair and prominent process." Those leading the impeachment probe are now hoping a far more prominent player, former national security adviser John Bolton, will appear next week.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JOHN BOLTON, SAYING (AUGUST 27): "The people of the United States are with the people of Ukraine." Bolton, seen here in August alongside Taylor laying a wreath to Ukrainians victims of fighting with Russia, was reportedly alarmed by a White House effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump's rivals.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JOHN BOLTON, SAYING (AUGUST 27): "Again it's an honor for me and Ambassador Taylor to be here today." It was unclear whether Bolton would testify.

His lawyer said he would not appear voluntarily, but suggested he might respond to a subpoena.


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