Diplomat says he overheard Trump call about ‘investigations’

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Published: November 16, 2019 10:38:22 AM

The Associated Press has viewed key excerpts of Holmes' 10-page statement and a person familiar with the document confirmed its authenticity.

Holmes, a career foreign service officer, told investigators he did not seek the opportunity to testify.

A State Department official told impeachment investigators Friday that he overheard President Donald Trump talking with a US ambassador about “investigations” in Ukraine, according to people familiar with the testimony. David Holmes, the political counsel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, said Trump was talking so loudly that Ambassador Gordon Sondland had to hold the phone from his ear.

Holmes said that allowed others at a restaurant in Kyiv to overhear the call that’s now part of the impeachment inquiry, according to one of the people, who were unauthorized to publicly discuss the testimony and were granted anonymity. The conversation at the Kyiv restaurant came the day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with newly elected Ukraine President Volodymy Zelenskiy, in which the US President pressed his counterpart to investigate Democrats and 2020 rival Joe Biden. A whistleblower’s complaint about that call sparked the impeachment inquiry.

Sondland opened the July 26 conversation by telling Trump that the Zelenskiy “loves your ass.” Trump responded, “So, he’s gonna do the investigation?” “He’s gonna do it,” Sondland replied. The Associated Press has viewed key excerpts of Holmes’ 10-page statement and a person familiar with the document confirmed its authenticity. The remarks were first obtained by CNN. Holmes, a career foreign service officer, told investigators he did not seek the opportunity to testify. Like others in the inquiry, he was issued a subpoena to appear.

He spent nearly seven hours with lawmakers. Rep Ted Lieu, D-Calif, said Holmes is a key witness to the impeachment investigation because he heard directly from Trump. That counters Republican complaints that the inquiry is based on hearsay from other officials testifying.

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