Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Nation & World

Impeachment testimony comes from White House budget official

After a week of dramatic public hearings, investigators heard late Friday in closed session from State Department official David Holmes, who delivered a firsthand account that puts the president at the forefront of events.
President Donald Trump speaks during an event on healthcare prices in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) [EVAN VUCCI  |  AP]
President Donald Trump speaks during an event on healthcare prices in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) [EVAN VUCCI | AP]
Published Nov. 16

WASHINGTON — House impeachment investigators met in private Saturday with a White House budget official as the historic inquiry produces new testimony offering direct insight of President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.

After a week of dramatic public hearings, investigators heard late Friday in closed session from State Department official David Holmes, who delivered a firsthand account that puts the president at the forefront of events.

Holmes, the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, testified that he overheard Trump in a phone call with his European Union ambassador, Gordon Sondland, saying he wanted Ukraine to conduct investigations. Sondland later explained the investigations pertained to former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter, who served on the board of a gas company in Ukraine. No wrongdoing by either Biden has been substantiated.

It was one of the first direct accounts of Trump seeking investigations of a political rival and provides Democrats with a counterargument to Republicans, who dismiss the testimony so far as largely hearsay from diplomats and others with, at best, secondhand knowledge of events.

The latest witness was Mark Sandy, a White House budget officer, as Democrats scrutinize the administration’s decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine while Trump pushed the country’s new president for the political investigations.

Sandy was the first official from the Office of Management and Budget to defy Trump’s instructions not to testify. Like others, he was expected to receive a subpoena to appear.

Questions over that trade-off — military aid and a coveted White House visit for Ukraine’s president in exchange for the investigations — are central to the impeachment inquiry. Trump says he did nothing wrong.

“When people come in, we learn more,” said Rep. Eric Swawell, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, as he arrived for Saturday’s session.

Rep. Mark Meadows, a top Trump ally, said he did not expect to hear much from Sandy, a career budget official.

“All I expect him to say is he doesn’t know why the aid was held and wished that he did,” said Meadows, R-N.C. “But I may be surprised.”

More public hearings in the House are scheduled for this coming week.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2019, file photo, a man uses a cell phone in New Orleans. The Federal Communications Commission is setting up a new three-digit number to reach a suicide prevention hotline. Once it's implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help, similar to calling 911 for emergencies or 311 for city services. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File) [JENNY KANE  |  AP]
    Once it’s implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help.
  2. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, center top, speaking during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington. (Matt McClain/Pool via AP) [MATT MCCLAIN  |  AP]
    Speaker Nancy Pelosi is confident Democrats will have the votes to impeach the president next week but said it is up to individual lawmakers to weigh the evidence and decide for themselves.
  3. This Sept. 12, 2019 file photo shows a University of Tennessee shirt in Knoxville, Tenn., using the design of a Florida fourth-grader who was bullied.  Sales of the T-shirt have raised over $950,000 for an anti-bullying organization. Tennessee officials said Wednesday that 112,715 shirts have been sold in the three months since it was created. (AP Photo/Steve Megargee, File) [STEVE MEGARGEE  |  AP]
    Tennessee officials said Wednesday that 112,715 shirts have been sold in the past three months.
  4. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addresses plenary of U.N. climate conference during with a meeting with leading climate scientists at the COP25 summit in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday. Thunberg is in Madrid where a global U.N.-sponsored climate change conference is taking place. (AP Photo/Paul White) [PAUL WHITE  |  AP]
    It’s not the first time the President has lashed out after not being recognized for his influence.
  5. Harvey Weinstein leaves court following a hearing, Wednesday in New York. Weinstein’s bail was increased from $1 million to $5 million on Wednesday over allegations he violated bail conditions by mishandling his electronic ankle monitor. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    The settlement ends nearly every sexual misconduct lawsuit brought against Weinstein and his former film studio’s board.
  6. Orthodox Jewish men gather outside a Brooklyn synagogue prior to a funeral for Mosche Deutsch, Wednesday in New York. Deutsch, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn, was killed Tuesday in the shooting inside a Jersey City, N.J. market. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop called the bloodshed a hate crime against Jews, as did New York’s mayor and governor.
  7. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, rubs his face during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Wednesday, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) [JACQUELYN MARTIN  |  AP]
    Democrats and Republicans delivered sharp, poignant and, at times, personal arguments for and against impeachment.
  8. This photo provided by Time magazine shows Greta Thunberg, who has been named Time’s youngest “person of the year” on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.   The media franchise said Wednesday on its website that Thunberg is being honored for work that transcends backgrounds and borders.  (Time via AP) [AP]
    She rose to fame after cutting class in August 2018 to protest climate change.
  9. Police officers arrive at the scene following reports of gunfire, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in Jersey City, N.J.  AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez) [EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ  |  AP]
    It ended four hours and hundreds of spent bullets later, with the two suspects killed by police.
  10. Police officers arrive at the scene following reports of gunfire, Tuesday, in Jersey City, N.J.  AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez) [EDUARDO MUNOZ  |  AP]
    Sporadic, heavy gunfire rang out over the course of at least an hour along a major thoroughfare.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement