Nov 15, 2019

State Department official confirms Trump asked Sondland about Ukraine investigation

David Holmes arrives to give a deposition to the House Intelligence Committee in the Visitors Center of the U.S. Capitol Nov. 15. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Staff/Getty Images

David Holmes, an official working at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, confirmed to House impeachment investigators on Friday that he overheard President Trump ask EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland if Ukraine's president agreed to pursue investigations into his political rival, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by CNN.

What's new: Holmes confirmed Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor's testimony. He claimed he "heard President Trump ask, 'So, he's gonna do the investigation?' Sondland responded, 'he's gonna do it,'" adding Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would do "anything you ask him to," per CNN.

What he's saying: "While Ambassador Sondland's phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the President's voice through the earpiece of the phone," Holmes said, per CNN. "The President's voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume,"

  • Holmes said he didn't take notes on what he heard, but he remembers the event clearly.

Of note: Holmes also confirmed Taylor's testimony that Sondland said Trump did not care about Ukraine. When Holmes asked Sondland if that was the case, Sondland replied that Trump only cares about "big stuff," CNN notes.

  • Though Holmes said the Ukraine war with Russia was "big," he claimed Sondland replied, "'big stuff' that benefits the President, like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing."

Read David Holmes' opening statement:

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Holmes: Trump-Sondland call was likely monitored by Russians

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A transcript of State Department official David Holmes' impeachment testimony published Monday reveals that he assumes calls made from Ukraine are usually monitored by Russians — including one between U.S. ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland and President Trump on July 26.

What they're saying: Holmes, who works at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, said in closed-door testimony that Sondland phoned Trump the day after the president's now-famous call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Holmes said Sondland used his mobile phone for the call, which was "surprising" because "generally, phone calls with the president are very sensitive and handled accordingly."

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Read: House impeachment investigators release Hale, Holmes transcripts

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House impeachment investigators released transcripts Monday for State Department officials David Hale and David Holmes' closed-door testimonies this month.

The big picture: Hale is a high-ranking official who's served as an ambassador to Jordan, Lebanon and Pakistan, among other roles. Holmes works at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. Holmes testified that he'd overheard a phone call between Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the EU, and President Trump on July 26, the day after Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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Bill Taylor aide David Holmes to testify publicly in impeachment inquiry

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David Holmes, a State Department official working at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, will testify publicly in an impeachment hearing on Thursday alongside President Trump's former Russia adviser Fiona Hill, according to House officials.

Why it matters: In a closed-door deposition, Holmes testified that he overheard a phone call between EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Trump on July 26, the day after the infamous call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Holmes claimed he heard Trump ask Sondland, "So, he's gonna do the investigation?" to which Sondland responded, "He's gonna do it," adding that Zelensky would do "anything you ask him to."

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