Nov 19, 2019

Holmes: Trump-Sondland call was likely monitored by Russians

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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."

  • When asked if making a cell phone call from Ukraine risked the call being overheard by Russians, Holmes responded:
"I believe at least two of the three, if not all three of the mobile networks are owned by Russian companies, or have significant stakes in those. We generally assume that mobile communications in Ukraine are being monitored."

Why it matters: In his testimony, Holmes said Trump had asked Sondland on the phone call if Ukraine was going to "do the investigation," and that Sondland responded, "He's gonna do it."

  • "I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the President and explain that he was calling from Kyiv. I heard President Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied, Yes, he was in Ukraine, and went on to state that President Zelensky, quote, unquote, loves your ass," Holmes testified.
  • "I then heard President Trump ask, quote, "So he's going to do the investigation?" unquote. Ambassador Sondland replied that, "He's going to do it, " adding that President Zelensky will, quote, 'Do anything you ask him to,'" Holmes added.

What's next: Holmes is due to publicly testify on Thursday.

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Read: House impeachment investigators release Hale, Holmes transcripts

Left, Holmes, right, Hale: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

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

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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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David Holmes recounts Trump phone call with Sondland in Ukraine

David Holmes, a State Department official at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, testified on Thursday about a now-infamous phone call in Kyiv in which he overheard President Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland discuss the "investigations" that are now at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

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