David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Kiev, made an alarming point during his testimony on Thursday: Though the military aid has been released, Ukraine isn’t necessarily off the hook from President Donald Trump’s demands due to the fact that Trump still hasn’t fully given them what they wanted.
Holmes told House impeachment investigators that despite Trump’s insistence that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky experienced “no pressure” to announce an investigation into Joe Biden, Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials did feel pressured to do so – even after Trump unfroze the nearly $400 million in military aid to the country on September 11.
“Although the hold on the security assistance may have been lifted, there were still things they wanted that they weren’t getting, including a meeting with the President in the Oval Office,” Holmes testified. “Whether the hold, security assistance hold, continued or not, Ukrainians understood [the announcement] was something that the President wanted and they still wanted important things from the President.”
“And I think that continues to this day,” the diplomat added. “I think they’re being very careful.”
Holmes noted that Zelensky needs support from the U.S. as he tries to advance peace negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He needs President Putin to understand that America supports Zelensky at the highest levels,” Holmes said. “So this doesn’t end with the lifting of the security assistance hold.”
“Ukraine still needs us and, as I said, is still fighting this war to this very day,” he continued.
Holmes’ comment about Ukrainians being “very careful” even to this day knocks down Trump’s defense that Zelensky himself said “nobody pushed” him.
Though much of the fallout over Trump’s Ukraine scheme has focused on the delayed military funds, national security and State Department officials in the investigation have outlined how Trump dangling a White House meeting with Zelensky was another major pressure point for the Ukrainians.
The officials have explained that a meeting in the Oval Office was (and still is) crucial for the newly elected Zelensky, who needs to establish a strong relationship with the U.S. amid Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.
Watch Holmes below:
Diplomat David Holmes points out that Ukraine is still under pressure from Trump because there are things Ukrainians want that Trump still hasn’t given, such as a White House meeting with Zelensky. pic.twitter.com/wUaDqQvsyH
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) November 21, 2019