This Week: Those Damning Transcripts

November 8, 2019 4:54 p.m.

The biggest news from each impeachment transcript released this week: 

Sondland: Among many key reveals in U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony was the confirmation of a quid pro quo associated with the withheld military aid to Ukraine. Sondland also argued that he would not have pressed Ukraine so vehemently for an investigation had he known the goal was to smear former Vice President Joe Biden.

Vindman: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s testimony most notably placed acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in a more central role in the pressure campaign than was previously known. During a July 10 meeting with Ukrainian officials, Sondland raised the prospect of investigating the Bidens — which contradicts his claims — and was shot down by Vindman. Sondland then told the room that the request had been coordinated with Mulvaney.

Taylor: Perhaps the most amusing detail from former Ukraine Ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony is the fact that Trump’s strange crusade to purchase the country of Greenland actually complicated a meeting between Trump and Cabinet officials who wanted to urge the President to release the military aid to Ukraine.

Hill: The former senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council Fiona Hill confirmed details about Sondland’s remarks during that July 10 meeting, in which he “blurted out” a possible deal between Ukraine and Trump — investigations in exchange for a meeting between President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump.

Kent: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian affairs George Kent attempted to protest the ongoing pressure campaign as it was still building behind closed doors in August. Upon hearing that former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker told Ukrainian officials that Giuliani wanted them to “initiate” investigations, Kent wrote a memo to make his opposition to the effort know and documented.

Volker: Volker confirmed in his testimony that he helped craft the statement with Sondland that the White House wanted Ukraine to release announcing investigations into the 2016 election and Trump’s political rivals.

Yovanovitch: Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch revealed the extent to which she tried to get the State Department to defend her while Trump and Giuliani publicly attacked her. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would not bite. Instead, she revealed, the State Department contacted Fox News’ Sean Hannity to ask him to lay off her.

McKinley: Former Pompeo aide Michael McKinley told investigators he tried to get Pompeo to publicly support Yovanovitch multiple times, but to no avail — Pompeo rejected his efforts. McKinley also told lawmakers that the release of the White House’s transcript of the Ukraine call crushed morale within the State Department.

Things to keep an eye on: Trump told reporters on Friday that he has another Ukraine call transcript that he plans to release. Also, next week we will hear from Taylor, Kent and Yovanovitch in public hearings before the House impeachment committees.

Roger Stone’s trial illuminates: During Trump confidante Roger Stone’s trial for lying to the Congress this week, prosecutors revealed at least two phone conversations between Trump and Stone during the 2016 election that were not previously known. The conversations took place at key points in the WikiLeaks document dump/DNC email hacking scandal. Our Tierney Sneed was at the hearing. Also, on Friday, provocateur Steve Bannon showed up to the trial, claiming he was “forced” to testify. Bannon testified that he viewed Stone as the point of contact between the campaign and WikiLeaks.

Trump forced to pay up: The New York Supreme Court ordered Trump on Thursday to pay $2 million for improperly using charitable funds to help his 2016 presidential campaign. The ruling centers on a lawsuit originally filed by then-New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood in 2018 regarding the use of the funds raised at a 2016 Iowa fundraiser for veterans that ultimately went to the Trump Foundation.

Appeals court won’t block subpoena of Trump’s accounting firm: A federal appeals court upheld a Manhattan District Attorney’s subpoena of Trump’s accounting firm in its investigation that appears to be focused on Trump’s hush money payments to a keep women quiet about alleged affairs. The three judge panel on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not accept Trump’s claim that he is immune from state grand jury subpoenas.

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