WASHINGTON – Two diametrically opposed figures in President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine – Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman – are among the witnesses scheduled in week nine of the House impeachment inquiry.
Vindman, who listened to Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and reported his concerns about Trump demanding investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee.
Sondland, who worked with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, urging Ukraine to pursue investigations through back-channel talks is scheduled Wednesday.
Each of the hearings Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will begin at 9 a.m. Here is what’s coming this week:
Tuesday: Vindman, Williams, Volker, Morrison testify
Vindman, a Ukraine expert at the National Security Council, reported his concerns about the July 25 call to the council’s top lawyer.
“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Vindman said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where the gain would be for the president in investigating the son of a political opponent.”
Also on Tuesday morning, the committee will hear from Jennifer Williams, a National Security Council aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and who listened to the July 25 call.
On Tuesday afternoon, the panel will hear from Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia.
Republicans had asked to hear from Volker and Morrison to compare their testimony to Vindman’s. Volker in his closed-door testimony described Trump’s longstanding presumption of corruption in Ukraine. The special envoy also said “no” when asked if Trump asked Ukraine to manufacture dirt on the Bidens, in contrast to looking for evidence of whether Burisma tried to influence the 2016 U.S. election.
“Even if he’s asking them to investigate the Bidens, it is to find out what facts there may be rather than to manufacture something,” Volker said.
Wednesday: Sondland, Cooper, Hale
Sondland has become a key figure because he is an ally of Trump, but also testified about demands for investigations that were made of Ukraine while military aid was withheld.
Sondland told the inquiry Oct. 17 that Trump assured him repeatedly that there was no quid pro quo for Ukraine to begin investigations in exchange for military aid. But he amended his sworn testimony Nov. 4 to say that he met with Ukrainians in Warsaw Sept. 1 and told them that the resumption of aid depended upon an anti-corruption announcement.
Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified Nov. 13 that an aide overheard Sondland chatting by phone from Kyiv with Trump on July 26. Sondland told the aide after the call that Trump cared more about investigating the Bidens than about Ukraine policy, Taylor said.
David Holmes, the State Department official who overheard the conversation between Trump and Sondland, told lawmakers during a closed-door deposition Friday that the ambassador assured the president that Zelensky “loves your ass.”
Holmes testified, “I then heard President Trump ask, ‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation?’ Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it,’ adding that President Zelensky will do ‘anything you ask him to.’ “
On Wednesday afternoon, the committee will hear from Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs, and David Hale, the undersecretary of State for political affairs.
Thursday: Fiona Hill, David Holmes
Fiona Hill, the former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia, described former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s opposition to demanding investigations from Ukraine.
After Yovanovitch’s recall, Hill said Sondland told her that he had authority from the president to oversee Ukraine policy. At a White House meeting with Ukraine officials July 10, Sondland said there was an agreement for Trump to meet with Zelensky if Ukraine began investigations.
“Ambassador Sondland blurted out: ‘Well, we have an agreement with the Chief of Staff (Mick Mulvaney) for a meeting if these investigations in the energy sector start,” Hill said.
Bolton abruptly halted the meeting and told Hill to report it to council lawyers. “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton told Hill. She also testified that Bolton was “pained,” and called Giuliani a “hand grenade that is going to blow everybody up.”
Trump has insisted he was justified in urging the investigation of corruption in Ukraine. Congressional Republicans contend the president has the right to set foreign policy.
Hill also suggested Sondland posed a major “counterintelligence risk” and he seemed either unwilling or unable to follow normal diplomatic protocols. “Ambassador Sondland would frequently give people my personal cell phone to call up and demand meetings” with her or with Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, Hill told lawmakers. “We had all kinds of officials from Europe … literally appearing at the gates of the White House, calling on our personal phones, which are actually in lock boxes.”
Also on Thursday, the committee will hear from Holmes, a political counselor at the U.S Embassy in Kyiv, who overheard a key phone conversation between Sondland and Trump on July 26.
Holmes told lawmakers during a closed-door deposition Friday that he heard Trump ask: “‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation?’ Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it,’ adding that President Zelensky will do ‘anything you ask him to.'”