A U.S. diplomat who overheard a telephone call between President Donald Trump and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified Friday that the president asked Sondland whether Ukraine was going to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, according to news reports Friday.
Sondland then told President Trump that Kyiv was going to conduct an investigation of the Bidens, the diplomat, David Holmes, told the House Intelligence Committee in closed-door testimony, CNN reports.
Holmes, the counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, testified that he was able to overhear the July 26 call because Sondland held the telephone away from his ear due to how loud Trump was talking, according to a leaked transcript of his testimony read on the air by CNN.
President Trump called Sondland while he was at dinner in a Ukrainian restaurant — and Holmes was among three others at the table, according to the report.
Sondland's phone was not on speaker mode, Holmes testified in the opening statement cited by CNN.
William Taylor, the U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified in an open committee hearing Wednesday that Holmes, whom he only identified as a member of his staff, had first told him of the July 26 Trump-Sondland call last week.
That call came a day after Trump talked with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which he suggested investigations of the Bidens and of allegations that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Sondland was in Kyiv for meetings with top Ukrainian officials at the time of his call with President Trump.
According to the transcript of Holmes' opening statement read by CNN, Sondland told President Trump that Zelenskiy would do "anything you ask him to," before confirming that Ukraine was going to "do the investigation."
"Sondland told the that Zelenskiy 'loves your a**,'" Holmes told House committee members in his opening statement, CNN reported. "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 Zelenskiy will do 'anything you ask him to.'"
Holmes then told the House panel, according to CNN: "While Ambassador Sondland's phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the president’s voice through the earpiece of the phone.
"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.
"Even though I did not take notes of those statements, I have a clear recollection that these statements were made," Holmes testified.
Holmes also confirmed Taylor's Wednesday testimony about President Trump's thoughts on Ukraine, saying he asked Sondland that "if it was true that the president did not 'give a s*** about Ukraine.'"
He testified that Sondland responded Trump only cares about "big stuff."
Holmes then said in the statement that when he suggested that the Ukraine war was big, Sondland responded that "'big stuff' meant those things that benefit the president, like the Biden investigation that [Trump personal attorney Rudy] Giuliani was pushing."
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