State Department Aide Added to Public Impeachment Hearings

WASHINGTON (CN) – Kicking off its second week of public hearings in the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, the House Intelligence Committee on Monday added to its witness list a State Department official whose private testimony last week Democrats called “damning.”

David Holmes, a career diplomat and the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukaine, leaves Capitol Hill on Friday after a deposition before congressional lawmakers as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

David Holmes, who is an official at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, told lawmakers in closed-door testimony Friday that he overheard a phone call between U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Trump in which the president asked if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “gonna do the investigation.”

Holmes’ role in the impeachment inquiry began on Wednesday, when Bill Taylor, a top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified that a staffer had overheard the call. Holmes went before House impeachment investigators at the end of last week and will now testify in public on Thursday alongside National Security Council official Fiona Hill.

The impeachment inquiry has revolved around a July 25 phone call between Zelensky and Trump in which Trump raised investigations into the 2016 U.S. presidential election and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The younger Biden sat on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.

Witnesses have testified that the investigations were the focus of an unofficial channel of diplomatic pressure in Ukraine that was trying to push the new government in the country to open the investigations at the same time the Trump administration was withholding a $400 million military aid package.

Multiple witnesses have said they understood the release of the aid package and a meeting at the White House were conditioned on the public announcement of the investigations.

According to a copy of Holmes’ opening statement first obtained by CNN, he overheard Sondland telling Trump that Zelensky “loves your ass” and that he would do “anything you ask him to do.” Sondland is set to testify publicly on Wednesday morning.

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