The phone call between US President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart was “inappropriate,” a top national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence has told House impeachment investigators.
According to a whistleblower, during the July 25 call, Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had served as a director for Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
Democrats in the House, who say Trump was engaged in “bribery” and “extortion,” abusing his office for personal political gain, launched an impeachment inquiry against Trump in September.
Jennifer Williams, who serves as Pence’s special adviser for Europe and Russia, has testified that Trump’s insistence that Ukraine carry out politically sensitive investigations “struck me as unusual and inappropriate.”
“I found the specific references to be — to be more specific to the president in nature, to his personal political agenda, as opposed to a broader … foreign policy objective of the United States,” Williams said, according to a transcript of her closed-door deposition released Saturday.
“I guess, for me, it shed some light on possible other motivations behind a security assistance hold.”
Meanwhile, Tim Morrison, a former White House aide with the National Security Council focusing on Europe and Russia policy, has also told lawmakers he was concerned about Trump’s remarks during the call.
“I was not comfortable with any idea that President Zelenskiy should allow himself to be involved in our politics,” said Morrison, according to a transcript released by the House.
Williams and Morrison are both slated to testify publicly next week.
Trump has complained that the Democratic-launched impeachment looming over his presidency was “unfair” and "very hard on my family."
Democratic leaders have described the Ukraine scandal entangling Trump as a big deal in comparison to the Watergate scandal which led to the resignation of Richard Nixon as the 37th US president.
"What Trump did in the Ukraine scandal "make[s] what Nixon did look almost small,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.