- The Washington Times - Monday, November 18, 2019

House Democrats added State Department aide David Holmes to the list of witnesses testifying this week in impeachment hearings against President Trump.

Mr. Holmes, who claims to have overheard a phone call in which Mr. Trump voiced his preoccupation with political rival Joseph R. Biden, will testify Thursday, said a congressional staffer with the impeachment inquiry.

He will appear alongside Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council official who in closed-door testimony to the inquiry said top officials linked U.S. military aid to requests for a Biden investigation.

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Mr. Holmes is an aide to William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. Mr. Holmes said he was in a restaurant with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and overheard a phone call between Mr. Sondland and Mr. Trump.

According to his prepared opening statement for a closed-door interview last week with the inquiry, he heard Mr. Trump inquire about whether Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky would launch an investigation into Mr. Biden and his son Hunter.

He said he could hear Mr. Trump say, “So, he’s going to do the investigation?”

Mr. Sondland responded that Mr. Zelensky “loves your a—” and would do “anything you ask him to.”

House Democrats view Mr. Holmes’ testimony as key evidence that Mr. Trump’s policies in Ukraine were completely self-serving.

The restaurant phone call occurred a day after Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Mr. Zelensky that set off the impeachment inquiry.

Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Zelensky for a “favor” in investigating Mr. Biden and other corruption allegations. A whistleblower believed to be a CIA official assigned to the White House then accused the president of abusing his power for personal gain, including withholding U.S. military aid from Ukraine to force the investigation.

A rough transcript of the call did not show a quid pro quo with the investigation request, but Democrats argue the threat was understood and part of an ongoing pressure campaign of “shadow” foreign policy conducted by Mr. Trump’s private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The testimony provided so far has largely centered on people’s opinions about what the president was doing when pressing for an investigation.

Mr. Trump wanted an investigation into allegations of corruption involving Mr. Biden, a former vice president and a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

His son Hunter got a high-paying job on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company, while his father was the point man for Obama White House policy in the country, which is notorious for corruption, especially in the energy industry.

Mr. Trump also wanted Kyiv to look into a Ukraine meddling in the U.S. 2016 presidential election.

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