Trump impeachment inquiry: Who testified before Congress and what they said

Posted at 2:06 AM, Nov 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-12 02:06:06-05

Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry in September, there has been a steady drumbeat of current and former administration and government officials who have come forward, either willingly or under subpoena, to testify in the rapidly developing probe.

At the heart of the inquiry is President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and whether the administration withheld nearly $400 million in aid and a White House summit between the two leaders in exchange for an investigation into the president’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter for his work on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Trump also allegedly wanted the aid withheld unless there was an investigation into a largely debunked theory that it was Ukrainians, not Russians, who tried to interfere in the 2016 election – on behalf of Hillary Clinton – and the Democrats' purported efforts on that front.

A number of questions surround the call, including Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s alleged role in lobbying the Ukrainian government through back channels, the involvement of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and why exactly U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was recalled.

Democrats say the testimony paints a picture of the president’s abuse of power to pursue politically motivated investigations while Republicans have raced to Trump’s defense, attacking the closed-door depositions as unfair and saying there was no evidence of a quid pro quo.

Here are the people who have testified so far and what they said:

Oct. 3, 2019: Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine

  • News of his resignation was reported less than a week before his testimony.
  • Disclosed text messages between him and other high-level U.S. diplomats.
  • One of those messages, sent by Bill Taylor on Sept. 9, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, said, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
  • U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland replied, “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.” Sondland later conceded that there was a quid pro quo.
  • Read the document.

Oct. 4, 2019: Michael Atkinson, intelligence community inspector general

  • Atkinson testified behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee, providing investigators information obtained in his efforts to corroborate the whistleblower complaint that sparked an impeachment investigation into President Trump.
  • He said on Sept. 30 that the complaint “appeared credible” and was “of urgent concern.”

Oct. 11, 2019: Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine

  • In a prepared statement, Yovanovitch testified she was told that President Donald Trump directly pressured the State Department to remove her from her post, despite being informed of no wrongdoing on her part.
  • According to a transcript from her deposition, she said she felt threatened when she learned that Trump said in a phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that she was “going to go through some things.”
  • Read the document.

Oct. 14, 2019: Fiona Hill, former Russia expert for the National Security Council

  • Described a July 10 White House meeting with Ukrainian officials in which Gordon Sondland, Trump’s pick for ambassador to the European Union, pressured Ukraine for a political investigation and insisted Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had agreed to the plan.
  • Following the meeting, Hill said John Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, told her to tell the president’s legal adviser “that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up.”
  • Read the document.

Oct. 15, 2019: George Kent, Deputy

  • Said he raised concerns to then-Vice President Joe Biden’s office about a conflict of interest presented by Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Burisma in 2015, but was ultimately rebuffed.
  • In a prepared statement, Kent said he “fully” shared Yovanovitch’s “incredulity” over her removal from her post “based, as best she could tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives at an especially challenging time in bilateral relations with a newly elected Ukrainian President.”
  • Testified that Rudy Giuliani carried out a “campaign of lies” to smear Yovanovitch and that Giuliani pushed Ukraine on Trump’s behalf to investigate Biden based on an unfounded theory about the country’s interference in the 2016 election.
  • Read the document.

Oct. 16, 2019: Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

  • In transcripts released by House investigators, McKinley said he was disturbed by a push to use U.S. diplomatic missions "to procure negative political information for domestic purposes," as well as a "failure" at the State Department to support the American diplomatic corps.
  • He testified that he asked Pompeo multiple times to show support for Yovanovitch, but Pompeo didn't respond. That directly contradicts what Pompeo told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” in October: "Not -- not -- not once -- not once, George, did Ambassador McKinley say something to me during that entire time period."
  • McKinley resigned less than a week before his deposition, in large part, he said because Pompeo didn't do enough to protect Yovanovitch.
  • Read the document.

Oct. 17, 2019: Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union

  • In his revised testimony, the Trump megadonor-turned-diplomat said that he personally delivered the message on Sept. 1 to a top Ukrainian official that U.S. military aid was contingent upon the country’s ability to launch an investigation that Trump wanted after he “refreshed” his recollection.
  • In his original opening statement, he said "inviting a foreign government to undertake investigations for the purpose of influencing an upcoming U.S. election would be wrong. Withholding foreign aid in order to pressure a foreign government to take such steps would be wrong. I did not and would not ever participate in such undertakings."
  • He initially told congressional investigators that he, Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry disagreed with Trump’s request for them to work with Giuliani, but said he felt he could not ignore a directive from the commander-in-chief.
  • Read the document.

Oct. 22, 2019: Bill Taylor, U.S. charge d’affaires for Ukraine

  • The top U.S. diplomat for Ukraine told Congress that "it was becoming clear" to him that a meeting between Trump and the Ukrainian President "was contingent upon the investigation of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 elections,” according to his opening statement.
  • About the transcript released by the White House of the July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukraine president, he said, "Although this was the first time I had seen the details of President Trump's July 25 call with President Zelenskyy, in which he mentioned Vice President Biden, I had come to understand well before then that ‘investigations' was a term that Ambassadors Volker and Sondland used to mean matters related to the 2016 elections, and to investigations of Burisma and the Bidens."
  • Taylor said it was his “clear understanding” that “everything” from the U.S., including a White House meeting with Trump, was contingent upon Ukraine launching an investigation.
  • Taylor testified that he believed the “irregular” diplomatic channel employed by Giuliani was used to benefit Trump.
  • Read the document.

Oct. 23, 2019: Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia

  • Cooper did not read an opening statement to lawmakers during her deposition, but fielded questions surrounding the Trump administration’s withholding of nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine.
  • House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called Cooper a "real professional who has come forward notwithstanding the obstacles," but did not comment on her testimony.
  • Cooper’s deposition was delayed by 5 hours when House Republicans stormed the secured hearing room where her deposition was taking place.

Oct. 26, 2019: Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of European and Eurasian affairs

  • Reeker, who appeared under subpoena, said he thought there was no credence to the attacks on Yovanovitch, a source with direct knowledge of his testimony told ABC News.
  • According to emails turned over by the State Department to its inspector general and obtained by ABC News, Reeker forwarded emails in March to Ulrich Brechbuhl, a top adviser for Pompeo, about attacks against Yovanovitch while she was still ambassador.
  • In an email to Brechbuhl, Reeker called the accusations against Yovanovitch a "fake narrative" that was "really ... without merit or validation."

Oct. 29, 2019: Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs for the National Security Council

  • The first current White House official to testify, Vindman, in his opening remarks, said he “did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen” and that he “was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine.”
  • Following Trump’s July 25 Ukraine call, Vindman -- who was listening to the call -- said he had “no doubt” that Trump was pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival, according to the transcript. He also said he reported his concerns to the National Security Council’s top lawyer because he was so “concerned.”
  • He said he reported concerns to White House legal counsel about Sondland’s comments to a top Ukrainian official two weeks before Trump’s phone call, in which Sondland "started to speak about Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the President, at which time Ambassador Bolton cut the meeting short,” according to the transcript.
  • Read the document.

Oct. 30, 2019: Christopher Anderson, former special adviser to Kurt Volker

  • Recalled being in a meeting with then-national security adviser John Bolton in which Bolton "cautioned that Mr. Giuliani was a key voice with the President on Ukraine which could be an obstacle to increased White House engagement," according to his prepared remarks.

Oct. 30, 2019: Catherine Croft, State Department Ukraine specialist

  • Appeared under subpoena and testified that during a meeting in July, “an [Office of Management and Budget] representative reported that the White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, had placed an informal hold on security assistance to Ukraine,” according to a prepared statement. This was done at the president’s direction, according to the statement.

Oct. 31, 2019: Tim Morrison, National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia

  • The second current White House official to face investigators (after Vindman), Morrison corroborated elements of earlier testimony from Taylor about the efforts to pressure Ukraine to open political investigations in exchange for military aid and a White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Zelenskiy.
  • "Ambassador Taylor and I had no reason to believe that the release of the security sector assistance might be conditioned on a public statement reopening the Burisma investigation until my ... conversation with Ambassador Sondland," Morrison told investigators, according to a copy of his opening remarks obtained by ABC News.
  • Morrison said the rough transcript of the Trump-Zelenskiy call "accurately and completely reflects the substance of the call," and that he was "not concerned that anything illegal was discussed."