NSC Aide Tim Morrison Corroborates Key Testimony In Trump Impeachment Inquiry, But Says He Didn’t Think It Was ‘Illegal’
Former top national security adviser to President Donald Trump, Tim Morrison, testified that he was told Trump withheld U.S. aid to Ukraine in an attempt to pressure their government to publicly announce a political investigation. His testimony corroborated what William Taylor, the U.S. envoy to Ukraine, told House impeachment investigators.
Taylor cited Morrison over a dozen times during his opening statement last week. He said Morrison told him that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine and refused a White House meeting with the Ukrainian president in an attempt to pressure it to open an investigation into Trump’s political rivals. In his eight-hour, closed-door testimony, Morrison confirmed Taylor’s account of those conversations.
However, in his prepared opening remarks, Morrison said Trump did not do anything “illegal,” but instead made a mistake trying to freeze military aid to Ukraine.
“I want to be clear, I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” Morrison said about the July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president. A whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump pressured the foreign leader to investigate his political rival during the phone conversation sparked the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
Morrison listened to the call from the Situation Room and reviewed the memo-version transcript the White House released.
“To the best of my recollection, the [Memorandum of Conversation] accurately and completely reflects the substance of the call,” he said.
On the issue of Trump insisting on an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, Morrison said he did not know aid was being withheld for this reason until he had a conversation with the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, on Sept. 1.
Morrison said Sondland told Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Andriy Yermak that the U.S. would release aid to Ukraine if the new prosecutor general would commit to investigating Burisma. He noted that this differed slightly from Taylor’s testimony, in which he said Trump sought a commitment from the Ukrainian president himself.
Burisma Holdings is a Ukraine-based gas company, on which Joe Biden‘s son, Hunter, sat on the board of. Trump has alleged that Biden used the power of the Vice Presidency to force the firing of Ukraine’s former top prosecutor and stop the investigation into Burisma.
While Biden did use U.S. aid as leverage to pressure his firing, the prosecutor was widely viewed as corrupt and many had called for his removal. The Burisma investigation had also already been dropped at that point.
Morrison concluded his testimony by announcing that he will be resigning from his position, but said there is no “connection between my testimony today and my impending departure.”
He added, “I am proud of what I have been able, in some small way, to help the Trump administration to accomplish.”
Democrats celebrated Morrison’s testimony as corroborating what they view as key evidence in the impeachment inquiry, while Republicans found the testimony to favor Trump.
“Thank you to Tim Morrison for your honesty,” tweeted Trump about his remark that nothing illegal had transpired.
But the Crooked Democrats don’t want people to know this! Thank you to Tim Morrison for your honesty. https://t.co/1AxrArFJ6c
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2019
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) wrote that “his testimony was devastating to the false narrative that anything illegal or improper occurred on the President’s July 25 call.”
Morrison’s testimony comes just as the House passed a resolution Thursday to formalize the rules and procedures for the impeachment inquiry.