Witnesses are shedding light on President Donald Trump's order earlier this year to halt military aid to Ukraine, a US ally, in the impeachment inquiry against him.
Two transcripts that House impeachment investigators released on Saturday show depositions from Jennifer Williams, a special adviser on Europe and Russia to Vice President Mike Pence, and Timothy Morrison, a National Security Council official.
Williams testified that Trump's efforts to persuade Ukraine to examine his political rivals were “unusual and inappropriate,” and “shed some light on possible other motivations.”
Morrison said he learned from Gordon Sondland, the American envoy to the European Union, that US aid to Ukraine would be doled out on the condition that former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running for US president, and his son, Hunter Biden, would be investigated.
Meanwhile Mark Sandy, a longtime Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official, also testified Saturday that the White House's decision to freeze aid was “highly irregular,” the Washington Post's Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Colby Itkowitz, and Erica Werner reported.
Sandy was the first OMB employee to testify in the House impeachment inquiry, according to the Post, which also reported that OMB was unable to provide “an explanation for the delay.”
Citing two people familiar with his testimony who spoke anonymously, the Post said Sandy was instructed to sign the first of “several apportionment letters in which budget officials formally instituted the freeze on funds.”
Taken together, the witnesses' testimonies appeared to further Democrats' belief that Trump's move to freeze aid to Ukraine was politically motivated. Public hearings in the impeachment inquiry that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initiated in September began last week with diplomats' dramatic testimonies.
This week, hearings from witnesses including Williams and Morrison, along with Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine expert for the National Security Council, and Kurt Volker, the former US special envoy to Ukraine, are scheduled.