5 Surprises From Donald Trump's Political Trial Investigation

Washington (CNN) – The political trial investigation against President Donald Trump has had it all: contentious public hearings, unexpected bombs and a good deal of conspiracy theories.

House Democrats have spent the past two months interviewing witnesses and preparing their case against Trump. The Chamber's Intelligence Commission is writing a report that will detail the accusations that could become formal articles of political trial next month.

Before the next phase begins, here is a look at five surprising moments of the political trial investigation that captivated Washington and changed the course of the investigation.

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Crucial call in a Kiev restaurant

During the first public hearing, US diplomat Bill Taylor made an unexpected announcement: he recently learned that his assistant heard a phone call in which Trump spoke about Ukraine possibly announcing investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden. Not only that, but the presidential phone call was held in public, in a crowded restaurant in Kiev.

The revelation initiated a frenzy. Journalists rushed to discover the identity of the assistant. The Democrats hastily scheduled a closed-door deposition. The assistant, David Holmes, finally told his story to the public at a political trial hearing last week, explaining that he heard parts of a call in July between Trump and the US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland.

LOOK: The call David Holmes heard: Trump asked Sondland about “the investigation”

Under oath, Holmes told lawmakers: "Ambassador Sondland said yes, he was in Ukraine and continued saying that President (Ukrainian) Zelensky cites" love your ass. " Then I heard President Trump ask, so he is going to do the investigation? Ambassador Sondland responded that he will, and added that President Zelensky will do everything you ask. ”

After the call ended, Sondland told Holmes that Trump "doesn't mind a m ***** Ukraine" and that he only cares about "important things," like Biden's investigation, according to the statement Holmes

The fascinating testimony tied Trump even more to the effort to squeeze Zelensky and damage Biden's campaign. It was a surprising turn, because few had heard of Holmes when the investigation began. At the end of the public hearings, his face was glued on all national television.

Witness intimidation in real time?

Trump scored a goal in his own goal during one of the hearings thanks to his own tweet.

On the witness stand was Marie Yovanovitch, the career diplomat who was a US ambassador to Ukraine until her dismissal earlier this year. Trump withdrew her from the post amid a campaign in the shadow of months against her, full of lies, ridden by some of Trump's closest allies.

Yovanovitch was there to tell the story of his impeachment, which is an important part of the Ukrainian scandal, but it has always been a secondary point in the plot of Trump's potentially impeccable dealings with Zelensky. But things got off the rails after Trump got involved with a tweet, attacking Yovanovitch and blaming her for the problems in the countries where he served.

Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.

– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019

"Well, it's very intimidating," Yovanovitch said during the hearing about Trump's tweet. "I can't talk about what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is intimidating."

The text of the tweet could hardly justify a criminal charge for tampering with witnesses, but the Democrats pounced anyway. Some of the leading Democrats suggested that they could include Trump's attacks on Yovanovich in an article of political trial for obstructing Congress procedures.

Trump's ally involved almost ‘everyone’

A lot can change between a closed-door deposition and a nationally televised audience. That was true for Sondland, the neophyte diplomat who donated $ 1 million for Trump's inauguration.

Sondland was initially seen by many as a Trump-friendly witness who could stick to the party line, even though he defied the orders of the State Department and presented himself for a deposition.

But things began to crumble quite quickly, and Sondland was forced to review his testimony with a sworn statement that said he told a Ukrainian official that they probably would not get frozen US military aid until Zelensky announced the "investigations." , a reference to the research on Biden.

Then, when it was time to testify in public, Sondland really turned up the heat. He confirmed, in explicit terms, that there was indeed a "quid pro quo" in process, where an invitation from the White House was held until Zelensky announced investigations into Trump's political rivals.

READ: Political trial: key diplomat changes testimony and admits quid pro quo with Ukraine

"Everyone was informed," Sondland said repeatedly, describing how he discussed the plan with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House interim cabinet chief Mick Mulvaney. The three senior officials have disputed parts of Sondland's sworn testimony.

All these senior officials ignored the subpoenas, so it is unlikely that they will ever be forced to take these negatives under oath. But Sondland's testimony put them on the bench more than ever.

Ukraine knew early about freezing aid

One of the less observed political trial hearings brought a bomb of its own.

The high Pentagon official, Laura Cooper, took an oath after Sondland's exciting appearance at the Capitol, which dominated the day. But Cooper provided new information that Ukrainian officials asked his staff about stalled military aid in July.

The revelation opened a hole in the defense of the Republican Party that Ukraine could not have been pressured by Trump because they only learned of the news reports at the end of August about frozen assistance.

It was not entirely clear from Cooper's testimony how much the Ukrainians knew. But Cooper said his staff received emails from a Ukrainian official on the day of Trump's call with Zelensky, and that they wanted to know, "What is happening with Ukraine's security assistance?", According to what she recalled.

The Pentagon has refused to hand over documents to the House committees, so political trial investigators and the public may not see the underlying materials in the short term.

READ: Investigation of political judgment and existence of the informant: What did Trump know and since when?

Budget officials resigned amid frustration

The last person to make a private statement, budget official Mark Sandy, gave lawmakers a new packet of information. But strangely, he has not been called to testify in an open audience.

Sandy, a senior career officer at the Office of Administration and Budget (OMB), described how one of Trump's appointed politicians assumed responsibility for the Ukrainian portfolio once he began raising concerns. Until that time, Sandy had officially signed the paperwork imposing the delays.

Not only that, but Sandy also testified that he was part of a group of career officials who sent a memo recommending that the freeze be lifted because it was damaging US national security. UU. This helps Democrats argue that Trump undermines American interests for personal gain.

He also testified that two WBO officials resigned amid the turmoil over Ukrainian financing, which included concerns not addressed that the retention could have been illegal. Sandy could not say with certainty that the two officials resigned solely for the Ukrainian affair, but said both officials were frustrated by the situation and made their disagreements known before resigning.

The officials were not named in the transcript of Sandy's deposition. A senior Trump administration official questioned his testimony and said no one resigned due to withholding aid.


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