State Department staffer David Holmes testified Thursday he was displeased with President Donald Trump’s policy toward Ukraine.
Holmes specified he was not on the July 25th call with Russian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but he was alarmed Trump ignored the “interagency” agenda set by Ukraine.
“Upon reading the transcript, I was deeply disappointed to see that the President raised none of what I understood to be our
interagency agreed-upon foreign policy priorities in Ukraine and instead raised the Biden/Burisma investigation,” he said, during his opening statement at the public impeachment hearing in the House Intelligence Committee.
Holmes first joined the State Department under former President George W. Bush and also worked in former President Barack Obama’s administration before joining his post in Ukraine under President Trump.
In his opening testimony, Holmes expressed frustration that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland participated in Ukrainian affairs along with the “three amigos” that included Energy Secretary Rick Perry and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
While Ambassador Sondland’s mandate as Ambassador accredited to the European Union did not cover individual member states, let alone non-member countries like Ukraine, he made clear that he had direct and frequent access to President Trump and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and portrayed himself as the conduit to the President and Mr. Mulvaney for the group.
He also complained he was kept out of meetings that Perry and Sondland had with Ukrainian officials, including one with President Zolynsky’s top aides.
“I explained to Mr. Yermak’s assistant that I was supposed to join the meeting as the Embassy’s representative and strongly urged her to let me in, but she told me that Ambassador Sondland and Mr. Yermak had insisted that the meeting be one-on-one, with no note-taker,” Holmes recalled.
Holmes also testified he overheard Sondland on a call with Trump at a restaurant in Kyiv after the EU ambassador bought the table a bottle of wine to share.
Holmes detailed that call where he recalled Sonldand saying President Zelensky “loves your ass” and was willing to commit to the investigations, but that he did not take notes of what happened.
He admitted he only recalled details of the call when senior officials lacked “first-hand” information about the president’s views on Ukraine, and volunteered the information afterward.
I came to realize I had first-hand knowledge regarding certain events on July 26 that had not otherwise been reported, and that those events potentially bore on the question of whether the President did, in fact, have knowledge that those senior officials were using the levers of our diplomatic power to induce the new Ukrainian President to announce the opening of a criminal investigation against President Trump’s political opponent. It is at that point that I made the observation to Ambassador Taylor that the incident I had witnessed on July 26 had acquired greater significance