Although some of the most high-profile developments in the impeachment inquiry this past week centered on the public hearings that Democratic investigators held, impeachment investigators also continued to receive private testimony. On Friday, State Department official David Holmes revealed firsthand knowledge of President Donald Trump’s personal involvement in the plot to get Ukraine to produce dirt on the Bidens that has sparked the impeachment inquiry. Holmes was right there when Trump donor turned E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland spoke to Trump on the phone and the president asked if Ukraine would pursue the desired investigations. Sondland replied in the affirmative, according to Holmes, confirming this past week’s public testimony from top Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor.
Discussing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky just a day after he and Trump had spoken on the phone, Holmes’ opening statement reads, in part:
‘Sondland told Trump that Zelensky ‘loves your ass.’ I then heard President Trump ask, ‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation?’ Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it,’ adding that President Zelensky will do ‘anything you ask him to.’.. While Ambassador Sondland’s phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the President’s voice through the earpiece of the phone. The President’s voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume… Even though I did not take notes of those statements, I have a clear recollection that these statements were made.’
That’s pretty straightforward. In reality, how do you get around someone’s firsthand account involving the president of the United States?
Although there’s already been a large amount of evidence in support of initial Ukraine plot revelations like those contained in a whistleblower complaint, Republicans including Trump himself had complained that the allegations were just “hearsay.” Holmes’ testimony isn’t hearsay according to any reasonable understanding of the concept.
In a particularly memorable moment exemplifying Republican desperation, prominent Trump shill Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) insisted to witness Bill Taylor that his basic senses — meaning his firsthand accounts of what he saw and heard — are unreliable.
‘That’s the point! What you heard did not happen. It didn’t happen.’
As Virginia Democratic Congressman Don Beyer noted:
‘The Republican defense of Trump is now telling eye witnesses “what you heard didn’t happen.”‘
The Republican defense of Trump is now telling eye witnesses “what you heard didn’t happen.” https://t.co/moRugVDRle
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) November 13, 2019
Besides the firsthand testimony surrounding that July phone conversation between Trump and Sondland that Holmes revealed, he also shared that separately, the E.U. Ambassador told him that Trump just cares about “‘Big stuff’ that benefits the President, like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing” when it comes to Ukraine.
At one point, the Trump cronies behind the push for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens had been pushing for Ukraine’s President Zelensky to go on CNN to announce his intent to look into the baseless allegations against the Bidens. That never happened, and as Trump allies have pointed out, aid that was held up while Trump pursued his dirt did eventually get released — but very importantly, that only happened after the initial plot-revealing whistleblower complaint came out.