Source: 2nd U.S. Official Heard Trump Call With Sondland

sondland call
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, center, arriving last month on Capitol Hill for an interview with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and House Committee on Oversight and Reform. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

A second U.S. embassy staffer in Kyiv overheard a key cellphone call between President Donald Trump and his ambassador to the European Union discussing the need for Ukrainian officials to pursue “investigations,” The Associated Press has learned.

The July 26 call between Trump and Gordon Sondland was first described during testimony Wednesday by William B. Taylor Jr., the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Taylor said one of his staffers overhead the call while Sondland was in a restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that triggered the House impeachment inquiry.

The second diplomatic staffer also at the table was Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer based in Kyiv. A person briefed on what Jayanti overheard spoke to AP on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter currently under investigation.

Trump on Wednesday said he did not recall the July 26 call.

“No, not at all, not even a little bit,” Trump said.

The staffer Taylor testified about is David Holmes, the political counselor at the embassy in Kyiv, according to an official familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Holmes is scheduled to testify Friday before House investigators in a closed session.

Taylor was one of the first witnesses called Wednesday during the impeachment inquiry’s initial open hearing. He testified that his staffer could hear Trump on the phone asking Sondland about “the investigations.”

The accounts of Holmes and Jayanti could tie Trump closer to efforts to hold up military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings.

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