A former top national security adviser to President Trump told a secret impeachment panel that he believed nothing improper occurred during a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelensky, according to a transcript released over the weekend.
NSC official Tim Morrison, who was on that phone call, expressed this narrative-killing opinion to the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee last month - which would have undermined recent public testimony by several US officials who said that President Trump abused his office when he asked Zelensky to investigate former VP Joe Biden and matters related to the 2016 US election.
That said, Morrison also testified that US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, was involved in an effort to encourage Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden - though he could not say whether Trump was involved in those efforts.
He was uncertain of Trump’s involvement in Sondland’s efforts. “I’m still not completely certain that this was coming from the President,” Morrison testified to House Democrats. “I’m only getting this from Ambassador Sondland.”
During a closed-door deposition as part of the House impeachment inquiry, Morrison was asked, “In your view, there was nothing improper that occurred during the call?”
“Correct,” he answered as he was testifying under oath. -Epoch Times
Morrison replaced former NSC official Fiona Hill, who resigned from her position on July 19, days before the infamous Trump-Zelensky call. He says that the word "Burisma" never came up during that call, referring to the Ukrainian natural gas company which employed Hunter Biden on its board while Joe Biden used his position as Vice President to have a prosecutor fired who was investigating the company.
Trump asked Zelensky to investigate this, as well as allegations that Ukraine was involved with the hacked DNC server as well as the only firm allowed to look at it, Crowdstrike.
Morrison also testified that the Trump administration withheld foreign aid from Ukraine due to Trump's general skepticism toward foreign aid, and a "concern that Ukrainians were not paying their fair share, as well as concerns [that] our aid would be misused because of the view that Ukraine has a significant corruption problem."
Morrison was asked more about the phone call.
“You were on the call. Do you remember whether the name Burisma came up on the call?” “No, I don’t believe it did,” he said.
The answer is significant, as a junior NSC official, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, testified to the House Intelligence Committee that Zelensky brought up the word “Burisma.” However, Morrison said that he has the “final clearing authority” on the July 25 call transcript.
“Do you remember whether anyone suggested edits adding the word Burisma to the [memorandum of conversation]?” Morrison was asked. “I do not,” he responded. Vindman testified that he suggested to edit in the word “Burisma.”
But when asked about Vindman’s suggestions, Morrison said he approved all of them.
“Had I recalled or had it in my notes that was mentioned, yes, I would have agreed to the edit,” he said of the word “Burisma.” -Epoch Times
Morrison also told Congressional investigators that he questioned Vindman's judgement and that other NSC officials shared those concerns.
"I had concerns about Lieutenant Colonel Vindman’s judgment. Among the discussions I had with Dr. Hill in the transition [period] was our team, my team, its strengths and its weaknesses. And Fiona and others had raised concerns about Alex’s judgment," he recalled.
"I had concerns that he did not exercise appropriate judgment as to whom he would say what."
When asked about rumors that Vindman might be leaking information to the press, Morrison said "It was brought to my attention that some had—some of my personnel had concerns that he did [have access to things he was not supposed to see]."