U.S. intelligence inspector general to testify at Trump-Ukraine hearing
In a fresh new blow to President Donald Trump, Inspector General of the US intelligence community Michael Atkinson is expected to testify before lawmakers on his review of the whistleblower complaint that has led to investigations into Trump who is revealed to have sought personal political gain by urging Ukraine to probe Democratic opponent Joe Biden.
House intelligence committee’s Democratic chairman, Adam Schiff has confirmed that Atkinson would appear, but the committee has been extremely tight-lipped about any details, refusing to disclose the time of his appearance. Atkinson determined the whistleblower complaint raised issues of “urgent concern.”
Just yesterday, Trump’s special representative for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker had testified before members of three separate House committees. He also turned over text messages between himself, diplomats in Kyiv and others involved with Ukraine, including Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who played a major part in the administration’s dealing with Kyiv.
In multiple pages of messages released by the Democratic leaders of the committees, US diplomats discussed setting up the July 25 telephone call between Trump and President Volovdymyr Zelensky that has been central to the impeachment investigation into whether Trump should be removed from office.
According to one of the texts, a top US diplomat in Ukraine said he thought it was “crazy” to withhold military aid for the country as it confronted Russian aggression. In the text sent on September 9, William Taylor, the U.S. chargé d’affaires in the Ukrainian capital, discussed the importance of the message Washington was sending to Kyiv. It was sent after news broke that the Trump administration had been withholding military assistance for Kyiv.
“With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us,” Taylor said in the message sent to Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the European Union. “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” Taylor has been the top U.S. diplomat in Kyiv since the Trump administration ordered then-ambassador Marie Yovanovitch to return to Washington before the end of her term.