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The White House on Tuesday downplayed the significance of transcripts from closed-door testimony released by House Democrats as part of their impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Gordon Sondland, America’s ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine, appeared last month before a House panel.
Sondland has said he presumed there was a connection between the Trump administration’s delay in sending military aid to Ukraine and Trump’s desire for Ukraine to make a public statement against corruption, but admitted he was never directly told such a link exists, The Hill reported.
That facet of Sondland’s comments was pounced upon by White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham in a statement.
“Ambassador Sondland squarely states that he ‘did not know, [and still does not know] when, why or by whom the aid was suspended,’” Grisham said. “He also said he ‘presumed’ there was a link to the aid — but cannot identify any solid source for that assumption.”
“Both transcripts released today show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought,” she said in the statement.
She said that just because the establishment media wants Sondland’s comments to fit into its narrative does not mean they actually do.
WH’s Grisham on Sondland: He also said he “presumed” there was a link to the aid—but cannot identify any solid source for that assumption..no amount of salacious media-biased headlines..change the fact that the President has done nothing wrong.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) November 5, 2019
“No amount of salacious media-biased headlines, which are clearly designed to influence the narrative, change the fact that the President has done nothing wrong,” she said.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Democrats’ belabored efforts to impute wrongdoing into Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are nothing more than politics.
Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the call.
A White House transcript of the call has shown military aid was not discussed by the two leaders. Trump did ask Zelensky to investigate issues related to Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm.
That firm had been under scrutiny in Ukraine before Hunter’s father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, pressured Ukraine to fire the prosecutor who had investigated the energy company.
Graham called the release of the latest transcripts a “bunch of B.S.,” according to Fox News, adding that he has “written the whole process off.”
Graham belittled Sondland’s claim that there was a connection between aid and a public comment about corruption as “his opinion,” CBS News reported.
“All I can say is that the president of Ukraine didn’t believe that. The president of the United States on the phone call didn’t say that … if the person being threatened with withholding the aid, if they say, ‘I wasn’t threatened,’ I don’t care what any bureaucrat says,” the South Carolina Republican told reporters.
Graham said the entire process is fatally flawed.
“This, to me, is a manufactured issue created by some unknown whistleblower who needs to be known, and the phone call is the basis for the impeachment allegation,” Graham said. “I don’t think the president did anything wrong.”
He also expressed his belief that House Democrats are misusing the whistleblower complaint that began the Ukraine controversy.
“You shouldn’t have an impeachment inquiry that was started by an anonymous allegation,” Graham said. “Whistleblower statutes are designed to protect people from being fired, who report misconduct or corruption. They’re not designed to shield the person from being challenged in terms of accusation. So the whistleblower statutes [are] being used unfairly.”