Former NSC Aide Didn't Think Quid Pro Quo on Ukraine Call Was Illegal

Tim Morrison, who just quit his post, testified for more than 8 hours
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 31, 2019 5:11 PM CDT
Ex-Aide on Ukraine Call Saw It as Quid Pro Quo, but Not Illegal
Tim Morrison arrives for closed-door testimony Thursday on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A former top White House official confirmed Thursday that military aid to Ukraine was held up by President Trump's demand for the ally to investigate Democrats and Joe Biden, but he testified he saw nothing illegal about the quid pro quo at the center of the impeachment inquiry. Tim Morrison, who stepped down from the National Security Council the day before testifying, was the first White House political appointee to appear and spent more than eight hours behind closed doors with House investigators. "I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed," Morrison said in prepared remarks obtained by the AP. But he confirmed what diplomat William Taylor told investigators in earlier testimony—that Morrison had a "sinking feeling" when he learned that Trump was asking the Ukrainians to publicly announce an investigation of Biden and the Democrats, even as the president denied it was a quid pro quo. "I can confirm," Morrison wrote, that the substance of the diplomat's testimony "is accurate."

Morrison told investigators that he and Taylor did not realize the money was being withheld for the investigation of Burisma, the gas company he soon learned was connected to Biden, until a conversation with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland in September. "Taylor and I had no reason to believe that the release of the security sector assistance might be conditioned on a public statement reopening the Burisma investigation until my Sept. 1, 2019, conversation with Ambassador Sondland," Morrison testified. Morrison was the National Security Council's top adviser for Russian and European affairs. He was among those listening to Trump's July 25 call with the Ukrainian leader that sparked a whistleblower's complaint. He said he asked NSC lawyers to review the call because he had three concerns if word of the discussion leaked: how it would play out in polarized Washington, how it would affect bipartisan support in Congress for Ukraine and how it would impact US-Ukraine relations.

(More Trump impeachment stories.)

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