Pence aide said Trump's Ukraine phone call was inappropriate
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The phone call between US President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart at the centre of Congress’ impeachment investigation was “inappropriate,” a foreign policy aide to Vice President Mike Pence told lawmakers, according to a transcript released. Jennifer Williams, who was listening to the call on July 25, testified that Trump’s insistence that Ukraine carry out politically sensitive investigations “struck me as unusual and inappropriate.” The House of Representatives on Saturday also released a transcript of an earlier closed-door deposition by Tim Morrison, a former White House aide with the National Security Council focusing on Europe and Russia policy. As did Williams, Morrison told lawmakers he had concerns about Trump’s remarks to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Williams and Morrison are scheduled to testify publicly next week. “I was not comfortable with any idea that President Zelenskiy should allow himself to be involved in our politics,” said Morrison, who also was on the call. Trump’s call is at the heart of the Democratic-led inquiry into whether the Republican president misused US foreign policy to undermine former US Vice President Joe Biden, one of his potential opponents in the 2020 election. Morrison declined to say he thought the call was illegal or improper, stressing instead that he thought it would leak, and damage relations with Ukraine. In a disclosure that drew the most attention in the first public hearing last week, acting ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor pointed to Trump’s keen interest in getting the eastern European ally to investigate Biden and reiterated his understanding that $391 million in US security aid was withheld from Kiev unless it cooperated. Morrison said he had reviewed Taylor’s testimony and did not dispute it on any significant points. House investigators on Saturday also heard closed-door testimony from a White House budget official about the holdup of military aid to Ukraine. Mark Sandy, a career official of the Office of Management and Budget, is the first person from OMB to testify before the inquiry after three political appointees defied congressional subpoenas to appear.