Friday 6 December 2019

Trump's Ukraine call heard in restaurant

President asked ambassador: 'So, he's gonna do the investigation?

Donald and Melania Trump
Donald and Melania Trump

Nick Allen

A US diplomat has told Congress he overheard Donald Trump on a phone call asking about getting the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

Mr Trump was speaking so loudly that the person he was talking to had to hold the phone away from their ear, allowing those nearby to hear what was being said.

The call was described by David Holmes, the political counsellor at the US embassy in Kiev, in evidence given behind closed doors to the impeachment inquiry.

Mr Holmes said he was having lunch with Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, and two others, on the terrace of a restaurant in Kiev on July 26. It was the day after Mr Trump had talked by phone to Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, pressing him to investigate Mr Biden.

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A whistleblower's complaint about that call led to the impeachment inquiry.

During the lunch, Mr Sondland used his mobile phone to place the call to Mr Trump. Mr Holmes said: "Sondland told Trump that Zelensky 'loves your ass'.

"I then heard President Trump ask, 'So, he's gonna do the investigation?' Ambassador Sondland replied that 'He's gonna do it', adding that President Zelensky will do 'anything you ask him to'."

Describing how he could hear the telephone conversation, Mr Holmes said: "While Ambassador Sondland's phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the president's voice through the earpiece of the phone.

"The president's voice was very loud and recognisable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume."

Mr Holmes said that, after the call, Mr Sondland said the president was in a "bad mood". He asked Mr Sondland "if it was true the president did not 'give a s**t about Ukraine'".

According to Mr Holmes, Mr Sondland replied that the president cared only about "big stuff that benefits the president, like the Biden investigation".

Gerry Connolly, a Democrat congressman who heard the evidence, said: "Mr Holmes heard this conversation and recognised the president's voice loud and clear because he was so loud on the phone."

The call became public on Wednesday when William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, gave evidence.

©Telegraph

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