WASHINGTON (AP) — A former top White House official testified Thursday in the House impeachment inquiry that he saw nothing illegal in President Donald Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president that is at the center of the Democrat-led investigation.
Tim Morrison, who stepped down from the National Security Council the day before his appearance, is the first White House political appointee to testify and could be central to the effort to remove Trump from office.
“I want to be clear, I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” Morrison said.
He largely confirmed much of what a top diplomat, William Taylor, said in earlier testimony, as the two had multiple phone conversations raising concerns about the Trump administration’s approach toward Ukraine, according to his prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press.
“I can confirm,” he wrote, that the substance of the diplomat’s testimony, “is accurate.”
As a national security adviser, Morrison was among those listening to Trump’s call with the Ukrainian leader. He said 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 U.S.-Ukraine relations.
Republican lawmakers portrayed the opening remarks of the longtime GOP policy operative as shifting the debate favorably toward Trump.
They said Morrison, in his opening statement, contradicted another key witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Army officer who handled Ukraine issues at the National Security Council. Vindman testified Tuesday that he twice sounded the alarm over the Trump administration actions.
“It’s a very compelling witness today that is giving testimony that contradicts some of the testimony we heard from Mr. Vindman,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. Morrison’s opening remarks were not publicly released.