Tim Morrison, a former top national security adviser to the president, said last month that he believed nothing unusual occurred during the July 25 phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Donald Trump, according to a transcript released over the weekend, while he also stated that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador of the European Union, was involved in an effort to foster Ukraine to open an investigation into Joe Biden.
He was uncertain of Trumps involvement in Sondlands efforts. “Im still not completely certain that this was coming from the President,” Morrison testified to House Democrats. “Im only getting this from Ambassador Sondland.”
During a closed-door deposition as part of the House impeachment inquiry, Morrison was asked, “In your view, there was nothing improper that occurred during the call?”
“Correct,” he answered as he was testifying under oath.
Morrison, the top U.S. official at the National Security Council on Russia and Europe, was promoted to his position after Fiona Hill resigned July 19. He listened to the July 25 phone call as it happened.
Elaborating further, he said the word “Burisma” never came up in the phone call, referring to Ukrainian energy giant Burisma Holdings. Former Vice President Joe Bidens son, Hunter, sat on the board of Burisma when his father was in office.
Biden last year bragged that in 2016 he threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees from Ukraine if the president at the time, Petro Poroshenko, didnt fire the countrys top anti-corruption prosecutor, Victor Shokin, who at the time was investigating Burisma.
In the phone call, Trump asked his counterpart to look into the Bidens and other matters related to 2016 election interference. Democratic lawmakers have claimed that Trump misused his power by withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into Biden, who is a 2020 presidential candidate.
Morrison said that while the aid was withheld, he thought it was because of Trumps skepticism toward foreign aid in general.
His view, according to his testimonial, is that Trump has a “general antipathy to foreign aid” and also had a “concern that the Ukrainians were not paying their fair share, as well as his concern [that] our aid would be misused because of the view that Ukraine has a significant corruption problem.”
Morrison was asked more about the phone call.
“You were on the call. Do you remember whether the name Burisma came up on the call?” “No, I dont believe it did,” he said.
The answer is significant, as a junior NSC official, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, testified to the House Intelligence Committee that Zelensky brought up the word “Burisma.” However, Morrison said that he has the “final clearing authority” on the July 25 call transcript.
“Do you remember whether anyone suggested edits adding the word Burisma to the [memorandum of conversation]?” Morrison was asked. “I do not,” he responded. Vindman testified that he suggested to edit in the word “Burisma.”
But when asked about Vindmans suggestions, Morrison said he approved all of them.