Foreign service officer David Holmes testified in his opening statement in Thursday’s impeachment hearing that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s efforts undermined the U.S. State Department’s efforts to support Ukraine. “Beginning in March 2019, the situation at the Embassy and in Ukraine changed dramatically,” he testified in his opening statement.
“Specifically, the three priorities of security, economy and justice and our support for Ukrainian democratic resistance to Russian aggression became overshadowed by a political agenda promoted by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and a cadre of officials working with the White House.” That change began, he said, “with the emergence of press reports critical of Ambassador Yovanovitch and others to discredit her” and a concerted effort on the part of Giuliani and team to suggest that “Yovanovitch improperly used the embassy to advance the political interests of the Democratic Party.” He said that the “allegations directed at Ambassador Yovanovitch, a career Ambassador, is unlike anything I have seen in my professional career.”
He said it became clear that the “Three Amigos,” consisting of Ambassador Gordon Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Ambassador Kurt Volker, would “take the lead on coordinating our policy and engagement” with the new administration of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. He said that Sondland “made clear that he had direct and frequent access to President Trump and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and portrayed himself as the conduit to the President and Mr. Mulvaney for the group.”
He goes on to relate how it became clear that the Trump political team, which included ambassadors, was pushing the Burisma/Biden investigation as a “precondition for an Oval Office meeting” and security assistance. He testified that he learned from an Office of Management and Budget official that the order to withhold military aid “had come from the President and had been conveyed to OMB by Mr. Mulvaney.”
In this opening statement, which included the infamous overheard phone conversation between Sondland and Trump on July 26, Holmes lays out the entire impeachment case against Trump. Watch the video below.