As just more evidence that the House impeachment inquiry is moving along at a serious clip, as of 8:30 ET on Thursday, National Security Council official Tim Morrison is already in the House chamber, already testifying before the combined committees. Morrison replaced Fiona Hill in July when she abruptly resigned her senior position at the NSC, shortly before Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. And, in what could be a measure of how quickly the White House is moving to cordon off those seen as insufficiently loyal to Trump, Morrison is already on his way out, having been given a hearty “Mr. Morrison has decided to pursue other opportunities.”
Morrison had been on the NSC for under a year when he stepped into Hill’s role as senior director for European and Russian affairs. And one of the first things he ran into was Trump’s phone call to President Zelensky. It was Morrison who first briefed some other officials, including Ambassador William Taylor, on the contents of that phone call. And it was Morrison who described to Taylor a conversation between Ambassador Gordon Sondland and an assistant to Zelensky in which Sondland told the assistant that “the security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.”
Morrison also relayed additional calls and messages to Taylor, including conversations in which Ukrainian officials expressed concern about the delayed strategic aid, and a conversation between Trump and Sondland in which “President Trump told Ambassador Sondland that he was not asking for a ‘quid pro quo.’ But President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go on a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference.” In Taylor’s testimony. all these conversations are secondhand. But Morrison was a direct witness to this whole series of conversations, making his testimony vital to confirming that of Taylor, and important to establishing the entire sequence of events.
Those familiar with Morrison have indicated that leaving the NSC has been something he’s considered for months, but the close timing between his agreeing to testify and his announced departure could be an indicator that what he has to say isn’t going to make Trump happy.