Donald Trump has continued to talk about the “transcript” that has been released of his Ukraine phone call, and the Cult 45 and GOP feckless leadership continues to march to that tune. However, with each additional witness that comes forward and provides an opening statement and testimony, the reality is confirmed – Trump engaged in an illegal quid pro quo, and the “transcript” he released is not anywhere near the full story of what transpired.
The latest person to come forward in the Ukraine investigation that likely will soon find Trump in the Senate, being tried on numerous articles of impeachment, is Catherine Croft. She worked for the National Security Council on Ukraine issues for the State Department and is set to testify before the House committee today. Her opening statement includes the following:
In July 2017, as the Trump Administration was considering overturning the ban on providing Ukraine defensive weapons, I was asked to join the National Security Council Staff at the White House. As the Director covering Ukraine, I staffed the President’s December 2017 decision to provide Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank missile systems. I also staffed his September 2017 meeting with then- President Poroshenko on the margins of the UN General Assembly. Throughout both, I heard—directly and indirectly—President Trump describe Ukraine as a corrupt country.
During my time at the NSC, I received multiple calls from lobbyist Robert Livingston, who told me that Ambassador Yovanovitch should be fired. He characterized Ambassador Yovanovitch as an ‘Obama holdover’ and associated with George Soros. It was not clear to me at the time—or now—at whose direction or at whose expense Mr. Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch.
On July 18, I participated in a sub-Policy Coordination Committee video conference where an OMB representative reported that the White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, had placed an informal hold on security assistance to Ukraine. The only reason given was that the order came at the direction of the President. I had heard about the hold before that date, but do not remember the specific date.
She was not on the call, but we have further information that Trump placed a hold on aid to Ukraine and that a lobbyist was contacting her to fire Yovanovitch. It’s another connection in the efforts Trump made to deal with Ukraine in a manner that looks more and more likely to have been a trade.