22:49 GMT +307 December 2019
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    US House Democrats Release Testimonies of Volker Assistants, Top Pentagon Official

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    The US House Democrats have released the deposition transcripts of Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, two former assistants to former US Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, as part of their impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump.

    Accompanying the release of the transcripts, House Democrats released a statement saying that both Anderson and Croft voiced “concerns they had with efforts to press Ukraine into announcing specific investigations which would help President Trump politically.” 

    The statement adds Croft testified that Ukrainian officials “approached her quietly about the hold on security assistance in the July or August timeframe.” 

    Volker resigned as the head of the McCain Institute for International Leadership over his role in the US-Ukraine scandal last month.

    The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform committees are conducting an investigation into a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. House Democrats have alleged that Trump sought an illegal "quid pro quo" from Kiev by threatening to withhold military aid to pressure the country into opening an investigation into former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings regarding Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.

    In her testimony, Croft also said she was “trepidatious” about becoming an assistant to Volker because “it was possible that the Trump administration would choose to change its policy to suit domestic politics.” When asked if “two Ukrainian officials from the embassy reached out” to her to ask her about the military aid hold, Croft confirmed, “That’s right.” Although she was unsure of the time that the Ukrainian officials approached her, she said in her testimony she believes it was before August 28.

    Croft and Anderson’s testimonies were released several hours after the testimony of top Pentagon official Laura Cooper was also released on Monday. Cooper told House impeachment investigators last month that nearly $400 million in military aid was “held without explanation” and that defense officials started to “raise concerns about how this could be done in a legal fashion,” CBS News reported. 

    Cooper also said that she met with Volker to discuss the military aid hold. During that conversation, Cooper claims that Volker said the Ukrainians would not receive aid unless they publicly stated to commit “to the investigation Trump was seeking,” Politico reported.

    Cooper’s testimony was delayed by five hours after a group of House Republicans charged into a secure room in the Capitol building where Cooper was gearing up to testify in a closed-door hearing. Republicans have slammed Democrats for only permitting members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees to witness hearings and depositions, claiming that the information presented during such hearings should be available to all House members.

    Last week, House Democrats also released a transcript of their interview with William Taylor, Washington's top diplomat in Kiev. In his testimony, Taylor described a “quid pro quo” type of situation in which several Trump associates, including his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, tried to pressure Ukraine into investigating Biden.

    ​Following the release of the most recent transcripts, Trump tweeted that he would release the transcript of the of the “first” and “therefore most important” phone call he had with Zelenskyy.


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