In testimony to the House impeachment probe, official David Holmes described talking with Sondland in a Kyiv restaurant about Trump and Ukraine.
- Transcripts of the House impeachment deposition of State Department official David Holmes, a staffer at the US embassy in Kyiv, were released Monday night.
- In the testimony, Holmes claimed that in a Kyiv restaurant he was told by the US' ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, that President Donald Trump "doesn't give a shit" about Ukraine.
- Holmes said that Sondland then told him that "the President only cares about, quote, unquote, 'big stuff.'"
- The "big stuff," Sondland said, includes anything that can personally benefit Trump, including an investigation into Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.
- Republicans have claimed that the president was not abusing his power and seeking to profit from pressuring Ukraine to open a Biden probe, and was simply attempting to encourage Ukraine to tackle corruption. Holmes' testimony damages that claim.
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The US' ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, told US officials that President Donald Trump "doesn't give a shit" about Ukraine and only cares about the "big stuff" — like the country announcing a probe into his Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden.
State Department official David Holmes made the claim in closed door testimony to House impeachment investigatorson Friday, according to a transcript of the deposition released by House Democrats late Monday.
In the testimony, he describes accompanying Sondland to a restaurant in Kyiv, Ukraine with several other US State Department officials, where he questioned the ambassador about Trump's attitude towards the country.
"In particular, I asked Ambassador Sondland if it was true that the President did not give a shit about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland agreed that the President did not give a shit about Ukraine," Holmes said.
He said he then pressed Sondland for an explanation why.
Sondland, Holmes claimed, told him: "The President only cares about, quote, unquote, 'big stuff.'"
That big stuff, he said, included things like the "Biden investigation."
"I noted that there was, quote, unquote, big stuff going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia," Holmes said.
"Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant, quote, unquote, big stuff that benefits the President, like the quote, unquote, Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing. The conversation then moved on to other topics."
House Democrats are probing whether Trump abused his office in seeking to pressure Ukraine to launch a criminal investigation into Biden, and used $400 million in military aid as leverage.
Republicans have focussed part of their defense of the president on claiming that Trump did not seek to personally profit from the Biden probe, but was simply concerned with addressing Ukraine's longstanding problems with corruption.
The president has pushed an unsubstantiated claim that Biden used his position as vice president to end a Ukrainian investigation into Burisma, an energy firm where his son was a board member.
Holmes testimony punches holes in that defense.
Earlier in the testimony, Holmes described a conversation between Trump and Sondland on cellphone in the restaurant, in which Sondland told the president of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he "loves your ass."
"I then heard President Trump ask, quote, "So he's going to do the investigation?" unquote. Ambassador Sondland replied that, "He's going to do it," adding that President Zelensky will quote, "Do anything you ask him to," testified Holmes.
Holmes is set to publicly testify as part of the impeachment probe later this week. Sondland is scheduled to testify Wednesday, and is likely to face questioning about Holmes' account of their conversations, and what else he knew about the president's intentions towards Ukraine.