A second career foreign service officer just stepped forward to corroborate the bombshell news that Ambassador Bill Taylor delivered yesterday at the House Intelligence Committee’s first public impeachment inquiry hearing.
Ambassador Taylor is America’s Charge d’affaires in Ukraine, and his carefully documented narrative of the facts on the ground about the President’s scheme to bribe and extort their new President riveted the country.
But he also brought new information from one of his embassy staffers, who overheard a phone call which took place in a Kyiv restaurant on July 26th between hotelier turned-EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland and the President on the day after the infamous “I need a favor though” call took place. Sondland omitted the July 26th call from his testimony entirely, and it appears to be a potentially crucial piece tying Trump very directly into his bribery scheme.
A second embassy staffer has come forward with knowledge of the same call. When asked what Trump thinks of Ukraine, he told the committee that the President cares about the Biden investigation but not about Ukraine. The first staffer that Ambassador Taylor talked about at the public hearing is now scheduled to testify in a House impeachment deposition. The AP reports:
The second diplomatic staffer also at the table was Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer based in Kyiv.
The staffer Taylor testified about is David Holmes, the political counselor at the embassy in Kyiv, according to an official familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Holmes is scheduled to testify Friday before House investigators in a closed session.
Trump says he does not remember the July 26th call “one bit.”
Witnesses will probably have a different recollection of the matter, and at least one of the State Department officials will be testifying to the House.
David Holmes is a particularly decorated foreign service officer, who won a State Department union award in 2013 while serving overseas in our Moscow embassy. The award was given for Holmes voicing dissent about something in government that he believed was wrong. NBC News reports:
Holmes has a history of speaking up when he disagrees, according to an NBC News review of archived materials from the American Foreign Service Association, the union that represents U.S. diplomats.
In 2014, he won AFSA’s William R. Rivkin Award for Constructive Dissent, which honors a midcareer foreign service officer for intellectual courage in speaking up.
The first Trump impeachment hearing featured Amb. Taylor, who Republicans desperately attacked throughout the hearing, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, whose testimony was critical to debunking numerous GOP conspiracy theories and won plaudits for his authority and style.
But it was the former infantryman Taylor—who Secretary of State Mike Pompeo personally recruited for the job—who brought key new information to the public hearing.
Our government’s top official in Kyiv clearly irked Trump the most since his initial testimony and since yesterday when the President unleashed a public attack on him over a hearing that he supposedly didn’t watch.
Yet the testimony from Ambassador Taylor was never meant to be the final word on impeachment, and it’s starting to appear that the new witnesses he brought forward, Suriya Jayanti and David Holmes, could become far more central to the unfolding impeachment inquiry into the President.
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report. Find out more at grantstern.com.