How Trump has disowned most of the impeachment witnesses

President Trump on Wednesday said he didn’t know Gordon Sondland “very well,” making the U.S. ambassador to the European Union just the latest White House or administration official to be disowned upon offering testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

Trump has commented on all eight witnesses who have publicly testified before the House Intelligence Committee and has denied knowing six of them. 

Here’s what Trump has said about each of the witnesses to date:

William Taylor and George Kent

Taylor and Kent were the first two witnesses to testify publicly, appearing before the committee on Nov. 13.

Both said that they had concerns that the Trump administration’s actions toward Ukraine had become inappropriate, specifically citing the involvement of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Trump has dismissed Taylor, the administration’s top diplomat in Ukraine, as a “Never Trumper” and someone he does not know.

“Never Trumper Republican John Bellinger, represents Never Trumper Diplomat Bill Taylor (who I don’t know), in testimony before Congress!” Trump tweeted on Oct. 23.

He sought to distance himself from both Taylor and Kent during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

“But these are names that are — like Taylor, like Kent, with the nice bowtie. Wonderful bowtie. Maybe I’ll get one for myself someday,” Trump quipped. “I don’t know who Kent is. I don’t know who Taylor is.” 

Marie Yovanovitch

Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testified last Friday about the coordinated campaign by Trump’s allies to oust her from her post.

Trump attacked her during her testimony, claiming that everywhere she went “turned bad.” But weeks earlier, the president claimed not to know Yovanovitch.

“I really don’t know her,” he told reporters on Nov. 4. “But if you look at the transcripts, the president of Ukraine was not a fan of hers either. I mean, he did not exactly say glowing things. I’m sure she’s a very fine woman. I just don’t know much about her.”

Trump raised Yovanovitch in his heavily scrutinized July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, describing her as “bad news” and saying she would “go through some things.”

Alexander Vindman

Vindman, a National Security Council staffer with a focus on Ukraine policy, testified that he felt Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky was “inappropriate.”

A day later, Trump denied having any familiarity with one of the White House’s own employees.

“No, I don’t know Vindman at all,” he said at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

“I watched him for a little while this morning and I think he — I’m going to let people make their own determination,” he added. “But I don’t know Vindman. I never heard of him. I don’t know any of these people, other than I have seen one or two a couple of times; they’re ambassadors.”

The White House’s official Twitter account shared a quote on Tuesday that called Vindman’s judgment into question, part of a concerted effort by Republicans.

Jennifer Williams

Williams is a State Department official who is detailed to work with Vice President Pence as an expert on Eurasian affairs.

She testified in a private deposition that she found Trump’s July 25 call to be “unusual” because it veered into political territory, something she reiterated during public testimony on Tuesday.

Trump went after Williams on Twitter on Sunday, decrying her as a “Never Trumper.”

“Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just released ststement [sic] from Ukraine,” he said. “Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”

Pence’s office also issued a statement on Tuesday from his national security adviser highlighting that Williams did not bring her concerns to the vice president.

Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison

Volker and Morrison testified concurrently on Tuesday, and they are the only two witnesses to date whom Trump has yet to distance himself from.

Trump thanked each of them by name following their closed door deposition to lawmakers.

“Thank you to Kurt Volker, U.S. Envoy to Ukraine, who said in his Congressional Testimony, just released, ‘You asked what conversations did I have about that quid pro quo, et cetra [sic]. NONE, because I didn’t know there was a quid pro quo,'” Trump tweeted on Nov. 6.

Volker, who previously served as a special envoy to Ukraine, told lawmakers in closed door testimony that there was no “linkage” between financial aid for Ukraine and investigations. But he told lawmakers in public on Tuesday that any investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden would be “unacceptable.”

Trump has also tweeted approvingly about Morrison, who until recently served on the White House National Security Council. The president quoted a report that Morrison testified privately that he found nothing wrong with the July 25 call.

“Thank you to Tim Morrison for your honesty,” Trump tweeted on Oct. 31.

Morrison testified publicly Tuesday that he did not find anything improper about the call at the time and was viewed as one of the better witnesses for the GOP.

Gordon Sondland

Sondland is a wealthy hotelier and Trump donor who was appointed to serve as ambassador to the European Union. He was confirmed in 2018 by the Senate by unanimous consent.

“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away,” Trump tweeted of the ambassador on Oct. 8.

But Trump has changed his tune as Sondland’s testimony became more damaging to the White House’s case.

Sondland told lawmakers on Wednesday that there was a quid pro quo tying a White House meeting with Zelensky to a commitment from Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that Trump wanted. And he indicated several high-level administration officials were aware of the effort.

Trump emerged from the White House later Wednesday morning to distance himself from his own appointee.

“I don’t know him very well,” Trump told reporters. “I have not spoken to him much. This is not a man I know well. He seems like a nice guy, though.”

Tags Alexander Vindman Donald Trump Gordon Sondland Impeachment Joe Biden Kurt Volker Marie Yovanovitch Rudy Giuliani Ukraine
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video