/Top NSC Russia official confirms key testimony linking Trump to quid pro quo

Top NSC Russia official confirms key testimony linking Trump to quid pro quo

According to Taylor’s testimony, Morrison said he had a “sinking feeling” after learning about a phone call between Trump and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, during which Trump demanded that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announce investigations into Joe Biden and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.

Taylor also described a conversation, relayed to him by Morrison, between Sondland and a senior Ukrainian official. Taylor testified that Sondland told the Ukrainian official that critical military assistance to the eastern European country would be withheld unless Zelensky “committed to pursuing” a Biden investigation.

Taylor said he was “alarmed” after learning of the conversation, and said he previously told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he “would have to resign” if the U.S. changed its policy of supporting Ukraine. “Based on my call with Mr. Morrison, I was preparing to do so,” Taylor added.

Morrison was set to resign his post imminently, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. He became the second current White House official to testify to impeachment investigators, two days after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine and Russia expert on the NSC, testified he believed Trump’s overtures to Ukraine undermined U.S. national security.

The White House sought to block Morrison’s testimony, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry. Morrison was served with a subpoena and was cooperating with the three committees leading the inquiry, the official added.

Morrison was brought on to the NSC by John Bolton, the former national security adviser, to handle weapons of mass destruction and biodefense. Impeachment investigators have asked Bolton to testify next week.

A person close to Morrison said his testimony would provide “nuance” that was not reflected in Taylor’s testimony, which was mostly based on his recollections of conversations with senior officials. The person also said Morrison would be able to “give an oral history of the aid package for Ukraine,” including why it was held up and when it was eventually released.

Morrison was not looking to “burn his boss,” the person added, referring to the president.

Daniel Lippman contributed to this report.