Trump impeachment one step closer

White House Russia expert Timothy Morrison arrives for a deposition for the House Impeachment inquiries at the US Capitol in Washington DC

The official described the call as "crazy", "frightening" and "completely lacking in substance related to national security".

Regardless of those recruitment efforts, Mr. Trump is expected to remain at the center of the White House defense as the House inquiry moves toward a public phase.

US President Donald Trump has signalled his readiness to read a transcript of his phone call with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky aloud to Americans so that they can see his point amid the ongoing impeachment proceedings against him. He was brought into the White House by John Bolton, the former national security adviser who was critical of Trump's Ukraine policy and the back-channel diplomacy being run by the Republican president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

In a meeting this week with House lawmakers, Mr. Trump turned the conversation away from legislative priorities and to a defense of his interactions with Ukraine involving Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the 2016 US election, according to people familiar with the meeting.

When asked by the Washington Examiner if he's happy with the job Mulvaney is doing, Trump said, "I don't want to comment on it".

This week, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman testified to investigators. He and Morrison were both in the Situation Room in the basement of the West Wing listening in on Trump's conversation with Zelenskiy. Vindman said he sought to correct the transcript but that his suggestions were not incorporated.

"I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a USA citizen, and I was anxious about the implications for the US government's support of Ukraine", Vindman said.

Vindman's interactions with Eisenberg were of keen interest to House investigators. Ellis is no stranger to White House controversies.

On Thursday, former senior White House official Tim Morrison reportedly testified to congressional investigators that he was not concerned any illegal activities occurred during the call. There had been reports about Trump looking at replacements for Mulvaney.

In his testimony last month, Sondland told lawmakers that he and others had briefed Trump in May about efforts to strengthen relations with Ukraine, but the President had instructed them to deal with Giuliani, something the ambassador said "disappointed" United States officials but was a direction that they followed. It's unusual for a White House chief of staff to be sidelined on such important matters, and this was widely viewed as a sign Mulvaney is on his way out.

"There's only one reason people care about that, right? Why is the White House counsel telling people not to talk about it?" Morrison did not verify with the President's secretary the details Sondland had given him of the conversations when he checked whether the calls had occurred.

Trump has repeatedly said the call with Zelensky was "perfect" and that he did nothing wrong. The spoken words are rendered as text and a rough draft is produced.

It is unclear what recordings Trump was referring to on the call. They edit the draft for accuracy.

Morrison's testimony also could raise more questions about Sondland's deposition and his role in pushing Ukraine to do investigations in return for military aid and a meeting with Trump.

Grisham told Fox News that the "fireside chat" idea was, in fact, "a serious consideration" but she said she did not "know what the logistics of it would look like just yet" and did not know when it would happen, if it did.

A government whistleblower claimed there was an attempt at the White House to cover up Trump's call by moving the transcript onto a secure server accessible to fewer people in the government.

Taking it off T-Net would involve systems specialists, according to the individuals, who were not authorized to discuss the systems publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

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