As the Democrats expected a major bombshell from the closed-door testimony of State Department official David Holmes, instead what they got was some shocking conflicts with the testimony of one of their star witnesses, Ambassador Taylor.
Holmes’ testimony on a newly revealed phone call between President Trump and Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland conflicted, with that of top diplomat Bill Taylor at last week’s lead-off impeachment hearing. Taylor, who testified before the House Intelligence Committee last Wednesday, said he had just learned about the July phone call this month.
But Holmes’ timeline of events, according to a written statement from his closed-door interview, seems to depart from Taylor’s. Holmes says that he notified Taylor of the call “shortly after it happened.”
Holmes, who is the political counsel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, told congressional investigators that he was at a restaurant in Kyiv on July 26 when Sondland spoke to Trump over the phone—just one day after Trump’s now-infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, when he allegedly asked for investigations into the Bidens and 2016 election meddling.
Holmes testified that Trump was speaking so loudly that Sondland had to “hold the phone away from his ear,” which allowed others to hear. Holmes said that Sondland told Trump that Zelensky “loves your ass,” to which Trump replied, “So he’s gonna do the investigation?”
“He’s gonna do it,” Sondland replied.
While that could sound damning to the president, it is still second hand information, and the discrepancy between when Holmes said he told Taylor about the call, and when Taylor says he found out about it, calls into question the credibility of both witnesses.
Holmes testified that he brought the contents of the call to Taylor’s attention when he returned to the embassy following a vacation that ended Aug. 6.
“After returning to the embassy, I told Ambassador Taylor about the July 26 call,” Holmes said. “I also repeatedly referred to the call and conversation with Ambassador Sondland in meetings and conversations where the issue of the president’s interest in Ukraine was potentially relevant.”
However, in a statement that dramatically thrust Mr. Holmes into the spotlight during last week’s hearings, Taylor claimed that “last Friday” a staff member “told him of events that occurred on July 26.”
He even further clarified when he knew of the call by saying, “At the time I gave my deposition on October 22, I was not aware of this information,” Taylor testified. “I am including it here for completeness.”
So was he aware of the call in July, as Holmes says, or did he only become aware of it in mid-November as he said in his own testimony, and why the inconsistencies in their stories?