Democrats release transcripts from impeachment inquiry

House Democrats release three transcripts from closed-door depositions given as part of Ukraine probe.

Ben Ariel,

United States Capitol
United States Capitol

House Democrats on Monday released three new transcripts from closed-door depositions that were given as part of the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump.

The release included the transcript of Laura Cooper, a top Defense Department official who oversees Ukraine. She testified about the Trump administration's decision to withhold nearly $400 million in aid, which Democrats are examining as part of their investigation into whether President Trump pressed Ukraine to help his own reelection bid in 2020, reported The Hill.

Democrats also released the transcripts from joint depositions with Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, two former assistants to former US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker.

All three are relatively minor witnesses, noted The Hill, but they offered information for House investigators who are trying to determine whether Trump used the aid or the promise of a White House meeting as leverage to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open probes into interference in the 2016 presidential election and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Democrats subpoenaed Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, late last month to press her about any role the Pentagon may have played in withholding aid to Ukraine.

Cooper's testimony was primarily memorable for the Republican protest in which a group of congressional Republicans stormed the secure closed space in which the interview was set to be conducted, delaying the hearing by five hours.

Anderson, according to The Hill, testified about concerns he and others had regarding Rudy Giuliani's involvement in Ukraine policy. Anderson said officials feared the president's personal lawyer was spreading a negative narrative about Ukraine and possibly create a "false perception" in Trump's mind that Kiev is not an ally, which could risk hurting their relationship.

Croft, a foreign service officer assigned to the White House, testified that Kiev knew the aid was being withheld earlier than previously reported, saying officials at the Ukrainian Embassy twice approached her privately to inquire about the decision to withhold aid sometime after July 18 and before the August 28, adding that "they found out very early on or much earlier than I expected them to.”

Both the US and Ukraine, testified Croft, did not want news that the aid was being withheld because it would create doubt about their alliance.

The release of then transcripts come on the same week that Democrats are expected to hold their first series of open impeachment hearings, starting Wednesday.

Trump, meanwhile, announced on Monday he would be releasing this week a transcript of his call with Zelensky.

"In order to continue being the most Transparent President in history, I will be releasing sometime this week the Transcript of the first, and therefore most important, phone call I had with the President of Ukraine. I am sure you will find it tantalizing!" he tweeted.