Politics

Top Trump adviser quits on eve of impeachment testimony


By Deb Reichmann | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top adviser for Russian and European affairs is leaving his job at the White House, a day before he’s scheduled to testify before the House impeachment investigators, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

Tim Morrison owes his job at the National Security Council to Trump, but his testimony Thursday in the House impeachment inquiry might be central to a push to remove the president from office.

A senior administration official said Morrison “has decided to pursue other opportunities.” The official, who was not authorized to discuss Morrison’s job and spoke only on condition of anonymity, said Morrison has been considering leaving the administration for “some time.”

Morrison has been in the spotlight since August when a government whistleblower said multiple U.S. officials had said Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

Now it’s his turn in the impeachment probe’s hot seat.

Morrison, tall and lean with an authoritative voice, will be asked to explain that “sinking feeling” he got when Trump demanded that Ukraine’s president investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and meddling in the 2016 election.

Morrison, who is in his 40s, is a political appointee in the Trump White House, brought on board by former national security adviser John Bolton to address arms control matters and later shifted into his current role as a top Russia and Europe adviser. It was there that he stepped into the thick of an in-house squabble about the activities of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney who had been conversing with Ukrainian leaders outside of traditional U.S. diplomatic circles.

Known as a “hawk” in national security circles, Morrison is set to be the first political appointee from the White House to testify before impeachment investigators. The probe has been denounced by the president, who has directed his staff not to testify.

Regardless of what he says, GOP lawmakers will be hard-pressed to dismiss Morrison, formerly a longtime Republican staffer at the House Armed Services Committee. He’s been bouncing around Washington in Republican positions for two decades, having worked for Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and as a GOP senior staffer on the House Armed Services Committee, including nearly four years when it was chaired by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas.

Morrison’s name appeared more than a dozen times in earlier testimony by William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador in Ukraine, who told impeachment investigators that Trump was withholding military aid unless the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, went public with a promise to investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Taylor’s testimony contradicts Trump’s repeated denials that there was any quid pro quo.

Taylor said Morrison recounted a conversation that Gordon Sondland, America’s ambassador to the European Union, had with a top aide to Zelenskiy named Andriy Yermak. Taylor said Morrison told him security assistance would not materialize until Zelenskiy committed to investigate Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that once employed Biden’s son. A White …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

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