U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker reportedly told House impeachment investigators over the weekend that he was unaware of the alleged quid pro quo offer at the center of the probe.
At the heart of the impeachment inquiry is a “whistleblower” allegation that U.S. President Donald Trump offered Ukraine a quid pro quo in which the commander-in-chief made military aid to the Eastern European country contingent upon an investigation into the Bidens.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker testified in the impeachment inquiry on Saturday that he did not find out there was a push by Trump administration officials for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 election until the whistleblower complaint was made public [on September 26], a source familiar with his testimony told CNN.
Both Democrat and Republican lawmakers asked about quid pro quo, but given that Reeker was in the dark about the push for a statement, he did not know anything about a potential quid pro quo, the source explained.
Reeker’s testimony echoed written testimony provided by two other impeachment probe witnesses who said they were not aware of any effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate the former vice president and his son, Hunter Biden.
Reporters covering the impeachment probe are forced to rely on leaks because the House Democrats have so far conducted the process behind closed doors.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who witnessed Reeker’s deposition, declared that the top State official’s testimony was a “good day for the President,” CNN reported.
Reeker fueled the GOP argument that Trump “did not do anything that amounted to an impeachable offense.”
“I think there was certainly a number of questions that continue to try and convey ‘is there an impeachable offense here’ — was there a quid pro quo? Now you have another State Department official that didn’t provide any support for that allegation,” he reportedly said.
Meanwhile, Democrats claimed Reeker’s testimony corroborated claims that Trump did something wrong.
“It’s almost startling how much in alignment all of the witnesses to date have been in terms of their affirmation of the fact pattern,” Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) proclaimed, according to CNN.
Former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and American Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told investigators they were not involved in any effort to push for a probe into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Volker and Sondland were heavily involved in America’s Ukraine policy.
“At no time was I aware of or took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden,” Volker said in his opening remarks prepared for his deposition on October 3.
I recall no discussions with any State Department or White House official about Former Vice President Biden or his son, nor do I recall taking part in any effort to encourage an investigation into the Bidens.
Withholding foreign aid in order to pressure a foreign government to take such steps [influence a U.S. election] would be wrong. I did not and would not ever participate in such undertakings.
The Wall Street Journal, however, reported over the weekend that Sondland’s lawyer said the EU ambassador told impeachment committee members during his deposition that Trump’s dealings in Ukraine amounted to a quid pro quo.
To the dismay of Democrats, Reeker failed to confirm explosive allegations made by Acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor during his deposition last week.
In his opening remarks, Taylor testified that the Trump administration “conditioned” U.S. aid to Ukraine on the Eastern European country publicly announcing an investigation into Biden and his son, suggesting that Trump did make a quid pro quo offer.
Republican lawmakers said Taylor’s claim is not based on a first-hand account and “collapsed” when the members of Congress questioned him during his deposition.
House Democrats have vowed to make the impeachment probe proceedings public eventually.