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Second American Overheard Trump Call in Kyiv Restaurant

Conversation was about Ukraine starting investigations, witness says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 14, 2019 4:40 PM CST
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Ambassador Gordon Sondland, center, arrives on Capitol Hill last month.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

(Newser) – A second US Embassy staffer in Kyiv overheard a cellphone call between President Trump and his ambassador to the European Union in which they discussed a need for Ukrainian officials to pursue “investigations,” the AP has learned. The July 26 call between Trump and Gordon Sondland was first described during testimony Wednesday by William Taylor, acting US ambassador to Ukraine. Taylor said one of his staffers overhead the call while Sondland was in a Kyiv restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that triggered the House impeachment inquiry. The second diplomatic staffer also at the table was Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer based in Kyiv. A person briefed on what Jayanti overheard spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because the matter is under investigation.

The accounts of the two embassy staffers could tie Trump closer to alleged efforts to hold up military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings. Republicans on Wednesday repeatedly highlighted that Taylor never directly heard the president tell anyone to demand that Ukraine open the probe. Trump said Wednesday that he did not recall the July 26 call, and the White House did not respond to questions Thursday about the second witness. Calling the president from a restaurant in Ukraine's capital was a shocking security breach, former officials said. "In a country that is so wired with Russian intelligence, you can almost take it to the bank that the Russians were listening in on the call," one said, per the Washington Post. (Read more Trump impeachment stories.)

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