A State Department official overheard a phone call between Trump and Sondland in which the president referred to "investigations," the top diplomat in Ukraine said.
WASHINGTON — David Holmes, a career foreign service officer, provided "damning" testimony about the July phone call he was said to have overheard between President Donald Trump and the ambassador to the E.U in which Trump referred to "investigations," a Democrat who attended his closed-door deposition said.
"Holmes' testimony is damning to the president," said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., to reporters after emerging from the deposition in the basement of the Capitol.
Holmes appeared before Congress Friday evening under subpoena, an official working on the inquiry said, in light of an attempt by the State Department to block or limit his testimony.
Holmes' deposition comes after Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, revealed Wednesday during the first open impeachment hearing that an aide overheard Trump and Sondland on the phone during a lunch in Kyiv on July 26.
Taylor said his aide informed him that Trump could be heard asking about "the investigations," and that Sondland told Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.
NBC News confirmed that Holmes was the staffer in question.
"He's a career foreign service officer who entered during the George W. Bush administration. He is not partisan — he is simply telling the truth. Without going into detail [about] what he said, he does confirm what Ambassador Taylor said is true," Lieu said of Holmes.
Holmes, counselor for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, told lawmakers Friday that there were four people present at the lunch including Sondland, according to Lieu.
"He has first-hand knowledge of the conversation between Ambassador Sondland and the president of the United States," Lieu said Friday. "He overheard the conversation."
Holmes "has some specific quotes," beyond just the word investigation, Lieu said, "that leaves no doubt what the president of the United States was saying."
In public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday, Taylor told lawmakers that Holmes told him the previous Friday about a phone conversation that he overheard between Sondland and the president.
"In the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about "the investigations." Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward," Taylor said in his opening statement, with Holmes being the member of his staff who heard the exchange.
"Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for," Taylor continued.
Holmes' closed-door deposition comes after the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, provided testimony to the House Intelligence Committee during the second public impeachment hearing.