State Department official David Holmes admitted in closed-door testimony last week that he had not taken notes about the conversation he claims to have overheard between President Donald Trump and U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland.
Holmes testified in a public hearing at the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning that he heard Trump speaking to Sondland on a mobile phone while sitting at an outdoor restaurant table on July 26th — the day after Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
He said that he heard Trump say “investigations,” and that in a subsequent conversation, Sondland said Trump wanted to investigate the “Bidens.” Sondland disputed that in his own testimony on Wednesday, saying that he recalls saying “Burisma.”
Holmes told Democrat committee counsel Daniel Goldman on Thursday that he had a clear recollection of the conversation because it was so unusual.
But in his closed-door testimony, Holmes admitted that he did not hear the entire conversation, and could only hear one side — Sondland’s — for much of the call.
He also testified that he had not taken notes of what he heard Trump tell Sondland about Ukraine — even though it was his habit to take notes of almost every conversation. He said he did take notes of what Sondland discussed about the president’s efforts (ultimately successful) to free rapper A$AP Rocky, who was then jailed in Sweden: “I pulled out my phone at that point and I opened a note and I took notes of the Sweden portion,” he told the committee.
Holmes added that he sent those notes to the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassy in Stockholm. But he made no written record of what he now says he heard Trump tell Sondland, and Sondland’s reaction — which he has now brought to the House Intelligence Committee in an effort to assist Democrats in the impeachment effort.
Asked why he had not taken notes of the Ukraine portion of the conversation, Holmes said: ” It was so quick and up front, and that’s when I nealized how significant it was. By the time I got it [his mobile phone] out, he moved on.”
Holmes also claimed “we take notes on meetings between foreigners,” right after he explained that he had taken notes on a conversation between Trump and Sondland regarding A$AP Rocky.
In addition, Holmes admitted that he had been drinking wine with Sondland at the time. He also said that he told six of his friends on vacation that he had heard the president speaking. When Rep. Jim Jordan (D-OH) asked him, “You told friends you wene sitting by an ambassador who was talking on his cell phone with the President of the United States, you told your buddies about that?”, Holmes responded, “Yeah.”
Jordan counted at least nine people Holmes had spread the story to, despite its possible implications for U.S. national security and foreign policy.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.