House Democrats Release Transcript From Closed-Door Interview of Pence’s Russia Adviser Jennifer Williams

November 17, 2019 Updated: November 17, 2019

House committees on Saturday released transcripts from the closed-door interview of Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence who listened in on the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In her deposition, Williams told the committees that the call between Trump and Zelensky was “unusual and inappropriate.” In the call, Trump asked Zelensky to “look into” Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm.

A transcript released on the same day included a testimonial from National Security Council official Timothy Morrison, who said that he felt nothing inappropriate happened during the July 25 call. He said that he was afraid that the phone call would be leaked by another official in the National Security Council and could damage U.S.-Ukraine relations.

But Williams said she “found the specific references to be—to be more specific to the president in nature, to his personal political agenda, as opposed to a broader…foreign policy objective of the United States,” according to the transcript.

Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, exits a deposition with the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees at the U.S. Capitol on November 7, 2019. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Before the call, Williams noted that she never heard any discussions regarding Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election or investigating the Bidens.

House Democrats have alleged that Trump violated his oath of office by pressuring a foreign leader to investigate a political rival for personal gain. They claim he withheld military aid to Ukraine to exert pressure on Zelensky. Trump, who has dismissed the allegations, declassified the transcript of the call.

According to the testimony, Williams also said she heard from a colleague that Trump told Pence not to attend the inauguration of Zelensky.

“My understanding from my colleague—and, again, I wasn’t there for the conversation—was that the President asked the Vice President not to attend,” she said.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) issued a statement about the transcripts of the Morrison and Williams interviews.

“The testimony released today shows that President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky immediately set off alarm bells throughout the White House. Both witnesses provided the Committees with first-hand accounts after personally listening to the call in the White House Situation Room,” Schiff said in a joint statement with Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), Acting Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Trump has described the phone call as “perfect,” writing on Twitter that Americans should “read the transcript” ahead of the impeachment inquiry hearings last week.

On Friday, the White House released the transcript of Trump’s first call with Zelensky, which took place on April 21, after some Democrats claimed that Trump withheld military aid and the possibility of a White House visit. According to the transcript, Trump congratulated his counterpart after winning his election. He also stated that Zelensky should visit the White House and made no reference to Joe Biden or his son.

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