Top NSC Russia Official Tim Morrison Confirms He Will Step Down

October 31, 2019 Updated: October 31, 2019

Tim Morrison, a senior National Security Council official, is set to step down amid an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, it has been confirmed.

Earlier reports on Wednesday had signaled the move, citing anonymous sources. In a statement Thursday, Morrison, the senior director for European affairs at the White House and the NSC, confirmed that he would leave the NSC. He distanced the move from his scheduled testimony on the same day with House impeachment investigators.

“After 19 years of government service, I have decided to leave the NSC,” he said in his opening statement to impeachment committees obtained by CBS News. “I have not submitted a formal resignation at this time because I do not want anyone to think there is a connection between my testimony today and my impending departure. I plan to finalize my transition from the NSC after my testimony is complete.”

“During my time in public service, I have worked with some of the smartest and most self-sacrificing people in this country. Serving at the White House in this time of unprecedented global change has been the opportunity of a lifetime. I am proud of what I have been able, in some small way, to help the Trump Administration to accomplish,” he added.

Morrison was among those who listened in on Trump’s July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky. The call is the focus of a Democrat-led impeachment inquiry into Trump.

In Morrison’s testimony on Thursday, he told House lawmakers conducting the impeachment inquiry that he thought there was nothing illegal in Trump’s request for Zelensky to investigate the Bidens’ involvement in the 2016 firing of a top Ukrainian prosecutor, Victor Shokin.

“I want to be clear. I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” he said.

Late Thursday, Trump wrote to Twitter regarding Morrison’s comment: “But the Crooked Democrats don’t want people to know this! Thank you to Tim Morrison for your honesty.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sept. 24 announced the impeachment inquiry into Trump, when she alleged that Trump “seriously violated the Constitution.” At the time, she had not yet read the transcript of the phone call, which was released by the White House on Sept. 25.

House Democrats haven’t specified what crime they believe Trump committed in his request to Zelensky.

The origin of the impeachment inquiry traces back to an anonymous person who, on Aug. 12, filed a complaint with the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG). A redacted version of what is now commonly referred to as the “whistleblower complaint” was made public on Sept. 26, wherein the person accused Trump of “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country,” which may have constituted a campaign finance violation. The Justice Department reviewed the complaint and determined no further action is necessary.

There had been claims accusing Trump of having withheld the military aid and floated its release as a “quid pro quo” for an investigation into the Bidens. Trump told reporters in early October that he had held up the aid to Ukraine because of high levels of corruption in the country and to spur European partners to shoulder a more significant share of security assistance.

Morrison, in his Thursday testimony, corroborated the testimony of other witnesses regarding the Ukrainians’ knowledge of the temporary hold on military aid to Ukraine. He noted that the Ukrainians didn’t know about the hold until Aug. 28, when the news leaked to the media.

“I was aware that the President thought Ukraine had a corruption problem, as did many others familiar with Ukraine. I was also aware that the President believed that Europe did not contribute enough assistance to Ukraine,” Morrison said.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

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