Ex-Trump Adviser Morrison Testifies on Concerns About Ukraine

A former top White House official who raised concerns about President Donald Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine to investigate his political rivals testified behind closed doors Thursday in the House impeachment investigation.

Tim Morrison, the first White House political appointee to testify, was the National Security Council’s top adviser for Russian and European affairs until he stepped down Wednesday. A senior administration official said Morrison had “decided to pursue other opportunities.” The official, who was not authorized to discuss Morrison’s job and spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said Morrison had been considering leaving the administration for “some time.” 

Morrison did not respond to reporters’ questions as he arrived on Capitol Hill. He was expected to be asked by investigators to explain the “sinking feeling” that he reportedly got when Trump demanded that Ukraine’s president investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and interfere in the 2016 election.

FILE – Former national security adviser John Bolton speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Sept. 30, 2019.

Morrison, a national security hawk brought on board by then-national security adviser John Bolton, has been featured prominently in previous testimony from diplomat William Taylor. It was Morrison who first alerted Taylor to concerns about Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In fact, Morrison’s name appeared more than a dozen times in testimony by Taylor, who told impeachment investigators that Trump was withholding military aid unless Zelenskiy went public with a promise to investigate Trump’s political rival Biden and Biden’s son Hunter. Taylor’s testimony contradicted Trump’s repeated denials that there was any quid pro quo. 

Morrison and Taylor spoke at least five times in the weeks following the July phone call as the defense expert and the diplomat discussed the Trump administration’s actions toward Ukraine, according to Taylor’s testimony. 

As the security funds for Ukraine were being withheld, Morrison told the diplomat, the president  “doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all.” 

FILE – U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, center, arrives for an interview with the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 17, 2019.

Their concerns deepened when Morrison relayed on Sept. 7 the conversation he had with Ambassador Gordon Sondland a day earlier that gave him that “sinking feeling.” In it, Sondland explained that Trump said he was not asking for a quid pro quo but insisted that Zelenskiy “go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference,” Taylor testified last week.

Morrison told Bolton and the NSC lawyers of this call between Trump and Sondland, according to Taylor’s testimony.

The spotlight has been on Morrison since August, when a government whistleblower said multiple U.S. officials had said Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

Morrison was brought on board to address arms control matters and later shifted into a role as a top Russia and Europe adviser. It was then that he stepped into the thick of an in-house squabble about the activities of Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who had been conversing with Ukrainian leaders outside traditional U.S. diplomatic circles. 

The impeachment probe has been denounced by the Republican president, who has directed his staff not to testify. 

Regardless of what he says, GOP lawmakers will be hard-pressed to dismiss Morrison, formerly a longtime Republican staffer at the House Armed Services Committee. He’s been bouncing around Washington in Republican positions for two decades, having worked for Representative Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., and Senator Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and as a GOP senior staffer on the House Armed Services Committee, including nearly four years when it was chaired by Representative Mac Thornberry, R-Texas.

Agreement on Giuliani

Morrison told people after Bolton was forced out of his job that the national security adviser had tried to stop Giuliani’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine and that Morrison agreed, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss Morrison’s role in the impeachment inquiry and spoke only on the condition of anonymity. The official said Morrison told people that with the appointment of Robert O’Brien as Bolton’s successor, his own future work at the NSC was in a “holding pattern.”

Bolton brought Morrison into the NSC in July 2018 as senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefense. Morrison, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from George Washington University, keeps nuclear strategist Herman Kahn’s seminal volume on thermonuclear warfare on a table in his office.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said Bolton and Morrison are like-minded. Kimball said both have been known for calling up GOP congressional offices to warn them against saying anything about arms control that didn’t align with their views.

“Just as John Bolton reportedly did, I would be shocked if Morrison did not regard Giuliani’s activities as being out of bounds,” said Kimball, who has been on opposite sides of arms control debates with Morrison for more than a decade.

Nigeria Non-profits Take Cancer Awareness to the Streets

Nigeria accounts for the highest cancer mortality rate in Africa according to the World Health Organization. Low awareness, late detection and high cost of treatment are major factors contributing to increasing cancer mortality in the west African nation. But in October, also world cancer awareness month, several non-profits in Nigeria are taking information about the disease to the streets and sponsoring underprivileged patients for treatments. Timothy Obiezu reports from Abuja.

Sources: US Envoy Returns to Afghanistan, Discusses Prisoner Swap

Chief U.S. peace negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad is back in Afghanistan and held fresh meetings with Afghan leaders on the fate of two Western hostages held by the Taliban and efforts aimed at restarting stalled peace talks with the insurgent group, sources said.

Insurgent sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have also confirmed to VOA that “(a) prisoners’ (swap) deal is underway” with Khalilzad’s team and “is in the final stages.”  But when approached for comment, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told VOA, “So far I have no information about this issue.”

An Afghan government source confirmed to VOA Thursday the American envoy met with President Ashraf Ghani after arriving in Kabul the previous day from Pakistan. The discussions between the two, said the source, focused on American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, the two hostages being held by the Taliban for more than three years.

FILE – A photo combination if images taken from video released June 21, 2017, by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, shows kidnapped Australian Timothy Weeks, top, and American Kevin King.

U.S. officials have not confirmed or released any details of the Khalilzad-Ghani meeting, but U.S. sources have said, “Getting hostages back is always at the forefront of our policy” of seeking Afghan peace and reconciliation.

King and Weeks were teaching at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul before they were kidnapped at gunpoint near the campus in August 2016.

Khalilzad also met with Ghani on Sunday in the Afghan capital prior to the brief stop in Pakistan. In a post-meeting news conference, a senior Afghan official confirmed the U.S. envoy sought cooperation in securing the release of the American professor, who is said to be suffering from serious health problems, and his Australian colleague. National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib, however, refused to discuss further details.

The Taliban has long demanded the release of around a dozen high-profile prisoners held in Afghan jails in exchange for freeing King and Weeks. The insurgent detainees include death row prisoner Anas Haqqani, a younger brother of Taliban deputy chief Sirajuddin Haqqani, and their uncle, Mali Khan.

Khalilzad traveled to Pakistan on Monday and discussed “the current status of the Afghan peace process” with leaders in the neighboring country, said the U.S. embassy in Islamabad. He also underscored the importance of reducing violence in Afghanistan, it said.

Afghan officials allege Pakistan shelters Taliban leaders on its soil, charges Islamabad rejects. Pakistani officials maintain their country still hosts around 3 million Afghan refugees and do not rule out the possibility of insurgents hiding among them.

The U.S. Afghan reconciliation envoy’s back-and-forth visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan have fueled speculation a prisoner swap could soon materialize to pave the way for the resumption of peace talks involving the United States and the Taliban.

U.S. President Donald Trump canceled the negotiations, citing continued Taliban attacks in Kabul, including one that killed an American soldier.

 

Польська Gazeta Wyborcza внесла Катерину Гандзюк у список 120 відомих померлих людей

Напередодні Дня всіх святих 1 листопада, який особливо шанують в переважно католицькій Польщі, тамтешнє відоме видання Gazeta Wyborcza внесло вбиту українську активістку Катерину Гандзюк до переліку 120-ти відомих поляків та іноземців, що втратили життя за останні 12 місяців.

Ім’я Катерини Гандзюк згадується у спеціальному додатку, де йдеться про те, ким вона була і як загинула.

«Я знаю, що виглядаю погано, але я виглядаю зараз набагато краще, ніж виглядають зараз в Україні справедливість і правосуддя», – цитує видання слова Катерини Гандзюк, які вона записала у зверненні з лікарняного ліжка.

Чиновниця Херсонської міської ради, активістка Катерина Гандзюк померла 4 листопада 2018 року. Це сталося через три місяці після того, як її облили концентрованою сірчаною кислотою у Херсоні. У справі про замах на Гандзюк були затримані підозрювані у виконанні і організації нападу, але замовників офіційно не встановили.

Згадує Gazeta Wyborcza серед відомих померлих особистостей і мера польського Гданська Павела Адамовіча, який помер 14 січня після нападу на нього чоловіка на доброчинному концерті, про ілюстратора і дитячого письменника Богдан Бутенка, про радянського дисидента Володимира Буковського, про дизайнера і фотографа Карла Лаґерфельда та інших.

Gazeta Wyborcza («Газета Виборча») – одне з найвідоміших сучасних польських видань.

Відомий британський телеканал буде використовувати Kyiv замість Kiev

Один з провідних британських телеканалів ITV буде використовувати Kyiv замість Kiev.

Про це повідомили у посольстві України у Сполученому королівстві 31 жовтня.

 

Раніше аналогічно вчинили британські видання Financial Times та The Telegraph, корпорація ВВС, міжнародне інформаційне агентство Associated Press, американська газета The Washington Post.

 

На початку жовтня 2018 року Міністерство закордонних справ України розпочало онлайн-кампанію #CorrectUA, в рамках якої звертається до іноземних ЗМІ й іноземних аеропортів із метою коригування правопису міста Київ латинкою (#KyivNotKiev). Чимало європейських столиць і міст вже підтримали цю ініціативу.

Під час перебування України в складі СРСР в англомовних засобах інформації закріпилася транслітерація назви української столиці у спосіб, який відповідав російській вимові, тобто Kiev. Українська влада наполягає, що нині правильно передавати назву близько до вимови, властивої українській мові, тобто Kyiv.

Прем’єр Гончарук розповів про готовність доріг України до зими

Прем’єр-міністр Олексій Гончарук заявив, що уряд відповідально готується до зими і для безпеки на дорогах мобілізував всі ресурси.

«Хоч «Укравтодор» і залучає додатково приватні будівельні компанії, проте облавтодори – основні виконавці робіт з утримання доріг. І в них достатньо ресурсів для боротьби зі снігом… Україна до зими готова», – написав Гончарук на сторінці у Facebook.

Він додав, що сьогодні в регіони вирушили 54 нові спеціальні машини, загалом 4641 одиниць техніки готові «оперативно реагувати на складні погодні умови». 

Раніше державне агентство автомобільних доріг («Укравтодор») звернулося з проханням до українських водіїв щодо підготовки своїх транспортних засобів для поїздок у зимову пору.

 

Former Trump Adviser Next in Line to be Asked About Ukraine

President Donald Trump’s top adviser for Russian and European affairs is leaving his job at the White House just as he’s scheduled to testify before the House impeachment investigators, a senior administration official said.
 
Tim Morrison owes his job at the National Security Council to Trump, but his testimony Thursday in the House impeachment inquiry might be central to a push to remove the president from office.
 
A senior administration official said Wednesday that Morrison “has decided to pursue other opportunities.” The official, who was not authorized to discuss Morrison’s job and spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said Morrison has been considering leaving the administration for “some time.”
 
Morrison has been in the spotlight since August when a government whistleblower said multiple U.S. officials had said Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
 
Now it’s his turn in the impeachment probe’s hot seat.
 
Morrison, tall and lean with an authoritative voice, will be asked to explain that “sinking feeling” he got when Trump demanded that Ukraine’s president investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and meddling in the 2016 election.
 
Morrison, who is in his 40s, is a political appointee in the Trump White House, brought on board by former national security adviser John Bolton to address arms control matters and later shifted into his current role as a top Russia and Europe adviser. It was there that he stepped into the thick of an in-house squabble about the activities of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who had been conversing with Ukrainian leaders outside of traditional U.S. diplomatic circles.
 
Known as a “hawk” in national security circles, Morrison is set to be the first political appointee from the White House to testify before impeachment investigators. The probe has been denounced by the Republican president, who has directed his staff not to testify.
 
Regardless of what he says, GOP lawmakers will be hard-pressed to dismiss Morrison, formerly a longtime Republican staffer at the House Armed Services Committee. He’s been bouncing around Washington in Republican positions for two decades, having worked for Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and as a GOP senior staffer on the House Armed Services Committee, including nearly four years when it was chaired by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas.
 

Morrison’s name appeared more than a dozen times in earlier testimony by William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador in Ukraine, who told impeachment investigators that Trump was withholding military aid unless the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, went public with a promise to investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Taylor’s testimony contradicts Trump’s repeated denials that there was any quid pro quo.
 
Taylor said Morrison recounted a conversation that Gordon Sondland, America’s ambassador to the European Union, had with a top aide to Zelenskiy named Andriy Yermak. Taylor said Morrison told him security assistance would not materialize until Zelenskiy committed to investigate Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that once employed Biden’s son. A White House meeting for Zelenskiy also was in play.
 
“I was alarmed by what Mr. Morrison told me about the Sondland-Yermak conversation,” Taylor testified. “This was the first time I had heard that the security assistance – not just the White House meeting – was conditioned on the investigations.”
 
Taylor testified that Morrison told him he had a “sinking feeling” after learning about a Sept. 7 conversation Sondland had with Trump.
 
“According to Mr. Morrison, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland that he was not asking for a quid pro quo,” Taylor testified. “But President Trump did insist that President Zelenskiy go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelenskiy should want to do this himself.” Mr. Morrison said that he told Ambassador Bolton and the NSC lawyers of this phone call between President Trump and Ambassador Sondland.
 
Morrison told people after Bolton was forced out of his job that the national security adviser had tried to stop Giuliani’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine and that Morrison agreed, according to a U.S. official, who was not authorized to discuss Morrison’s role in the impeachment inquiry and spoke only on condition of anonymity. The official said Morrison told people that with the appointment of Robert O’Brien as Bolton’s successor, his own future work at the NSC was in a “holding pattern.”
 
Bolton had brought Morrison into the NSC in July 2018 as senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefence. He’s known as an arms control expert or an arms treaty saboteur, depending on who you ask.
 

Morrison, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from George Washington University, keeps nuclear strategist Herman Kahn’s seminal volume on thermonuclear warfare on a table in his office.
 
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said Bolton and Morrison are likeminded. Kimball said both have been known for calling up GOP congressional offices warning them against saying anything about arms control that didn’t align with their views.
 
“Just as John Bolton reportedly did, I would be shocked if Morrison did not regard Giuliani’s activities as being out of bounds,” said Kimball, who has been on opposite sides of arms control debates with Morrison for more than a decade.

 

Ivanka Trump to Promote Women’s Prosperity in Morocco

Ivanka Trump is getting ready to promote her women’s economic development program on an upcoming trip to Morocco.

It will be her third overseas trip this year to promote the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative , which was launched in February to benefit women in developing countries.

President Donald Trump’s daughter and senior adviser will visit the North African country in early November, the White House said. Specific dates for her travel were not released.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Ivanka Trump said the kingdom of Morocco is a valued U.S. ally that has “taken strides” under King Mohammed VI to promote gender equality.

In August, she tweeted her support to the Moroccan government after it began the process of amending its inheritance laws, which say women should receive half as much as men.

Ivanka Trump will travel with Sean Cairncross, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corp., an independent U.S. foreign aid agency that provides grants to developing countries to help promote economic growth, reduce poverty and strengthen institutions.

They will meet with government officials and local leaders in Morocco’s capital, Rabat, and in Casablanca to discuss how to help women in the region gain a measure of economic independence.

The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative has a goal of helping 50 million women in developing nations advance economically over the next six years.

It’s a U.S. government-wide effort that involves the State Department, the National Security Council and other agencies. It aims to coordinate existing programs and develop new ones to help women in areas such as job training, financial support and legal or regulatory reforms.

Ivanka Trump traveled to Ethiopia and Ivory Coast , in sub-Saharan Africa, in April and to Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay , in South America, in September to promote the initiative.

House Democrats Set Stage for Public Impeachment Inquiry

Democrats in the US House of Representatives will take a crucial step forward in their impeachment investigation of US President Donald Trump Thursday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a vote formalizing the inquiry, addressing Republicans’ arguments the process is illegitimate. As VOA’s Congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson reports from Capitol Hill, the vote also sets the stage for the impeachment inquiry to go public.