A top United States diplomat on Wednesday said President Donald Trump had inquired about “the Ukrainian investigations” into his Democratic rival Joe Biden. Bill Taylor was speaking at the first public hearing in the impeachment inquiry against the president.

Trump’s impeachment inquiry focuses on a July 25 telephone call, in which the president had asked his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden, a former US vice president, and his son Hunter Biden, who had served as a director for Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Taylor, the acting US ambassador to Ukraine, said a member of his staff had overheard a telephone call between Trump and Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, reported BBC. Sondland reportedly told the president that “the Ukrainians were ready to move forward”. When the staff member asked Sondland what Trump thought about Ukraine, the US ambassador said the president cared more about the investigations of Biden, said Taylor.

Trump on Wednesday told reporters he did not recall making such comments. “I know nothing about that, first time I’ve heard it,” said Trump. The US president added that he did not recall the phone call Taylor referred to, adding that “in any event it’s more second hand information”. He has time and again denied any wrongdoing in the matter and repeatedly attacked the investigation and his opposition.

The White House, meanwhile, said President Trump was skipping the first televised hearings in his impeachment investigation. “He’s in the Oval [office] in meetings,” said White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham. “Not watching. He’s working.”

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