President Donald Trump has been impeached. In this episode, hear the key evidence against him presented by the witnesses called to testify in over 40 hours of hearings that took place in the “inquiry” phase of the impeachment. Using this episode, you will be able to judge for yourself how strong the case against President Trump really is as the country prepares for his Senate trial.
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- Article: Pelosi Says She Plans To Send Articles Of Impeachment To Senate By Claudio Grisales and Dirdre Walsh, npr, December 18, 2019
- Article: Impeachment Timeline: From Early Calls To A Full House Vote by Brian Naylor, npr, December 17, 2019
- Article: Ukraine and Russia agree to implement ceasefire BBC News, December 10, 2019
- Article: How America’s System Of Legalized Corruption Brought Us To The Brink Of Impeachment By Brendan Fischer, Talking Points Memo, December 5, 2019
- Article: Who Is Michael J. Gerhardt? Professor Made Impeachment His Specialty by Emily Cochrane, The New York Times, December 4, 2019
- Article: The Betrayal of Volodymyr Zelensky by Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, December 3, 2019
- Article: Eric Ciaramella: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know By Tom Cleary, heavy November 24, 2019
- Article: Why Did ASAP Rocky Keep Coming Up at the Impeachment Hearing? By Aaron Mak, Slate, November 20, 2019
- Article: Impeaching Trump And Demonizing Russia: Birds Of A Feather By Robert W. Merry, The American Conservative, November 19, 2019
- Article: Gordon Sondland Was A Low-Profile Hotel Owner. Until He Went To Work For Trump By Jim Zarroli, npr, November 19, 2019
- Article: Yovanovitch’s Moment: Will Her Testimony Help Dems or the GOP? By Susan Crabtree, RealClear Politics, November 14, 2019
- Article: Who Is Bill Taylor? Key Witness in the Impeachment Inquiry By Lara Jakes, The New York Times, November 13, 2019
- Article: Mulvaney will not pursue court fight over subpoena By Katelyn Polantz, CNN, November 12, 2019
- Article: After boost from Perry, backers got huge gas deal in Ukraine By Desmond Butler, Michael Biesecker, Stephen Braun, and Richard Lardner, AP News, November 11, 2019
- Article: CNN host was set to interview Ukrainian President until scandal took shape By Caroline Kelly, CNN, November 7, 2019
- Article: Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, defies subpoena in impeachment inquiry By Bart Jansen, USA Today, October 15, 2019
- Article: ‘Disruptive Diplomat’ Gordon Sondland, a key figure in Trump impeachment furor long coveted ambassadorship By Aaron C. Davis, Josh Dawsey, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, and Michael Birnbaum, The Washington Post, October 14, 201
- Article: The Sleazy Career of Kurt Volker By Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect, October 8, 2019
- Article: Here’s what you need to know about the US aid package to Ukraine that Trump delayed by Joe Gould and Howard Altman, Defense News, September 25, 2019
- Article: After Years Of Stalling, Can Ukraine Finally Become Energy Self-Sufficient? By Todd Prince, RadioFreeEurope RadioLiberty, September 15, 2019
- Transcript: Nancy Pelosi Impeachment Statement Transcript: House of Representatives Launching Impeachment Inquiry of Trump Rev, September 24, 2019
- Article: Trump holds up Ukraine military aid meant to confront Russia By Caitlin Emma and Connor O’Brien, Politico, August 28, 2019
- Article: Trump kills plan to cut billions in foreign aid by John Bresnahan, Jennifer Scholtes and Marianne Levine, Politico, August 22, 2019
- Article: The Complete Timeline of A$AP Rocky’s Arrest in Sweden By Isabelle Hore-Thorburn, High Snobiety, August 14, 2019
- Document: Letter to Richard Burr & Adam Schiff August 12, 2019
- Article: NATO is the obstacle to improving Russian-Western relations By Ruslan Pukhov, Defense News, March 28, 2019
- Article: In Ukraine, A Make Believe Politician Prepares For the Presidency By Kenneth Rapoza, Forbes, March 26, 2019
- Article: US staged a coup in Ukraine – here’s why and how by Chris Kanthan, Nation of Change, August 15, 2018
- Article: How and Why the US Government Perpetrated the 2014 Coup in Ukraine by Eric Zuesse, Strategic Culture Foundation, June 3, 2018
- Article: What Did Ex-Trump Aide Paul Manafort Really Do in Ukraine? by Kenzi Abou-Sabe, Tom Winter and Max Tucker, NBC News, June 27, 2017
- Article: What Exactly Did Paul Manafort Do Wrong? by Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic, March 24, 2017
- Article: How William Hague Deceived the House of Commons on Ukraine By David Morrison, Huffington Post, October 3, 2014
- Article: That time Ukraine tried to join NATO — and NATO said no By Adam Taylor, The Washington Post, September 14, 2014
- Article: It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war By Seumas Milne, Guardian, April 30, 2014
- Article: Facing Russian Threat, Ukraine Halts Plans for Deals with E.U. By David M. Herszenhorn, The New York Times, November 21, 2013
- Article: Former Soviet States Stand Up to Russia. Will the U.S.? By Carl Gershman, The Washington Post, September 26, 2013
- Article: Ukraine Says ‘No’ to NATO By Kathleen Holzwart Sprehe, Pew Research Center, March 29, 2010
- Article: Ukraine Faces Battle of NATO, Pro and Con By Mara D. Bellaby, The Associated Press, Washington Post Archive, June 6, 2006
- Article: ‘Meddling’ In Ukraine By Michael McFaul, The Washington Post, December 21, 2004
- Article: AFTEREFFECTS: THE LAW; American Will Advise Iraqis On Writing New Constitution By Jennifer 8. Lee, The Washington Post, May 11, 2003
- Bill Summary: H.Res.755 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) Biography.com, Updated December 16, 2019
- Biography: Rudolph Giuliani Biography.com, Updated December 16, 2019
- Biography: David Hale, U.S. Department of State
- Biography: George P. Kent, U.S. Department of State
- Biographies: Speakers’ Bios: US-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit IV, Center For US Ukrainian Relations
- Explanatory Statement: DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2020
- Explanatory Statement: DEPARTMENT OF STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2020 State Department
- Explanatory Statement: DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 2019, CONFERENCE REPORT TO ACCOMPANY H.R. 6157 Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN, SEPTEMBER 13, 2018
- Explanatory Statement: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 State Department
- Hearing: The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment U.S. House Committee on The Judiciary
- Profile: Gordon Sondland LinkedIn
- Profile: Kurt Volker LinkedIn
- Profile: Timothy Morrison LinkedIn
- Public Library of US Diplomacy: UKRAINE: PM YANUKOVYCH TELLS A/S FRIED: UKRAINE’S EUROPEAN CHOICE HAS BEEN DECIDED Wikileaks, November 17, 2006
- USIP: About United States Institute of Peace
- USIP: Stephen J. Hadley United States Institute of Peace
- The Origins of USIP: Institute’s Founders Were Visionaries, Grass-Roots Americans, World War II Veterans United States Institute of Peace
- Video: Ukraine Crisis – What You’re Not Being Told, YouTube, March 12, 2014
Sound Clip Sources
Hearing: Emerging U.S. Defense Challenges and Worldwide Threats, United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, December 6, 2019
- General John M. Keane
- Mr. Shawn Brimley
- Dr. Robert Kagan
55:55 Robert Kagan: But as we look across the whole panoply of threats that we face in the world, I worry that it’s too easy to lose sight of what, to my mind, represent the greatest threats that we face over the medium- and long term and possibly even sooner than we may think, and that is the threat posed by the two great powers in the international system, the two great revisionist powers international system—Russia and China, because what they threaten is something that is in a way more profound, which is this world order that the United States created after the end of World War II—a global security order, a global economic order, and a global political order. This is not something the United States did as a favor to the rest of the world. It’s not something we did out of an act of generosity, although on historical terms it was a rather remarkable act of generosity. It was done based on what Americans learned in the first half of the twentieth century, which was that if there was not a power—whether it was Britain or, as it turned out, it had to be the United States—willing and able to maintain this kind of decent world order, you did not have some smooth ride into something else. What you had was catastrophe. What you had was the rise of aggressive powers, the rise of hostile powers that were hostile to liberal values. We saw it. We all know what happened with two world wars in the first half of the twentieth century and what those who were present at the creation, so to speak, after World War II wanted to create was an international system that would not permit those kinds of horrors to be repeated.
CNN Town Hall: Pelosi says Bill Clinton impeached for “being stupid”, CNN, December 5, 2019
- Nancy Pelosi
Questioner: So, Ms, Pelosi. You resisted calls for the impeachment of president Bush in 2006 and president Trump following the Muller report earlier this year, this time is different. Why did you oppose it? Why did you oppose impeachment in the past? And what is your obligation to protect our democracy from the actions of our president now? Pelosi: Thank you. I thank you for bringing up the question about, because when I became speaker the first time, there was overwhelming call for me to impeach president Bush on the strength of the war in Iraq, which I vehemently opposed. And I say it again, I said it other places. That was my wheelhouse. I was intelligence. I was a ranking member on the intelligence committee, even before I became part of the leadership of gang of four. So I knew there were no nuclear weapons in Iraq. It just wasn’t there. They had to show us, they had to show the gang of four. All the intelligence they had, the intelligence did not show that that was the case. So I knew it was a misrepresentation to the public. But having said that, it was in my view, not a ground for impeachment. They won the election. They made a representation. And to this day, people think, people think that it was the right thing to do. People think Iraq had something to do with the 9/11. I mean, it’s appalling what they did. But I did and I said, if somebody wants to make a case, you bring it forward. They had impeached bill Clinton for personal indiscretion and misrepresenting about it and some of these same people are saying, Oh, this doesn’t rise to impeachment or that right there. And impeaching Bill Clinton for being stupid in terms of something like that. I mean, I love him. I think it was a great president, but being stupid in terms of that and what would somebody do not to embarrass their family, but in any event, they did Bill Clinton. Now they want me to do George this. I just didn’t want it to be a way of life in our country. As far as the Muller report or there was a good deal of the academic setting and a thousand legal experts wrote a statement that said, the Muller Report impeach…is what’s in there as an impeachable offense? So much of what’s in the Muller report will be more clear once some of the court cases are resolved, but it wasn’t so clear to the public. The Ukraine, this removed all doubt. It was self evident that the president undermined our national security, jeopardize the integrity of our elections as he violated his oath of office. There’s just… That’s something that cannot be ignored.
Hearing: Hearing on Constitutional Framework for Impeachment, House Judiciary Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, December 4, 2019
Watch on Youtube: The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump
- Professor Noah Feldman
- Professor Pamela Karlan
- Professor Michael Gerhardt
- Professor Jonathan Turley
1:41:00 Michael Gerhardt: The gravity of the president’s misconduct is apparent when we compare it to the misconduct of the one president resigned from office to avoid impeachment conviction and removal. The House Judiciary Committee in 1974 approved three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon who resigned a few days later. The first article charged him with obstruction of justice. If you read the Muller report, it identifies a number of facts. I won’t lay them out here right now that suggest the president himself has obstructed justice. If you look at the second article of impeachment approved against Richard Nixon, it charged him with abuse of power for ordering the heads of the FBI, IRS, and CIA to harass his political enemies. In the present circumstance, the president is engaged in a pattern of abusing the trust, placing him by the American people, by soliciting foreign countries, including China, Russia, and Ukraine, to investigate his political opponents and interfere on his behalf and elections in which he is a candidate. The third article approved against president Nixon charged that he had failed to comply with four legislative subpoenas. In the present circumstance, the president has refused to comply with and directed at least 10 others in his administration not to comply with lawful congressional subpoenas, including Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and acting chief of staff and head of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney. As Senator Lindsey Graham now chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee said when he was a member of the house on the verge of impeaching president Clinton, the day Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day he was subject to impeachment because he took the power from Congress over the impeachment process away from Congress, and he became the judge and jury. That is a perfectly good articulation of why obstruction of Congress is impeachable.
2:02:30 Norm Eisen: Professor Feldman, what is abuse of power? Noah Feldman: Abuse of power is when the president uses his office, takes an action that is part of the presidency, not to serve the public interest, but to serve his private benefit. And in particular, it’s an abuse of power if he does it to facilitate his reelection or to gain an advantage that is not available to anyone who is not the president. Noah Feldman: Sir, why is that impeachable conduct? Noah Feldman: If the president uses his office for personal gain, the only recourse available under the constitution is for him to be impeached because the president cannot be as a practical matter charged criminally while he is in office because the department of justice works for the president. So the only mechanism available for a president who tries to distort the electoral process for personal gain is to impeach him. That is why we have impeachment.
2:09:15 Norm Eisen: Professor Gerhardt, does a high crime and misdemeanor require an actual statutory crime? Michael Gerhardt: No, it plainly does not. Everything we know about the history of impeachment reinforces the conclusion that impeachable offenses do not have to be crimes. And again, not all crimes are impeachable offenses. We look at, again, at the context and gravity of the misconduct.
2:35:15 Michael Gerhardt: The obstruction of Congress is a problem because it undermines the basic principle of the constitution. If you’re going to have three branches of government, each of the branches has to be able to do its job. The job of the house is to investigate impeachment and to impeach. A president who says, as this president did say, I will not cooperate in any way, shape, or form with your process robs a coordinate branch of government. He robs the House of Representatives of its basic constitutional power of impeachment. When you add to that the fact that the same president says, my Department of Justice cannot charge me with a crime. The president puts himself above the law when he says he will not cooperate in an impeachment inquiry. I don’t think it’s possible to emphasize this strongly enough. A president who will not cooperate in an impeachment inquiry is putting himself above the law. Now, putting yourself above the law as president is the core of an impeachable offense because if the president could not be impeached for that, he would in fact not be responsible to anybody.
3:15:30 Jonathan Turley: I’d also caution you about obstruction. Obstruction is a crime also with meaning. It has elements. It has controlling case authority. The record does not establish obstruction. In this case, that is what my steam colleagues said was certainly true. If you accept all of their presumptions, it would be obstruction, but impeachments have to be based on proof, not presumptions. That’s the problem. When you move towards impeachment on this abbreviated schedule that has not been explained to me – why you want to set the record for the fastest impeachment. Fast is not good for impeachment. Narrow, fast, impeachments have failed. Just ask Johnson. So the obstruction issue is an example of this problem. And here’s my concern. The theory being put forward is that President Trump obstructed Congress by not turning over material requested by the committee and citations have been made to the third article of the Nixon impeachment. Now, first of all, I want to confess, I’ve been a critic of the third article, the Nixon impeachment my whole life. My hair catches on fire every time someone mentions the third article. Why? Because you would be replicating one of the worst articles written on impeachment. Here’s the reason why – Peter Radino’s position as Chairman of Judiciary was that Congress alone decides what information may be given to it – alone. His position was that the courts have no role in this. And so by that theory, any refusal by a president based on executive privilege or immunities would be the basis of impeachment. That is essentially the theory that’s being replicated today. President Trump has gone to the courts. He’s allowed to do that. We have three branches, not two. You’re saying article one gives us complete authority that when we demand information from another branch, it must be turned over or we’ll impeach you in record time. Now making that worse is that you have such a short investigation. It’s a perfect storm. You set an incredibly short period, demand a huge amount of information and when the president goes to court, you then impeach him. In Nixon, it did go to the courts and Nixon lost, and that was the reason Nixon resigned. He resigned a few days after the Supreme Court ruled against him in that critical case. But in that case, the court recognized there are executive privilege arguments that can be made. It didn’t say, “You had no right coming to us, don’t darken our doorstep again.” It said, “We’ve heard your arguments. We’ve heard Congress’s arguments and you know what? You lose. Turn over the material to Congress.” Do you know what that did for the Judiciary is it gave this body legitimacy. Now recently there’s some rulings against president Trump including a ruling involving Don McGahn. Mr. Chairman, I testified in front of you a few months ago and if you recall, we had an exchange and I encouraged you to bring those actions and I said I thought you would win and you did. And I think it’s an important win for this committee because I don’t agree with President Trump’s argument in that case. But that’s an example of what can happen if you actually subpoena witnesses and go to court. Then you have an obstruction case because a court issues in order and unless they stay that order by a higher court, you have obstruction. But I can’t emphasize this enough. And I’ll say just one more time. If you impeach a president, if you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power. It’s your abuse of power.
3:26:40 Jonathan Turley: There’s a reason why every past impeachment has established crimes, and it’s obvious it’s not that you can’t impeach on a non-crime. You can, in fact. Non-crimes had been part of past impeachments. It’s just that they’ve never gone up alone or primarily as the basis of impeachment. That’s the problem here. If you prove a quid pro quo that you might have an impeachable offense, but to go up only on a noncriminal case would be the first time in history. So why is that the case? The reason is that crimes have an established definition and case law. So there’s a concrete, independent body of law that assures the public that this is not just political, that this is a president who did something they could not do. You can’t say the president is above the law. If you then say the crimes you accuse him of really don’t have to be established.
3:39:35 Jonathan Turley: This is one of the thinnest records ever to go forward on impeachment. I mean the Johnson record one can can debate because this was the fourth attempt at an impeachment, but this is certainly the thinnest of a modern record. If you take a look at the size of the record of Clinton and Nixon, they were massive in comparison to this, which was is almost wafer thin in comparison, and it has left doubts – not just in the minds of people supporting president Trump – now it’s in the minds of people like myself about what actually occurred. There’s a difference between requesting investigations and a quid pro quo. You need to stick the landing on the quid pro quo. You need to get the evidence to support it. It might be out there, I don’t know, but it’s not in this record. I agree with my colleagues. We’ve all read the record and I just come to a different conclusion. I don’t see proof of a quid pro quo no matter what my presumptions, assumptions or bias might be.
Hearing: Impeachment Hearing with Fiona Hill and David Holmes, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 21, 2019
Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Dr. Fiona Hill and David Holmes
- Dr. Fiona Hill
- David Holmes
44:45 David Holmes: Our work in Ukraine focused on three policy priorities: peace and security, economic growth and reform and anti-corruption and rule of law. These policies match the three consistent priorities of the Ukrainian people since 2014 as measured in public opinion polling, namely an end to the conflict with Russia that restores national unity and territorial integrity, responsible economic policies that deliver European standards of growth and opportunity and effective and impartial rule of law, institutions that deliver justice in cases of high level official corruption. Our efforts on this third policy priority merit special mention because it was during Ambassador Yovanovitch’s tenure that we achieved the hard-fought passage of a law establishing an independent court to try corruption cases.
51:00 David Holmes: It quickly became clear that the White House was not prepared to show the level of support for the Zelensky administration that we had originally anticipated. In early May, Mr Giuliani publicly alleged that Mr. Zelensky was “surrounded by enemies of the U S president” and canceled a visit to Ukraine. Shortly thereafter we learned that Vice President Pence no longer plan to lead the presidential delegation to the inauguration. The White House then whittled down an initial proposed list for the official presidential delegation to the inauguration from over a dozen individuals to just five. Secretary Perry as its head, Special Representative for Ukraine and negotiations Kurt Volker representing the State Department, National Security Council director Alex Vindman representing the White House, temporary acting Charge D’affairs Joseph Pennington representing the Embassy, and Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland. While Ambassador Sondland’s mandate as ambassador as the accredited ambassador to the European Union did not cover individual member states, let alone non-member countries like Ukraine, he made clear that he had direct and frequent access to President Trump and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and portrayed himself as the conduit to the President and Mr. Mulvaney for this group. Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland, and Ambassador Volker later styled themselves “the three Amigos” and made clear they would take the lead on coordinating our policy and engagement with the Zelensky administration.
53:30 David Holmes: The inauguration took place on May 20th and I took notes in the delegations meeting with President Zelensky. During the meeting, Secretary Perry passed President Zelensky a list that Perry described as “people he trusts.” Secretary Perry told President Zelensky that he could seek advice from the people on this list on issues of energy sector reform, which was the topic of subsequent meetings between Secretary Perry and key Ukrainian energy sector contacts. Embassy personnel were excluded from some of these later meetings by Secretary Perry’s staff.
56:50 David Holmes: Within a week or two, it became apparent that the energy sector reforms, the commercial deals, and the anti-corruption efforts on which we were making progress were not making a dent in terms of persuading the White House to schedule a meeting between the presidents.
58:10 David Holmes: We became concerned that even if a meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky could occur, it would not go well. And I discussed with embassy colleagues whether we should stop seeking a meeting all together. While the White House visit was critical to the Zelensky administration, a visit that failed to send a clear and strong signal of support likely would be worse for President Zelensky than no visit at all.
58:30 David Holmes: Congress has appropriated $1.5 billion in security assistance for Ukraine since 2014. This assistance has provided crucial material and moral support to Ukraine and its defensive war with Russia and has helped Ukraine build its armed forces virtually from scratch into arguably the most capable and battle-hardened land force in Europe. I’ve had the honor of visiting the main training facility in Western Ukraine with members of Congress and members of this very committee, Ms. Stefanik, where we witnessed firsthand us national guard troops along with allies conducting training for Ukrainian soldiers. Since 2014 national guard units from California, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, and Wisconsin have trained shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainian counterparts.
59:30 David Holmes: Given the history of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine and the bipartisan recognition of its importance, I was shocked when on July 18th and office of management and budget staff members surprisingly announced the hold on Ukraine security assistance. The announcement came toward the end of a nearly two hour national security council secure video conference call, which I participated in from the embassy conference room. The official said that the order had come from the president and had been conveyed to OMB by Mr. Mulvaney with no further explanation.
1:03:30 David Holmes: The four of us went to a nearby restaurant and sat on an outdoor terrace. I sat directly across from Ambassador Sondland and the two staffers sat off to our sides. At first, the lunch was largely social. Ambassador Sondland selected a bottle of wine that he shared among the four of us and we discuss topics such as marketing strategies for his hotel business. During the lunch, Ambassador Sondland said that he was going to call President Trump to give him an update. Ambassador Sondland placed a call on his mobile phone and I heard him announce himself several times along the lines of Gordon Sondland holding for the president. It appeared to be he was being transferred through several layers of switchboards and assistance. And I then noticed Ambassador Sondland’s demeanor changed and understood that he had been connected to President Trump. While Ambassador Sondland’s phone was not on speaker phone, I could hear the president’s voice through the ear piece of the phone. The president’s voice was loud and recognizable and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume. I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the president and explained he was calling from Kiev. I heard president Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied, yes, he was in Ukraine and went on to state President Zelensky “loves your ass.” I then heard President Trump ask, “So he’s going to do the investigation?” and Sondland replied that “He’s going to do it” adding that President Zelensky will do anything you ask him to do. Even though I did not take notes of these statements, I have a clear recollection that these statements were made. I believe that my colleagues who were sitting at the table also knew that Ambassador Sondland was speaking with the president. The conversation then shifted to Ambassador Sondland’s efforts on behalf of the president to assist a rapper who was jailed in Sweden. I can only hear Ambassador Sondland’s side of the conversation. Ambassador Sondland told the president that the rapper was “kind of effed there and should have pled guilty.” He recommended that the president “Wait until after the sentencing or we’ll only make it worse”, and he added that the president should let him get sentenced, play the racism card, give him a ticker tape when he comes home. Ambassador Sondland further told the president that Sweden quote “should have released him on your word, but that you can tell the Kardashians you tried.”
1:15:00 David Holmes: Today, this very day, marks exactly six years since throngs pro-Western Ukrainians spontaneously gathered on Kiev’s independence square, to launch what became known as the Revolution of Dignity. While the protest began in opposition to a turn towards Russia and away from the West, they expanded over three months to reject the entire corrupt, repressive system that had been sustained by Russian influence in the country. Those events were followed by Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and invasion of Ukraine’s Eastern Donbass region, and an ensuing war that to date has cost almost 14,000 lives.
1:17:00 David Holmes: Now is not the time to retreat from our relationship with Ukraine, but rather to double down on it.
2:00:15 David Holmes: In the meeting with the president, Secretary Perry as head of the delegation opened the meeting with the American side, and had a number of points he made. And, and during that period, he handed over a piece of paper. I did not see what was on the paper, but Secretary Perry described what was on the paper as a list of trusted individuals and recommended that President Zelensky could draw from that list for advice on energy sector reform issues. Daniel Goldman: Do you know who was on that list? Holmes: I didn’t see the list. I don’t know other colleagues. There are other people who’ve been in the mix for a while on that set of issues. Other people, Secretary Perry has mentioned as being people to consult on reform. Goldman: And are they Americans? Holmes: Yes.
4:18:15 Fiona Hill: As I understood there’d been a directive for a whole scale review of our foreign policy assistance and the ties between our foreign policy objectives and the assistance. This has been going on actually for many months. And in the period when I was wrapping up my time there, there had been more scrutiny than specific assistance to specific sets of countries as a result of that overall review.
4:21:10 Fiona Hill: I asked him quite bluntly in a meeting that we had in June of 2019. So this is after the presidential inauguration when I’d seen that he had started to step up in much more of a proactive role on a Ukraine. What was his role here? And he said that he was in charge of Ukraine. And I said, “Well, who put you in charge Ambassador Sondland?” And he said, “The president.” Stephen Castor: Did surprise you when he told you that. Fiona Hill:It did surprise me. We’d had no directive. We hadn’t been told this. Ambassador Bolton had never indicated in any way that he thought that Ambassador Sondland was playing a leading role in Ukraine.
4:36:30 Fiona Hill: And one of Ukraine’s Achilles heel, in addition to, it’s military disadvantage with Russia, is in fact, energy. Ukraine remains for now the main transit point for a Russian oil and gas and pipelines to Europe. And this has been manipulated repeatedly, especially since 2006, by the Russian government. And in fact, I mean many of you here will remember, in the Reagan era, there was a huge dispute between the United States and Europe about about whether it made sense for Europe to build pipelines from the then Soviet union to bring gas to European markets.
4:55:30 David Holmes: United States has provided combined civilian and military assistance to Ukraine since 2014 of about $3 billion plus to $1 billion – three $1 billion loan guarantees that’s not…those get paid back largely. So just over $3 billion, the Europeans at the level of the European Union and plus the member States combined since 2014. My understanding and have provided a combined $12 billion to Ukraine.
5:02:05 Fiona Hill: And so when I came in Gordon Sondland was basically saying, “Well, look, we have a deal here that there will be a meeting. I have a deal here with the Chief of Staff, Mulvaney there will be a meeting if the Ukrainians open up or announce these investigations into 2016 and Burisma” and I cut it off immediately there because by this point, having heard Mr. Giuliani over and over again on the television and all of the issues, that he was asserting. By this point, it was clear that Burisma was code for the Bidens because Giuliani was laying it out there. I could see why Colonel Vindman was alarmed and he said this is inappropriate with the National Security Council. We can’t be involved in this.
5:03:45 Fiona Hill: And that’s when I pushed back on Ambassador Sondland and said, “Look, I know there’s differences about whether one, we should have this meeting. We’re trying to figure out whether we should have it after the Ukrainian, democratic, sorry, parliamentary elections, the Rada elections”, which by that point I think had been set for July 21st. It must have been, cause this is July 10th at this point. And Ambassador Bolton would like to wait until after that to basically see whether President Zelensky gets the majority in the parliament, which would enable him to form a cabinet. And then we can move forward.
6:05:50 Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY): Dr. Hill, turning back to you, there’s been discussion about the process of scheduling the meeting between President Zelensky and President Trump, and you testified that there was hesitancy to schedule this meeting until after the Ukrainian parliamentary elections. Is that correct? Fiona Hill: That is correct, yes. Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY): And that’s because there was speculation in all analytical circles, both in Ukraine and outside the Ukraine, that Zelensky might not be able to get the majority that he needed to form a cabinet, correct? Fiona Hill: That is correct. Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY): And you also testified that another aspect of the NSC hesitancy to schedule this meeting was based on broader concerns related to Zelensky’s ability to implement anti-corruption reforms. And this was in specific relation to Ukrainian oligarchs who basically were the owner of the TV company that Mr. Zelensky his program had been a part of. Is that correct? Fiona Hill: That is correct.
6:21:40 Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): One of them is headlined “After boost from Perry, backers got huge gas deal in Ukraine.” The other one is titled “Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors probe Giuliani’s links to Ukrainian energy projects.” Mr. Holmes. Thank you, chairman. You indicated that Secretary Perry, when he was in the Ukraine, had private meetings with Ukrainians. Before he had those private meetings, in a meeting with others, including yourself, I believe, he had presented a list of American advisers for the Ukraine energy sector. Do you know who was on that list? David Holmes: Sir, I didn’t see the names on the list myself. Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): Do you know if Alex Cranberg and Michael Blazer were on that list? David Holmes: I have since heard that Michael Blazer is on the list.
Hearing: Impeachment Inquiry Hearing with Laura Cooper and David Hale, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 20, 2019
Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Laura Cooper and David Hale
- Laura Cooper
- David Hale
45:30 Laura Cooper: I have also supported a robust Ukrainian Ministry of Defense program of defense reform to ensure the longterm sustainability of US investments and the transformation of the Ukrainian military from a Soviet model to a NATO inter-operable force.
45:50 Laura Cooper: The National Defense Authorization Act requires the Department of Defense to certify defense reform progress to release half of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative or USAI funds, a provision we find very helpful. Based on recommendations from me and other key DOD advisers, the Department of Defense in coordination with the Department of State certified in May, 2019 that Ukraine had “taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption, increasing accountability and sustaining improvements of combat capability.”
47:15 Laura Cooper: Let me say at the outset that I have never discussed this or any other matter with the president and never heard directly from him about this matter.
48:05 Laura Cooper: I and others at the interagency meetings felt that the matter was particularly urgent, because it takes time to obligate that amount of money. And my understanding was that the money was legally required to be obligated by September 30th to the end of the fiscal year.
49:15 Laura Cooper: I received a series of updates and in a September 5th update, I and other senior defense department leaders were informed that over a $100,000,000 could not be obligated by September 30th.
49:45 Laura Cooper: After the decision to release the funds on September 11th of this year, my colleagues across the DOD security assistance enterprise worked tirelessly to be able to ultimately obligate about 86% of the funding by the end of the fiscal year, more than they had originally estimated they would be able to. Due to a provision in September’s continuing resolution, appropriating an amount equal to the unobligated funds from fiscal year 2019, we ultimately will be able to obligate all of the USAI funds.
51:04 Laura Cooper: Since my deposition, I have again reviewed my calendar, and the only meeting where I recall a Ukrainian official raising the issue with me is on September 5th at the Ukrainian independence day celebration.
51:45 Laura Cooper: Specifically, on the issue of Ukraine’s knowledge of the hold or of Ukraine, asking questions about possible issues with the flow of assistance. My staff showed me two unclassified emails that they received from the state department. One was received on July 25th at 2:31 PM. That email said that the Ukrainian Embassy and House Foreign Affairs Committee are asking about security assistance. The second email was received on July 25th at 4:25 PM that email said that the Hill knows about the FMF situation to an extent, and so does the Ukrainian embassy. I did not receive either of these emails. My staff does not recall informing me about them and I do not recall being made aware of their content at the time.
53:04 Laura Cooper: On July 3rd at 4:23 PM they received an email from the State Department stating that they had heard that the CN is currently being blocked by OMB. This apparently refers to the congressional notification State would send for Ukraine FMF. I have no further information on this.
53:20 Laura Cooper: On July 25th a member of my staff got a question from a Ukraine embassy contact asking what was going on with Ukraine security assistance. Because at that time, we did not know what the guidance was on USAI. The OMB notice of apportionment arrived that day, but the staff member did not find out about it until later. I was informed that the staff member told the Ukrainian official that we were moving forward on USAI, but recommended that the Ukraine embassy check in with State regarding the FMF.
1:02:40 David Hale: We’ve often heard at the state department that the President of the United States wants to make sure that a foreign assistance is reviewed scrupulously to make sure that it’s truly in US national interests, and that we evaluated continuously to meet certain criteria that the president’s established. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): And since his election, is it fair to say that the president Trump has looked to overhaul how foreign aid is distributed? David Hale: Yes. The NSC launched a foreign assistance review process, sometime, I think it was late August, early September, 2018.
1:04:30 Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): In the past year, Ukraine was not the only country to have aid withheld from it, is that correct? David Hale: Correct. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): In the past year, was aid held withheld from Pakistan? David Hale:Yes sir. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): Why was aid withheld from Pakistan? David Hale: Because of unhappiness over the policies and behavior of the Pakistani government towards certain proxy groups that were involved in conflicts with United States. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): And in the past year was aid also withheld from Honduras. David Hale: Aid was withheld from three States in central Northern central America, yes. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): The past year was aide withheld from Lebanon? David Hale: Yes sir. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): And when aid was first held withheld from Lebanon, were you given a reason why it was withheld? David Hale: No. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): So having no explanation for why aid is being withheld is not uncommon. I would say it is not the normal way that we function… Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): But it does happen. David Hale: It does happen. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): And is it true that when aid was being withheld from Lebanon that was at the same time aid was being withheld from Ukraine? David Hale: Correct, sir. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX):And, you’ve testified that the aid to Lebanon still hasn’t been released, is that right? David Hale: That is correct. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): Alright.
1:26:05 Laura Cooper: Russia violated the sovereignty of Ukraine’s territory. Russia illegally annexed territory that belonged to Ukraine. They also denied Ukraine access to its Naval fleet at the time. And to this day, Russia is building a capability on Crimea designed to expand Russian military power projection far beyond the immediate region.
1:59:40 Laura Cooper: There are three separate pieces to our overall ability to provide equipment to the Ukrainian armed forces. The first is the foreign military finance system, which is a State Department authority and countries around the world have this authority. That authority is used for some of the training and equipment. There’s also the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. That’s a DOD authority. Unlike the State authority, the DOD authority is only a one year authority. And then third, there’s an opportunity for defense sales. And that is something that we’re working with Ukrainians on now so that they can actually purchase U.S. equipment. But the javelin specifically was provided under FMF initially and now the Ukrainians are interested in the purchase of javelin.
2:00:35 Rep. Will Hurd (TX): And there wasn’t a hold put on purchasing of equipment, is that correct? Laura Cooper: Not to my understanding, no.
2:04:15 Laura Cooper: There were two ways that we would be able to implement presidential guidance to stop obligating the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. And the first option would be for the president to do a rescission. The second is a reprogramming action that the Department of Defense would do… Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): In both of those would require congressional notice. There would be an extra step that the president would have to take to notify Congress. As far as, you know, was there ever any notice that was sent out to Congress? Laura Cooper: Sir, I did express that, that I believed it would require a notice to Congress and that then there was no such notice to my knowledge or preparation of such a notice to my knowledge.
2:07:41 Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): But you can’t say one way or another whether the inquiries in these emails were about the whole, is that fair? Laura Cooper: I cannot say for certain. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX):Right, and you can’t say one way or another, whether the Ukrainians knew about the whole before August 28th, 2019 when it was reported in Politico, correct? Laura Cooper: Sir, I can just tell you that it’s the recollection of my staff that they likely knew, but no, I do not have a certain data point to offer you.
Hearing: Impeachment Inquiry Hearing with E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 20, 2019
Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Ambassador Gordon Sondland
- Gordon Sondland
54:00 Gordon Sondland: As I testified previously, Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a white house visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 Election DNC server, and Burisma. 54:30 Gordon Sondland: Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew these investigations were important to the president.
55:00 Gordon Sondland: I was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid, as the Ukrainians needed those funds to fight against Russian aggression.
55:10 Gordon Sondland: I tried diligently to ask why the aid was suspended, but I never received a clear answer. Still haven’t to this day. In the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 elections and Burisma as Mr. Giuliani had demanded.
59:40 Gordon Sondland: During the Zelensky inauguration, on May 20th the US delegation developed a very positive view of the Ukraine government. We were impressed by President Zelensky’s desire to promote a stronger relationship with the United States. We admired his commitment to reform, and we were excited about the possibility of Ukraine making the changes necessary to support a greater Western economic investment. And we were excited that Ukraine might, after years and years of lip service, finally get serious about addressing its own well known corruption problems.
1:01:15 Gordon Sondland: Unfortunately, President Trump was skeptical. He expressed concerns that the Ukrainian government was not serious about reform, and he even mentioned that Ukraine tried to take him down in the last election. In response to our persistent efforts in that meeting to change his views, President Trump directed us to quote, “talk with Rudy.” We understood that talk with Rudy meant talk with Mr. Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. Let me say again, we weren’t happy with the President’s directive to talk with Rudy. We did not want to involve Mr. Giuliani. I believe then as I do now, that the men and women of the state department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for Ukraine matters. Nonetheless, based on the president’s direction we were faced with a choice, we could abandon the efforts to schedule the white house phone call and a white house visit between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, which was unquestionably in our foreign policy interest, or we could do as president Trump had directed and talk with Rudy. We chose the latter course, not because we liked it, but because it was the only constructive path open to us.
1:12:05 Gordon Sondland: After the Zelensky meeting, I also met with Zelensky’s senior aide, Andre Yermak. I don’t recall the specifics of our conversation, but I believe the issue of investigations was probably a part of that agenda or meeting.
1:12:15 Gordon Sondland: Also, on July 26 shortly after our Kiev meetings, I spoke by phone with President Trump. The White House, which has finally, finally shared certain call dates and times with my attorneys confirms this. The call lasted five minutes. I remember I was at a restaurant in Kiev, and I have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations. Again, given Mr. Giuliani’s demand that President Zelensky make a public statement about investigations. I knew that investigations were important to President Trump. We did not discuss any classified information. Other witnesses have recently shared their recollection of overhearing this call. For the most part, I have no reason to doubt their accounts. It’s true that the president speaks loudly at times and it’s also true, I think, we primarily discussed ASAP Rocky. It’s true that the president likes to use colorful language. Anyone who has met with him at any reasonable amount of time knows this well. I cannot remember the precise details. Again, the White House has not allowed me to see any readouts of that call and the July 26 call did not strike me as significant. At the time, actually, actually, I would have been more surprised if President Trump had not mentioned investigations, particularly given what we were hearing from Mr. Giuliani about the president’s concerns. However, I have no recollection of discussing Vice President Biden or his son on that call or after the call ended.
1:14:10 Gordon Sondland: I know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question. Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes. Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election. Mr Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians and Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these prerequisites for the White House call and the White House meeting reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements.
1:23:10 Gordon Sondland: There was a September 1st meeting with President Zelensky in Warsaw. Unfortunately, President Trump’s attendance at the Warsaw meeting was canceled due to Hurricane Dorian. Vice President Pence attended instead. I mentioned Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations. I recall mentioning that before the Zelensky meeting. During the actual meeting, President Zelensky raised the issue of security assistance directly with Vice President Pence and the vice president said that he would speak to President Trump about it. Based on my previous communication with Secretary Pompeo, I felt comfortable sharing my concerns with Mr. Yermak. It was a very, very brief pull aside conversation that happened. Within a few seconds, I told Mr. Yermak that I believe that the resumption of US aid would likely not occur until Ukraine took some kind of action on the public statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.
1:38:30 Gordon Sondland: I finally called the president, I believe it was on the 9th of September. I can’t find the records and they won’t provide them to me, but I believe I just asked him an open ended question, Mr. Chairman. “What do you want from Ukraine? I keep hearing all these different ideas and theories and this and that. What do you want?” And it was a very short, abrupt conversation. He was not in a good mood and he just said, I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell them Zelensky to do the right thing. Something to that effect.
1:43:00 Gordon Sondland: Again, through Mr. Giuliani, we were led to believe that that’s what he wanted.
2:06:25 Gordon Sondland: President Trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. The only thing we got directly from Giuliani was that the Burisma and 2016 elections were conditioned on the White House meeting. The aide was my own personal guess based again, on your analogy, two plus two equals four.
2:10:30 Gordon Sondland: Again, I don’t recall President Trump ever talking to me about any security assistance ever.
2:44:00 Stephen Castor: Did the president ever tell you personally about any preconditions for anything? Gordon Sondland: No. Okay. Stephen Castor: So the president never told you about any preconditions for the aid to be released? Gordon Sondland: No. Stephen Castor: The president never told you about any preconditions for a White House meeting? Gordon Sondland: Personally, no.
3:01:10 Stephen Castor: And are you aware that he was also interested in better understanding the contributions of our European allies? Gordon Sondland: That I’m definitely aware of. Stephen Castor: And there was some back and forth between the state department officials trying to better understand that information for the president. Gordon Sondland: Yes, that’s correct. Stephen Castor: And how do you know that wasn’t the reason for the hold? Gordon Sondland: I don’t… Stephen Castor: But yet you speculate that there was a link to the this announcement. Gordon Sondland: I presumed it, yes. Stephen Castor: Okay.
3:07:05 Stephen Castor: And when you first started discussing the concerns the president had with corruption, Burisma wasn’t the only company that was mentioned, right. Gordon Sondland: It was generic, as I think I testified to Chairman Schiff, it was generic corruption, oligarchs, just bad stuff going on in Ukraine. Stephen Castor: But other companies came up, didn’t they? Gordon Sondland: I don’t know if they were mentioned specifically. It might’ve been Naftagas because we were working on another issue with Naftagas. So that might’ve been one of them. Stephen Castor: At one point in your deposition, I believe you, you said, “Yeah, Naftagas comes up at every conversation.” Is that fair? Gordon Sondland: Probably.
3:14:55 Gordon Sondland: I think once that Politico article broke, it started making the rounds that, if you can’t get a White House meeting without the statement, what makes you think you’re going to get a $400 million check? Again, that was my presumption. Stephen Castor: Okay, but you had no evidence to prove that, correct? Gordon Sondland: That’s correct.
3:44:10 Daniel Goldman: It wasn’t really a presumption, you heard from Mr. Giuliani? Gordon Sondland: Well, I didn’t hear from Mr. Giuliani about the aid. I heard about the Burisma and 2016. Daniel Goldman: And you understood at that point, as we discussed, two plus two equals four, that the aid was there as well. Gordon Sondland: That was the problem, Mr. Goldman. No one told me directly that the aid was tied to anything. I was presuming it was.
5:02:10 Rep. Jim Himes (CT): What did Mr. Giuliani say to you that caused you to say that he is expressing the desires of the President of the United States? Gordon Sondland: Mr. Himes, when that was originally communicated, that was before I was in touch with Mr. Giuliani directly. So this all came through Mr. Volcker and others. Rep. Jim Himes (CT): So Mr. Volcker told you that he was expressing the desires of the President of the United States. Gordon Sondland: Correct.
5:20:40 Rep. Michael Turner (OH): Well, you know, after you testified, Chairman Schiff ran out and gave a press conference and said he gets to impeach the president and said it’s because of your testimony and if you pull up CNN today, right now, their banner says “Sondland ties Trump to withholding aid.” Is that your testimony today, Mr. Ambassador Sondland, that you have evidence that Donald Trump tied the investigations the aid? Cause I don’t think you’re saying that. Gordon Sondland: I’ve said repeatedly, Congressman, I was presuming. I also said that President Trump… Rep. Michael Turner (OH): So no one told you, not just the president…Giuliani didn’t tell you, Mulvaney didn’t tell you. Nobody – Pompeo didn’t tell you. Nobody else on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying aid to these investigations. Is that correct? Gordon Sondland: I think I already testified. Rep. Michael Turner (OH): No, answer the question. Is it correct? No one on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying this aid to the investigations. Cause if your answer is yes, then the chairman’s wrong. And the headline on CNN is wrong. No one on this planet told you that president Trump was tying aid to investigations. Yes or no? Gordon Sondland: Yes.
Hearing: Impeachment Hearing with Ambassador Kurt Volker and National Security Aide Tim Morrison, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 19, 2019
Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Ambassador Kurt Volker and Timothy Morrison
- Kurt Volker
- Timothy Morrison
43:20 Timothy Morrison: I continue to believe Ukraine is on the front lines of a strategic competition between the West and Vladimir Putin’s revanchist Russia. Russia is a failing power, but it is still a dangerous one. United States aids Ukraine and her people, so they can fight Russia over there and we don’t have to fight Russia here. Support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty has been a bipartisan objective since Russia’s military invasion in 2014. It must continue to be.
48:00 Kurt Volker: At no time was I aware of or knowingly took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden. As you know, from the extensive realtime documentation I have provided, Vice President Biden was not a topic of our discussions.
50:20 Kurt Volker: At the time I took the position in the summer of 2017 there were major complicated questions swirling in public debate about the direction of US policy towards Ukraine. Would the administration lifts sanctions against Russia? Would it make some kind of grand bargain with Russia in which it would trade recognition of Russia seizure of Ukrainian territory for some other deal in Syria or elsewhere? Would the administration recognize Russia’s claimed annexation of Crimea? Will this just become another frozen conflict? There are also a vast number of vacancies in key diplomatic positions. So no one was really representing the United States in the negotiating process about ending the war in Eastern Ukraine.
51:20 Kurt Volker: We changed the language commonly used to describe Russia’s aggression. I was the administration’s most outspoken public figure highlighting Russia’s invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine, calling out Russia’s responsibility to end the war.
54:45 Kurt Volker: The problem was that despite the unanimous positive assessment and recommendations of those of us who were part of the US presidential delegation that attended the inauguration of President Zelensky, President Trump was receiving a different negative narrative about Ukraine and President Zelensky. That narrative was fueled by accusations from Ukraine’s then prosecutor general and conveyed to the president by former mayor Rudy Giuliani. As I previously told this committee, I became aware of the negative impact this was having on our policy efforts when four of us, who were a part of the presidential delegation to the inauguration, met as a group with President Trump on May 23rd. We stressed our finding that President Zelensky represented the best chance for getting Ukraine out of the mire of corruption and had been in for over 20 years. We urged him to invite President Zelensky to the White House. The president was very skeptical. Given Ukraine’s history of corruption. That’s understandable. He said that Ukraine was a corrupt country full of terrible people. He said they tried to take me down. In the course of that conversation, he referenced conversations with Mayor Giuliani. It was clear to me that despite the positive news and recommendations being conveyed by this official delegation about the new president, President Trump had a deeply rooted negative view on Ukraine rooted in the past. He was receiving other information from other sources, including Mayor Giuliani, that was more negative, causing him to retain this negative view. Within a few days, on May 29th, President Trump indeed signed the congratulatory letter to President Zelensky, which included an invitation to the president to visit him at the White House. However, more than four weeks passed and we could not nail down a date for the meeting. I came to believe that the president’s long-held negative view towards Ukraine was causing hesitation in actually scheduling the meeting, much as we had seen in our oval office discussion.
57:35 Kurt Volker: President Zelensky’s senior aide, Andriy Yermak approached me several days later to ask to be connected to Mayor Giuliani. I agreed to make that connection. I did so because I understood that the new Ukrainian leadership wanted to convince those like Mayor Giuliani, who believes such a negative narrative about Ukraine, that times have changed and that under President Zelensky, Ukraine is worthy of us support. Ukrainians believed that if they could get their own narrative across in a way that convinced Mayor Giuliani that they were serious about fighting corruption and advancing reform, Mayor Giuliani would convey that assessment to President Trump, thus correcting the previous negative narrative. That made sense to me and I tried to be helpful. I made clear to the Ukrainians that Mayor Giuliani was a private citizen, the president’s personal lawyer, and not representing the US government. Likewise, in my conversations with Mayor Giuliani, I never considered him to be speaking on the president’s behalf or giving instructions, rather, the information flow was the other way. From Ukraine to Mayor Giuliani in the hopes that this would clear up the information reaching President Trump.
1:00:15 Kurt Volker: I connected Mayor Giuliani and Andriy Yermak by text and later by phone they met in person on August 2nd, 2019. In conversations with me following that meeting, which I did not attend, Mr. Giuliani said that he had stressed the importance of Ukraine conducting investigations into what happened in the past, and Mr. Yermak stressed that he told Mr. Giuliani it is the government’s program to root out corruption and implement reforms, and they would be conducting investigations as part of this process anyway.
1:00:45 Kurt Volker: Mr. Giuliani said he believed that the Ukrainian president needed to make a statement about fighting corruption and that he had discussed this with Mr. Yermak. I said, I did not think that this would be a problem since that is the government’s position. Anyway, I followed up with Mr. Yermak and he said that they would indeed be prepared to make a statement.
1:02:10 Kurt Volker: On August 16th, Mr. Yermak shared a draft with me, which I thought looked perfectly reasonable. It did not mention Burisma or 2016 elections, but was generic. Ambassador Sondland I had a further conversation with Mr. Giuliani who said that in his view, in order to be convincing that this government represented real change in Ukraine, the statement should include specific reference to Burisma and 2016 and again, there was no mention of Vice President Biden in these conversations.
1:02:40 Kurt Volker: Ambassador Sondland and I discussed these points and I edited the statement drafted by Mr. Yermak to include these points to see how it looked. I then discussed it further with Mr. Yermak. He said that for a number of reasons, including the fact that since Mr. Lutsenko was still officially the prosecutor general, they did not want to mention Burisma or 2016 and I agreed. And the idea of putting out a statement was shelved. These were the last conversations I had about this statement, which were on or about August 17 to 18.
1:04:00 Kurt Volker: At the time I was connecting Mr. Yermak and Mr. Giuliani and discussing with Mr. Yermak and Ambassador Sondland a possible statement that could be made by the Ukrainian president, I did not know of any linkage between the hold on security assistance and Ukraine pursuing investigations. No one had ever said that to me, and I never conveyed such a linkage to the Ukrainians.
1:04:40 Kurt Volker: I believe the Ukrainians became aware of the hold on August 29th and not before. That date is the first time any of them asked me about the hold by forwarding an article that had been published in Politico.
1:42:30 Daniel Goldman: Your testimony, that based on the text that you wrote, linking the investigations and the 2016 election on July 25th to the White House meeting, you’re saying that by this point in August, with this back and forth, that you were unaware that this public statement was a condition for the White House meeting? Kurt Volker: I wouldn’t have called it a condition. It’s a nuance I guess. I viewed it as very helpful. If we could get this done, it would help improve the perception that President Trump and others had. And then we would get the date for a meeting. If we didn’t have a statement, I wasn’t giving up and thinking that, Oh, well then we’ll never get a meeting.
1:44:00 Daniel Goldman: I want to move forward to September, and early September when the security assistance begins to more overtly be used as leverage to pressure the Ukrainians to conduct these investigations that President Trump wanted. Mr. Morrison, you accompanied Vice President Pence to Warsaw when he met with President Zelensky, is that right? Timothy Morrison: I was in Warsaw when the vice president was designated as the president’s representative. I was accompanying Ambassador Bolton. Daniel Goldman: Understood. You were at the bilateral meeting with the vice president and President Zelensky, correct? Timothy Morrison: I was. Daniel Goldman: In that meeting, were the Ukrainians concerned about the hold on security clearance – military assistance rather. Timothy Morrison: Yes. Daniel Goldman: What did they say? Timothy Morrison: It was the first issue that President Zelensky raised with Vice President Pence. They were very interested. They talked about its importance to Ukraine. It’s important to their relationship. Daniel Goldman: And what was Vice President Pence’s response? Timothy Morrison: The vice president represented that it was a priority for him, and that we were working to address, and he characterized President Trump’s concerns about the state of corruption in Ukraine. And the president’s prioritization of getting the Europeans to contribute more to security sector assistance. Daniel Goldman: And did he directly explain to the Ukrainians that those were the actual reasons for the holds or was he just commenting on general concerns of the president? Timothy Morrison: I don’t know that he necessarily acknowledged a hold. We mentioned that we were reviewing the assistance and that that’s the way I heard it. That’s the way I would characterize it. And those were the points he raised to help President Zelensky understand where we were in our process. Daniel Goldman: And to your knowledge though, on sort of the staff level as the coordinator of all the interagency process, you are not aware of any review of the Ukraine security assistance money, were you? Timothy Morrison: Well, we had been running a review. We had been running an interagency process to provide the president the information that I had been directed to generate, for the president’s consideration as to the state of interagency support for continuing Ukraine security sector assistance. Daniel Goldman: And the entire integrate agency supported the continuation of the security assistance, isn’t that right? Timothy Morrison: That is correct.
1:46:50 Daniel Goldman: Now after this larger meeting with Vice President Pence and President Zelensky, you testified at your deposition that you saw Ambassador Sondland immediately go over and pull Andriy Yermak aside and have a conversation. Is that right? Timothy Morrison: President Zelensky left the room, Vice President Pence left the room, and in sort of an anteroom, Ambassador Sondland and Presidential Advisor Yermak had this discussion. Yes. Daniel Goldman: And what did Ambassador Sondland say to tell you that he told Mr. Yermak? Timothy Morrison: That the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted.
1:49:00 Daniel Goldman: A few days later on September 7th, you spoke again to Ambassador Sondland, who told you that he had just gotten off the phone with President Trump. Isn’t that right? Timothy Morrison: That sounds correct. Yes. Daniel Goldman: What did Ambassador Sondland tell you that President Trump said to him? Timothy Morrison: If I recall this conversation correctly, this was where Ambassador Sondland relayed that there was no quid pro quo, but President Zelensky had to make the statement and that he had to want to do it. Daniel Goldman: And by that point, did you understand that the statement related to the Biden and 2016 investigations? Timothy Morrison: I think I did, yes. Daniel Goldman: And that was essentially a condition for the security assistance to be released. Timothy Morrison: I understood that that’s what ambassador Sondland believed.
2:08:40 Stephen Castor: And you met with President Zelensky on, I believe it was August 29th, Timothy Morrison: Ambassador Bolton had a meeting with President Zelensky and I staffed that meeting. Stephen Castor: And that’s right around the time when the Rada had met and they had started to push through their reforms. Timothy Morrison: As I recall, the meeting, the date of the meeting between Ambassador Bolton and President Zelensky was actually the first day of the new Rada. Stephen Castor: And, some of these reforms included, naming a new prosecutor general. Timothy Morrison: A new prosecutor general, a brand new cabinet, yes. Stephen Castor: And they pushed through some legislation that eliminated immunity for Rada members. Timothy Morrison: Yes, eliminating parliamentary immunity. Stephen Castor: And I believe you provided some color into this experience, this meeting, and you said that the Ukrainians had been up all night, working on some of these legislative initiatives. Timothy Morrison: Yes. Uh, the Ukrainians with whom we met were by all appearances exhausted from the pace of activity. Stephen Castor: And was Ambassador Bolton encouraged by the activity? Timothy Morrison: Yes, he was. Stephen Castor: And was the meeting altogether favorable? Timothy Morrison: Quite.
Hearing: Impeachment Hearing with Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and Jennifer Williams, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 19, 2019
Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams
- Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
- Jennifer Williams
50:30 Jennifer Williams: On August 29th, I learned that the vice president would be traveling to Poland to meet with President Zelensky on September 1st. At the September 1st meeting, which I attended, President Zelensky asked the vice president about news articles reporting a hold on U.S. security assistance for Ukraine. The vice president responded that Ukraine had the United States unwavering support and promised to relay their conversation to President Trump that night. During the September 1st meeting, neither the vice president nor President Zelensky mentioned the specific investigations discussed during the July 25th phone call.
1:06:45 Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): Let me turn if I can to the hold on security assistance, which I think you both testified you learned about in early July. Am I correct that neither of you were provided with a reason for why the president put a hold on security assistance to Ukraine? Jennifer Williams: My understanding was that OMB was reviewing the assistance to ensure it was in line with administration priorities, but it was not made more specific than that. Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): And Colonel Vindman? Alexander Vindman: That is consistent. We had…the review was to ensure it remained consistent with administration policies.
1:07:20 Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): Colonel Vindman, you attended a meeting in John Bolton’s office on July 10th, where Ambassador Sondland interjected to respond to a question by senior Ukrainian officials about a White House visit. What did he say at that time? Alexander Vindman: To the best of my recollection, Ambassador Sondland said that in order to get a White House meeting, the Ukrainians would have to provide a deliverable, which is investigations, specific investigations. Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): And what was Ambassador’s Bolton’s response or reaction to that comment? Alexander Vindman: We had not completed all of the agenda items and we still had time for the meeting and Ambassador Bolton abruptly ended the meeting.
1:08:15 Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): Based on Ambassador Sondland’s remark at the July 10th meeting, was it your clear understanding that the Ukrainians understood they had to commit to investigations President Trump wanted in order to get the White House meeting. Alexander Vindman: It may have not been entirely clear at that moment. Certainly Ambassador Sondland was a calling for these meetings and he had stated that his, this was developed per conversation with the chief of staff, Mr. Mick Mulvaney. But, the connection to the president wasn’t clear at that point.
2:13:00 Stephen Castor: And President Zelensky’s inauguration was May 20th, if I’m not mistaken. Jennifer Williams: Yes, that’s correct. Stephen Castor: And you had about four days notice? Jennifer Williams: In the end, the Ukrainian parliament decided on May 16th to set the date for May 20th, that’s correct. Stephen Castor: So you would acknowledge that that made it quite difficult for the vice president and the whole operation to mobilize and get over to Ukraine? Correct? Jennifer Williams: It would have been, but we had already stopped the trip planning by that point. Stephen Castor: And when did that happen? Jennifer Williams: Stopping the trip planning? on May 13th. Okay. Stephen Castor: And how did you hear about that? Jennifer Williams: I was called by a colleague in the chief, by the vice president’s chief of staff’s office and told to stop the trip planning. Stephen Castor: As I understand it, it was the, the assistant to the chief of staff? Jennifer Williams: That’s correct. Stephen Castor: Okay. And so you didn’t hear about it from General Kellogg or the chief of staff or… Jennifer Williams: Correct. Stephen Castor: Or the president or the vice president. You heard about it from Mr. Short’s assistant. Jennifer Williams: That’s right. Stephen Castor: And did you have any, any knowledge of the reasoning for stopping the trip? Jennifer Williams: I asked my colleague why we should stop trip planning and why the vice president would not be attending. And I was informed that the president had decided the vice president would not attend the inauguration. Stephen Castor: But do you know why the president decided? Jennifer Williams: No, she did not have that information. Stephen Castor: Okay. And ultimately the vice president went to Canada for a USMCA event during this window of time, correct? Jennifer Williams: Correct. Stephen Castor: So it’s entirely conceivable that the president decided that he wanted the vice president to go to Canada on behalf of USMCA instead of doing anything else, Correct? Jennifer Williams: I’m really not in a position to speculate what the motivations were behind the president’s decision. Stephen Castor: You know, the vice president has done quite a bit of USMCA events, right? Jennifer Williams: Absolutely, yes sir.
2:23:10 Stephen Castor: When you were, you went to Ukraine for the inauguration, correct? On the 20th. Alexander Vindman: Right. Stephen Castor: At any point during that trip, did Mr. Dani look offer you a position of defense minister with the Ukrainian government? Alexander Vindman: He did. Stephen Castor: And how many times did he do that? Alexander Vindman: I believe it was three times. Stephen Castor: And you have any reason why he asked you to do that? Alexander Vindman: I don’t know. But, every single time I dismissed it. Upon returning, I notified my chain of command and the appropriate counterintelligence folks about this offer. Stephen Castor: I mean, Ukraine’s a country that’s experienced a war with Russia, certainly their minister of defense is a pretty key position for the Ukrainians. President Zelensky, Mr. Dani look to bestow that honor on you. At least asking you, I mean, that was a big honor. Correct. Alexander Vindman: I think it would be a great honor and frankly, I’m aware of service members that have left service to help nurture the developing democracies in that part of the world, certainly in the Baltics, former officers and federal contractors, I believe it was an air force officer that became an administrator of defense. But I’m an American. I came here when I was a toddler and I immediately dismissed these offers, did not entertain them. Stephen Castor: When he made this offer to you initially, did you leave the door open? Was there a reason that he had to come back and ask you a second and third time? Or was he just trying to convince you? Alexander Vindman: Yeah Council, you know what, the whole notion is rather comical that I was being asked to consider whether I’d want to be the minister of defense. I did not leave the door open at all, but, it is pretty funny for Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, which really isn’t that senior, to be offered that illustrious a position.
3:44:00 Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): Ms. Williams again, When did you first learn that the security assistance was being held up? The nearly $400 million that was referenced. Jennifer Williams: July 3rd. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): And were you aware of any additional or did you attend any additional meetings in which that military assistance being withheld was discussed? Jennifer Williams: I did. I attended meetings on July 23rd and July 26th, where the security assistance hold was discussed. I believe it may have also been discussed on July 31st. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): And, at that point, did anyone provide a specific reason for the hold? Jennifer Williams: In those meetings, the OMB representative reported that the assistance was being held at the direction of the White House chief of staff. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): And did they give reasons beyond that it was being withheld by the White House chief of staff? Jennifer Williams: Not specifically. The reason given was that there was a ongoing review whether the funding was still in line with administration priorities. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): Did anyone in any of those meetings or in any other subsequent discussion you had discuss the legality of withholding that aid. Jennifer Williams: There were discussions, I believe in the July 31st meeting and possibly prior as well, in terms of Defense and State Department officials were looking into how they would handle a situation which earmarked funding from Congress that was designated for Ukraine would be resolved if the funding continued to be held as we approached the end of the fiscal year. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): And from what you witnessed, did anybody in the national security community support withholding the assistance? Jennifer Williams: No.
3:47:00 Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): Did anyone, unto your understanding, raise the legality of withholding this assistance. Alexander Vindman: It was raised on several occasions. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): And who raised those concerns? Alexander Vindman: So following the July 18th sub PCC, which is again what I coordinate or what I convene, at my level. There was a July 23rd, PCC that would have been conducted by Mr. Morrison. There were questions raised on as to the legality of the hold. Over the subsequent week, the issue was analyzed. And during the July 26th deputies…so the deputies from all the departments and agencies, there was an opinion rendered that it was, it was legal to, put the hold. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): It was, excuse me. Alexander Vindman: There was an opinion, legal, opinion rendered that it was, okay to, or that the hold was legal.
Hearing: Impeachment Hearing with Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 15, 2019
Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch
- Marie Vanonvich
49:15 Marie Yovanovitch: I worked to advance U.S. policy – fully embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike – to help Ukraine become a stable and independent democratic state with a market economy integrated into Europe.
50:05 Marie Yovanovitch: Ukraine, with an enormous landmass and a large population, has the potential to be a significant commercial and political partner for the United States, as well as a force multiplier on the security side. We see the potential and Ukraine, Russia sees, by contrast, sees the risk. The history is not written yet, but Ukraine could move out of Russia’s orbit. And now Ukraine is a battleground for great power competition with a hot war for the control of territory and a hybrid war to control Ukraine’s leadership. The U.S. has provided significant security assistance since the onset of the war against Russia in 2014 and the Trump administration strengthened our policy by approving the provision to Ukraine of anti-tank missiles known as javelins.
51:15 Marie Yovanovitch: As critical as the war against Russia is, Ukraine struggling democracy has an equally important challenge. Battling the Soviet legacy of corruption, which has pervaded Ukraine’s government. Corruption makes Ukraine’s leaders ever vulnerable to Russia and the Ukrainian people understand that. That’s why they launched the Revolution of Dignity in 2014 demanding to be a part of Europe, demanding the transformation of the system, demanding to live under the rule of law. Ukrainians, wanted the law to apply equally to all people, whether the individual in question is the president or any other citizen. It was a question of fairness, of dignity. Here again, there is a coincidence of interests. Corrupt leaders are inherently less trustworthy. While an honest and accountable Ukrainian leadership makes a U.S.-Ukrainian partnership more reliable and more valuable to the United States. A level playing field in this strategically located country bordering four NATO allies creates an environment in which U.S. business can more easily trade, invest, and profit.
3:38:10 Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): Were you involved in the July 25th Trump-Zelensky phone call or preparations for the call? Marie Yovanovitch: No, I was not. Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): Were you involved in the deliberations about the pause in military sales to Ukraine as the Trump administration reviewed newly elected President Zelensky’s commitment to corruption reforms? Marie Yovanovitch: For the delay in…? Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): For the pause. Marie Yovanovitch: The pause? No, I was not. Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): Were you involved in the proposed Trump-Zelensky, later Pence-Zelensky meetings in Warsaw, Poland on September 1st? Marie Yovanovitch: No, I was not. Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): Did you ever talk to President Trump in 2019? Marie Yovanovitch: No, I have not. Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): Mick Mulvaney. Marie Yovanovitch: No, I have not. Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): Thank you, Ambassador.
4:51:00 Rep. Mike Turner (OH): Now the U.S. Ambassador to the E.U., they would have under their portfolio aspiring nations to the E.U., would they not? Marie Yovanovitch: Yeah. Rep. Mike Turner (OH): Okay. So, E.U. Ambassador Sondland then would’ve had Ukraine in his portfolio because they’re an aspiring nation and he’s our U.S. ambassador to the EU. Correct? Marie Yovanovitch: I think he testified that one of his first discussions was with… Rep. Mike Turner (OH): But you agree that it’s within his portfolio. Correct? You would agree that it’s in his portfolio, would you not? Yes. Marie Yovanovitch: I would agree, that… Rep. Mike Turner (OH): Thank you. Now I want to go to the next… Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): I’m sorry, let her finish her answer, please. Rep. Mike Turner (OH): Now, Mr. Holbrook is a gentleman who I have an great deal of reverence for. Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): Ambassador Yovanovitch has not finished her answer. You may finish your answer Ambassador. Rep. Mike Turner (OH): Not out of my time. You’re done. Nope. Right. Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): No, The ambassador will be recognized. Marie Yovanovitch: I would say that, all EU ambassadors deal with other countries, including aspiring countries, but it is unusual to name the U.S. ambassador to the EU to be responsible for all aspects of Ukraine.
4:54:15 Rep. Andre Carson (IN): What concerned you about the Prosecutor General’s office when you were the ambassador in Ukraine? Marie Yovanovitch: What concerned us was that there didn’t seem to be any progress in the three overall objectives, that Mr. Lutsenko had laid out, most importantly for the Ukrainian people, but also the international community. So the first thing was reforming the Prosecutor General’s office. It’s a tremendously powerful office where they had authority not only to conduct investigations, so an FBI like function, but also to do the actual prosecution. So very, very wide powers, which is part of that Soviet legacy. And there just wasn’t a lot of progress in that. There wasn’t a lot of progress in handling personnel issues and how the structure should be organized and who should have the important jobs because some of the people in those jobs were known to, were considered to be corrupt themselves. Secondly, the issue that was tremendously important to the Ukrainian people of bringing justice to the over 100 people who died on the Maidan during the Revolution of Dignity in 2014. Nobody has been held accountable for that. And that is, you know, kind of an open wound for the Ukrainian people. And thirdly, Ukraine needs all the money that it has. And it is, there is a strong belief that former president Yanukovych and those around him made off with over $40 billion. $40 billion! That’s a lot in the U.S. It’s a huge amount of money in Ukraine. And so, again, nobody has, none of that money has really been…I think, I think maybe $1 billion was repatriated, but the rest of it is still missing.
6:13:25 Rep. Peter Welch (VT): Now as ambassador, you had no knowledge of whatever it is President Trump ultimately seems to have wanted to get for cooperation in this investigation isn’t that correct? Marie Yovanovitch: Yes. Rep. Peter Welch (VT): All right. Now you’ve been asked about whether a president has authority to replace an ambassador, and you have agreed that that’s the president’s prerogative. Marie Yovanovitch: Yes, that’s true. Rep. Peter Welch (VT): But that assumes that the reasons are not related to the personal private political interests that the president at the expense of our national security, right? Marie Yovanovitch: Yes. Rep. Peter Welch (VT): And you’ve been the target of insults from the president. You join some very distinguished company, by the way, Senator McCain, General Kelly, a man, I admire. I think all of us do. General Mattis. We’re not here to talk about that unless the reason you get insulted as you did today, essentially blaming you for Somalia, is if this is another step by the president to intimidate witnesses. He didn’t intimidate you. You’re here, you’ve endured. But there are other people out there that can expect to Trump treatment if they come forward. That’s a question for us.
Hearing: Diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent Impeachment Inquiry Testimony, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 13, 2019
Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Ambassador Bill Taylor and George Kent
- William Taylor
- George Kent
35:00 George Kent: The United States has very clear national interests at stake in Ukraine. Ukraine’s success is very much in our national interest in the way we have defined our national interest broadly in Europe for the past 75 years. After World War II, U.S. Leadership furthered far-sighted policies like the Marshall plan in the creation of a rules based international order, protected by the collective security provided by NATO Western Europe, recovered and thrived after the carnage of World War II, not withstanding the shadow of the iron curtain. Europe’s security and prosperity contributed to our security and prosperity. Support of Ukraine’s success also fits squarely into our strategy for central and Eastern Europe since the fall of the wall 30 years ago this past week. A Europe truly whole, free and at peace, our strategic game for the entirety of my foreign service career is not possible without a Ukraine whole, free and at peace, including Crimea and the Donbass, territories currently occupied by Russia.
37:00 George Kent: Ukraine’s popular revolution of dignity in 2014 forced a corrupt pro Russian leadership, the fleet of Moscow. After that, Russia invaded Ukraine, occupying 7% of its territory, roughly equivalent to the size of Texas for the United States. At that time, Ukraine state institutions were on the verge of collapse. Ukrainian civil society answered the challenge. They formed volunteer battalions of citizens, including technology professionals and medics, a crowdsourced funding for their own weapons, body armor and supplies. They were the 21st century Ukrainian equivalent of our own minute men of 1776 buying time for a regular army to reconstitute. Since then, more than 13,000 Ukrainians have died on Ukrainian soil defending their territorial integrity and sovereignty from Russian aggression. America’s support and Ukraine’s own de facto war of independence has been critical in this regard. By analogy, the American colonies may not have prevailed against the British Imperial might without the help of transatlantic friends after 1776. In an echo of Lafayette’s organized decision assistance to general George Washington’s army and Admiral John Paul Jones’ Navy, Congress has generously appropriated over one point $5 billion over the past five years, and desperately needed trained and equipped security assistance to Ukraine. These funds increase Ukraine strength and ability to fight Russian aggression. Ultimately, Ukraine is on a path to become a full security partner of the United States within NATO.
39:20 George Kent: In 2019, Ukrainian citizens passed the political torch to a new generation. When that came of age, not in the final years of the Soviet union, but in an independent Ukraine, presidential and parliamentary elections swept out much of Ukraine’s previous governing elite and seated 41 year old president Zelensky, a cabinet with an average age of 39, and a parliament with the average age of 41. At the heart of that change mandate five years after Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity is a thirst for justice because there cannot be dignity without justice, without a reform judicial sector that delivers justice with integrity for all, Ukrainian society will remain unsettled. Foreign investors, including American investors, will not bring the great investment needed to ensure that Ukraine’s longterm prosperity is secured.
45:30 George Kent: In mid-August, it became clear to me that Giuliani’s efforts to gin up politically motivated investigations were now infecting U.S. Engagement with Ukraine, leveraging President Zelensky’s desire for a White House meeting.
45:45 George Kent: There are and always have been conditionality placed on our sovereign loan guarantees for Ukraine conditions include anticorruption reforms as well as meeting larger stability goals and social safety nets. The International Monetary Fund does the same thing. Congress and the executive branch work together to put conditionality on some security assistance in the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
54:45 William Taylor: Since 2014, you and Congress have provided over $1.6 billion in military assistance to Ukraine. The security assistance provides small unit training at an army base near Lviv in the Western end of the country. It provides ambulances, night vision devices, communications equipment, counter battery, radar, Navy ships, and finally weapons. The security systems demonstrates our commitment to resist aggression and defend freedom.
55:11 William Taylor: During the 2014 to 2016 period, I was serving outside of government and joined two other former ambassadors to Ukraine in urging the Obama Administration officials at the State Department, Defense Department and other agencies to provide lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine in order to deter further Russian aggression. I also supported much stronger sanctions on Russia. I was pleased when the Trump administration provided javelin anti-tank missiles and enacted stronger sanctions.
56:30 William Taylor: I could be effective only if the U.S. policy of strong support for Ukraine, strong diplomatic support along with robust security, economic and technical assistance were to continue.
58:00 William Taylor: But once I arrived in Kiev, I discovered a weird combination of encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances. Firstly, encouraging: President Zelensky was reforming Ukraine in a hurry. He appointed reformist ministers and supported long stalled anticorruption legislation. He took quick executive action, including opening Ukraine’s high anticorruption court with a new parliamentary majority stemming from snap elections. President Zelensky changed the Ukrainian constitution to remove absolute immunity from Rada deputies. The source of raw corruption for two decades.
1:05:30 William Taylor: On July 9th, on a phone call with Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs, Fiona Hill, and Director of European Affairs, Lieutenant Colonel Alex Veneman at the NSC. They tried to reassure me that they were not aware of any official change in us policy towards Ukraine, OMB’s announcement notwithstanding. They did confirm that the hold on security systems for Ukraine came from chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who maintained a skeptical view of Ukraine.
1:12:00 William Taylor: By mid-August, because the security assistance had been held for over a month for no reason that I could discern, I was beginning to fear that the long standing U.S. Policy of support for Ukraine was shifting. I called State Department counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl to discuss this on August 21st. He said he was not aware of a change in policy, but would check on the status of the security assistance. My concerned deepened the next day. On August 22nd, during a phone conversation with Mr. Morrison, I asked him if there had been a change in policy of strong support for Ukraine, to which he responded, ‘It remains to be seen.’ He also told me during this call that the president doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all.
*1:13:00 William Taylor: Just days later on August 27th, Ambassador Bolton arrived in Kiev and met with President Zelensky during their meetings. Security systems was not discussed. As far as I knew, the Ukrainians were not aware of the hold until August 29th.
1:28:30 William Taylor: Mr. Chairman, there are two Ukraine stories today. The first is the one we’re discussing this morning that you have been hearing about for the past two weeks. It’s a rancorous story about whistleblowers, Mr. Giuliani, side channels, quid pro quos, corruption and interference in elections. In this story, Ukraine is merely an object. But there’s another story, a positive bipartisan one and this second story, Ukraine is the subject. This one is about young people and a young nation struggling to break free of its past, hopeful that their new government will finally usher in a new Ukraine, proud of its independence from Russia, eager to join Western institutions and enjoy a more secure and prosperous life.
1:32:00 William Taylor: Mr. Chairman, the security assistance that we provide takes many forms. One of the components of that assistance is counter battery radar. Another component are sniper weapons.
1:36:15 Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): Now, I, I think you said that if we believe in a principle of sovereignty of nations where countries get to determine their own economic, political and security alliances, we have to support Ukraine and its fight. That the kind of aggression we see by Russia can’t stand. How is it important to American national security that we provide for a robust defense of Ukraine sovereignty? William Taylor: Mr. Chairman, as my colleague, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent described, we have a national security policy, a national defense policy that identifies Russia and China as adversaries. The Russians are violating all of the rules, treaties, understandings that they committed to that actually kept the peace in Europe for nearly 70 years. Until they invaded Ukraine in 2014, they had abided by sovereignty of nations, of inviolability of borders. That rule of law, that order that kept the peace in Europe and allowed for prosperity as well as peace in Europe was violated by the Russians. And if we don’t push back on that, on those violations, then that will continue. And that Mr. chairman, affects us. It affects the world that we live in, that our children will grow up in and our grandchildren. This affects the kind of world that we want to see overall. So that affects our national interest very directly. Ukraine’s on the front line of that conflict.
1:40:00 William Taylor: The whole notion of a rules based order was being threatened by the Russians in Ukraine. So our security assistance was designed to support Ukraine. That’s it. It was not just the United States, it was all of our allies.
1:45:00 William Taylor: I had learned that in Warsaw, after the meeting Vice President Pence had with President Zelensky, Ambassador Sondland, had had meetings there and had described, to Mr. Yermak, the assistant to President Zelensky, that the security assistance was also held, pending announcement, by President Zelensky in public of these investigations. Before that, I had only understood, from Ambassador Sondland that the White House meeting was conditioned. And at this time, after I heard of this conversation, it struck me, it was clear to me that security assistance was also being held.
1:46:10 William Taylor: It’s one thing to try to leverage a meeting in the white house. It’s another thing I thought, to leverage security assistance, security assistance to a country at war dependent on both the security assistance and the demonstration of support. It was much more alarming. The White House meeting was one thing. Security assistance was much more alarming.
1:58:40 William Taylor: Mr. Goldman, what I can do here for you today is tell you what I heard from people, and in this case it was what I heard from ambassador Sondland.
2:07:30 Daniel Goldman: Just so we’re clear, Ambassador Taylor, before this July 25th call, President Trump had frozen the security assistance that Ukraine needed and that the White House meeting was conditioned on Ukraine initiating this investigation, and that had been relayed to the Ukrainians. Is that an accurate state of play at this time? William Taylor: That’s an accurate state of play. I at that point had no indication that any discussion of the security assistance being, subject to – conditioned on investigations had taken place. Daniel Goldman: Right. But you understood that the white house meeting. William Taylor: That’s correct.
3:14:15 Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): We know that from your deposition in those 55 days that aid is delayed, you met with President Zelensky three times. The first one was July 26th the day after the famous call now between President Trump and President Zelensky. President Zelensky meets with you, Ambassador Volker and Ambassador Sondland and again according to your deposition and your testimony, there was no linkage of security assistance dollars to investigating Burisma or the Bidens. Second meeting is August 27th, again in this 55 day timeframe. Second meeting is August 27. President Zelensky meets with you and Ambassador Bolton and others and again there no linkage of dollars – security assistance dollars to an investigation of the Bidens. Then of course the third meeting is September 5th. President Zelensky meets with you and Senators Johnson and Murphy. And once again there was no linkage of security assistance dollars to an investigation of Burisma or the Bidens. Three meetings with the president of Ukraine, the new president, and no linkage. That’s accurate? William Taylor: Mr. Jordan is certainly accurate on the first two, first two meetings, because to my knowledge, the Ukrainians were not aware of the hold on assistance until the 29th of August. Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): The Politico article. William Taylor: The Politico article. The third meeting that you mentioned with the senators, Senator Murphy and Senator Johnson, there was discussion of the security assistance, but Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): The linkage… William Taylor: The linkage, there was not, there was not discussion of linkage.
3:19:50 Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): Ambassador, you weren’t on the call were you, with the president? You didn’t listen in on President Trump’s call and President Zelensky’s call? William Taylor: I did not. Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): You’ve never talked with Chief of Staff Mulvaney? William Taylor: I never did. Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): You never met the president. William Taylor: That’s correct. Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): You had three meetings again with Zelensky and it didn’t come up, and two of those they had never heard about, as far as I know. Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): And President Zelensky never made an announcement? This, this is what I can’t believe. And you’re their star witness.
3:23:20 George Kent: If we’re doing a systemic, holistic program, you need institutions with integrity. That starts with investigators. It goes to prosecutors, it goes to courts, and eventually it goes to the correction system. In countries like Ukraine, we generally start with law enforcement, and that’s what we did in 2014-15 with the new patrol police. There also is oftentimes needed a specialized anticorruption agency. In Ukraine that was called the National Anticorruption Bureau or NABU. There was a different body that reviewed asset declarations for unusual wealth called National Anticorruption Prevention Council. And eventually we got to helping them establish a special anticorruption prosecutor and eventually a high court on anticorruption. And that was to try to create investigators, prosecutors, and courts with integrity that couldn’t be bought and would be focused on high level corruption.
3:34:00 Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): You’ve been asked, how could there be conditioning if the Ukrainians didn’t know, but the Ukrainians were told by Ambassador Sondland, were they not? William Taylor: They were. They were. They didn’t know as near as I can tell, the Ukrainians did not know about the hold on the phone call, on July 25th that’s true. But they were told, as you said, Mr. Chairman, on the 1st of September.
3:38:50 Rep. Michael Turner (OH): Example of that Ambassador Taylor, is that you testified in your prior testimony that you have not had any contact with the President of the United States. Is that correct? William Taylor: That’s correct, sir. Rep. Michael Turner (OH): Mr. Kent, have you had any contact with the President of the United States? George Kent: I have not.
Press Conference: ‘Get Over It’: Politics Is Part Of Foreign Policy, Mulvaney Says, npr, October 17, 2019
- Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney
18:50 John Carl: All right, so to the question of Ukraine. Mick Mulvaney: Yeah. John Carl: Can you clarify, and I’ve been trying to get an answer to this. Was the president serious when he said that he would also like to see China investigate the Bidens and you were directly involved in the decision to withhold funding from Ukraine. Can you explain to us now definitively why? Why was funding with that… Mick Mulvaney: I’ll deal with the second one first, which is, look, it should come as no surprise to anybody. The last time I was up here, I haven’t done this since I was chief of staff, right? Last time I was up here. Some of you folks remember it was for the budget briefings. Right. And one of the questions y’all always asked me about the budget is what are y’all doing to the foreign aid budget? Cause we absolutely gutted it. President Trump is not a big fan of foreign aid. Never has been. Still isn’t, doesn’t like spending money overseas, especially when it’s poorly spent. And that is exactly what drove this decision. I’ve been in the office a couple times with him talking about this. He said, look, Mick, this is a corrupt place. Everybody knows it’s a corrupt place. By the way, put this in context. This is on the heels of what happened in Puerto Rico, when we took a lot of heat for not wanting to give a bunch of aid to Puerto Rico because we thought that place was corrupt. And by the way, it turns out we were right. All right, so put that as your context. It’s like this is a corrupt place. I don’t want to send them a bunch of money and have them waste it and have them spend it, have them use it to line their own pockets. Plus I’m not sure that the other European countries are helping them out either. So we actually looked at that during that time, before when we cut the money off before the money actually flowed, cause the money flowed by the end of the fiscal year. We actually did an analysis of what other countries were doing. In terms of supporting Ukraine. And what we found out was that, and I can’t remember, if it’s zero or near zero dollars from any European countries for lethal aid. You’ve heard the president say this, that we give them tanks and the other countries give them pillows. That’s absolutely right that as vocal as the Europeans are about supporting Ukraine. They are really, really stingy when it comes to lethal aid and they weren’t helping Ukraine and that still to this day are not, and the president did not like that as a normal as long answer your question, but I’m still going. So, those were the driving factors. He also mentioned to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server. Absolutely. No question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money. Now there was a report… John Carl: So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he, it was on the, to withhold funding to Ukraine. Mick Mulvaney: The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was, was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation then that is absolutely appropriate and which ultimately then flowed. By the way, there was a report that we were worried that the money wouldn’t, if we didn’t pay out the money, it would be illegal. Okay. It would be unlawful. That is one of those things that is, has that little shred of truth in it. That that makes it look a lot worse than it really is. We were concerned about in our, over at OMB about an impoundment, and I know I just put half you folks to bed, but there’s the budget control act, impound budget control, empowerment act of 1974 says, if Congress appropriates money, you have to spend it. Okay. At least that’s how it’s interpreted by some folks. And we knew that that money either had to go out the door by the end of September or we had to have a really, really good reason not to do it. John Carl: And that was the legality of the issue you just described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the incident Democrats server happened as well. Mick Mulvaney: We do that all the time with foreign policy. We were holding up money at the same time for, what was it? The Northern triangle countries were holding up aid at the Northern triangle countries so that they would change their policies on immigration. But by the way, and this speaks to it, this speaks to important point because I heard this yesterday and I can never remember the gentleman who testified was…McKinney, is that his name? I don’t know him. He testified yesterday. And if you go and if you believe the news reports, okay. Cause we’ve not seen any transcripts of this. The only transcript I’ve seen was Sondland’s testimony morning this morning. If you read the news reports and you believe them, what did McKinney say? Yesterday when McKinney said yesterday that he was really upset with the political influence in foreign policy. That was one of the reasons he was so upset about this, and I have news for everybody. Get over it. There’s going to be political influence and foreign policy. That is going to happen. Elections have consequences and foreign policy is going to change from the Obama administration to the Trump administration. And what you’re seeing now, I believe, is a group of mostly career politicians, career bureaucrats who are saying, you know what? I don’t like president Trump’s politics, so I’m going to participate in this witchhunt that they’re undertaking on the Hill. Elections do have consequences and they should, and your foreign policy is going to change. Obama did it in one way. We’re doing it a different way and there’s no problem with that. 23:50 Reporter: That it was okay for the US government to hold up aid and require a foreign government to investigate political opponents of the president. Mick Mulvaney: Now, you’re talking about looking forward to the next election…We’re talking… Reporter: The DNC is still involved in this next election. Is that not correct? Mick Mulvaney: So wait a second. So this, hold on a sec. Not yet. Let me ask you guys to gate the DNC. Let’s look at this is the DNC. There’s an ongoing investigation by our department of justice into the 2016 election. I can’t remember the person’s name. Durham, okay. That’s an ongoing investigation. Right? So you’re saying the president States, the chief law enforcement person cannot ask somebody to cooperate with an ongoing public investigation into wrongdoing? That’s just bizarre to me that you would think that you can’t do that. Reporter: And so you would say that it’s fine to ask about the DNC, but not about Biden? So Biden is now, Biden is running for the democratic nomination, right? That’s for 2020. Mick Mulvaney: That’s a hypothetical. Cause that did not happen here. But I would ask, you know, on the call, the president did ask about investigating the Bidens. Are you saying that the money that was held up, that that had nothing to do with the Bidens. Mick Mulvaney: The money held up had absolutely nothing to do with Biden. There’s no way. And that was the point I made to you. Reporter: And you’re drawing a distinction. You’re saying that it… Mick Mulvaney: Three factors, again, I was involved with the process by which the money was held up temporarily. Okay. Three issues for that. The corruption in the country, whether or not other countries were participating in the support of the Ukraine and whether or not they were a cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our department of justice. That’s completely legitimate.
Press Conference: Foreign Affairs Issue Launch with Former Vice President Joe Biden, Council on Foreign Relations, January 23, 2018
- Richard Haass – President of the Council on Foreign Relations
- Joe Biden
Joe Biden: I’ll give you one concrete example. I was—not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.
Published Transcript: Ukraine crisis: Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call, BBC News, February 7, 2014
- Victoria Nuland, Asst. Sec. of State for Europe
- US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt
Listen on Youtube: Nuland-Pyatt leaked phone conversation _COMPLETE with SUBTITLES
Victoria Nuland: Good. So, I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Geoffrey Pyatt: Yeah, I mean, I guess. In terms of him not going into the government, just let him sort of stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of sort of the process moving ahead, we want to keep the moderate Democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok and his guys, and I’m sure that’s part of what Yanukovych is calculating on all of this. I kind of— Victoria Nuland: I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. What he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know? I just think Klitsch going in—he’s going to be at that level working for Yatsenyuk; it’s just not going to work.
Victoria Nuland: So, on that piece, Geoff, when I wrote the note, Sullivan’s come back to me VFR, saying, you need Biden, and I said, probably tomorrow for an “atta-boy” and to get the deets to stick. Geoffrey Pyatt: Okay. Victoria Nuland: So, Biden’s willing. Geoffrey Pyatt: Okay, great. Thanks.
Daily Briefing: State Department Daily Briefing, State Department, C-SPAN Coverage, Jen Psaki, February 6, 2014
- Jennifer R. Psaki
0:19 Male Reporter: Can you say whether you—if this call is a recording of an authentic conversation between Assistant Secretary Nuland and Ambassador Pyatt? Jen Psaki: Well, I’m not going to confirm or outline details. I understand there are a lot of reports out there, and there’s a recording out there, but I’m not going to confirm a private diplomatic conversation. Reporter: So you are not saying that you believe this is a—you think this is not authentic? You think this is a— Psaki: It’s not an accusation I’m making. I’m just not going to confirm the specifics of it. Reporter: Well, you can’t even say whether there was a—that this call—you believe that this call, you believe that this recording is a recording of a real telephone call? Psaki: I didn’t say it was inauthentic. I think we can leave it at that. Reporter: Okay, so, you’re allowing the fact that it is authentic. Psaki: Yes. Reporter: “Yes,” okay. Psaki: Do you have a question about it?
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Music Presented in This Episode
Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)