Skip to main content

tv   Impeachment Inquiry House Hearings George Kent William Taylor Opening...  CSPAN  November 14, 2019 6:00am-7:00am EST

6:00 am
6:01 am
is an hour. >> good morning. i am the deputy secretary of state for eastern europe. i have served for more than 27 years. as i mentioned last month, i represent the third generation of my family to have sworn the oath of office that all u.s. public servants do in defense of our constitution read indeed -- our constitution. indeed, there is a george kent sworn to defend the constitution for nearly 60 years, ever since my father reported to annapolis after graduating first in his
6:02 am
naval academy class in 1965, the year best known for his heisman winning roger stop that, my father served an honorable 30 years, including as a captain for a ballistic submarine during the height of the cold or. served honorably in the army and navy in world war ii. in particular, tom taggart was stationed in the philippines at the time of the attack on harbor -- on pearl harbor. he survived the brutal death march and three and a half years in a prisoner of war camp unbroken. he returned to service as an air force judge advocate, upholding the rule of law until his death in 1965. today i appear for you once again, under subpoena, as a fact witness ready to answer all of your questions about the events and developments examined in this inquiry. to the best of my ability and recollection, subject to the limits placed on me by the law and this process.
6:03 am
i will begin with opening comments on the key principles at the heart of what brings me for you today. two it, principled public service in pursuit of our national interests, in the place of ukraine an hour national security interests. we have focused our united efforts across the atlantic to forort ukraine in its fight freedom, and a rebirth of a country free from russian dominion and the legacy of soviet institutions and post-soviet. -- post-soviet behavior. as i stated last month, you don't step into the public arena of international diplomacy in active pursuit of u.s. interests without expecting vigorous pushback, including personal attacks. such attacks came from the russians, their proxies, and corrupt ukrainians. that tells me our efforts were hitting their mark.
6:04 am
unfortunate, however, to watch some americans, including those who aligned themselves in corrupt ukrainians in pursuit of private .gendas launch attacks in my opinion, those attacks undermined u.s. and ukrainian national interests and damage are critical bilateral relationship. the united states has a clear national interest in stake -- at stake in ukraine. ukrainian success is international interest in the way we have defined it broadly for the past 75 years. ii, u.s.ld war leadership further policies like the marshall plan and creation .f an rules-based order western europe recovered and thrived. after the carnage of world war ii, notwithstanding the shadow of the iron curtain.
6:05 am
security and prosperity contributed to our security and prosperity. support for 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. free and atly hold peace our strategic game for the entirety of my foreign service -- is not possible without ukraine at peace. looking forward, the trump administrations national security strategy makes clear that the global security challenge now before us. great power competition with rivals such as russia and china, and the need to compete for positive influence without taking countries for granted. in that sense, ukraine has been on the frontlines not just of russia's conventional are in
6:06 am
eastern europe since 2014 and its broader campaign of maligned influence, but as a greater geopolitical challenges now facing the united states. ukraine's popular revolution of dignity in 2014 forced a corrupt pro-russian leadership to flee to moscow. after that, russia invaded itsine, occupying 7% of territory, roughly equivalent to the size of texas in the united states. at that time, ukraine's state institutions were on the verge of collapse. ukrainian civil society answered the challenge. volunteer battalions of citizens. they crowd sourced funding for their own weapons, body armor, and supplies. they were the 21st century ukraine equivalent of our own minutemen, buying time for a regular army to reconstitute. since then, more than 1300
6:07 am
thousand ukrainians have died on ukrainian soil defending their territorial integrity and sovereignty from russian russian. ukraine'ssupport in own defective war of independence has been critical in this regard. americany, the colonies may not have prevailed against the british imperial might without the help of transatlantic friends after 1776. in an echo of lafayette's assistance to general george washington's army and admiral john paul jones' maybe, congress has generously appropriated over $1.5 billion over the past five years in assistance to ukraine. these funds increase the ability to fight russian aggression. ultimately, ukraine is on the path to become a full security partner of the united states within nato. u.s. and nato ally trainers developed the skills of ukrainian units near the polish
6:08 am
border and elsewhere. they helped rewrite military education for ukraine's next generation. in supporting ukraine's brave resistance to russian aggression, we have a front row seat to the russian way of war in the 21st century, gaining priceless insights that contribute to our own security. this year, in 2019, ukrainian citizens passed the political torch to a new generation, one 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 governing elites and zelensky, adent cabinet with an average age of 39, and a parliament with an 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.
6:09 am
without a reformed 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 long-term prosperity is secured. this is why the principled promotion of the rule of law and institutional integrity is so necessary to our strategy for a successful ukraine. formerlso true for other captive nations still recovering from the ashes of soviet and communist misrule. it is acting inconsistently with the core of the rule of law and comes at great peril. i am grateful to all of the congressman's staffers who have traveled to ukraine over the past five years and appropriated billions of dollars of assistance in support of our primary policy goals. those funds increase ukraine's ability to fight russian aggression and also empowers
6:10 am
state institutions to undertake systemic reforms and tackle corruption. i believe all of us can be proud of our efforts in ukraine over the past five years, even though much remains to be done, and by all of us, i mean those of us in the legislative and executive branches in both parties, the interagency community working out of our embassy and keep, with ukrainians in government, the military, and civil society, and our transatlantic allies and partners. we cannot allow our resolve to waivers since too much is at stake not just for ukraine and the future of european security, but for the national interest of the united states broadly defined. my disposition covers a lot of ground over 10 hours. here are the main 10 themes. involvement with long-standing u.s. interest in supporting anticorruption efforts in ukraine. this gave me a front row seat to problematic activities.
6:11 am
the issues this committee is investigating, my knowledge and understanding is sometimes firsthand and sometimes comes through others involved in specific conversations and meetings. this is no different than how anyone learns and carries out his or her job responsibilities. i have been and remain willing to share my factual observations with the committee and will make clear when those are based on personal knowledge or from information gleaned from others. u.s. efforts to counter corruption in ukraine focus on building institutional capacity that if the ukrainian government has the ability to go after corruption and effectively investigate, prosecute, and judge alleged criminal activities using appropriate institutional mechanisms, that is, to create and follow the rule of law, that means if there are criminal nexus is for activity in the united states, u.s. law enforcement should pursue the case. if we think there has been a criminal act overseas that
6:12 am
violates u.s. law, we have the institutional mechanisms to address that. it could be through the justice department and fbi agent's assigned overseas, or through treaty mechanisms such as the neutral legal assistance treaty. as a principal, i do not believe the united states should ask other countries to engage in selective politically associated investigations and prosecutions against opponents of those in power, because such actions undermine the rule of law, regardless of the country. the pervasive and long-standing problem of corruption in ukraine included exposure to a situation involving an energy company. the primary concern of the u.s. government since 2014 was the owner. had frozen assets abroad that we attempted to recover on ukraine's behalf. in 2015, i raise questions with the deputy prosecutor general on why the investigation of him had been terminated, based on our belief that prosecutors had accepted bribes to close the case.
6:13 am
later i became aware that hunter biden was on the board of the company. briefing call a with the national security staff in the office of the vice president in february of 2015, i raised my concern that hunter biden's status as a board member to create the perception of a conflict of interest. let me be clear, however. i did not witness any effort to shield the company from scrutiny. in fact, in other u.s. officials advocated reinstituting an investigation of the company, as well as holding the correct prosecutors who closed the case to account. and the course of 2018 2019, i became aware of an effort by rudy giuliani and others, including his associates , to run a campaign to smear ambassador jovanovich and other officials at the u.s. embassy in kiev. the chief agitators on the ukrainian side of the effort were some of the same correct prosecutors i had encountered,
6:14 am
particularly -- they were now peddling false information in order to extract revenge against those who had exposed their misconduct, including u.s. diplomats, ukrainian anticorruption officials, and reform minded civil society rootsy crane. during the late spring and summer of 2019, i became alarmed as the efforts bore through to. that -- thethe and assassination of a mastery of out of it. in mid-august, it became clear that giuliani's efforts were now effecting u.s. engagement with ukraine, leveraging president zelensky's desire for a white house meeting. there are and always have been conditionality's placed on our sovereign land guarantees for ukraine, including anticorruption reforms as well as meeting larger stability goals and social safety nets. the international monetary fund does the same thing.
6:15 am
congress and the executive branch work together to pick it -- to put conditionality on some assistance in the initiative. regarding my testimony today, i will do my best to answer your questions, questions that will involve issues and documents that span a number of years. i may be limited by three considerations. first, the state department has collected all materials in response to the subpoena that may contain facts relevant to my testimony. i have no such materials with me today. i will do my best to answer as accurately as i can, to the best of my recollection. second, as this committee knows through testimony, throughout this process there have been concerns that questions may be asked about classified information. we have asked the state department for guidance about concerns related to the public release of my deposition, and the state department has declined to provide any, so if i am asked a question that may implicate classified information, i will respectfully
6:16 am
decline to answer in this public forum. third, there may be questions focusing on the identity of people in the intelligence community. these questions were redacted for my transcript. if such a question arises, i will follow my counsel's advice and declined to answer. i would like to conclude my remarks with an observation about some of my fellow public servants who have come under personal attacks. and that's terry evanovich, lieutenant and dr. hill -- ambassador you benefit, -- evanovich -- made the professional choice to serve the united states as public officials, helping shape our national security policy towards russia in particular, and we and our national security are the better for it. in this sense, they are the 21st century heirs of two giants of
6:17 am
21st century national security policy who were also born abroad. they fled nazi and communist oppression to contribute to a stronger, more secure america. that honorable tradition of transatlantic ties goes back to the very founding of our republic. our 18th-century independence would not have been secured without the choice of european officers, the french born , theette and rochambeau german, and the polls, to come to the new word and fight for our freedom in the birth of a new country fear -- free from imperial dominion. it is my privilege to sit next to my former boss today, and it is my honor to serve with all of these patriotic americans. thank you. >> thank.
6:18 am
ambassador taylor. mr. taylor: i am appearing today to provide my perspective on the events that are the subject of the committee's inquiry. i want to emphasize at the outset that while i am aware that the committee has requested my testimony as part of the proceedings, i am not here to take one side or the other, or to advocate for any particular outcome of these proceedings. my sole purpose is to provide facts, as i know them, about the incidents in question, as well as my views about the strategic importance of ukraine to the united states. my way of background, it has been a privilege to serve our country for more than 50 years, starting as a cadet at west point, as you have mentioned, as an infantry officer for six years, including with 101st airborne division in vietnam, and the department of energy, then as a member of the senate staff, then at nato, then with the state department here and abroad, in afghanistan, iraq, jerusalem, and ukraine.
6:19 am
i retired from the state department in 2009 to join the united states institute of peace . i am either a member of the foreign service nor the civil service. i amnonpartisan have an -- nonpartisan and have been appointed by every president from reagan to trump. let me summarize my main points. first, ukraine is a strategic partner of the united states, ofortant for the security our country. second, as we sit here today, ukrainian soldiers are being attacked in their own country. i saw this on the frontline last week. the day i was there, the ukrainian soldier was killed and four were wounded. third, the security assistance we provide is crucial to
6:20 am
ukraine's defense and the protection of the soldiers i met on the frontline last week. it demonstrates to ukrainians and russians that we are ukraine's reliable strategic partner. it is clearly in our national interest to deter further russian aggression. and finally, as the committee is aware, i wrote that withholding security assistance in exchange for help in a domestic political campaign in the united states would be crazy. i believe that then and believe it now. the me tell you why. on may 28, i met with mike pompeo, who asked me to rejoin the state department and iev to lead our embassy in ukraine. it was a critical time for ukrainian relations. i have served as ambassador of ukraine from 2006 to 2009, having been nominated by george
6:21 am
w. bush and having stayed engaged with ukraine. across the responsibilities i have had an public service, ukraine is the highlight, and so secretary pompeo's offer to return was compelling. 2009,i left ukraine in the country had continued to turn to the west. in 2013, vladimir putin was so threatened i the prospect of ukraine joining the european union that he tried to bribe the ukrainian president. this triggered mass protests in 2013 that drove the president to flee to russia in february of 2014, but not before his forces killed 100 ukrainian protesters in central kiev. days later, mr. putin invaded crimea. the russians absurdly claimed that 97% voted to join russia.
6:22 am
hisarly april, putin sent army into southeastern ukraine to generate illegal armed formations and public governments -- puppet governments in what we know as done by. 13,000 ukrainians have died in the war and more die each week. in july 2014, these russian led forces shut down a civilian airliner in route from amsterdam to malaysia, killing all 298 people on board. we, the europeans, and most of the west imposed economic sanctions and kicked the russians out of the g8. natoning in 2014, we and began to provide military assistance to ukraine's armed forces in the form of training advice, military equipment, and weapons.
6:23 am
it is this security assistance that is at the heart of the controversy that we are discussing today. the president russian president ev inwas run out of ki 2014 and let the armed forces deteriorate into the point of ruin. the new ukrainian authorities, with an amazing outpouring of support, the ukrainian people rebuilt the army nearly from scratch, spending more than 5% of ukrainian gdp on defense since the war started. the whole nation fiercely responded to the attack. the nation united like never before, a ragtag army developed into a strong fighting force, and the united states played a vital role. providedu.n. congress $1.6 billion in assistance to ukraine. the assistance provides a small unit training at an army base in the west end of the country.
6:24 am
it provides ambulances, night vision devices, counter battery radar, navy ships, and weapons. the security system demonstrates our commitment to resist aggression and defend freedom. period,he 2014 to 2016 i was surfing outside government and joint two other former ambassadors to ukrainian urging the obama administration officials 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 antitank missiles and enacted stronger sanctions. cared abouti ukraine's future and the important u.s. interest there. so, when secretary pompeo asked me to go back to kiev, i wanted to say yes, but it was not an easy decision.
6:25 am
the former ambassador yovanovitch has been treated poorly, caught in a web of machinations in kiev and washington. i consulted both my wife and the respected former senior republican official who has been a mentor. inill tell you that my wife no uncertain terms to opposes the idea. the mentor counseled, if your country asks you to do something, you do it if you can be effective. i could be effective only if the u.s. policy, with strong support for ukraine, strong diplomatic support along with robust security, were to continue. and if i have the backing of the secretary of state to implement that policy, and i worry about what i heard concerning the role of really judy only -- of rudy giuliani, who had made concerning statements.
6:26 am
during my meeting with secretary pompeo on may 28, i made clear to him and the others present that if u.s. policy towards ukraine changed, he would not want me posted there, and i could not stay. he assured me that the policy of strong support for ukraine would continue and that he would support me in defending that policy. with that understanding, i agreed to go back to kiev. in effect, i was the acting ambassador to ukraine. i returned to kiev on june 17, carrying the copy of a letter president from signed after i met the secretary. trump letter, president congratulated president zelensky on his victory and invited him to a meeting at the oval office. , ie i arrived at kiev
6:27 am
encountered confusing and alarming circumstances. first, encouraging. president zelensky was reforming ukraine in a hurry. he appointed reformist ministers and anticorruption legislation. he took quick executive action, including opening the high court with a new parliamentary majority stemming from snap elections. residents on ski changed the ukrainian constitution to remove from a sourceity of raw corruption for two decades. , as time could be different new ukraine breaking from its corrupt past. and yet i found a confusing arrangement for making u.s. policy towards you rain. there appeared to be two channels of u.s. policymaking and of limitation, one regular as acting ambassador, i had
6:28 am
authority over the bulk of the effort to support ukraine against the russian invasion to help defeat corruption. kent andgue, george our colleagues at the national security council were my main points of contact in washington. formerlynel is responsible from former leading and overseeing the implementation of u.s. policy with respect to ukraine. a policy that has consistently enjoyed strong bipartisan support in congress and all administrations since independence from russia in 1991. at the same time, i encountered an irregular informal channel of policymaking with respect to ukraine. unaccountable to congress, a channel that included special envoy kurt volker -- kurt full -- volker, mick mulvaney,
6:29 am
and as a subsequent learned to let mr. giuliani. i was clearly in the regular channel also the irregular what to the extent that a bester spilker and summoned included me in certain conversations although this a channel was well itrected washington, operated mostly outside of official state department channels. the irregular channel began when ambassador, song blend, and ron johnson briefed president trump on may 23 upon their return from president zelensky's inauguration. the delegation was as enthusiastic as i would soon become about the new ukrainian president and urged president trump to meet with him early on to cement the u.s. ukraine relationship. from what i understood from the
6:30 am
participants, president trump did not share their dues yes. when i arrived, the actions of both the regular and irregular channels foreign policy appeared to serve the single. , a strongal partnership clear to me by august that the channels had to verged in their objectives. i became increasingly. in late june, both channels were trying to facilitate a visit by the president of the white house for a meeting with president trump which president trump had promised in his congratulatory letter. ukrainians were clearly eager for the meeting to happen. medicationsbsequent with the investors, they related to me that the president wanted to hear from zelensky before scheduling the meeting in the oval office. it was not clear to me what this
6:31 am
meant. somnolent and bester told me that zelensky needed to make clear to president trump that he was not standing in the investigations. the ambassadors and i were on this call, dialing in from different locations. however, the ambassador said he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added residence zelensky to the call -- the president to the call. ambassador separately told the participantsner -- that he planned to be explicit in a meeting in toronto on july 2. in that meeting, the investor
6:32 am
plans to make clear what president zelensky should do to get the meeting. i did not understand what this meant, but the ambassador said he would relay that president trump wanted to see rule of law transparency, and specifically cooperation on investigations. callthe president jointly from the conversation was focused on energy policy and the war. he said he look forward to the white house visit president trump had offered in his may 29 letter. by mid july, it was clear to me that the meeting president's wantedski -- zelensky was contingent on an investigation into the elections. it was clear this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel i had come to understand was guided mr. giuliani.
6:33 am
in a regular secure video , i heard there, was a hold on security .ssistance a person from offscreen said she was from omb and her instructor headset not to approve any additional spending until further notice. i, and others, sat in astonishment. we were fighting russians counted on not only the training but also the assurance of u.s. support. all the staff person said was that the directive had come from the president to omb. in an instant, i realize that one of the key pillars of our strong support was threatened. channel wasr policy running contrary to the goals of long-standing u.s. policy.
6:34 am
there followed a series of interagency meetings. starting at the staff level and quickly reaching the level of cabinet secretary's. at every meeting, the unanimous conclusion was that the securities should be resumed. at one point, the defense department was asked to perform back withs and come the determination the assistance was effective and should be resumed. thenderstanding was that secretaries of defense and state sought aint meeting -- meeting but such a meeting was hard to schedule an of the hold lasted until september. -- and the hold lasted until september. fiona hill and the lieutenant colonel of european affairs didn't try to assure me that they were not aware of any
6:35 am
official change in u.s. policy toward ukraine. the announcement notwithstanding. they did confirm the hold on security systems for ukraine came from chief of staff mick mulvaney who maintains a skeptical view of ukraine. call, it gaveone me an account of a july 10 meeting with ukrainian and american officials at the white house. they told me that ambassador song wind had connected investigations with an oval office meeting for present zelensky -- president zelensky which so irritated john bolton he abruptly ended the meeting, saying they should have nothing to do with the mystic politics. he directed -- domestic politics. dr. hill set a bester bolton referred to the deal as a drug deal. bolton ambassador
6:36 am
referred to the deal as a drug deal. there were concerns it would be a disaster. needless to say, the ukrainians were confused. and theor bolton regular policy decision-making channels wanted to talk about security, energy, and reform. sound wanted to talk about the connection between a white house meeting and in cranium -- ukrainian investigations. dr. hill informed me that a bester volcker had met with mr. giuliani to discuss ukraine. the next day, i asked about the meeting but received no response. i began to sense that these two separate decision-making channels were separate and at odds. later that day, i received text messages in a whatsapp text conversation, a record of which was provided by ambassador
6:37 am
volcker. said --ssador somnolent the ambassador said a call would take place soon. said what waslker most important was for zelensky to agree to an investigation and to address specific personal issues. the next day i had a phone conversation with ambassador somnolent -- with the ambassador. he told me he had recommended that he used the phrase i will leave no stone unturned with .egard to investigations also on july 20, i had a phone with president zelensky's national security advisor, who emphasized president did not want to be
6:38 am
used as an instrument in a u.s. reelection campaign. texted they, i investors about the concerns. trump and, president president zelensky had a long-awaited phone conversation. though i was acting ambassador scheduled to meet with ambassador voelker the following day, i received no readout of the call. ukrainian government issued a short, cryptic summary. during a previously planned meeting, the president told the investor and i that he was happy with the call but did not elaborate. the present and then asked about the meeting in the oval office as promised in the may 29 letter. we could give him no firm answer. , the our meeting ambassador and i traveled to the
6:39 am
front lines to receive a briefing on the line of contact. , theing in the briefing commander thanked us for .ecurity assistance i was aware this assistance was on hold, which made me uncomfortable. the investor and i could see the armed and hostile russian forces on the other of the damaged bridge. russian forces continued to kill ukrainians in the war, one or two a week. more would undoubtedly die that u.s. assistance. though i spent the morning with president zelensky, the first i heard frome call anybody inside the u.s. government was during a phone call i had with tim morrison, the recent replacement at the nsc. the call could have been better and that president trump had suggested president
6:40 am
zelensky order staff to meet with mr. giuliani and attorney general william barr. i did not see any official readout of the call until it was publicly released. by august, i was becoming more concerned. i exchange text in which i learned that a senior advisor to president zelensky had asked the united states submit an official request for an investigation into alleged violations of ukrainian law. a formal u.s. request the ukrainians to conduct an investigation based on violations of their own law struck me as improper and i toommended we stay clear find out the legal aspects of the question. i gave him the name of a deputy assistant general who i thought would be the proper point of
6:41 am
contact for seeking a request for a foreign investigation. august, because the security systems have been held for over a month, i was beginning to fear that the long-standing u.s. policy of support was shifting your best shifting -- support was shifting. not atold there was change in policy but they would check with staff. i concerned deepened the next day during a phone conversation with mr. morrison. i asked him if there had been a change in policy, which he responded it remains to be seen. that theold me president does not want to provide any assistance at all. that was extremely troubling for me, as i had told secretary pompeo that if the policy were to change, i would have to
6:42 am
resign. based on my call, i was preparing to do so. later, ambassador bolton arrived and met with the president. during the meeting, security was not discussed. as far as i knew ukrainians were not aware of the hold until august 29. i come on the other hand, was all too aware. near the end of the visit, i asked to meet him privately, during which i expressed my serious concern about the withholding of military assistance while ukrainians were defending their country. investor bolton recommended i sent a cable to secretary pompeo --ectly relating to concerns relating my concerns. i describe the folly i saw in withholding military aid at a time when hostilities were active in the east and went
6:43 am
russia was watching closely to gauge the level of american support. the russians, as i said, would love to see the humiliation of president zelensky at the hand of the americans. not defend i would such a policy. though i received no response, i heard that the secretary cabled -- carried the cable to a meeting at the white house. , i same day i sent my table was contacted very concerned asking about the withheld security assistance. a hold of the white house had placed had just been made public that day. embarrassedt, i was and could give you know x nation -- explanation. it had not occurred to me the hold could be related to the investigations. that, however, would change.
6:44 am
cable, president zelensky met vice president pence at a bilateral meeting in warsaw. president trump had planned to travel but canceled because of hurricane dorgan. dorian. hours, i let them know that the delay of assistance was all or nothing, in the sense that if the white house did not lift the hold the funds would expire in ukraine would receive nothing -- and ukraine would receive nothing. i was hopeful the white house would lift the hold, but this was not to be. on the evening of september 1, i received a readout of the pence-zelensky meeting during which they told me the meeting had been opened by immediately asking the vice president about the security cooperation. the vice president did not
6:45 am
respond but said he would talk to president trump that night. the vice president did say that president trump wanted the europeans to do more to support ukraine that he wanted the ukrainians to do more to fight corrections -- corruption. during the same call with mr. morrison, he described a conversation sondland had in warsaw. said the security assistance money would not come until president zelensky committed to pursue the investigation. i was alarmed by what i was told about the conversation. i understand mr. morrison testified at his deposition that ambassador sondland said it might be sufficient for the prosecutor general, as opposed to the president. but this was the first time i had heard the security assistance, not just the white house meeting, was conditioned
6:46 am
on the investigations. sent ambassador sondland a text message, asking if we are now saying the security assistance and white house meetings are contingent on investigations. ambassador sondland asked me to call him, which i did. during the phone call, he told me that president trump had told him that he wants president zelensky to state publicly ukraine will investigate alleged ukrainian interference in the 20's state election. ambassador -- in the 2016 election. hadland also told me he made a mistake by telling ukrainian officials that only a meeting was dependent on a public announcement of the investigations. orfact, the abbasid everything was dependent on such an announcement -- the
6:47 am
ambassador said everything was dependent on such an announcement. he wanted him in a public backs by making such a statement -- box by making such a statement. i was told that president trump should have more respect for another head of state and that what he described was not in the eye -- interest of president trump war zelensky. zelensky.or i suggested a pushback. that the investigator general could make a statement, potentially in coordination with attorney general barr. the next day, mr. morrison informed me that he had been asked to come to warsaw. presidented zelensky's concern about the
6:48 am
possible loss of u.s. support for ukraine. in particular, they related to me that the inability of officials to respond to explicit questions about security assistance was troubling them. i was experiencing the same tension in my dealings, including a meeting i had had with the defense minister that day. 5, i companied senators johnson and murphy during their visit to keith -- kiev. zelensky's first question was about the withheld security assistance my understanding was that both senators had stressed that support in washington was ukraine's most supportive -- important strategic asset and zelensky should not jeopardize that support getting drawn in to u.s. domestic politics. i continued to make this point
6:49 am
all of my official contacts but the odd push to make president zelensky publicly commit to investigations of alleged interference in the election showed how the official foreign policy of the united states was undercut by the irregular efforts led by mr. giuliani. two days later, i had a conversation with mr. morrison where he described a phone conversation between ambassador anderland -- sondland president trump. according to mr. morrison, president trump told the investor he was not asking for a quid quo pro. but president trump did insist that president zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations. and that the president should
6:50 am
wants to do this himself. mr. morrison says he told ambassador bolton and the lawyers of this phone call. the following day on september 8, the investor and i spoke on the phone and confirmed he had talked to president trump. but that president trump was adamant that president zelensky himself had to clear things up and do it in public. president trump said it was not a quid quote pro -- quid quo pro. i believe this was the same conversation described to me. ambassador sondland also said he had spoken to ukrainian officials and told them that although this was not a quid quo pro, if president zelensky did not clear things up, we would be at a stalemate.
6:51 am
i understood a stalemate to mean that ukraine would not receive military assistance. sondland said this conversation concluded with zelensky agreeing to make a public statement in an interview. shortly after that call, i expressed my strong reservations in a text message, stating that ukrainianse is the give the interview and don't get the security assistance. the russians love it and i quit. i was serious. the next day, i said to the investors that the message to the ukrainians and russian we send with this decision is key. with the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us. i also said i think it is crazy to withhold security assistance for help in a clinical campaign. -- political campaign. responded sondland
6:52 am
later that i was incorrect about president trump's intentions. the president has been crystal clear, no quid quo pro of any kind. during our call, ambassador tried tod -- sondland explain to me that present trump as a businessman. when a businessman is about to sign a check, they ask the person to pay up before signing the check. mr. volker used the same language several days later while we were together. that the expert made no sense. owe president not trump anything and holding up security assistance for domestic clinical gain was crazy, as i said on september 9. i learned that the hold had been lifted and security assistance would be provided. i was not told the reason the hold had been delayed. the next day, i personally remindedthe news and
6:53 am
ukraine of the high strategic value of bipartisan support for ukraine and the importance of not getting involved in other countries elections. had told medland zelensky had already agreed to do an interview and he would make a statement about investigations that would have played into domestic politics. i saw to confirm that he was not planning such an interview. while initially confirmed unser that he, they noticed looked uncomfortable in response to the question. i asked to confirm that there would be no cnn interview, which he did. on september 25, at the u.n. general assembly session, president trump met president
6:54 am
zelensky face-to-face and release to the transcript of the july 25 call. they gave ukrainians virtually no notice, they were livid. though this is the first time i've seen the details of the inme -- of the july 25 call which they mention vice president biden, i had come to understand that the investigation was a term used to mean matters related to the 2016 investigations of the bidens. last friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on july 26. while ambassador voelker and i visited the front as members of with ukrainian officials.
6:55 am
they told him of the meetings in key -- kiev. my staff could hear president trump asking sondland about the investigations. he told president trump the ukrainians were ready to move forward. following the call, a member of my staff asked the investor what president trump thought about the ukraine. that president trump cares more about the investigations abide in -- of biden. i gave my deposition on october 22, i was not aware of this information. i am including it here for completeness. as the committee knows, i reported this information route counsel to the legal advisory, as well as to counsel for about the majority and minority of this committee. it is my understanding the committee is following up on this matter >> -- matter.
6:56 am
mr. chairman, i recognize this is a lengthy recitation of the events told from my vantage point, but i also recognize the importance of the matters you are investigating. i hope this chronology will provide some framework for your questions. as i mentioned, the information" are based on my best recollection as well as a review of my personal notes. let me return to the points i made at the outset. ukraine is important to the security of the united states. the largest country in europe by landmass, it is a young democracy struggling to join europe and ally itself with the united states. it has been violently attacked by russia, which continues its armed aggression against ukraine to this day. if we believe in the principle of the sovereignty of nation on
6:57 am
which our security and that of our friends and allies depends. if we believe nations get to decide on their own economics and political alliances, we must support ukraine in its fight against its bullying neighbor. russian aggression cannot stand. administrations over decades have been generous with assistance funding, both civilian and military. with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, congress has proposed harsh sanctions on russia for invading and occupying ukraine. mr. chairman, there are two ukrainian stories today. the first is the one we were , acussing this morning rancorous story about whistleblowers. channels,ni, side quid quo pro and interference in elections. in the story, ukraine is merely an object. but there is another story, a
6:58 am
positive, bipartisan one. in the second story, ukraine is the subject. this one is about young people, in a young nation, struggling to break free of its past, hopeful that the new government will finally usher in a new ukraine, proud of its independence, eager to join western institutions and enjoy a secure and prosperous life. the story involves developing democratic nationalism not unlike we in america feel about our diverse country. less concerned about what language we speak, what religion we practice, where our parents came from, more concerned a continueshiff impeachment inquiry hearings
6:59 am
with testimony by former u.s. ambassador to ukraine marie yovanovitch, final procedures for the hearing, and the questions the committee hopes to get answered at our website and watch live coverage on c-span2, c-span.org on your computer or mobile device or listen live wherever you are with the free c-span radio app. live thursday on c-span, the house returns for work on legislation reauthorizing the u.s. export-import bank for 10 years. at 8:00 p.m., we join president trump at a campaign rally in bossier city, louisiana. on c-span2, the senate continues work on a traditional nomination to the second circuit court of appeals. 10:30, the senate energy and natural resources committee considered the nomination of dan brouillette to become the next energy secretary. the house over

25 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on