tv Fox News Reporting FOX News November 19, 2019 12:00pm-1:00pm PST
we are told in about 15 or 20 minutes from now, kurt volker who was a special representative to ukraine as well as tim morrison who is the former russia expert on the national security council will be going before the impeachment inquiry there to testify. don't forget that both volker and morrison are witnesses who the g.o.p. requested, so the g.o.p.'s tactic over the next few hours as we watch this all on a going to be where is the evidence to impeach the president of the united states? let's just review where we stand at this hour. with about 15 minutes, going to hear from a second set of witnesses, kurt volker and tim morrison. morrison was on that july 25th phone call, let's not forget, between president trump and ukraine's president. he testified privately that he did not think that president trump did anything improper or illegal but said he
did have a sinking feeling after the call that ukraine might not get its military aid, he testified that he was troubled and surprised when he saw the white house summary of that conversation. this morning, we heard from two of the witnesses who were on the call, army lieutenant colonel alexander vindman, top ukraine expert on the national security council and jennifer williams, an aide to vice president pence both testified that they had concerns about president trump's conversation with ukraine's newly elected leader. listen here. >> i found that july 25th phone call unusual because in contrast to other presidential calls i had observed, it involved discussions of what appeared to be a domestic political matter. >> i was concerned by the call. what i heard was inappropriate, and i forwarded my concerns to mr. eisenberg. is improper for the president of the united states to demand a foreign government investigate a u.s. citizen and a political opponent. >> john: president trump has repeatedly said the call was
"perfect" and that he has done nothing wrong. nancy pelosi has said he would be willing to testify in committee or in writing and the president said he would strongly consider it as a way to get the house moving on issues other than impeachment. our senior producer for capitol hill joins us now. where do we stand now as we prepare to get into the second big hearing of the day? >> we think we are about 15 minutes away from them actually starting, and the reason that they are waiting is because they are voting on the house floor across the street of the capital on an interim spending bill to keep the government funded, keep the lights on past 11:59 on thursday night, run the government through the 20th of december and this would then go to the senate presumably the president would sign that later this week, the white house has indicated there is support here. again, the key here for the democrats as they are going to point out three of the four witnesses today were actually on the telephone call between
president trump and zelensky. the only person we are going to hear from today at the witness table who was not on that call was kurt volker. but volker testified and disclosed for a deposition that he was troubled and surprised once he learned the call record. he also indicated, and this is tim morrison, the official who was on the call, when he spoke to gordon sondland, the u.s. ambassador of the european union who will be front and center at the witness table tomorrow, he said there was no quid pro quo, but stated that president zelensky should want to go to the microphone and announced personally that he wants to open investigation. this is why gordon sondland's testimony is going to be so key tomorrow. the other issue that keeps coming up is this issue of the whistle-blower and the biggest dustup it in the hearing this morning came between devin nunes over the whistle-blower. listen. >> what agency was as individual from? >> if i could interject here.
we don't want to use these proceedings. >> it is our time. >> we need to protect the whistle-blower. please stop. i want to make sure that there was no effort to out the whistle-blower throughout these proceedings. the witness has a good faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistle-blower, that is not the purpose we are here for. >> that groaning you heard in the back was republican house members that were sitting there and immediately started these catcalls at the chairman of the committee, adam schiff. one of the most significant moments in that hearing was during the opening statement by lieutenant colonel vindman where he talked about his father emigrating, bringing him from ukraine, the former soviet union some 40 years ago and he said here, you were considered to sit at the witness table and speak
proved a power which is what the essence was for his testimony today. that's what they were trying to get at. meantime, democrats are going to emphasize that these witnesses had direct custody of that call, top democratic aides who said it eviscerates the republican argument that everything is coming in second hand or third hand. as i look across the way here, we are waiting for members to come back from the floor. i am checking to see if they have actually finished the vote on floor. we can definitely say the bill is going to pass them or we can definitely say that. but we don't have an actual vote you have to fund the government through the 20th of december and then we go to the senate presumably in the next day or so. >> john: let's hope on december 20th, we don't find ourselves where we were at the same time last year with the government shut down forcing the president to cancel his monologue and vacation. keep a close eye on what's going on there. as we wait to hear from two more
impeachment witnesses this afternoon, let's bring in martha maccallum, anchor of the story and former assistant u.s. attorney and a fox news contributor. one of the main points about kurt volker is that he was one of the three amigos who was very much involved in this development of this irregular channel as has been testified to by bill taylor who was acting as the ambassador to ukraine is rudy giuliani was working with ukrainian officials. so what will the republicans try to elicit from volker as they really wanted him to testify today. >> this is going to be a very delicate dance with both tim morrison and kurt volker because they obviously want to protect themselves, but they were brought in as republican witnesses. there was some reporting late last night in "the new york times" that suggested that maybe kurt volker, who was the former envoy to ukraine that maybe he will
try to distance himself from the other two amigos, that he will suggest he was out of the loop when it came to the substance of what they were pursuing. so each one of these individuals, their first interest is their own self-preservation and after that, perhaps they provide some sort of substance for republicans who want very much for them to say that there was nothing untoward here and the democrats are going to try to get volker to flush out what rudy giuliani really wants out of all of this, what it rick perry really want out of all of this and as we said before, they are the elephants that are not in the room. rudy giuliani tweeted earlier today saying that he thinks it is the president's constitutional duty to root out corruption and seek answers to whether or not there were any payoffs along the lines of the bidens for releasing the aid, democrats think that was all for personal or political gain. one that kurt volker has testified already that he saw no proof of the quid pro quo, but
if he today says as martha alluded to that he was out of the loop at key moments during everything going on, not talking about a legal argument here, talking about a political argument but can he say that there was no evidence of a quid pro quo if he wasn't in the loop all the time? >> what i would expect is that he will basically say i can only answer to what i saw and heard and he will be on his guard not to draw any ultimate conclusions unless they lay a factual basis for him to have that kind of knowledge. i think you will be particularly careful about that. my sense of looking at his original testimony is that he wanted to keep his distance from everything. he seemed to be one of these witnesses who was trying to be all things to all people had not do anything much controversial. i think along those lines, his approach more than likely is to be very conservative about what he can say and if they don't lay a basis for him to know something, he won't go there.
>> john: special report anchor bret baier and chris wallace, host of fox news sunday are with us in washington as well. we will get their thoughts on where to go this afternoon right after a quick break. we will be right back. saturdays happen. pain happens. aleve it. aleve is proven stronger and longer on pain than tylenol. when pain happens, aleve it. all day strong. i need all the breaks, that i can get. at liberty butchumal- cut. liberty biberty- cut. we'll dub it. liberty mutual customizes your car insurance so you only pay for what you need. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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under questioning said because of his military training, he thought a request by president trump to zelensky would be interpreted as an order. he was questioned by congressman chris joubert about that, let's listen to that and get your perspective on the back end of this. >> when a superior officer asks for a favor of a subordinate, they will interpret that as a demand, is that a fair synopsis of what you previously stated? >> when a superior makes a request, that's an order. >> is president trump a member of the military? we met he is not. >> to take your reevaluation of your words based on your military experience and your military culture and to attach that culture and that meeting to those words to someone who has never served? >> representative, i made that judgment and i stick by that judgment. >> i thought to tell you, i think it's nonsense. >> the comparison he was making
is you come from a military culture where a request could be seen as a demand, but this is in the venue of politics where a request could be seen quite differently. >> and it is looking at the transcript. we have the transcript, both of these witnesses early this morning testify that the transcript is accurate in the sense that while a few words were missing, each of them noted, it was accurate and how it was portrayed. vindman sees it as a demand and jennifer williams did not see that as a demand, nor did she decide to make her characterization highly unusual known until september 25th 2 months after the call happened. decreases point earlier, the biggest witness is going to be ambassador gordon sondland tomorrow and this testimony by david holmes who was the aide who hears the phone call by
president trump. that happens and he is questioned about a direct conversation with president trump as opposed to these witnesses who are listening to the call and never met with him one on one, this is different. today, they met with president trump five times in between july 15th and september 12th, so expect some of that to come up this afternoon. >> the public being let back in the room. chris wallace, tim morrison was also on that call. he'll be coming up in just a few minutes time. do you expect republicans will try to get tim morrison to contrast his take away from that call in terms of was not a request or was it a demand with what lieutenant colonel vindman's on the call? >> i am sure that will come up, but one of the problems is republicans are constantly talking about this as if the only issue is the call and in fact, it was a long campaign before the call on july 25th in
a long campaign after, and you are going to see that today, going to be interesting to see what happens with kurt volker and i'm a little surprised the republicans have called him and wanted him to be a witness and the democrats conceded to that. i am surprised because there was a long paper trail of texts and emails between volker and u.s. officials, volker and ukrainian officials like yermak in which particularly both before and after the july 25th call, there seems to be some linkage between aid to ukraine, military aid to ukraine, white house meeting with the ukrainian president, and his deliverables, these investigations. i suspect it's going to be a little hard for yermak to say -- on the one hand, he has set on the record he did not think there was a quid pro quo but on the other hand, it sure sounds like there was an exchange that if you want this, namely the support for ukraine, you were
going to have to give us that. something else that i think yermak is going to say or volker is going to say is that when he heard all this talk about burisma, he thought it was just about burisma as a company that it had corruption in the past and all of that he didn't think it didn't have anything to do with biotin. it meant that the president wanted biden father and son to be investigated. i am not sure that's going to wash because i think the reason everybody was interested in burisma was because of the fact hunter biden was on the board despite what seems to be any qualifications whatsoever for that important and high-paying position. >> john: forgive me for mixing up volker and yermak because he had a lot of interaction with yermak, a lot of text messages
we saw between volker and rudy giuliani trying to set up a meeting. he eventually did meet with him in madrid where they talked a lot about the investigations and chris alluded to this, those text messages are going to figure very prominently on the democratic side when it comes to this hearing coming up. >> right before these public hearings happen, we get the graphics that will be used, they are already out and that is a lot of the text messages between kurt volker and various officials including yermak. the text messages with giuliani. i think giuliani in this separate diplomacy that was happening as the democrats continue to refer to the three amigos which is volker, gordon sondland, and secretary perry who were working essentially with giuliani about trying to get some of these things done. >> sources tell me just in the last few minutes, one of the
main points they are going to try to make here is where is the evidence for articles of impeachment? have you seen any at this point? >> in the end, they can make it anything they want. abuse of power was an article of impeachment, it is not in the federal statutes, but it is an argument and in fact, it is in a federal 65 written by alexander hamilton, one of the founding fathers that said impeachment was to cover things like abuse of power so there are some specific things like bribery in there, but there's also this very elegant ten utterly meaningless phrase, high crimes and misdemeanors that can be anything that a majority of the house wants it to be. so they can say that abuse of power is an article of impeachment. they certainly are going to say obstruction of justice and the president's refusal to let key witnesses testify and keep documents to be turned over has
an article of impeachment, but to give you a sense of what brett and i have been talking about, we get a list of the graphics that each side is going to put out. this is from one this morning so it's not breaking any embargo and as you can see, what it is that is it's a text message on july 25th from kurt volker who is the ambassador or rather the envoy to ukraine, and yermak, one of the top political advisors. this is on july 25th just moments before the phone call between president trump and president zelensky. and heard from white house, assuming president is he convinces trump that he will investigate/get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, the allegations about ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. we will nail down date for a visit to washington. so the ukrainians were put on notice not necessarily about the bidens, but they were put on
notice just shortly before the conversation between president trump and president zelensky that the president is going to want evidence had nail down and investigate the potential of russian interference in the 2016 election and let me say, there is a lot more of this that goes on and on through the month of august. >> one of the reasons why we love chris wallace so much is because he can quote "the federalist" papers at will as we see members of the committee coming back into the hearing room. let's come back to new york to martha maccallum and andy mccarthy. let me play a little bit of sound here were jennifer williams was talking about a meeting that the vice president held with zelensky in warsaw on september the 1st and whether or not there was any talk during that meeting about the investigation, let's listen. >> 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 mention the specific investigations discussed during the july 25th phone call. >> there wasn't a quid pro quo but if there was no mention of investigations doing a very important meeting, what does that suggest? >> it's interesting, and it goes to this issue of these twohat vice president pence had, it appears that none of these things were discussed in terms of the investigation or into burisma or biden or any of that. you also have this letter that you and i discussed earlier today from senator ron johnson who said the same thing. he said he met with ukrainian officials several times during that june and july period and that nothing was brought up about withholding aid. he says that president trump did not do a quid pro quo to him and
in conversations, he was very focused on corruption. so the interesting thing is that all that july 25th call, those worlds collide because the president on the phone with these other people on the call for the first time brings those two worlds together and brings up the issue of biden and burisma. he said it was just because he was dealing with corruption across the board but of course, a lot of differing opinions on that as we have heard. >> john: and tim morrison was meant july 25th call. but no doubt he will be asked what his impressions of that word. andy mccarthy, as we get ready for the witnesses to come in, there is kurt volker they are. again, the republicans are going to try to make this pitch of where is the evidence for articles of impeachment? and there is tim morrison as well. quickly before we get gaveled in here, do you see any evidence, and i know it is a political, not a legal calculation. >> i don't think there is
anything that approximates what hamilton was talking about in federalist 65 in terms of what the egregious kind of conduct that you should have to have an article of impeachment. but as chris also pointed out, quoting gerald ford when he was minority leader of the house, he said in impeachable offenses anything the house of representatives decides it is that a certain moment in history. they want to be that cynical, they can go down that road. >> john: it is the old adage that you could indict a ham sandwich with certain grand juries. impeachment can be whatever you think it is at that time. >> that's exactly right and i've been accused of indicting more than a ham sandwich in my day. but i do think that in all seriousness, this is something that ought to be a whole lot more serious than the kind of conduct that we have in front of us. >> that's where the whole political equation comes in, this is so politically divided and the process more than anything is to bring in the american people.
>> john: he recovers we start round two today. >> the chair is authorized to declare a recess at any time. there was a quorum present. we will proceed today in the same fashion as are other hearings. i will make an opening statement and the ranking member will have an opening statement. we will turn to our witnesses were opening statements and then to questions. with that, i never recognize myself to give an opening statement in the impeachment inquiry into donald j. trump, the 45th president of the united states. this afternoon, we will hear from to witness as requested by the minority, ambassador kurt volker, the state department special representative for ukraine and tim morrison, former senior director for european affairs at the national security council. i appreciate the minority's request for these two important witnesses as well as under secretary of state who we will hear tomorrow. as we have heard from other witnesses, when joe biden was considering whether to enter the race for the presidency in 2020, the president's personal lawyer
rudy giuliani began a campaign to weaken vice president bidens candidacy by pushing for ukraine to investigate him and his son. to clear away any obstacle to the scheme, days after the new ukrainian president was elected, trump port of recall of marie yovanovitch which was known for pushing anticorruption efforts. also canceled vice president mike pence's participation in the inauguration on may 20th and instead sent a delegation headed by energy secretary rick perry, ambassador to the e.u. gordon sondland and ambassador kurt volker. they then briefed president trump on their encouraging first interactions with the new ukrainian administration. hopes that trump would agree to an early meeting with ukrainian president were soon diminished, however, when trump pushed back. according to volker, he just didn't believe it. he was skeptical and he also
said i hear he's got some terrible people around here. president trump also told them they believe that ukraine tried to take them down. he told the three amigos talk to rudy. and they did. one of those interactions took place a week before the july 25th phone call between trump and zelensky and ambassador volker had breakfast with rudy giuliani at the trump hotel. volker testified that he pushed back on giuliani's accusation against joe biden. on july 22nd, just days before trump would talk to him, he had a telephone conference, a top advisor to the ukrainian president so that he could be introduced. on july 25th, the same day as a call between president trump and zelensky but before it took place, ambassador volker sent a text message to yermak. "heard from the white house. assuming president as he
convinces trump, he will investigate/get to the bottom of what happened in 2016. we will nail down date for a visit to washington. good luck!" later that day, donald trump wouldn't have the now infamous phone call with zelensky in which he responded to ukraine's appreciation for u.s. defense support and a request by president zelensky to buy more javelin antitank missiles by saying i would like you to do us a favor though. the favor involve the two investigations that giuliani had been pushing for into the bidens in 2016. ambassador volker was not on the call but when asked about what it reflected, he testified no president of the united states should ask a foreign leader to help interfere in a u.s. election. among those listening in on the july 25th call was to morrison who taken over as the nsc's senior director for european affairs only days before and had
been briefed by his predecessor fiona hill about the irregular second channel that was operating in parallel to the official one. lieutenant colonel vindman and ms. williams from whom we heard this morning, like them, morrison emerged from the call troubled. he was concerned enough about what he heard on the call that he went to see the nsc legal advisors soon after it had ended. colonel vindman's fear is that the president had broken the law potentially but morrison said his concern was that the call could be damaging if it were leaked. soon after this discussion with lawyers at the nsc, the call record was hidden away on a secure server used to store highly classified intelligence that remained until late september when the call record was publicly released. following the july 25th call him a ambassador volker worked with the ukrainian president's close advisor on a statement that would satisfy giuliani. when he sent over a draft that
still failed to include the specific words burisma and 2016, giuliani said the statement would lack credibility. ambassador volker then added both burisma and 2016 to the draft statement. though they were by late july aware that the security systems have been cut off at the direction of the president and acting white house chief of staff mick mulvaney. as the ukrainians became aware of the suspension of security assistance and that negotiations over the scheduling of the white house meeting between trump and zelensky dragged on, the pressure increased and any pretense that there was no linkage soon dropped away. morrison accompanied vice president pence to warsaw september 1st where pence and zelensky met, and zelensky raise the suspended security assistance. following that meeting, ambassador sondland approached yermak to help him what he believed helped they aid is that the prosecutor general would go to the mic and announced that he was opening the burisma
investigation. on september 7th, ambassador sondland had a telephone call with trump and asked him what he wanted from ukraine. according to morrison, who spoke with ambassador sondland after the call, he insisted there was no quid pro quo. president zelensky must personally announce the opening of the investigations and he should want to do it. he also said that if president zelensky didn't agree to make a statement, the u.s. and ukraine would be at a stalemate, meaning it would not receive the much needed security assistance. morrison had a sinking feeling after the call as he realized that the ask was now being directed by zelensky himself and not the prosecutor general as he had relate to his senior ukraine aid in warsaw on september 1st. while president trump claims there was no quid pro quo, his insistence that zelensky himself was publicly announcing investigations whether it be a
stalemate made clear that at least two official acts, white house meeting, and 400 million in military aid were conditioned on receipt of what trump wanted, investigations to help his campaign. the efforts to secure the investigations would continue for several more days but appeared to have abruptly ended soon after the three committees of congress announced an investigation into the trump-giuliani ukraine scheme. only then with the aid be the least. i now recognize ranking member nunes for any remarks he would like to make. >> we will come back to act ii of today's circus, ladies and gentlemen. we are here to continue with the democrats tell this is a serious, somber, and prayerful process of attempting to overthrow a duly elected president. they are successful, the end result would be to disenfranchise tens of millions of americans who thought the president is chosen by the american people, not by a 13 democrat partisans on a
committee that is supposed to be overseeing the government's intelligence agencies. as in it's strange how we have morphed into the impeachment committee presiding over a matter that has no intelligent component whatsoever. impeachment of course is the jurisdiction of the judiciary committee, not the intelligence committee. putting this farce in our court provides two main advantages for the democrats. made it easier for them to shroud their depositions in secrecy and it allowed them to avoid giving too big of a role in this spectacle to another democratic committee chairman and whom the democrat leaders obviously have no confidence. who can possibly view these proceedings as fair and impartial? they are being conducted by democrats who spent three years saturating the airwaves with dire warnings that president trump is a russian agent. and these outlandish attacks continue to this very day.
just this weekend in front of a crowd of democratic party activists, the chairman of this committee denounced president trump as a profound threat to our democracy. and valid that we will send that a charlatan in white house back to the golden throne he came from. how can anyone believe people who would utter such dramatic absurdities or conduct any fair impeachment process after only trying to discover the truth? it is obvious the democrats are trying to topple the president solely because they despise him. because they promised on election day to impeach him and because they are afraid he will win reelection next year. no witnesses have identified any crime or impeachable offense committed by the president, but that doesn't matter. last week, the democrats told us his infraction was asking for a
quid pro quo. this week, bribery. who knows what ridiculous crime they will be accusing him of next week. as witnesses, the democrats have called a parade of government officials who don't like president trump's ukraine policy. even though they the knowledge he provided ukraine with lethal military aid after the obama administration refused to do so. they also resent his conduct of policy through channels outside their own authority and control. these actions they argue contradict the so-called inter-agency consensus. they don't seem to understand that the president alone is constitutionally vested with the authority to set the policy. the american people elect a president, not in interagency consensus. of course, our previous witnesses had very little new
information to share in these hearings. that's because these hearings are not designed to uncover new information. they are meant to showcase a handpicked group of witnesses for the democrats determined through their secret audition process will provide testimony most conductive -- conducive to their accusations. in fact, by the time any witness says anything here, people are actually hearing it for the third time. they heard it first through the democrats cherry pick tweaks to their media sympathizers during the secret deposition. and second, when the democrats published those deposition transcripts in a highly staged manner. of course, there are no transcripts from crucial witnesses like hunter biden, who could testify about his well-paying job on the board of a corrupt ukrainian company or alexander who worked with the democratic national committee and the clinton campaign. that is because the democrats refused to let us hear from the
them. as for evidence, we are left with is the transcript of the trump-zelensky phone call which the president made public. that means americans can read for themselves and unremarkable conversation with president zelensky who repeatedly expressed satisfaction with the call afterward. the democrats however claimed he was being bribed and therefore, he must be lying when he says the call was friendly and imposed no problem. there is some irony here. for weeks, we heard the democrats bemoaned the damage president trump supposedly caused to the u.s.-ukrainian relations. but when the ukrainian president contradicts their accusations, they publicly dismissed him as a liar. i may be wrong, but i am fairly sure calling a friendly foreign president duly elected a liar violates their so-called interagency consensus.
so overall, the democrats would have you believe he is being blackmailed with a pause on lethal military aid he didn't even know about. president trump did not mention to him, and that diplomats have testified they always assumed would be lifted. which it was. without the ukrainians undertaking any of the actions they were supposedly being coerced into doing. this process is not serious, it is not sober, and it is certainly not prayerful. is an ambitious attack to deprive the american people of the right to elect a president that democrats don't like. as i mentioned, the chairman of this committee claims that democracy is under threat. that is true, it is not the president who poses the danger. i yield back. >> i think the gentlemen.
we are joined this afternoon by ambassador kurt volker and mr. timothy morrison. he served in the u.s. foreign service for nearly 30 years working on european and eurasian political and security issues under five different presidential administrations. during the george w. bush administration, he served as the acting director for european and eurasian affairs and the national security council and later as a deputy assistant secretary of state for european and eurasian affairs. in 2008, president bush appointed ambassador volker to the united states representative to nato where he served until may 2009. on july 2017, he was appointed to be the u.s. special representative for ukraine negotiations serving in that position until he resigned in september. is a pleasure to welcome mr. morrison back to the legislative branch where he served for almost two decades as a republican staffer. he was a professional staff member for representative mark kennedy of minnesota and senator john keil of arizona. later, mr. morrison served as a
long-time policy director for the republican staff of the house armed services committee. on july 2018, mr. morrison join the national security council as senior director for countering weapons of mass destruction following the pressure of dr. fiona hill in july 2019, he assumed the position of senior director for russia and europe. two final points before the witnesses are sworn, first witnesses and depositions as part of this inquiry were unclassified in nature and all open hearings will also be held at the unclassified level. any information they touch unclassified information will be addressed separately. second, congress will not tolerate any reprisal, threat of reprisal, or attempt to reconnect to allocate against any u.s. government official testifying before congress including you or any of your colleagues. you would both please rise and raise your right hand, i will begin by swearing you in. do you swear or affirm that the testimony were about to give is
the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? let the record show that the witnesses answered in the affirmative. thank you and please be seated. the microphones are sensitive, so please speak directly into them. without objection, your written statements will be made part of the written record. with that, you are recognized for your opening statement and immediately thereafter, ambassador volker, you are recognized for your opening statement. >> chairman schiff, ranking member is named naz and members of the committee, i appear before you today under subpoena about my time in the white house national security council as related to ukraine and assistance to that country. i will provide the most complete and accurate information i can consistent with my obligations to protect classified and privileged information. whether the conduct that is the subject of this inquiry merits impeachment is a question for
the u.s. house of representatives. i appear here today only to provide factual information based upon my knowledge on the recollection of events. i will not waste time restating the details of my opening statement from my deposition on october 31, 2019 which has recently been made public. however, i will highlight the following key points. first, as i previously stated, i do not know who the whistle-blower is, nor do i intend to speculate as to who the individual may be. second, i have great respect for my former colleagues from the nsc and the rest of the agency. i am not here today to question their character or integrity. my recollections and judgments are my own. some of my colleagues recollections of conversations and interactions may differ from mine but i do not view those differences as the result of an untoward purpose. third, i continue to believe ukraine is on the front lines of a strategic competition between the west and vladimir putin's russia. russia is a failing power, but
it is still a dangerous one. the 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. must continue to be. as i stated during my deposition, i feared at the time of the call on july 25th how this disclosure would play in washington's political climate. my fears have been realized. i understand the gravity of these proceedings, but i beg you not to lose sight of the military conflict underway today. the ongoing legal obligation of crimea. every day that the focus of discussion involving ukraine and is centered on these proceedings instead of those matters is a day when we are not focused on the interest of ukraine the united states, and the goals we share. finally, i completed my service
that they are last appeared before you. i left the nsc completely of my own volition. i felt no pressure to resign, nor have i feared any retaliation for my testimony. i made this career choice sometime before i decided to testify on october 31st. i am prepared to answer your questions to the best of my ability and recollection. >> thank you. ambassador volker. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, ranking member. thank you very much for the opportunity to provide this testimony today. as you know, i was the first person to come forward to testify as part of this inquiry. i did so voluntarily and likewise, voluntarily provided relevant documentation in my possession in order to be as cooperative, clear, and complete as possible. i am here today voluntarily and i remain committed to cooperating fully and truthfully with his committee. all i can do is provide the
facts as i understood them at the time. i did on october 3rd in private and i will do so again today. like many others who have testified in this inquiry, i am a career foreign policy professional. i began my career as an intelligence analyst for northern europe for the central intelligence agency in 1986. before joining the state department in 1988. i served in diplomatic postings primarily focused on european, political, and security issues for over 20 years under presidents ronald reagan, george w. bush, bill clinton, george w. bush, and barack obam barack obama. my last three positions before leaving the senior foreign service in 2009 were as director for nato and west european affairs of the national security council, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for european affairs of the state department and finally as u.s. ambassador to nato. in the spring of 2017, then
secretary of state tiller's and asked if i would come back to government service as u.s. special representative for ukraine negotiations. i did this on a part-time voluntary basis with no salary paid by the u.s. taxpayer simply because i believed it was important to serve our country in this way. i believed i could steer u.s. policy in the right direction. for over two years as u.s. special representative for ukraine negotiations, my singular focus was advancing the foreign policy and national security interest of the united states. in particular, i had been pushing back on russian aggression and supporting the development of a strong, resilient democratic and prosperous ukraine, one that overcomes a legacy of corruption and becomes integrated into a wider transatlantic community. this is critically important for u.s. national security. we can stop and reverse russian
aggression in ukraine, we can prevent it elsewhere. ukraine, the cradle of slavic civilization predating moscow succeeds as a freedom loving, prosperous, and secure democracy, it gives us a norma's hope that russia may one day change providing a better life for russian people and overcoming its current plague of authoritarianism, corruption, aggression towards neighbors and threats to nato and the united states. the stakes in these successful ukraine could not be higher. 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 real-time documentation i have provided, vice president biden was not a topic of discussions. how i was not on the july 25th phone call between president trump and president zelensky. i was not made aware of any reference to vice president biden or his son by president trump until the
transcript of that call was released on september 25th, 2019. from july 7, 2017 until september 27th, 2019, i was the lead u.s. diplomat dealing with russia's war on ukraine. it was not some a regular channel, but the official channel. i reported directly to secretaries of state to loosen and pompeo, kept the national security advisor and secretary of defense well informed of my efforts and work closely with ambassador yovanovitch and as a senior director hill and her successor to morrison, then assistant secretary wes mitchell and his successor acting assistant secretary, deputy assistant secretary george kent, deputy assistant secretary of defense laura cooper and many, many others. i have known many of them for several years. was a team effort. when ambassador yovanovitch left
and recommended bill taylor to secretary pompeo so he would still have a strong season professional on the ground. for two years before the events at the heart of this investigation took place, i was the most senior u.s. diplomat visiting the conflict sound, meeting with victims of russia's aggression, urging increased u.s. security assistance including lethal defensive weapons, working with ukrainian president and then his successor and their teams. working with france and germany in the so-called normandy process, pressing for support from nato, the e.u., and osce, supporting the special monitoring mission, and engaging in negotiations and other contacts with russian officials. at the time i took the position in the summer of 2017 there were major complicated questions whirling in public debate about the direction of u.s. policy towards ukraine.
with the administration lift sanctions against russia? would it make some kind of grand bargain with russia in which it would trade a recognition of russia's seizure of ukrainian territory for some other deal in syria or elsewhere? with the administration recognized russia's claim annexation of crimea. with this just become another frozen conflict? there were also a vast number of vacancies in key diplomatic positions so no one was really representing the united states and in negotiating the process about ending the war in eastern ukraine. during over two years of my tenure as special representative, we fundamentally turned u.s. policy around. the policy towards ukraine was strong, consistent, and enjoyed support across the administration, bipartisan support in congress, and support among our allies and ukraine. we change 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. i visited the war zone three times meeting with soldiers and civilians alike always bringing media with me to try to raise the public visibility of russia's aggression and the humanitarian impact on the lives and citizens of the donbass. to maintain a united front against russian aggression and for ukraine's democracy, reform, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. ukraine policy is perhaps the one area where the u.s. and its european allies had to be in lockstep. this coordination helped to strengthen u.s. sanctions against russia and to maintain e.u. sanctions as well. along with others in the administration, i strongly advocated for lifting the ban on the sale of lethal defensive weapons to ukraine advocated for increasing u.s. security assistance to ukraine and urged
other countries to follow suit. my team and i drafted the pompeo declaration of july 25th 2018 in which the secretary clearly and definitively laid out the u.s. policy of nonrecognition of russia's claimed annexation of crimea. i engage with our allies with ukraine and with russia in negotiations to implement the agreements holding a firm line and assisting the withdrawal of russian forces, dismantling of the so-called people's republics and restoring ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. together with others in the administration, we kept u.s. policies study their presidential and parliamentary elections in ukraine and worked hard to strengthen the u.s. and ukraine of bilateral relationship under the new president and government helping shepherd in a peaceful transition of power in ukraine. in short, where is two years ago most observers would have said that times on the russian side, by 2019 when i departed, we had turned the tables and time was now on ukraine side.
is a tragedy for the united states and for ukraine that our efforts in this area which were bearing fruit have now been thrown into disarray. one of the critical aspects of my role as u.s. special representative was that as the most senior u.s. official appointed to work solely on the ukraine portfolio, i needed to step forward to provide leadership. we needed to adopt a policy position, i made the case for it. we needed to -- if anyone needed to speak out publicly, i would do it. when we failed to get a timely statement about russia's illegal attack on ukraine's navy and seizure of ukraine sailors, i tweeted about it in order to condemn the act. a problem arose, i knew it was my job to try to fix it. that was my perspective when i learned in may 2019 that we had a significant problem that was impeding our ability to strengthen our support for ukraine's new president and his effort to ramp up ukraine's fight against corruption and
implementation of needed reforms. i found myself faced with the choice, to be aware of a problem and to ignore it or to accept that it was my responsibility to try to fix it. i tried to fix it. the problem was that despite the unanimous positive assessment and recommendations of those of us who were part of the u.s. 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 the four of us who were part of the presidential delegation to the inaugurations 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 it had been in for over 20 years. we urged him to invite president zelensky to the white house. the president was very skeptica skeptical. given ukraine's history of corruption, that is 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. 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 a 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 and actually scheduling the meeting, much as we had seen in our oval office discussion. after weeks of reassuring the ukrainians it was just a scheduling issue, i decided to tell president zelensky that we had a problem with the information reaching president trump from mayor giuliani. i did so in a bilateral meeting at a conference on ukrainian economic reform in toronto on i suggested that he call president for 24 directly in order to renew their personal relationship and to sure president trump that he was committed to investigating and fighting corruption, things that president zelensky had based his presidential campaign.
i was convinced that getting the presidents to talk to each other would overcome what he still harbored. president zelensky approached me connected to mayor giuliani. i agreed to make the connection. i did so because i understand that the ukrainian leadership wanted to convince those who believe such a negative narrative about ukraine that times of change. that under president zelensky, ukraine is worthy of u.s. support. ukrainians believe that if they could get their own narrative across in a way that can advance to mayor giuliani that they were serious about fighting corruption advancing reform come up mayor giuliani would convey that assessment to president trump of correcting the previous negative narrative. that made sense to me. i tried to be helpful. i made clear to the ukrainians that mayor giuliani was a
private citizen and not representing the u.s. governme government. likewise in my conversations with mayor giuliani, i never considered him to be giving instructions. rather the information flow was the other way. from ukraine to mayor giuliani and hopes that this would clear up the information. on july 10th, i wrote to mayor giuliani to seek to get together. on july 19th, we met for breakfast for a longer discussion. at that meeting, i told mr. giuliani, in my view, the prosecutor general with whom he had been speaking was not credible and was acting in a self-serving capacity. to my surprise, mayor giuliani said that he had already come to that same conclusion. mr. giuliani also mentioned the accusations about vice president biden and interference in the 2016 election and stressed that all he wanted to see was for ukraine to investigate what happened in the past and apply
its own laws. concerning the allegations, i have stressed that no one in the new team governing ukraine had anything to do with anything that may have happened in 2016. they were making television shows at the time. i also said that it is not credible to me that former vice president biden would have been influenced anyway by financial or personal motives in carrying out his duties as vice president. a different issue is whether some individual ukrainians may have attempted to influence the 2016 election or thought they could buy influence. that is at least as possible. but the accusation vice president biden acted inappropriately, did not seem credible to me. i connected them by text and later by phone. they met in person on august 2nd