tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC November 15, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PST
what's happening, he knows what roger knows about him, how much negotiation is there going to go on right now with sentencing coming, the type of prison, whether it's allenwood, lewisberg, something much less pleasant, where they don't have a tennis court, where there's white collar criminals or sleaze balls, how much negotiation is the president capable of right now? >> in terms of where roger stone is sentenced, if he's sentenced to prison, that's not up to anyone other than the bureau of prisons. >> didn't barr get involved with manafo manafort? >> the bureau of prisons does report to the attorney general. but in almost every case i've heard of, it's a designation based on risk and how much time
is to be served. a second point, i also think roger stone has rendered himself absolutely useless. he has lied almost every time he's opened his mouth. it would be very hard for prosecutors to turn to him now to get additional information that they could use against others. roger stone is useless. he's a convicted felon. he ought to go to jail. >> he's facing at his age what could be life in prison. >> as glenn was talking about, if you total up the number of years it's a lot, but if you look at the sentencing guidelines that will ultimately determine the range in which he will be sentencing, i assure you it will be significantly less. >> roger right now knows he's facing long term, not 50 years, not 20, but maybe the rest of his life. >> it will be more time than he wants to serve. >> he's a player, he'll come up with something.
what's his last gambit here? >> that's my point, he's useless now, he's lied every time he opened his mouth. >> pardon is his only avenue. >> how does he get a pardon? >> the president. >> how do you get it from him? >> we know donald trump has an open line with his lawyers. let me reset for a moment. we're moments away from the second part of the questioning of former u.s. ambassador to ukraine marie yovanovitch. this morning perhaps the most impactful witness of this short public phase so far into the impeachment of donald trump. she's the third person to testify in public hearings. her testimony this morning took us through stage 1, perhaps, it may end up being later than that, but certainly the early part of what is publicly loan about donald trump's pressure campaign in ukraine.
it was assisted by rudy giuliani. it involved smearing marie yovanovitch, an anti-corruption crusader in the words of congressman eric swalwell who was part of the questioning this morning. and her removal was ultimately carried out by donald trump himself. he also smeared her in a phone conversation with president zelensky, the new leader of ukraine. coincidentally we heard today that she flew home on the day of the new president's inauguration, a highly unusual move, something ambassador mcfaul has tweeted out was only meant and only designed to embarrass her. we've also been covering the breaking news that donald trump's oldest and longest-serving political adviser roger stone was today found guilty of seven counts. they include lying to congress, something that may land with a thud for any witnesses in the impeachment trial or impeachment
proceeding of donald trump. we're expecting to hear next week from some of the witnesses who had firsthand knowledge of donald trump's statements and conduct in the smear campaign and the pressure campaign in ukraine. chris? >> nancy pelosi, the speaker, who is really the impressaro, she said, quote, we've been very busy but all the reaction we've heard is very positive. we're very proud of adam schiff and the courage of the witness. so i think they're very happy with what they've put on today in terms of fact witness. >> and i think that what they have to blunt, to the degree that republicans threw ten pounds of cold spaghetti against a wall and trying to see what stuck, the witnesses' proximity to the misconduct. yovanovitch is a victim of the
misconduct. >> that's exactly right. so it's a fair question to ask these witnesses, whether or not they spoke directly to the president or participated in all these meetings, to show that their knowledge is limited. that doesn't mean that what they said is untruthful. and to your point, nicolle, she is the victim. she's patient zero. it's a great way to think about her. this is what started the process. and so of course the answer would be she didn't speak to the president. he wouldn't have, you know, given her what she was entitled to, which was an explanation for why she was removed from a job she was doing well. he doesn't have that sort of grace. >> we know he knows who she is because he smeared her in a call with zelensky. >> absolutely, and did it again today. and so i think it's really interesting to think of her in that way. her knowledge will be limited. she's the victim. >> claire, you've been as impassioned as i've seen you, watching this testimony this morning. what are you looking for in the second session?
>> well, it's going to be interesting to see how the republicans handle her. i think what they will try to do is use the transcript of the call and try to place on zelensky's lap the fact that he said he didn't like her and that he didn't want her there and that she supported the previous president. so she will have to battle out from that and counter that. and i'm sure, as a professional, she never took a position in an election, you don't do that. as a career diplomat, you don't side with one candidate over another. it would be like her taking sides in an american election, she would never do that. so she'll have to battle out from that. then they'll try to say so what, and just bank on the fact that folks that agree with them are going to tune a lot of this out. >> i always get this almost visceral reaction to things that aren't normal. it's not normal for a president to say, hey, who's your pick. this isn't "star search."
we don't ask other leaders who do you want. she had served, as she said, in hardship posts. she was an american advocate for american national security. what's even the appropriate explanation for trump talking to zelensky about her selection as ambassador? >> it's not appropriate. and by the way, let's get this dirty little secret out there. there's two kinds of ambassadors. one are the career ambassadors who are typically placed in countries where there is a lot of pressure, complications, and conflict. and then there's the campaign donors. they are usually placed in caribbean islands or in very stable european countries. they are are placed places where they can't screw things up. not this president. he sends this guy who is a hotelier, you know, who knows nothing about what's going on, into the eu in the middle of brexit, right? and then tasks him with going over and helping out rudy
digging up some dirt in the ukraine. and meanwhile, this career diplomat was there, she was placed there because it was hard. and they needed a professional, a competent professional. and so all you had to do is look and see how this president, and we ought to really do away with letting people buy ambassadorships, it's tacky. it's not good for our country. it's time four that r that to e. >> once we root out the criminality, we'll go after all that's tacky, jason. just thinking back, sitting through all of the republican -- the five minutes which sometimes felt like 50, there was everything from devin nunes' badly written smear about a ukrainian sequel. it went from kitschy to outright slander. what's sort of the calculation that they have to make with yovanovitch? >> you've got three audiencaudi
you've got the president's audience which is scream and yell and throw meat, then there's the fox news audience where you try to get the moments that the witness is flustered or can't come up with an answer. then there's making this look good for your fellow members of congress. they're going to have to vote. some of them are in purple districts or districts where they're challenged. they're fighting for three different audiences here. you can see who is doing what role. the fox news stuff is devin nunes. he's going through the qanon conspiracies that sean hannity will love. then you have jim jordan who is screaming and attacking and yelling. then the rest will come in and say, guys, we have to rally and protect the president. the problem is, i don't think any of those three prongs of attack will be effective with this witness. as we've seen, she's not going to talk outside of what she was.
her testimony is, i was intimidated, i had to leave the country in the middle of the night because i didn't want somebody throwing acid in my face and rudy giuliani were conspireing against me. >> they have three points, they want to bring up hunter biden as soon as they can and say did you think there was something fishy about the son of the vice president having this contract for $50,000 with burisma, get her off her high horse, that's what they'll try to do. they'll also go after the crazy conspiracy involving 2016 and ukraine. then they'll ask for the whistle-blower again. they started with the same m.o. as on wednesday. they start with these pain in the butt points of order just to slow down the rhythm that you know the chairman wants to try to establish, a dramatic opening, heart of it, close, remind everybody what you're saying. they're trying to disturb that, just distraction. they're going to go after that stuff again. point of order, why can't we
question the witnesses about the whistle-blower, because that seems to work with their 40%. and then you go after the whole thing with the ukraine which is crazy. but hunter biden is rich territory, because i think nobody here or anywhere else doesn't think that was a problem for the democrats. that's a problem no matter how well the vice president may have behaved in that matter, having his son representing part of the problem over there is a problem. and everybody knows it. >> i don't know that that moves anybody. >> it's a point to make. >> that's true. if they're trying to make one. they can bang on it as much as they want but the interesting thing is, the more the republicans talk about hunter biden, the more it makes what the president tried to do seem corrupt. the president is chasing after him because he was trying to affect the future election. i know why they're doing it. i just don't necessarily think that convinces your average person. >> clearly they wouldn't be doing it now, based on the recent polling, they would not be doing any of this, they would be going after buttigieg, that's
what they would be doing. >> and i think to your point, chris, about hunter biden, i think that's why dan goldman made such an important point in asking yovanovitch about, if in removing a general prosecutor who was not actually doing anything to prosecute any corruption in the ukraine, wouldn't that make hunter biden more vulnerable? because if you're going to work to put someone in office who is going to aggressively go after corruption that's actually counter to their narrative about what joe biden was doing. and i think that was an incredibly elegant moment in making sure he's buttressing against that kind of argument. >> so convicted felon roger stone leaving court right now. roger stone found guilty on seven counts that include lying to congress. let's listen and see if we catch him answering questions.
glenn, what happens next? you're still there. glenn kirchner, can you hear us? >> yes, i'm here. >> we're watching this picture, i don't know if you can see it, i don't know where you're standing outside the courthouse, we're watching roger stone leave the courthouse. i watch enough tv to wonder who gets to walk out of the courthouse in their suit and who has to report. when does the sentencing phase happen? what happens next? >> yeah, so i assume, by the fact that i just saw on the monitor roger stone walk out right up the street here, the judge has declined to order him detained pending sentencing. i will say, nicolle, as a former career prosecutor that's disappointing to me. i think he is facing decades in prison, at least statutorily. as chuck said, far less under the guidelines, but still multiple years.
not many people get to walk free once a jury has announced that they've been convicted of multiple felony counts. now, in what is the equivalent of a white collar case, often offenders once convicted are released pending sentencing so they can, among other things, get their affairs in order. i do think that there is something of a disparity we could talk about. it's clear that judge amy berman jackson thought the right balance to strike was to allow roger stone to remain on release pending sentencing until he returns to hear what his sentence will be. >> chris, i'm struck that a presidency in crisis, and i worked in one in crisis, not of this nature, tries to create split screen moments. today's split screen moment is between the testimony of lifelong diplomat marie yovanovitch and the conviction of donald trump's longest serving political adviser. >> well, we're in a period of a
lot of clashing going on. we've got the democratic fight for nomination, we've got impeachment of president trump, we've got all these fellow travelers, to use a phrase from the cold war, in criminality case. i don't think donald trump imagines he controlled the timing of the jury verdict today, maybe he does because he thinks everything is controlled by great personalities, but i don't think it is. i think he's facing a very bad situation right now. i don't think it will change his behavior. i think it's going to become more egregious. i think we saw that today with his inability to stay out of this hearing. the fact that he had to jump in, that he had to commit the crime, perhaps, that he's been accused of already of tampering with witnesses and abusing his official position, which he's president of the united states, he's not just some character in a basement putting out emails or tweets. he's president. the president of the united states said today that this person goes around the world
causing trouble and is not to be believed. they are the problem, not the solution to our diplomatic situation in the world. that's an amazing charge, apart from all this context, the president of the united states is saying this about an individual he's never met, and really knows nothing about except that she was in his way. >> in his way of what, is the $64 million question. let's reset how we got here. we've been covering the conviction of roger stone today. the roger stone conviction an offshoot, chuck, of the mueller probe. the day after robert s. mueller testified before congress, july 24th, this last summer, you and i were sitting next to each other covering that, the next day, july 25th, that donald trump made the fateful phone call at the center of his own impeachment. if you could just sort of talk about the sweeping picture of criminality, of misconduct, and of brazenness. it's like a teen that gets away
with sneaking out one night, the next night takes the car, the next night he does it drunk. >> so broad picture, what we have seen from this president is a brazen attempt to obtain for himself information that he can use to his political advantage. what he offered in return were two things, a meeting at the white house, as we heard from mr. taylor and mr. kent on wednesday. that's a big deal for ukraine and a big deal for a new ukrainian president. it gives them stature, it gives them standing in the eyes of the world. mr. zelensky very much wanted that. there's another thing they very much wanted in ukraine which the president also held back, which was military assistance. as we also learned on wednesday, some people probably knew this a long time before i did, ukraine is under grave threat from the russians. russians possess, have taken 7% of ukrainian territory, an area
about the size of texas. ukrainian soldiers are dying in ukraine. >> this week. ambassador taylor said, this week. >> in ukraine, ukrainian soldiers are dying at the hands of russians. put that in an american context. could you imagine if american soldiers were dying in america right now at the hands of russians? because that's what's happening there. and that's how crass this scheme was, right, to leverage two things that the ukrainians wanted and needed in return for political dirt on an opponent. that's where we are. and to your point, nicolle, i mentioned earlier in a different context, i love timelines as a prosecutor. the timing is amazing. bob mueller testifies about russian interference in the american 2016 presidential election. and the next day, president trump asks for the ukraine to interfere in the upcoming presidential election. >> i just got this, i should have read it before.
liz cheney, one of the top three republicans in the house, a very strong national security person, as her father was, clearly, she said now that the president's interference in the hearings this morning by putting out that tweet attacking yovanovitch was wrong and she said, basically she's a public servant of the united states for decades, i don't think the president should have done that. she speaks for a lot of the hawkish people, the national 1k50u security people, the john bolton people. there is a schism in the republican party between old line hawks, if you will, and this president, who doesn't have a foreign policy except he's very pro-russian. >> she also served with yovanovitch. liz cheney was in the george w. bus bush/dick cheney state department and likely intercepted with ambassador yovanovitch. i don't know that, but liz cheney was a senior state department official and marie yovanovitch had hardship postings in the kinds of countries where a lot of foreign policy as it rises to the highest level of the white house reaches. it's likely that liz cheney
knows her. i'm interested in your thoughts about that, claire. >> she's not afraid of trump. i think she thinks that her pedigree and her standing in her state is strong enough that she could withstand a trump-backed primary. and so that's all the calculation that's going on on the hill for most of these republicans. they'll tell me, you know, we know it's awful, we know what's going on is terrible, but we've got to be here to block his worst instincts and we need to hold onto power so you guys get stuff done. >> i've had people in my life i've disagreed with ideologically but i have complete trust in their integrity. the late charles krauthammer was one of them, you can disagree with him, but he's an honest person. >> the only woman on the committee said the same thing to
a reporter on the break, the one from new york, stefanik, she said she also said it was wrong. >> marie yovanovitch has been seated. she will now be questioned by the staff lawyer for the republicans. >> the hearing will come to order. the gentleman will state his inquiry. >> thank you, sir. it appears that counsel for the witness this morning has paper copies of the slides that were used during the questioning. if that's true, does that mean that you and/or your team has been in coordination with him and/or her with respect to her testimony this morning? and if that's true, how does that comport with h.res 660 and the fairness purportedly associated with that? >> the tv for the witnesses wasn't working this morning, so they were given copies this morning. it's now 45 minutes -- >> you say the screen in front of them is not working? >> my understanding was the
screen was not working in front of them so they were given copies so they could read along since they can't see the screens that we can. mr. nunes, you are recognized for 45 minutes along with minority counsel. >> first, mr. chair, i want to submit for the record senator grassley's letter to the department of justice dated july 20th, 2017. i read a portion of that into the record during my opening statement. >> without objection. >> ambassador, i congratulate you, you've been down in the secret deposition meeting rooms, you've graduated to your performance today. later this afternoon i should note that for the public that we will be back down in the basement of the capital, doing more of these secret depositions. ambassador, i don't really have very many questions for you.
you admitted in your opening statement that, uh, you don't have any firsthand knowledge of the issues that we're looking into. but i do want to talk a little bit about senator grassley very briefly. i assume that you know who senator grassley is. >> yes, sir, i do. >> do you believe that senator grassley is a serious and credible elected official? >> i have no reason to think otherwise. >> were you involved in the july 25th trump/zelensky phone call or preparations for the call? >> no, i was not. >> were you involved in the deliberations about the pause in military sales to ukraine as the trump administration reviewed newly-elected president zelensky's commitment to corruption reforms? >> for the delay in -- >> for the pause. >> the pause? no, i was not. >> were you involved in the proposed trump/zelensky, later
pence/zelensky meetings in warsaw, poland on september 1st? >> no, i was not. >> did you ever talk to president trump in 2019? >> no, i have not. >> mick mulvaney? >> no, i have an not. >> thank you, ambassador. i'm not exactly sure what the ambassador is doing here today. this is the house intelligence committee that's now turned into the house impeachment committee. uh, this seems more appropriate for the subcommittee on human resources at the foreign affairs committee if there's issues with employment, disagreements with the administration, it would seem like this would be a more appropriate set instead of an impeachment hearing where the ambassador is not, uh, a material fact witness to anything, any of the accusations that are being hurled at the president for this impeachment inquiry. i'm, uh, i have several questions i think there castor
wants to get to, ms. stefanik, you had a few quick questions for the ambassador. >> thank you, mr. nunes. ambassador yovanovitch -- >> the gentlewoman will suspended. >> what is the interruption for this time? >> under house resolution 660 you are not allowed to yield time. >> the gentleman yielded time. ambassador yovanovitch -- >> the gentlewoman will suspended. you're not recognized. >> this is the fifth time you have interrupted members of congress -- >> the gentlewoman will suspectesuspend. >> mr. chairman, if we have members of congress that have a few questions, it seems appropriate that we would be able to let ms. stefanik ask her
question. >> mr. nunes, you or minority counsel are recognized. >> all right. mr. castor, you're recognized. >> thank you, mr. nunes. ambassador, welcome. thank you for -- thank you for your service. 33 years, an extraordinary career. it really has been a remarkable tenure for you at the state department. i would also like to thank you for participating here today. this is a crazy environment. this hearing room is turned into a television studio. before today you spent, on friday the 11th you were with us for early in the morning until i believe it was 8:00 at night. people missed trains back to new york. it was a complete, um, very complete day, so thank you. you were serving a three-year assignment in the ukraine; is
that correct? >> yes. >> and it began in 2016 and was scheduled to end in 2019? >> yes, that's correct. >> and nobody disputes that it's up to the president to decide who his envoy, who his invoice are to posts around the world, correct? >> i stated that clearly in my statement. >> and you returned, uh, from the ukraine on may 20th, 2019? >> that's correct. >> and your return coincided with inauguration of president zelensky? >> yes. >> and you remain employed by the state department? >> i do. >> and after you returned to washington, the deputy secretary, john sullivan, asked you what you wanted to do next; is that correct? >> yes, that's correct. >> and then you met with the
director general, ambassador perez? >> yes, that's correct. >> to identify a meaningful new assignment? >> yes. >> and you now serve at georgetown university as a fellow? >> that's true. >> this is a rewarding position for you? >> i'm very grateful to be in that position after what happened. >> today is the second big hearing, um, for the democrats' impeachment initiative. but we don't understand -- or we do understand that you, you don't have a lot of facts and information relating to the part of this that we're investigating, um, and those are the events from may 20th up until, um, september 11th, to release the security assistance funds; is that correct? >> mm-hmm, yes, that's correct. >> so you were not part of the delegation to the inauguration,
that was the day you returned. you were not part of the oval office meeting may 23rd, correct? >> yes, that's correct. >> and you were not part of the decisionmaking relating to whether or not there would be a white house meeting with president zelensky? >> that's correct. >> and you were not a part of any decisionmaking in the leadup to the july 25th call? >> that's correct. >> and you first learned about the call on september 25th; is that correct? >> well, i heard about the call, as i kiddindicated in the first deposition, from deputy assistant secretary george kent. >> and what did he -- what did he tell you about the call? >> well, as it turns out, it wasn't correct, but what i recall is that he said that
president trump had asked president zelensky whether he could, you know, help him out, which i understood to be these investigations, and that president zelensky had said that he is putting in a new prosecutor general and that he doesn't control -- i mean, this is approximately what he said, that that person is an independent individual. >> and you learned about that before the call was made public? >> that's correct. >> likewise, you were not involved in any discussions surrounding the security sector assistance funds to ukraine, that they were paused for about 55 days from july 18th to september 11th? >> no discussions. >> in your opening statement, on page 9, you stated, although then and now, i've always understood that i served at the
pleasure of the president, i still find it difficult to comprehend that foreign and private interests were able to undermine u.s. interests in this way. individuals who apparently felt stymied by our efforts to promote stated u.s. policy against corruption, that is, to do the mission, were able to successfully conduct a campaign of disinformation against the sitting ambassador, using unofficial back channels. do you believe that president trump was aiming to weaponize corruption in the ukraine by removing you? >> i don't know that. >> do you believe your removal was part of some scheme to make it easier for elements of the ukrainian establishment to do things counter to u.s. interests? >> i think that's certainly what the ukrainian establishment hoped. i think that in addition, there were americans, these two
individuals who were working with mayor giuliani, mr. parnas and mr. fruman, who have recently been indicted by the southern district of new york, who indicated that they wanted to change out the ambassador. i think they must have had some reason for that. >> and do you think they were seeking a different type of ambassador that would allow them to achieve some of their objectives? >> i don't know what other reason there would be. >> okay. is ambassador taylor the type of person that would facilitate those objectives? >> no. >> so ambassador taylor is a man of high integrity? >> absolutely. >> and he's a good pick for the post? >> he is. i would note that he's the charge out there, so no candidate has yet been named to the position. >> but he certainly has had a decorated career serving his
country? >> absolutely, a man of the highest integrity. >> you testified about when you first learned that mayor giuliani and some of his associates were -- had a concerted campaign against you. when did that first come to your attention? >> we were picking up rumors from ukrainians. i think, you know, kind of in the november/december 2018 time period. but then in january, february, and of course march, it became more obvious. >> at some point i believe you testified mr. abakov alerted you to this campaign? >> yes. >> when was that? >> he had, umm -- he had a conversation with me in february
of 2019. >> okay. and do you remember what he related to you? >> yes. he said that mr. lutsenko was working with mayor giuliani through these two individuals, mr. parnas and mr. fruman, that they basically wanted to remove me from post, and that they were working on that. >> and did you have any awareness at that point in time of precisely why they were seeking your ouster? >> you know, i didn't understand that at all, because i had never met mr. parnas and mr. fruman. and so it was unclear to me why they were interested in doing this. >> were you especially
influential implementing policies that stymied their interests in ukraine? or advocating for some sort of environment or policies that would be averse to them? >> i think that, umm, just the general idea that obviously u.s. ambassadors, u.s. embassies, one of our most important functions is to facilitate u.s. business abroad, right, whether it's trade, whether it's commerce. that's one of the things that we do. and -- but, you know, everything has to be above board. we believe in a level playing ground but we obviously advocate for u.s. business. these two individuals, with hindsight, what we learned later, were looking to open up a new energy company, exporting liquified natural gas to ukra e
ukraine, never actually came to the embassy, which is unusual, because that would usually be a first stop, going to the american chamber of commerce, going to the u.s. embassy, get the lay of the land, see how we could provide assistance. >> and was that source of frustration ever expressed to you or did you just learn that separately? >> source of frustration, what do you mean? on whose part? >> on fruman and parnas. >> i don't know that they were frustrated. i mean, frustrated by what? >> well, you mentioned that they had business interests. i asked you whether they may have been stymied by anything in particular that you had advocated for or you were a roadblock to them being successful. i wondered if there was any connection. >> i had never met them. when i heard those names for the first time, which was in february of 2019, i asked my team, the econ and commercial
sections are the ones that would usually meet with american businessmen and women, and nobody had heard of them. so all i can conclude is that it was the general u.s. policies that we were implementing that might have been of concern to them. >> at any point did you try to reach out to the prosecutor general, mr. lutsenko, and find out why he was participating in this campaign? >> no. >> and why didn't you do that? >> i didn't feel there was any purpose to it. >> why not? >> he is -- he clearly had, umm, i would say an animus for doing this. he was working with americans. so i reached out to the american side, in this case the state department, to try and find out what was going on. >> when did you first realize
that your relationship with lutsenko had reached an adversarial point? >> probably around that time, maybe a little bit earlier. >> and this is march? >> yeah. and what i would say, adversarial, that's a really strong word. we at the u.s. embassy are visiting key people from the state department and other agencies. we were pushing the ukrainians, including mr. lutsenko, to do what they said they were going to do when mr. lutsenko entered office, that he was going to clean up the pgo and make reforms, that he was going to bring justice to what they call the heavenly hundred, the people who died in 2014 in the revolution of dignity. and he was going to prosecute cases to repatriate the approximately $40 billion it's
believed that former preside presidentipresident viktor yanukovych fled the country with. he didn't do that. we kept encouraging him to do the right thing. that's what the ukrainian people wanted him to do and we thought it was a good plan and that he should do it. >> then you mentioned you contacted the state department in late march, is that undersecretary hale? >> so contacted about what? >> about the concerns you had about the campaign against you. >> i contacted the state department much earlier than that. it was an ongoing sort of -- "discussion" makes it sound very formal. we had many ways of going back and forth with washington. and so, you know, on phone calls or dvcs, we would have this discussion. >> when did you realize this -- >> and if i could just amplify my answer, we had the discussion because we were concerned that
ukrainian policymakers, ukrainian leaders, were hearing that, you know, i was going to be leaving, that, you know, there was maybe somebody else waiting in the wings, et cetera. and that undermined not only my position but our u.s. position. the ukrainians didn't know what to think. and we need to be out there all the time, firing on all cylinders to promote our national security interests. so it was a concern. >> and when did you realize this concerted campaign against you was a real threat? >> a threat in -- >> a threat to your ability to do the job in kiev. >> well, i would say that the -- you know, when you go into a meeting with somebody and they ask are you going to be leaving, that is concerning. so that probably -- i don't know
exactly when that started happening, but in that time frame. >> did you undertake any efforts to push back on this narrative either inside the state department or publicly? >> certainly with the ukrainians, i said, you know, there's nothing to this, this is, you know, a distraction and we are focused on the job, our policy remains the same. and yes, we had discussions in the state department about this. >> in hindsight do you think you did enough inside the state department to alert them to this mounting campaign against you? >> i did what i could. >> and what was that? >> reached out to the -- umm, the european bureau. you've also heard that dr. fiona hill was aware of this as well. so the nsc. and they had other discussions with more senior people. >> okay. and did you get any feedback
from your chain of command? did you engage ambassador reeker, undersecretary hale? >> yes. >> did you develop sort of a game plan to push back against these allegations? >> so, i mean, there are different time frames here that we're talking about. so fast forwarding to march, i did, when undersecretary hale asked whether i would consider extending, i did raise, because i wasn't sure that he was aware of it, i wanted to make sure that he knew that mayor giuliani had been out there saying things about me, untrue things, and i wanted him to be aware of that. he said he understood, he still was hoping that i could extend for another year. so that was early march. and then fast forward to, you know, late march, and, you know, the discussions about this issue continued. but obviously it became -- once
it became a public, political story here in the united states, the tenor of everything changed, because i think that the state department felt that it wasn't manageable anymore, and that the more prudent thing would be for me to come back in july. >> do you think there was anything you could have done differently to get ahead of the story and to lobby the secretary and his counselor, mr. brechbuhl, that there was a concerted campaign against you, that you didn't believe the allegations lodged were accurate and you needed their assistance? >> i think that, sure, maybe i could have done that. but i think they were aware. and as i subsequently learned from deputy secretary sullivan, the secretary of state had been well aware of this since the summer of 2018. >> corruption is endemic in the country of ukraine, right? >> i would say that corruption
is a serious issue everywhere in the former soviet union. it's a post-soviet legacy. and we talk about it a lot in ukraine because there is actually an opportunity to do something, to actually help the ukrainians tackle the issue. they want to tackle the issue. in other countries, like russia, you can't even talk about it. so i think it's a post-soviet legacy and it's important to deal with it. >> and you testified rampant corruption has long permeated ukraine's political and economic systems? >> yes, that's a fair statement. >> and it's your belief that it should be the u.s. foreign policy to help ukraine curb its corruption problem? >> yes, because it's good for the ukrainians but it's also in our interests. >> and anti-corruption efforts, you mentioned, serve a national security purpose? >> i believe that to be true. >> are oligarchs a big part of the problem in ukraine?
>> probably, because so much wealth is concentrated in the hands of a very, very few, six or seven individuals. and they also have political power and control the media. >> and a lot of their power has been acquired through what we here in the u.s. would consider improperly, improper ways? >> yeah, i think that's a fair comment. >> the, uh, head of burisma, mr. sochevsky, are you familiar with him? >> i don't know him but i know who you're talking about. >> george kent testified a couple of days ago that he was being investigated for stealing millions and millions of dollars, some of which had been supplied by the u.s., great britain, subject to an investigation, trying to get the money back, that was a big part
of mr. kent's initiatives when he was there, that a bribe was paid, umm, to the prosecutors and sochevsky was let off the hook. this was in 2014. is this something you're familiar with? >> i had heard about it. this was before my arrival. my understanding, please correct me if i'm wrong, the u.s. money you're referring to was the money that we used to fund an fbi team that was embedded with the prosecutor general's office to go after -- not to go after but to do the investigation of burisma and sochevsky. >> mr. kent testified that this bribe was paid, the prosecution
went away, and, you know, essentially nothing has been further done with regards to burisma. during your tenure in ukraine, has there ever been any focus on reexamining allegations, whether it's of burisma or other powerful interests like sochevsky, reexamining it? >> is that on the part of the ukrainian government, is that what you're talking about? >> yes, leaning on the prosecutors general to clean up the oligarchical system? >> yes. as i mentioned earlier in my testimony, the u.s. was welcoming of mr. lutsenko's nomination to the position of prosecutor general because we were hoping he would clean that up. that in fact is not what
happened. and because -- you know, it's kind of hard to explain to a u.s. audience, but in ukraine, and in the former soviet union more broadly, including in russia, justice, the justice system, whether it's the -- whether it's, you know, cops on the beat, whether it's investigators, whether it is prosecutors, whether it is judges, are used as a tool of the political system to be used against your political adversaries. and so i think that going back to your question about burisma and sochevsky, my understanding, this was, as i told you earlier in the previous deposition, this did not loom large when i arrived. i arrived in 2016, august 2016. but over time, my understanding
was that the case was basically sort of on a pause, that it wasn't an active case, but it also was not fully closed. and that is a way, as i mentioned before, for those in power to keep a little hook in to burisma and mr. sochevsky. >> right around the time the bribe was paid, burisma made an effort to spruce up their board, added the president of poland and other luminaries, are you familiar with that? >> yes. i'm not sure what the timing of all this was, but yes to the elements. >> one of the folks they added to the board was the vice president's son hunter biden, which, you know, raises questions, is he a genius on the corporate governance front, is he a genius with the ukrainian oligarchical systems, cleaning that up, or was he just added to the board because he's the vice president's son. was that ever a concern, at
least the perception of that concern addressed? >> as i said, i arrived in august of 2016. several months before the elections and several months before president trump took office. and it was not a focus of what i was doing in that six-month period. >> okay. was the issue ever raised at all? >> you know, not -- >> he was still on the board, i think, at the time. >> yeah, my understanding from newspaper accounts was that he just recently left in 2019. >> never met him and never tald to him and i am sorry, what was your question? >> you were still on the board when you arrived at post, i am just wondering at least a perception problem was brought to your attention as the ambassador? >> i was aware of it because as i told you before and the
deposition, there had been in terms of the preparations for my confirmation hearing from ukraine. there was a question about that and a select answers. i was aware of it. >> in our deposition, you acknowledged that the president had long standing concerns of corruption ukraine, is that true? >> that's what he says. the meeting with president parishenko, you testified and there was concerns there. >> yes, he said ukraine was the most corrupt country in the world. >> okay. >> several witnesses have testified that the president has
concerns there are certain elements that ukrainian establishment in 2016 were out to get them. is that something you were aware of at any point in time? >> well, i am certainly aware of it now. obviously there has been a lot of press attention on that. it was not brought to my attention during the 2.5 years that i served under president trump or ambassador to ukraine. >> we have gone through the depositions. some of these elements and maybe they loom larger now, you know in hindsight, was there any discussions at the embassy that there is these indications of - >> we didn't really see it that way. >> were you aware that earlier
the consultant alexander chalupa according to her and ken volker at politico was trying to work with the ukrainian embassy in d.c. trying to trade into a share lead of that sort of thing? >> i saw the article, i didn't have further information about that. >> did you see the article at the time or did that only come to your attention subsequently? >> it brought to my attention subsequently. i did see something to that effect at the times. >> you are the ambassador of the country at this point, did you aim to get to the bottom of that? you know if true if the reporting is true of what mr. lupa told mr. volker is accurate, that would be concerning, correct?
>> i was the ambassador of ukraine starting august of 2016, and what you are describing if true as you said, what you are describing took place in the united states. if there were concerns about what mr. chalupa was doing, it would have been handled here. >> do you know him? >> no. i don't believe so. > >> if she worked for the ukrainian embassy, it is possible that i met her in large groups but i don't believe i know her. >> mr. lutsenko played in publicizing the manafort black ledgers? >> yes. >> he publicized some information in a grand way of august of 2016, almost immediately coincide with mr. manafort leaving the trump
campaign. was there anything about that issue when it was occurring that concerned you? >> i certainly noticed it because i was you know a week or so away from arriving in ukraine. i think that from a ukrainian perspective, i realized that we are looking at this from an american perspective. from a ukrainian spiperspective think that was what mr. lutsenko and others looking into black ledger were most concerned about were not mr. manafort but former president yanakovich and the amount of money that they stole and where it went and so forth. there is a different in perspective depending in which country you are in. >> you can understand the president at least from his perspective looking at these facts certainly is reasonable to conclude there are elements of
the ukrainian establishments are against him at this point in time, correct? >> you know just speaking of mr. lutsenko, he's an investigative journalist and he got access to the black ledger and he published it as journalists would do and again i am not sure, i don't have any information to suggest that was being targeting president trump. >> with the way that the events unfolded, mr. manafort was such -- it certainly did begin a period interests in manafort ties to russia and so forth? >> i think again i heard that may have been the effect here in the united states and obviously it was of interests to
journalists and others here that mr. manafort was former president yanakovich and he was a political advisor head of the campaign here. we all know that there had been court cases and so forth where mr. manafort was found guilty of certain actions. but at the end of the day, president trump won the elections. >> when mr. lutsenko reporting, there is been a question of all the information he published was authentic, correct? >> i am sorry, could you repeat that. >> the information that mr. lutsenko published, it was all correct or was it all doctored? >> i was not aware of that. >> he wrote an op-ed in the hill taking issue with candidate trump, were you aware of that when it occurred? >> yes.
>> did you have any communication ws ts with the ambassad ambassador expressing concern ss? >> no. >> how frequently do you communicate with the ambassador, obviously you are in different post and different country? >> didn't actually see him or talk to him at all. >> you were not a frequent communication? >> no. >> can you see how writing an op-ed and given the st substanc. >> my recollection of that op-ed was that he was taking, he was critical of a policy position that president trump had with regard to crimea and whether crimea was apart of ukraine or
part of russia. that's a tremendously sensitive issue in ukraine and my recollection is that is what ambassador charlie was writing about. >> did you know anybody from the embassy tried to make contact with the trump camp to talk about their concerns before lodging an op-ed? >> i don't know. >> and during the same time period, the minister have said some especially candid things about then candidate trump on various social media platforms. are you aware of that? >> yes, as a result of the previous deposition. >> but during the relevant time when it was happening, you were not aware of that? >> i don't recall it.
>> he's one of the more influential officials in the ukraine, correct? >> yes. >> i believe he's one of the few that stands with lutsenko and the zelensky administration. >> yes, that's correct. >> look k back at hing back a , hindsight, -- >> who was doing what? >> he was out to get him. he said some nasty things. >> sometimes that happens on social media. and are you asking me whether it is appropriate, probably not. but i would say that minister ivankoff has been as well as others both