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With that, I now recognize myself to give an opening statement in the impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump. The forty fifth president of the United States. Last week, we heard from three experienced diplomats who testified about President Trump's scheme to condition official acts. A White House meeting and hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. military aid to fight the Russians on a deliverable by the new Ukrainian president's wolinsky to politically emoted investigations that Trump believed would help his re-election campaign.
One of those investigations involve the Bidens and the other involved a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine and not Russia was responsible for interfering in our 2016 election. As ambassador, Sunland would later tell Career Foreign Service Officer David Holmes immediately after speaking to the president, Trump did not give a U. Then use an expletive about Ukraine. He cares about big stuff that benefits the president, like the Biden investigation. Giuliani was pushing. To press a foreign leader to announce an investigation into his political rival, President Trump put his own personal and political interests above those of the nation.
He undermined our military and diplomatic support for a key ally and undercut U.S. anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine. How could our diplomats urge Ukraine to refrain from political investigations of its own citizens if the president of the United States was urging Ukraine to engage in precisely the same kind of corrupt and political investigations of one of our own citizens? At the White House, career professionals became concerned that President Trump, through an irregular channel that involved his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, EU Ambassador Gordon Sunland and Rudy Giuliani was pushing a policy towards Ukraine at odds with the national interest.
This morning, we hear from two of the national security professionals who became aware of those efforts. Lieutenant Colonel Alex Venkman, whose family friend oppression in the Soviet Union when he was a toddler, is a career army officer, an Iraq war veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart and an expert in Russia and Ukraine who has worked at the highest levels of the Pentagon. In July 2013, he was detailed to the White House in part to coordinate policy on Ukraine.
Jennifer Williams is a career foreign service officer who is currently detailed to the office of the vice president and responsible for Europe and Eurasia related issues. Following his initial and congratulatory phone call with Ukrainian President Zelinsky on April 21st. President Trump asked Vice President Pence to represent him at Zelinsky, his upcoming inauguration. Ms. Williams was working on logistics for the trip. Pense would be a coveted attendee. Second in significance only to the president and would have sent an important signal of support to the new Ukrainian president.
In early May, however, Rudy Giuliani had been planning to go to Ukraine to pursue the president's interest in having the Bidens investigated, but had to call off the trip after it became public. Among others, Giuliani blamed people around Zelinsky for having to cancel and claim that they were antagonistic to Trump. Three days later, the president called off the vice president's attendance at Alinsky's inauguration. Instead, a lower level delegation was named Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Ambassador Sandlin and Ambassador Kurt Volker, the three amigos, Senator Ron Johnson and Lieutenant Colonel Veneman would also attend after returning from the inauguration.
Several members of the delegation brief President Trump on their encouraging first interactions with Zelinski. They urged Trump to meet with the Ukrainian president, but Trump instead criticized Ukraine and instructed them to work with Judy Roope. Work with Rudy. A few weeks later, on July 10th, Ambassador Solin met at the White House with a group of U.S. and Ukrainian officials, including Colonel Venkman, and formed the group that, according to Chief of Staff Mulvany, the White House meeting sought by the Ukrainian president would trump what happen if Ukraine undertook certain investigations.
National Security Adviser Bolten abruptly ended the meeting and said afterwards that he would not be part of whatever drug deal Sunlen and Mulvany are cooking up on this. Undeterred, sommelier brought the Ukrainian delegation downstairs to another part of the White House and was more explicit. According to witnesses, Ukraine needed to investigate the Bidens or Verismo if they were to get a White House meeting with Trump. After this discussion, which vestment witnessed, he went to the National Security Council's top lawyer to report the matter.
Venkman was told to return in the future with any concerns. He would soon find the need to do so. A week later, on July 18th, the representative, the Office of Management Budget announced on a video conference call that Mulvany, at Trump's direction, was freezing nearly 400 million in military assistance to Ukraine, which was appropriate by Congress and enjoy the support of the entirety of the U.S. national security establishment. And one week after that, Trump would have the now infamous July 25th phone call was Wolinsky.
During that call, Trump complained that the U.S. relationship with Ukraine had not been reciprocal. Later, Zelinski thanks Trump for his support in the area of defense and says that Ukraine was ready to purchase more javelins, an anti-tank weapon that was among the most important deterrents of further Russian military action. Trump's immediate response I would like you to do us a favor, though. Trump then requested that Zelinsky investigate the discredited 2016 conspiracy theory. And even more ominously, look into the Bidens.
Neither was part of the official prefatory material for the call, but they were in Donald Trump's personal interest and in the interest of his 2020 re-election campaign, and the Ukrainian president knew about both in advance because Solin and others have been pressing Ukraine for weeks about investigations into the 2016 election, charisma and the Bidens. Both Colonel Venkman and Miss Williams were on the July 25th call when men testify that due to the unequal bargaining position of the two leaders and Ukraine's dependency on the U.S.
, the favorite Trump asked of Zelinsky was really a demand. After the call, multiple individuals, including Veltman, were concerned enough to report it to the National Security Council's top lawyer. It was the second time in two weeks at Venkman had raised concerns with NSC lawyers. For her part, Williams also believed that asking Zelinsky to undertake these political investigations was inappropriate. And that it might explain something else, that she'd become aware of the otherwise inexplicable hold on U.S.
military assistance to Ukraine. Both Colonel Venkman and Miss Williams also took note of the explicit use of the word charisma by Zelinsky, a fact conspicuously left out of the record of the call now locked away on an ultra secure server. Colonel them and believe that Gilinsky must have been prepped for the call to be able to make the connection between Biden and karisma, a fact that other witnesses have now confirmed. In the weeks that followed the July 25th call, Colonel Veltman continued to push for a release of the military aid to Ukraine and struggled to learn why it was being withheld.
More disturbing word of the hold had reached Ukrainian officials prior to it becoming public. By mid August, the Ukrainian deputy ambassador asked Venkman why the United States was withholding the aid. Although Veltman didn't have an answer, someone made it explicit to Ukrainians at a meeting in Warsaw they needed to publicly commit to these two investigations if they hope to get the aid. Ms. Williams, we all saw the president's tweet about you on Sunday afternoon and the insults he hurled at Ambassador give on events last Friday.
You are here today and the American people are grateful. Colonel Veltman, we have seen far more scurrilous attacks on your character and watched as certain personalities on Fox have question your loyalty. I note that you have shed blood for America and we owe you an immense debt of gratitude. I hope no one on this committee will become part of those vicious attacks. Today's witnesses, like those who testified last week, are here because they were subpoenaed to appear, not because they are for or against impeachment.
That question is for Congress, not the fact witnesses. If the president abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections, if he sought to condition, coerce, extort or bribe an ally into conducting investigations to aid his reelection campaign and did so by withholding official acts, a White House meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars of needed military aid, it will be up to us to decide whether those acts are compatible with the office of the presidency. I now recognize ranking Member Nunez for any remarks he'd like to make.