Many will come to order. Good afternoon, this is the fourth in a series of public hearings the committee will be holding as part of the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry. Without objection, the chair is authorized to declare a recess of the committee at any time. There is a quorum present. We will proceed today in the same fashion as our other hearings. I'll make an opening statement and then the ranking member will have an opportunity to make his opening statement.
And we will turn to our witnesses for opening statements and then to questions. With that, I now recognize myself to give an opening statement in the impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump. The 44th president of the United States. This afternoon, we will hear from two witnesses requested by the minority ambassador, Kurt Volker. The State Department special representative for Ukraine negotiations. And Tim Morrison, the senior 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 Undersecretary of State David Hale, from whom 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 Biden's Vice President Biden's candidacy by pushing Ukraine to investigate him and his son. To clear away any obstacle to the scheme.
Days after the new Ukrainian president was elected, Trump ordered the recall of Marae of onwhich the American ambassador in Kiev was known for pushing anti-corruption efforts. Trump also cancelled Vice President Mike Pence's participation in the inauguration of President Stilinski on May 20th and instead sent a delegation headed by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, ambassador to the EU. Gordon Sunlen and Ambassador Kurt Volker. These three returned from KEIB and 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, that's not what I hear. I hear, you know, he's got some terrible people around him. President Trump also told them he believed that Ukraine tried to take him 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 Zelinski. When Ambassador Volker had breakfast with Rudy Giuliani at the Trump Hotel. Volcker testified that he pushed back on Giuliani's accusation against Joe Biden. On July 22nd, just days before Trump would talk to Zelinsky, Mr. Volcker had a telephone conference with Giuliani and Andre Yarmuk, a top adviser to the Ukrainian president. So the Giuliani could be introduced to Yarmuk. On July 25th, the same day as the call between President Trump and Zelinsky, but before it took place, Ambassador Voelker sent a text message to Yarmuk.
Quote heard from the White House, assuming President Z convinces Trump he will investigate Slash get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down date for a visit to Washington. Good luck. Exclamation point. Later that day, Donald Trump would have the now infamous phone call with Zelinsky in which he responded to Ukraine's appreciation for U.S. defense support and a request by Presidents Lynskey to buy more Javelin anti-tank missiles by saying, I would like you to do us a favor, though.
And the favor involved the two investigations that Giuliani had been pushing for into the Bidens and 2016. M. Voelker 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 Tim Morrison, who had taken over as the NSC senior director for European affairs at the NSC only days before, but had been briefed by his predecessor, Fiona Hill, about the irregular second channel that was operating in parallel to the official one.
Lieutenant Colonel Venkman 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 July 25th call that he went to see the NSC legal adviser soon after it had ended. Colonel Amendment's fear was that the president had broken the law potentially. But Morrison said of his concern that 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, where it remained until late September when the call record was publicly released.
Following the July 25th call, Ambassador Voelker worked with Sunland and the Ukrainian president's coast adviser, Geir Mok, on a statement that would satisfy Giuliani when earmarks sent over a draft that still failed to include the specific words charisma and 2016. Giuliani said the statement would lack credibility. Mr. Voelker then added both charisma and 2016 to the draft statement. Well, Voelker and Morrison were by late July aware that the security assistance had been cut off at the direction of the president and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
As Ukrainians became aware of the suspension of security assistance and the negotiations over the scheduling of a White House meeting between Trump and Zelinsky dragged on, the pressure increased and any pretense that there was no linkage soon dropped away. Morrison accompanied Vice President Pence to Warsaw on September 1st, where Penson Stilinski met and Zelinsky raised the suspended security assistance. Following that meeting, Sunland approached Yarmuk to tell him that he believed that what could help move the aid was if the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General would go to the mike and announced that he was opening the charisma investigation.
On September 7th, Ambassador Solin had a telephone call with Trump and asked him what he wanted from Ukraine. According to Morrisson, who spoke with Solin after the call, Trump insisted that there was no quid pro quo. But President Zelinsky must personally announce the opening of the investigations and he should want to do it. SOLMAN also said that if President Stilinski didn't agree to make a public statement about the investigations, U.S. and Ukraine would be at a stalemate, meaning it would not receive the much needed security assistance.
Mawson had a sinking feeling after the call as he realized that the aske was now being directed at Zelinsky himself and not the prosecutor general or general, as Solin had relayed to a senior Ukrainian aide in Warsaw on September 1st. Well, President Trump claimed there was no quid pro quo. His insistence that Stilinski himself must publicly announce the investigations where they'd be at a stalemate made clear 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, the security investigations would continue for several more days, but appear to have abruptly ended soon after three committees of Congress announced an investigation into the Trump Giuliani Ukraines scheme. Only then will the aid be released. I now recognize Ranking Member Nunez for any remarks he would like to make. Welcome back to ACT Two of today's Circus. Ladies and gentlemen. We are here to continue what the Democrats tell us is a serious, somber and even prayerful process of attempting to overthrow a duly elected president.
If they're 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 13 Democrat partisans, on a committee that's supposed to be overseeing the government's intelligence agencies. And this is an isn't it strange how we've 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. But putting this farce in our court provides two main advantages for the Democrats.
It 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 Democrat 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 vowed that we will send that charlatan in the White House back to the golden throne. He came from. How can anyone believe that people who would utter such dramatic absurdities are conducting a fair impeachment process and are only trying to discover the truth? It's obvious the Democrats are trying to topple the president solely because they despise him, because they promised since Election Day to impeach him. And because they're afraid he will win re-election 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, it's bribery. Who knows what ridiculous crime they'll 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 acknowledge he provided Ukraine with lethal matear 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 an inter agency consensus. And of course, our previous witnesses had very loot, knew very little new information to share in these hearings. That's because these hearings are not designed to uncover new information. They're meant to showcase a handpicked group of witnesses who the Democrats determined through their secret audition process will provide testimony most conductive and 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 picked leaks to their media sympathizers during the secret depositions. And second, when the Democrats published those deposition transcripts and a highly staged manner. Of course, there are no transcripts from crucial witnesses like Hunter Biden, who could testify about his well-paying job and the board of a corrupt Ukrainian company, or Alexander Chalupa, who worked on an election medaling scheme with Ukrainian officials on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.
That's because the Democrats refused to let us hear from them. As for evidence, we're left with. What we're left with is the transcript of the Trump Zelinsky phone call, which the president made public. That means Americans can read for themselves an unremarkable conversation with President Zelinsky, who repeatedly expressed satisfaction with the call afterward. The Democrats, however, claim President Zelinsky was being bribed and therefore he must be lying when he says Paul was friendly and posed no problems.
There's some irony here. For weeks we've heard the Democrats bemoan the damage President Trump supposedly caused to the U.S. Ukrainian relations. When the Ukrainian president contradicts their accusations, they publicly dismiss him as a liar. I may be wrong, but I'm fairly sure colony friendly, foreign president, newly elected, allyour violates their so-called inter agency consensus. So overall, the Democrats would have you believe President Zelinsky was being blackmailed with a pause on lethal military aid that he didn't even know about.
The 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's not sober. And it is certainly not prayerful. It's an ambitious attack to deprive the American people of the right to elect a president. The Democrats don't like. As I mentioned, chairman of this committee claims that democracy is under threat.
If that's true, it's not the president who poses the danger. You'll back. I thank the gentleman. We're joined this afternoon by Ambassador Kurt Volker and Mr. Timothy Morrisson, MasterCard vocals 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 Asian affairs in the National Security Council and later as the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.
In 2008, President Bush appointed a master voelker to the United States Permanent Representative to NATO, where he served until May 2009. In July 2017, Ambassador Volcker was appointed to be the U.S. special representative for Ukraine. Negotiations serving in that position until he resigned in September. It's 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 represented Marc Kennedy, Minnesota, and Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.
Later, Mr Morrison served as the longtime policy director for the Republican staff of the House Armed Services Committee. July 2018, Mr Morrison joined the National Security Council as senior director for countering weapons of mass destruction following the partner of Dr Phil and a Hill in July. Twenty nineteen. Mr Morrison assumed the position of senior director for Russia and Europe. Two final points before the witnesses are sworn. First, witnesses witness 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 on classified information will be addressed separately.
Second, Congress will not tolerate any reprisal, threat of reprisal or attempt to retaliate against any U.S. government official for testifying before Congress, including you or of any of your colleagues. If you would both please rise and raise your right hand. I will begin by swearing U-N. Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you're 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 also be made part of the record. With that, Mr Morrison, you are recognized for your opening statement and immediately thereafter, Ambassador Voelker, you're recognized for your opening statement. Jabarin Schiff, ranking member, Nunez and members of the committee, I appear before you today under subpoena to answer your questions about my time as senior director for European affairs at the White House and the National Security Council as related to Ukraine and U.S.
security sector assistance to that country. I will provide you 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 and 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 whistleblower 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 interagency. I'm 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 frontlines of a strategic competition between the West and Vladimir Putin's revanchist Russia. Russia is a failing power, but it is still a dangerous one. United States AIDS, Ukraine and her people so they can fight Russia over there. And we don't have to fight Russia here. Support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty has been a bipartisan objective since Russia's military invasion in 2014. It must continue to be. As I stated during my deposition, I figured at the time of the call on July 25th how its 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 in eastern Ukraine today. The ongoing illegal occupation of Crimea and the importance of reform of Ukraine's politics and economy. Every day that the focus of discussion involving Ukraine is centered on these proceedings instead of those matters is a day when we are not focused on the interests Ukraine, the United States and Western style liberalism share. Finally, I concluded my act of service of the National Security Council the day after our 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 30 first. I'm prepared to answer your questions to the best of my ability and recollection. Thank you. Investor Voelker. 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'm here today voluntarily and I remain committed to cooperating fully and truthfully with this committee.
All I can do is provide the facts as I understood them at the time I did this on October 3rd in private, and I will do so again today. Like many others who have testified in this inquiry, I'm 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 H.W.
Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. My last three positions before leaving the senior foreign service in 2009, whereas director for NATO and West European Affairs at the National Security Council. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs at the State Department. And finally, as U.S. ambassador to NATO. In the spring of 2017, then-Secretary of State Tillerson 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 interests of the United States in particular.
That meant 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. If we can stop and reverse Russian aggression in Ukraine, we can prevent it elsewhere. If Ukraine, the cradle of Slavic civilization, pre-dating Mohs scale, succeeds as a freedom loving, prosperous and secure democracy, it gives us enormous hope.
Russia may one day change, providing a better life for Russian people and overcoming its current plague of authoritarianism, corruption, aggression toward neighbors and threats to NATO and the United States. The stakes for the United States in a 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 our discussions.
I was not on the July 25th phone call between President Trump and President Zelinski. 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 27, 2019, I was the lead U.S. diplomat dealing with Russia's war on Ukraine. My role was not some irregular channel, but the official channel.
I reported directly to secretaries of State Tillerson and Pompeo kept the national security adviser and secretary of defense well informed of my efforts and worked closely with Ambassador Moshiri of Onwhich NSC Senior Director Hill and her successor Tim Morrison, then Assistant Secretary West Mitchell and his successor, Acting Assistant Secretary Phil Reeker. Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, deputy assistant secretary, defense lawyer. Cooper and a Sea director, Alex Venkman and many, many others. I've known many of them for several years.
It was a team effort. When Ambassador Jovanovic left, kieff identified and recommended Bill Taylor to Secretary Pompeo so we would still have a strong, seasoned 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 zone, meeting with victims of Russia's aggression, urging increased U.S. security assistance, including lethal defensive weapons, working with Ukrainian President Poroshenko and then his successor, President Zelinsky, and their teams.
Working with France and Germany in the so-called Normandy process, pressing for support from NATO, the EU and OSCE, supporting the OSCE 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 swirling in public debate about the direction of U.S. policy toward Ukraine.
Were the administration lift sanctions against Russia? Would it make some kind of grand bargain with Russia in which you would trade recognition of Russia's seizure of Ukrainian territory for some other deal in Syria or elsewhere?
Would the administration recognize Russia's claimed annexation of Crimea? Will this just become another frozen conflict? There are also a vast number of vacancies in key diplomatic positions.
So no one was really representing the United States in the negotiating process about ending the war in eastern Ukraine. During over two years of my tenure as U.S. special representative, we fundamentally turned U.S. policy around. U.S. policy toward Ukraine was strong, consistent and enjoyed support across the administration. Bipartisan support in Congress and support among our allies and Ukraine. We changed the language commonly used to describe Russia's aggression.
I was the administration's most outspoken public figure, highlighting Russia's invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine, calling out Russia's responsibility to end the war. 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 of the citizens of the Donbas.
We coordinated closely with our European allies and Canada 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 been in lockstep. This Gordon helped this coordination help to strengthen U.S. sanctions against Russia and to maintain EU sanctions as well.
Along with others in the administration, I strongly advocated for lifting the ban on the sale of lethal defensive weapons or at least the defensive arms 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 non-recognition of Russia's claim ban accession of Crimea.
I engage with our allies, with Ukraine and with Russia in negotiations to implement the Minsk agreements, holding a firm line on insisting on 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. policy steady through presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine and worked hard to strengthen the U.S. Ukraine bilateral relationship. Under the new president and government helping Shepherd in a peaceful transition of power in Ukraine.
So in short, whereas two years ago, most observers would have said that time is on Russia's side, by 2019, when I departed, we had turned the tables and time was now on Ukraine side. It's 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 if we needed to adopt a policy position.
I made the case for it, if any. If 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, if a problem arose, I knew it was my job to try to fix it. That was my perspective when I learned in May twenty nineteen that we had a significant problem that was impeding our ability to strengthen our support for Ukraine's new president in his effort to ramp up Ukraine's fight against corruption and implementation of needed reforms.
I found myself faced with a choice to be able 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 Zelinski, President Trump was receiving a different negative narrative about Ukraine and President Zelinski.
That narrative was fueled by accusations from Ukraine's then prosecutor general and conveyed to the president by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
As I previously told this committee, I became aware of the negative impact this was having on our policy efforts. When four of us who were part of the presidential delegation to the inauguration met as a group with President Trump on May 23rd. We stressed our finding that Presense Wolinsky represented the best chance for getting Ukraine out of the mire of corruption and had been in for over 20 years. We urged him to invite President Zelinsky to the White House. The president was very skeptical.
Given Ukraine's history of corruption, that's understandable. He said that Ukraine was a corrupt country full of terrible people. He said they tried to take me down. In the course of that conversation, he referenced conversations with Mayor Giuliani.
It was clear to me that despite the positive news and recommendations being conveyed by this official delegation about the new president, President Trump had a deeply rooted negative view on Ukraine, rooted in the past.
He was receiving other information from other sources, including Mayor Giuliani. That was more negative, causing him to retain this negative view. Within a few days on May twenty ninth, President Trump indeed signed the congratulatory letter to President Stilinski, which included an invitation to the president 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 toward Ukraine was causing hesitation in actually scheduling the meeting, much as we had seen in our Oval Office discussion.
After weeks of reassuring the Ukrainians that it was just a scheduling issue, I decided to tell President Stilinski 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 July 2nd, 2019, where I led the U.S. delegation. I suggested that he call President Trump directly in order to renew their personal relationship and to assure President Trump that he was committed to investigating and fighting corruption, things on which President Zelinsky had based his presidential campaign.
I was convinced that getting the two presidents to talk with each other would overcome the negative perception of Ukraine that President Trump still harbored. President Zelinsky senior aide Andre Yarmuk approached me several days later to ask to be connected to Mayor Giuliani. I agreed to make that connection.
I did so because I understood that the new Ukrainian leadership wanted to convince those like Mayor Giuliani, who believed such a negative narrative about Ukraine that times have changed and that under President Zelinski, Ukrainians were Ukraine is worthy of U.S. support. Ukrainians believe that if they could get their own narrative across in a way that convinced Mayor Giuliani that they were serious about fighting corruption and advancing reform, Mayor Giuliani would convey that assessment to President Trump. Those correcting the previous negative narrative.
It made sense to me and I tried to be helpful. I made clear to the Ukrainians the Mayor Giuliani was a private citizen. The president's personal lawyer and not representing the U.S. government. Likewise, in my conversations with Mayor Giuliani, I never considered him to be speaking on the president's behalf or giving instructions. Rather, the information flow was the other way from Ukraine to Mayor Giuliani in the hopes that this would clear up the information reaching President Trump. On July 10th, after hearing from Mr.
Yarmuk, I wrote to Mayor Giuliani to seek to get together, and finally on July 19th, we met for breakfast for a longer discussion.
At that meeting, I told Mr. Giuliani that, in my view, the prosecutor general with whom he had been speaking, Mr. Lutsenko, Sanco was not credible and was acting in a self-serving capacity. To my surprise, Mayor Jill, Mayor Giuliani said that he had already come to that same conclusion. Mr Giuliani also mentioned both the accusations about Vice President Biden and about 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 stress 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's not credible to me that former Vice President Biden would have been influenced in any way 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 plausible given Ukraine's reputation for corruption.
But the accusation that Vice President Biden acted inappropriately did not seem at all credible to me. After that meeting, I connected Mayor Giuliani and Mr. Yarmuk by text and later by phone. They met in person on August 2nd, 2019. In conversations with me following that meeting, which I did not attend, Mr Giuliani said that he had stressed the importance of Ukraine conducting investigations into what happened in the past. And Mr Yarmuk stressed that he told Mr Giuliani it is the government's program to root out corruption and implement reforms and they would be conducting investigations as part of this process anyway.
Mr Giuliani said he believes Ukrainian president needed to make a statement about fighting corruption and that he had discussed this with Mr Yarmuk.
I said I did not think that this would be a problem since that is the government's position anyway. I followed up with Mr. Jarmon, and he said that they would indeed be prepared to make a statement. He said it would reference Brisman and 2016 in a wider context of bilateral relations and rooting out corruption anyway. There was no mention of Vice President Biden. Rather, in referencing Brisman and 2016 election year Ference, it was clear to me that he, Mr.
Yarmuk, was only talking about whether any Ukrainians had acted inappropriately. At this time, I was focused on our goal of getting Prezant Zelinski and President Trump to meet with each other. And I believed that their doing so would overcome the chronically negative view President Trump had toward Ukraine. I was seeking to solve the problem I saw when we met with President Trump in the Oval Office on May 23rd. As a professional diplomat, I was comfortable exploring whether there was a statement Ukraine could make about its own intentions to investigate possible corruption.
That would be helpful in convincing Mr. Giuliani to convey to President Trump a more positive assessment of the new leadership in Ukraine.
On August 16th, Mr. Yarmuk shared a draft with me, which I thought looked perfectly reasonable. It did not mention Berrima or 2016 elections, but was generic. Ambassador Solander and I had a further conversation with Mr Giuliani, who said that in his view, in order to be convincing that this government represented real change in Ukraine, the statement should include specific reference to Boris Month and 2016. Again, there was no mention of Vice President Biden in these conversations.
Ambassador Solomon and I discuss these points, and I edited the statement drafted by Mr. Yarmuk to include these points to see how it looked.
I then discussed it further with Mr. Yarmuk. He said that for a number of reasons, including the fact that Mr. Lutsenko was still officially the prosecutor general. They did not want to mention Barry Mount or 2016. I agreed. And the idea of putting out a statement was shelved.
These were the last conversations I had about this statement, which were on or about August 17 to 18. My last contact with Mr. Giuliani, according to my records, was on August 13th until he tried to reach me on September 20th after the impeachment inquiry was launched. At this time, that is to say, in the middle of August, I thought the idea of issuing this statement had been definitively scrapped.
In September, I was surprised to learn that there had been further discussions with the Ukrainians about President Zelinsky possibly making a statement in an interview with U.S. media. Similar to what we had discussed in August.
Since these events and since I gave my testimony on October 3rd, a great deal of additional information and perspectives have come to light. I've learned many things that I did not know at the time of the events in question. First, at the time, I was connecting Mr. Yarmuk and Mr. Giuliani and discussing with Mr. Earmark an Ambassador Soul and a possible statement that could be made by the Ukrainian president. I did not know of any linkage between the hold on security assistance and Ukraine pursuing investigations.
No one had ever said that to me, and I never conveyed such a linkage to the Ukrainians. I oppose the hold on U.S. security assistance as soon as I learned about it on July 18th and I thought we could turn it around before the Ukrainians ever knew or became alarmed about it.
I did not know the reason for the hold, but I viewed it as a U.S. policy problem that we needed to fix internally, and I was confident we would do so. I believe the Ukrainians became aware of the hold on August twenty ninth and not before that date, is the first time any of them asked me about the hold. By forwarding an article that had been published in Politico. When I spoke to the Ukrainians about the hold after August twenty ninth, instead of telling them that they needed to do something to get the hold released, I told them the opposite, that they should not be alarmed.
It was an internal U.S. problem and we were working to get it fixed.
I did not know others were conveying a different message to them around the same time. Second, I did not know about the strong concerns expressed by then national security adviser John Bolton to members of his NSC staff regarding the discussion of investigations. I participated in the July 10th meeting between National Security Adviser Bolton and then Ukrainian chairman of the National Security and Defense Council, Alex Dannielynne. As I remember, the meeting was essentially over when Ambassador Song and made a general comment about investigations.
I think all of us thought it was inappropriate. The conversation did not continue and the meeting concluded later on in the wardroom.
I may have been engaged in a side conversation or had already left the complex because I do not recall further discussion regarding investigations or verismo. Third, I did not understand that others believed that any investigation of Ukrainian company Berrima, which had a history of accusations of corruption, was tantamount to investigating Vice President Biden. A sharp distinction between the two.
It has long been U.S. policy under multiple administrations to urge Ukraine to investigate and fight internal corruption. I was quite comfortable with Ukraine making its own statement about its own policy of investigating and fighting corruption at home. At the one in-person meeting I had with Mayor Giuliani on July 19th, Mayor Giuliani raised and I rejected the conspiracy theory that Vice President Biden would have been influenced in his duties as vice president by money paid to his son. As I previously testified, I have known Vice President Biden for 24 years.
He is an honorable man and I hold him in the highest regard. At no time was I aware of or knowingly took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden. And as you know, from the extensive documentation I provided, Vice President Biden was not a topic of discussion. I was not on the July 25th phone call between President Trump and President Stilinski. 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.
Throughout this time, I understood that there was an important distinction between Berrys mutton bite and I urge the Ukrainians to maintain such a distinction. I did not know the President, Trump or others had raised Vice President Biden with Ukrainians, where I conflated the investigation of possible Ukrainian corruption with investigation of the former vice president. In retrospect, for the Ukrainians, it would clearly have been confusing. In hindsight, I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption involving Ukrainian company Berrima as equivalent to investigating former President Vice President Biden.
I saw them as very different. The former being appropriate and unremarkable, the latter being unacceptable. In retrospect, I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections. Fourth, much has been made of the term three amigos in reference to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Solander myself.
I've never used that term and frankly, I cringe when I hear it because for me, the three amigos will always refer to Senator McCain, Senator Lieberman and Senator Graham in reference to their work to support the surge in Iraq. Moreover, I was never aware of any designation by President Trump or anyone else putting Ambassador Sunland or the three of us as a group in charge of Ukraine policy.
Rather, as I understood it, each of us in our own respective official capacities continued to work together after our attendance a presence Alinsky's inauguration to push for greater U.S. support for Ukraine. Leading the diplomacy around Ukraine negotiations have long been my official responsibility, but I welcome the added support and influence of a cabinet member and our EU ambassador. Fifth, I was not aware that Ambassador Song and spoke with President Trump on July twenty sixth. Well, Ambassador Taylor and I were visiting the conflict zone.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee allow me to thank you again for the opportunity to provide this testimony. I believe that U.S. foreign policy and national security interests in Ukraine are of critical importance. And I'd be pleased to answer your questions. Thank you, gentlemen, for your opening statements will now proceed to the first round of questions as detailed in the memo provided committee members will be forty five minutes of questions conducted by the chairman or majority counsel, followed by forty five minutes for the ranking member or minority counsel.
Following the analysts, I specify additional equal time for extensive questioning will proceed under the five minute rule and every member will have a chance to ask questions. I now recognize myself or counsel for the first round of questions. Bestival. I was going to just yield to the minority counsel, but there are a couple of points that you made in your opening statement that I wanted to ask about first. First, you said that now former Attorney General Lute's Sanco was not credible.
Mr. Ludes Sancho is the author of a number of allegations against Ambassador Ivánovich. A number of allegations that were shared with John SOLMAN of the Hill. A number of allegations that have been repeatedly brought up by my Republican colleagues. Why is it that you found Mr. Let that Sinco not credible and told Mr. Giuliani sell? Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First off, the allegations themselves, including those against ambassador of ONWHICH did not appear to me to be credible at all.
I know her to be an incredibly competent professional, someone I've worked with for many, many years.
The suggestions that she was acting in some improper and inappropriate manner were not credible to me. I've known Vice President Biden for a long time. Those accusations were not credible and then separate from that. I also was aware of the political situation in Ukraine. We had a situation where President Poroshenko appeared to not be in a favorable position going into the elections where it was increasingly apparent then candidate Zelinsky was going to win. As is often the case in Ukraine, a change in power would mean change in prosecutorial powers as well.
And there have been efforts in the past at prosecuting the previous government. I think Mr. Lutsenko, in my estimation and I said this to Mayor Giuliani when I met with him, was interested in preserving his own position. He wanted to avoid being fired by a new government in order to prevent prosecution of himself, possible prosecution of himself, possibly. Also, this is something that President Poroshenko would have welcomed as well, because he probably would have avoided any efforts to prosecute President Poroshenko as well.
So by making allegations like this and making sure they were reaching U.S. media, I think that Mr. Lutsenko is trying to make himself appear to be an important and influential player in the United States.
vassel me also ask you about the allegations against Joe Biden, because that has been a continuing refrain from some of my colleagues as well. Why was it you found the allegations against Joe Biden related to his son or prisma not to be believed simply because I've known Vice President former Vice President Biden for a long time.
I know how he respects his duties of higher office. And it's just not credible to me that a vice president of the United States is going to do anything other than act as how he sees best for the national interest. And finally, Ambassador, before I turn it over, I was struck by something you said on page eight of your statement. Which reads, In hindsight, I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption involving a Ukrainian company, Berrima, as equivalent to investigating former Vice President Biden.
I saw them as different, the forum being appropriate and unremarkable, the latter being unacceptable. In retrospect, you said I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections. What is it now, Ambassador, in retrospect that you recognized that you didn't at this time that lead you to conclude that you would or should have raised these objections and that others did not see the distinction between these things as I saw it?
As I said, there is a history of corruption in Ukraine. There's a history with the company of Boris WMA that's been investigated. That is well-known. There is a separate allegation about the vice president acting inappropriately. His son was a board member of this company. But those things I saw as completely distinct and what I was trying to do in working with the Ukrainians was to thread the needle to see whether things that they can do that are appropriate and reasonable as part of Ukraine's own policy of fighting corruption, that help clarify for our president that they are committed to that very that very effort.
If there's a way to thread that needle, I thought it was worth the effort to try to solve that problem. As it turns out, I now understand that most of the other people didn't see or didn't consider this distinction, that for them it was synonymous.
Well, one of those people who saw it's anonymous turns out to be the president, nine states. I take it you didn't know until the call record was released that the president in that call doesn't raise Berrima. He asked for investigation of the Bidens, is that right? That is correct. I take it, since you say that you acknowledge that asking for an investigation of the Bidens would have been unacceptable and objectionable, that had the president asked you to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, you would have told him so.
I would have objected to that. Yes, sir.
Mr. Goldman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just one follow up on that. Ambassador Volker, when you say thread the needle, you mean that you understood the relationship between Vice President Biden's son and Barry PSMA, but you were trying to separate the two of them in your mind? Is that right?
Well, I believe that they were separate that and it references the conversation I had with Mr. Giuliani as well, where I think the allegations against Vice President Biden are self-serving and not credible. Separate question is whether it is appropriate for Ukraine to investigate possible corruption of Ukrainians that may have tried to corrupt things or buy influence. To me, they are very different things. And as I said, I think the former is unacceptable. I think the latter in this case, it's understood.
But you understood the relationship between haunted by an embarrassment.
I knew that he had been a board member of the company. Yes. Let's go back. That's why was so important to maintain the distinction.
Let's focus on the July 25th call for a moment, Mr Morrison. July 25th was day number. What for you as the senior director overseeing Ukraine?
Fishery took over on the 15th, approximately 10 days. Very few days actually in the office.
You testified in your deposition that you received an email on the morning of July 25th from Ambassador Sundlun shortly before the call. Is that right? Yes. And I believe in that email. Ambassador Sundlun told you that he had briefed President Trump about in advance of the call. Is that right? Yes. And I believe you also testified that Ambassador Sundlun had told you on another occasion that he could call the president whenever he wanted. Is that right? Yes.
And on July 25th, did you, in fact, make an effort to confirm whether or not the phone call between Ambassador Sunland and President Trump actually occurred? I did. And did it did it happen? Yes. On other occasions when Ambassador Sundlun told you that he spoke with President Trump, did you on some other occasions, did you also seek confirmation of that fact on some, yes.
And on those occasions when you did seek to confirm that they had spoken.
What did you find? They had. Now I want to pull up a text message on the morning of July 25th between. Well, this should be another one. Oh, yeah, sorry. Ambassador Sundlun with you, Ambassador Voelker. And at 7:54, Ambassador sung in the morning, Ambassador sunland's says call a.S.A.P. Then at 9:35, Ambassador Voelker, you respond. Is the screen working in front of you or just to the side? Yeah, so if you could go ahead and read what you said.
Yes. At nine thirty five. Yes. So I said, Hi, Gordon. Got your message. Had a great lunch with Yarmuk and then passed your message to him. He will see you tomorrow. Think everything is in place. And who is Yarmuk? Andre Yamaka is the senior advisor to President Zelinsky of Ukraine. Now, what was the message that you had received that President Zelinski should be clear, convincing, forthright with President Trump about his commitment to fighting corruption, investigating what happened in the past.
Get to the bottom of things, whatever there is. And if he does that, President Trump was prepared to be reassured that he would say yes. Come on, let's get this date for this visit scheduled.
And did you understand from that message that Ambassador Sunlen had spoken to President Trump?
I wasn't sure whether he had or not. He. As Mr. Martin just said, said that he does speak with President Trump. I knew that he had conversations in general. I didn't know specifically about one leading up to this.
Now, on the screen in front of you is another text message from you that same morning. Yes. At eight thirty six in the morning to Andre Yarmuk. Yes. I believe because of the time difference. This is actually in the afternoon in Ukraine, in Ukraine.
And so this is East Coast time. That's right. So this is slightly less than a half hour before the call between President Trump and President's Wolanski. Right.
And can you just read what you wrote there? Yes. And just after the lunch that I had with Andre Yemma, good lunch. Thanks. Heard from White House assuming President Zie convinces Trump he will investigate. Get to the bottom. What happened to 2016? We will nail down date for a visit to Washington. Good luck. See you tomorrow.
And does this accurately relay the message that you had received from Ambassador Solin? Yes.
Now, Mr. Morrison, did the National Security Council also prepare talking points for President Trump for this call?
And per usual customer, these were these talking points based on the official United States policy objectives. They were. And since there's been a little bit of dispute about what that means, can you explain how official U.S. policy is determined with through the interagency process? We operate under what's known as an SPDM for national security presidential memorandum for. It's available on the Internet that lays out how the president wants to be provided options for his decision.
And there's an extensive process to finalize any policy, is that right? Sometimes. Did you. Mr. Morrison, you. You listen to this call on the 25th. Is that right? I did.
Where did you listen from the White House SITUATION ROOM in your deposition, you testified that the call was not what you were hoping to hear. What did you mean by that?
I was hoping for a mole. More full-throated statement of support from the president concerning President's Alinsky's reform agenda. Given where we were at the time with respect to the overwhelming mandate, President's Alinsky's servant of the party people had received in the Rada election, and that Rada, which is the Ukrainian parliament, that election had occurred four days earlier.
It sounds right. And President's Alinsky's party won in a landslide. Is that right? They've received more than a a a majority in their own right.
So at least in Ukraine, there was tremendous support for Za Lansky's anti-corruption agenda. Is that right?
At the time, and within the inner agency, within the national security agencies here in the United States, was there broad support for President Zelinsky? There was broad support for giving President Stilinski a chance, and to that point he had shown that he was he had at least put his money where his mouth was for the three months that he had been in office. Is that right? Approximate three months, yes. Now, I want to show a couple of excerpts from this call record to to each of you.
The first is President Trump responding to a comment by President's Wolanski related to defense support from the United States and the purchase of javelins. And President Trump then says, I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot. And Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say CrowdStrike. I guess you have one of your wealthy people, the server.
They say Ukraine has it. And if we could go to the next exerpt where President Trump says the other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution. So if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me. Now, Mr. Morrison, where these references to CrowdStrike, the server in 2016 election, and to Vice President Biden and his son, were they included in the president's talking points?
They were not. And were they consistent with what you understood at that time to be official U.S. policy? I was not aware of any of much of this at the time, and in fact, subsequent to this call you did nothing to implement the investigations that President Trump implement the request for the investigations that President Trump asked for. Is that right? I did not understand any instruction to do so.
And you didn't. You were not aware of anyone else within your you coordinate the interagency process and you were not aware of anyone else who was doing that either. Is that right? Correct. Now, you've testified in your deposition that hearing, this call confirmed what you called the parallel process that your predecessor, Fiona Hill, had warned you about.
What did you mean by that? During the period in which Dr. Hill and I were conducting hand off meetings so that I could be up to speed on the various things that were occurring in the portfolio at the time. She mentioned the traditional and SBM for process and the parallel parallel process. And in the context of discussing the parallel process, she mentioned issues like charisma, which were noteworthy meet to me at the time because I had never heard of them before, and upon hearing them in the call, it wound up confirming, OK.
And who did she inform you was involved in this parallel process?
As I recall, it was definitely Ambassador Sanderlin and I believe Mr. Giuliani. And after she informed you of this company, Barry Smar, what, if anything, did you do to determine what that was? After that particular handoff meeting, I proceeded to look it up on the Internet. I Googled it. And did you find that it had some association with Hunter Biden? Yes. Now, Ambassador Volker, you did not listen to this call, but you testified that you were surprised and troubled when you read the call record after it was released on September 25th.
And you have also said that after reading the call record, it was clear to you that the Biden Barry PSMA and the 2016 election investigations that President Trump discussed on the call were designed to serve the president's political interests, not the national interest. What did you mean when you said that? So I don't recall that language from my testimonies from my October 3rd testimony. Yes, it was. Thank you. Well, what I do mean by that, and I'd like to phrase it my own words now is I don't think that raising 2016 elections or Vice President Biden or these these things I consider to be conspiracy theories that have been circulated by the Ukrainians, particularly the former prosecutor general.
Are there not things that we should be pursuing as part of our national security strategy with Ukraine?
We should be supporting Ukraine's democracy reforms, its own fight against corruption domestically, its struggle against Russia, its defense capabilities. These these are the heart of what we should be doing. And I don't think pursuing these things serves a national interest. Mr. Morris, and shortly after you heard the July 25th call, you testified that you alerted the NSC legal adviser, John Eisenberg. Pretty much right away. Is that right? Correct. And you indicated in your opening statement, at least from your deposition, that you went to Mr.
Eisenberg out of concern over the potential political fallout if the call record became public and not because he thought it was illegal. Is that right? But you would agree, right, that asking a foreign government to investigate a domestic political rival is inappropriate? Would you not? It's not what is what we recommended the president discuss. Now, in a second meeting with Mr. Eisenberg, what did you recommend that he do to prevent the call record from leaking?
I recommended we restrict access to the package.
Had you ever asked the NSC legal adviser to restrict access before? No. Did you speak to your supervisor, Dr. Kupperman, before you went to speak to John Eisenberg? No. Did you subsequently learn that the call record had been put in a highly classified system? I did. And what reason did Mr. Eisenberg give you for why the call record was put in the highly classified system? It was a mistake. He said it was just a mistake. It was an administrative error.
Now, isn't it also true, though, that you had authority to restrict access on the regular system if you wanted to? I I believe I could have instructed the appropriate staff to do so. Yes.
So why did you go to the NSC legal advisor to recommend that? Well, I was also concerned that based on the participants in the listening room that day, I did not then and I do not now recall any representatives from the NSC Legal Advisors office as they were often on head of state calls, but not always. And I wanted to make sure that. John Eisenberg is the legal adviser and his deputy were aware to review this particular transcript.
And you wanted them to review it because you were concerned about the political potential political consequences, not because of it was anything was wrong, correct.
And political consequences. It was an umbrella term I used in my statement to describe a series of effects. I feared about what would happen if and when the content of the transcript or the content of the memo leaked.
So just to make sure I understand this correctly, Mr Morrison, you you heard the call. You recognize that President Trump was not discussing the talking points that the NSC had prepared based on official U.S. policy and was instead talking about the investigations that Fiona Hill had warned you about. And then you reported it immediately to the NSC legal adviser. Is that the correct chain of events here? That's correct. Now, Ambassador Volcker in the July 25th call, President Zelinsky volunteers to President Trump that Rudy Giuliani had already spoken with one of his associates and that President Zelinsky hopes Giuliani will come to Ukraine.
Then in response, President Trump proceeds to mention Mr. Giuliani on three separate occasions during this call. You testified about a May 23rd meeting in the Oval Office where the president spoke quite negatively about Ukraine and how it tried to take him down, and that he also repeated some of the allegations that Mr. Giuliani was making, is that correct? Yes. And those allegations were in the media. Were they not? Yes. And during that meeting, President Trump told you in an Ambassador sanlitun and Secretary Perry to talk to Giuliani.
He didn't take it as an instruction. I want to be clear about that. He said that's not what I hear. You know, when we were giving him our assessment about President Zelinsky and where Ukraine is headed, that's not what I hear. I hear terrible things. He's got terrible people around him. Talk to Rudy. And I understood in that context him just saying that's where he hears it from. I didn't take it as an instruction.
So when he said talk to Rudy, you didn't take it for him to mean to for you to talk to Rudy.
No, I didn't take it that way.
I took it as that. You just just part of the dialogue that I hear to I hear other things. I hear them from Rudy Giuliani or from other people. That's not what's going on. He's surrounded by terrible people. Talk to Rudy. You know, it just seemed like part of the dialogue.
Well, after that meeting, did you, in fact, talk to Rudy after that meeting? Not immediately known. Remember, this was May 23rd. And we continue to proceed with our effort to get the White House visit with President Dolinsky scheduled and to keep ramping up our support for the new Ukrainian president and ultimately the new Ukrainian government. I did, however, on July 2nd as I was becoming concerned that we were not succeeding at this telepresence. LINSKY I think we have a problem and that problem being this negative feed of information from Mr.
And ultimately, I think as you testified in your opening statement, you introduced Mr. Yarmuk to Mr. Giuliani and they eventually met. Is that right? That is correct. Now, during this whole time in July and after the call into early August when they met Ukraine, still desperately wanted that Oval Office meeting for President's Wolinski. Correct? That is correct. And you also wanted that for Presidents Wolanski, is that right? That is correct. Why was that Oval Office meeting so important to Presidents Wolanski?
I think that he felt that he was not well understood by President Trump. He is a charismatic leader who ran a remarkable campaign in Ukraine against the legacy of corruption and political malaise that had been there yet. A massive showing in the presidential election, 73 percent support. He believed he was leading a movement of major change in Ukraine and that President Trump was did not see that or didn't appreciate that. But if he had a chance to sit down and speak with President Trump face to face, he believed that he could be very convincing about that.
That certainly was your assessment, right?
It was my assessment. And I believe it was also what President Zelinsky believed. And certainly that you understood from your experience in Ukraine that there would be a significant boost in legitimacy at home for presidents. Wolinsky, if there were photos of him in the Oval Office, et cetera. Right. Yes, that is correct.
Now, you knew you testified in your your opening statement that Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Year Mark Zelinsky is a met on August 2nd. Where did they meet?
They met in Madrid. And what did you learn that Mr. Giuliani requested anything of the Ukrainians at that meeting?
Only when I spoke with Mr. Giuliani afterward. He said that he thought Ukraine should issue a statement. And then I spoke with Mr. Yarmuk after that, and he said, yes. And we were prepared to make a statement. And that then kicked off the series of discussions that I said in my testimony.
We'll get into that in a second. But Mr. Giuliani did not explain to you what needed to be included in that statement and that call all you had.
He said something more, general. As I recall, I recall him saying corrupt fight, corruption, that their commitment to being different. Mr. Yarmuk told me when I spoke with him, as I recall, that the statement would include specific mention of Boris Mar and 2016.
Right. Let's go through some of the text messages. So we know exactly who said what. And first, let's start on on August 9th. This is a text exchange between you and Ambassador Sundlun, where Ambassador Sundlun writes at the top morrisson ready to get dates as soon as Jarmon confirms. And what did you respond?
I said, excellent. With two exclamation points. How did you sway him with a smile?
Afterwards, Ambassador Sundlun responded, Not sure I did. I think POTUS's really wants the deliverable. What did you say to that?
But how does he know that? And I've asked. Her son says, yep, clearly lots of convos going on. Now, Mr. Morris, and you're referenced in this text message, had you discussed confirming a date for a White House visit for Presidents Wolanski with Ambassador Sandlin around this time? I likely would have. Did you have any discussions with him about a statement for that Ukraine was that they were trying to get Ukraine to make?
I did not. Were you aware that. Do you do you yourself know what Ambassador Sundlun meant by the deliverable? I did not at the time, I think I have an understanding now. And what is your understanding now? There seems to have been discussions about a statement, various drafts of which have been discussed in various proceedings.
But this, to your knowledge, was part of that parallel process you were talking about? Yes. We can now go to the next exhibit, which is another text exchange just a few minutes later between Ambassador Sunland and a new Ambassador Volker, where Ambassador sunland's says to avoid misunderstandings might be helpful to ask Andre for a draft statement embargoed so that we can see exactly what they propose to cover. Even though Ze Zelinsky does a live presser, they can still summarize in a brief statement.
Thoughts? And how did you respond?
Agreed. And this relates to the statement that Mr. Giuliani wanted. Is that right? Ambassador Voelker? It relates to the statement that he and Mr. Yarmuk had discussed. Right.
And now to the next day on August 10th. There's another text exchange between you and Mr. Yarmouk. Who's the same aide that Mr. Giuliani had met in in Madrid? And if you could read what you wrote at the top at 5 0 2 p.m.. Right.
I wrote, I agree with your approach. Let's iron out statement and use that to get date and then present. Zelinsky can go forward with it.
And Mr. Yarmuk responds, Once we have a date, we will call for a press briefing announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of U.S. Ukraine relationship, including, among other things, Boris WMA and election medaling in investigations. And what did you respond?
Sounds great. Now, the date that he's referring to, that is the date for the White House visit. That's correct. Now, two days later, on August 12th, you receive another text message from Mr. Yarmouk, which reads. Special attention should be paid to the problem of interference in the political processes of the United States, especially with the alleged involvement of some Ukrainian politicians. I want to declare that this is unacceptable. We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes, which in turn will prevent the recurrence of this problem in the future.
Now, Ambassador Volcker, this was a draft, was it not, of the statement that you and Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Yamaka and Ambassador Sundlun had been discussing.
This is the first draft of that from Mr. Yarmuk after the conversations that we had.
And it does not mention Verismo or the 2016 election interference. Correct. And you testified in your deposition that you and Ambassador Sandlin and Mayor Giuliani had a conversation about this draft after you received it. Is that right? That is correct. And Juliette, Mr. Giuliani said that if the statement did not include Boris HMA and 2016 election, it would not have any credibility. Is that right? That's correct. Now. This was the the same Rudy Giuliani that President Trump was discussing in that May 23rd meeting and asked you to talk.
You and the others to talk to.
Correct. That is the same Mr. Giuliani. And even at that point and May 23rd, you were aware of these investigations that he was publicly promoting. Correct.
I knew that he had adopted or was interested in all of those conspiracy theories that had come from Sanco back in May.
You know, that I can make now. He was insisting on a public commitment from Presidents Wolanski to do these investigations. Correct.
Well, now, what do we mean by these investigations? Berrima in the 2016 election? Brisman 2016. Yes.
And at the time that you were engaged in coordinating for this statement, did you find it unusual that there was such an emphasis on a public statement from President's Wolanski to carry out the investigations that the president was seeking?
I didn't find it that unusual. I think when you're dealing with a situation where I believe the president was highly skeptical about President Zelinsky being committed to really changing Ukraine after his entirely negative view of the country, that he would want to hear something more from President Zelinsky to be convinced that, OK, I'll give this guy a chance.
And he would perhaps he also wanted a public statement because it would lock misted President's Wolanski in to do these investigations that he thought might benefit him.
Well, again, we're when we say these investigations. What I understood us to be talking about was Ukrainian corruption.
Well, what we're talking about is Berrima in the 2016 election. Let's just correct. We can agree on that. And so when we're talking about these investigations, isn't it clear that a public statement would be important to Mr Giuliani because it was politically useful to the president?
The way I saw it is that it would be helpful, right? It would be a way of being convincing to Mayor Giuliani and also the president that this team in Ukraine is serious about fighting corruption, reform, that they are different. And if that would be helpful in getting a more positive attitude and the White House meetings scheduled, then that would be useful. And that would be helpful to get that White House meeting correct. In fact, it was a necessary condition, as you understood at that point, right?
I wouldn't have called it a necessary condition. And in fact, when it became clear later that we were not able to agree on a an agreement that the Ukrainians were comfortable with. I agree with Ukraine is just to drop it. It's not worth it.
Now, I understand that. But you're. Is it your testimony that based on the text that you wrote linking the investigations and the 2016 election on July 25th to the White House meeting, you're saying that by this point in August with this back and forth, that you were unaware that this public statement was a condition for the White House meeting?
I wouldn't have called it a condition. It's a it's a nuance, I guess. But I viewed it as very helpful. If we could get this done, it would help improve the perception that President Trump and others had. And then we would get the date for a meeting if we didn't have a statement. I wasn't giving up and thinking that, oh, well, then we'll never get a meeting.
Let's go to the next day where there was another text exchange. And at the top, could you just read the first text there?
It says, Hi, Andrei. Good talking. Following his text with insert at the end for the two key items, we will work on official request and then you'll see the highlighted portion of the next text.
The other is identical to your previous one, and then it just adds including that occluding these involving Verismo and the 2016 elections. Is that right? That is correct. And that was what Mr. Giuliani insisted on adding to the statement.
That's what he said will be necessary for that to be credible.
And the Ukrainians ultimately did not issue the statement. Is that right? That is correct. And President's Wolanski ultimately did not get the Oval Office meeting either, did he? Not yet.
Now. I want to move forward to September and early September when the security assistance begins to more overtly be used as leverage to pressure the Ukrainians to conduct these investigations that President Trump wanted. Mr Morrison, you accompanied Vice President Pence to Warsaw when he met with Presidents Wolanski. Is that right? I was in Warsaw when the vice president was designated as the president's representative. I was accompanying Ambassador Bolton.
Understood. You were at the bilateral meeting with the with the vice president and presidents. Wolanski. Correct.
I was in that meeting. Were the Ukrainians concerned about the hold on security clearance, security and military assistance, rather? But yes. What did they say? It was the first issue that President Zelinsky raised with Vice President Pence. They were very interested. They talked about its importance to Ukraine, its importance to their relationship. And what was Vice President Pence's response? The vice president represented that it was a priority for him and that we were working to address.
He characterized President Trump's concerns about the state of corruption in Ukraine and the president's prioritization of getting the Europeans to contribute more to security sector assistance.
And did he directly explain to the Ukrainians that those that those were the actual reasons for the holds, or was he just commenting on general concerns of the president? I don't know that he necessarily acknowledged to hold. He mentioned that we were reviewing the assistance and that that's the way I heard it. That's the way I would characterize it. And those were the points he raised to help presidents once we understand where we were in our process.
And to your knowledge, though, on sort of the staff level, as the coordinator of all the interagency process, you were not aware of any review of the Ukraine security assistance money where you. Well, we were. We had been running a review, we had been running an interagency process to provide the president the information that I had been directed to generate for for the president's consideration as to the state of inter-agency support for continuing Ukraine, security sector assistance and the entire inter-agency supported the continuation of the security assistance, isn't that right?
That is correct. Now, after this larger meeting with Vice President Pence and President Zelinski, you testified at your deposition that you saw Ambassador Sundlun immediately go over and pull Andre Yamaka aside and have a conversation. Is that right?
It President Zelinsky left the room. Vice President Pense left the room. And in sort of an anti room, Ambassador Song and presidential adviser, your Mac had this discussion? Yes.
What did Ambassador Sunlen say to tell you that he told Mr. Yarmuk that the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aide lifted.
And you testified that you were not comfortable with what Ambassador Sundlun had told you. Why not? Well, I. Was concerned about what I saw as essentially an additional hurdle to accomplishing what I'd been directed to to help accomplish, which was giving the president the information he needed to determine that the security sector assistance could go forward.
So now there's a whole other wrinkle to it, right? There was the appearance of one based on what Ambassador SOLMAN represented.
And you told Ambassador Taylor about this conversation as well. Is that right? I promptly reached out to Ambassador Taylor to schedule a secure phone call.
And in your deposition, you testified that his testimony, other than one small distinction between President Zelinsky and the prosecutor general, was accurate as to what you told him. Is that correct about that conversation? Yes. And generally speaking, you confirmed everything that Ambassador Taylor told you, except for that one thing and a small other ministerial matter relating to the location of a meeting.
Is that correct? Correct. Now, did you tell Ambassador Bolton about this conversation as well?
I reached out to him as well and requested his availability for a secure phone call.
And what was his response when you explained to him what Ambassador Sundlun had said? Tell the lawyers. Did you go tell the lawyers when I returned to the states? Yes. And did he explain to you why he wanted you to tell the lawyers? He did not. Now, a few days later, on September 7th, you spoke again to Ambassador Sandlin, who told you that he had just gotten off the phone with President Trump. Isn't that right?
That sounds correct, yes. What did Ambassador Sunlen tell you that President Trump said to him?
If I recall this conversation correctly, this was where Ambassador somphone related that there was no quid pro quo, but President Stilinski had to make the statement and that he had to want to do it. And by that point, did you understand that the statement related to the Biden into 2016 investigations? I think I did, yes. And that that was a essentially a condition for the security assistance to be released. I understood that. That's what Ambassador Sonoda believed.
After speaking with President Trump, that's what he represented. Now, you testified that hearing this information gave you a sinking feeling. Why was that?
Well, I believe we're on September 7, the end of the fiscal year, September 30th. These are one year dollars. The D.O.D. and the department state funds. So we only had so much time. And in fact, because Congress imposed a 15 day notification requirement on the State Department funds. September 7th, September 30th, that really means October 15th in order to secure a decision from the president to allow the funds to go forward.
Did you tell Ambassador Bolton about this conversation as well? I did, yes. And what did he say to you? He said to tell the lawyers. Why did he say to tell the lawyers? He did not explain his direction. But he's not going to he doesn't tell you to go tell the lawyers because you're running up on the eight day deadline. They're right. Again, I don't know why he he directed that, but it seems reasonable. It's consistent with what I was going to do anyway because you weren't gonna go tell them because of that concern.
Right. You were concerned about what you were hearing Ambassador Sunlen relayed to you. Correct. So just so we're clear, you you reported two concerning conversations that you had with Ambassador Sunland to the lawyers in early September in which you understood from him that the president was withholding security assistance as additional leverage to get Ukraine to publicly announce the specific political investigations that President Trump had discussed on the July 25th call. Is that accurate?
I was concerned about what Ambassador Sundlun was was saying. Where requirements. Yes. Right.
And you understood, though, that the investigations that Ambassador Sanlam was referring to were the two that President Trump reference on the July 25th call. Correct. By this point, yes.
And during this early September time period, Mr Morrison, did you have any conversations with Ambassador Voelker about any of this?
I believe we had one conversation.
And what do you recall about that conversation? I believe on or about September 6th. Ambassador Voelker was in town to provide an update on some of his activities and that he provided that update and then we had a one on one conversation about this. This track, the separate process. And what do you recall saying to him about the separate process? I think I was interested in understanding his and his understanding of events. Did you explain to him what your understanding of events was?
I think I was primarily on receive mode. Ambassador Volker, what are you. Do you recall this conversation? Thank you.
I do remember a conversation with Tim. I'm not sure about the timing. I left around that time to go on a trip. And so it may have been a little bit earlier. Not sure about the timing. And what I do remember the discussion being is Tim asking me what is my impression of the role that Ambassador Solin plays? And my response to that was, well, I find it helpful that he has political contacts in the White House. I don't have those contacts.
I'm working the national security, the diplomatic front, but I don't have the political contacts. And so he's able to use those to support the same goals that we are working toward. And I view that as helpful.
Well, that's a good Segway to their next exhibit, which is a September 8th text exchange with you and Ambassador Taylor and Ambassador Sundlun. And at the top. Ambassador sunland's says, guys, multiple convos with Z. That's Selenski period. POTUS's period. Let's talk then, Ambassador Taylor, about 15, 16 minutes later says Gordon and I just spoke. I can brief you meaning you, Ambassador Voelker, if you and Gordon don't connect approximately one hour later.
Ambassador Taylor says the nightmare is they give the interview and don't get the security assistance. The Russians love it. And I quit. And then at the bottom, about five hours later, how do you respond and say, I'm not in the loop?
Talk Monday. So you were not in the loop in terms of all of these conversations that Ambassador Taylor, Mr Morrison, Ambassador Sundlun were having? Yes, that's correct. And now ultimately, the hold was lifted on September 11th. Is that right, Ambassador Voelker? That's my understanding. And Mr Morrison, were you aware that prior to September 11th that the White House, that there was a whistleblower complaint circulating around the White House? I don't believe so, no.
But you were aware of a request to preserve records, were you not? We we received a number of those requests. I have a general recollection of one as related to Ukraine.
And one final question. When was the hold lifted?
As I understand it, the president gave that direction the evening of September 11th, which is two days after the Congress announced investigation. Were you aware of that? I believe I was familiar with the letter from the three committee chairman. I yield. That concludes the majority forty five minutes before I turn to the minority. Are you both on your council OK? Or do you need a break? OK. Ranking Member Nunez, who recognized for forty five minutes.
Well, massacre, Mr Morrison, I have some bad news for you. TV ratings are way down, way down. I don't. Don't hold it personally. I don't think it's you guys. Well, whatever drug deal the Democrats are cooking up. Here on the dais, American people aren't buying it. I know you've both answered this in your opening statements, but I just want to bring a little more clarity to it. This Morrison, I'll start start with you.
Ah. Did anyone ever ask you to bribe or extort anyone at anytime during your time in the White House?
No, sir. And you were the top person for Ukraine in the White House? Correct. At the NSC level. I would argue Ambassador Bolton would be, but reporting to Ambassador Bolton. I was a senior official. Yes, sir. Ambassador Volker, you have a storied career. We're very thankful for your service. And you were the special envoy to Ukraine.
Did anyone at the White House ever ask you to bribe or extort anything out of anyone at any time? No, sir. Thank you. I want to thank you both for being here. And I'll yield to Mr. Castor. Thank you, Mr. Lewis.
Thank you both for being here today and also for participating in the lengthy depositions. Ambassador Volcker. You were the first one on October 3rd. Mr Morrison, you were with us on Halloween. So thank you for your participation. Mr Morrison, also, I want to thank you, longtime Hill staffer. I certainly have appreciation for that on nearly 20 years. So thank you. And Ambassador Volker, Hatboro, Pennsylvania, resident absolute.
It's a credible part of the country. Very proud of it.
From nearby swan. to walk through some of your positions, you were Senate confirmed ambassador to NATO for Stent. That is correct. And then you were at the State Department.
And your portfolio spanned much of what I believe George Kent has currently.
I was the principal deputy assistant secretary. So I had all of working for the assistant secretary, had all of Europe and Eurasia and particular responsibility for NATO, Western Europe and European Union.
And then you you involved the National Security Council. You had you're the director for NATO in Western Europe. That is correct. And then you were the senior director for four European and your Asian affairs.
I was acting for several months, six months or so. Okay.
I see much am job that Mr Morrison had. And we'll note that all the witnesses that we have interacted with have just heaped praise on you. Ambassador Evanovich said you are a brilliant diplomat. So that's very high praise.
And for over two years, you served as the special representative for Ukraine negotiations. That is correct. And you served for free? That is correct.
You served on a voluntary basis. I did. And you put a lot of time and effort into that job, didn't you? Yes, I did. The taxpayers got there, certainly got their money's worth, didn't they? Not for me to say. And you believe America's policy towards Ukraine has been strengthened during your tenure as the special representative?
Absolutely. When I look back at the record, I think we we did an awful lot to support Ukraine.
Is it fair to say that's in part due to President Trump?
President Trump approved each of the decisions made along the way, providing lethal, lethal defensive equipment and the non-recognition statement on Crimea.
I think being two of the most important ones and for for many years there had been an initiative in the interagency to advocate for lethal defensive weaponry for Ukraine. Is that correct? That is correct. And it wasn't until President Trump and his administration came in that that wentthrough.
That is correct. The delegation to presidents of Lansky's inauguration in May. I believe you testified it was one of the largest delegations.
I believe it was. I can't be a hundred percent sure, but I believe it was the largest national delegation.
And included in the delegation was Secretary Perry, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sunland, myself, Senator Ron Johnson was there and also the chargé d'affaires at the U.S. embassy at the time, Joe Pennington. And. The we we've. Talked a little bit this morning, but the president's Lansky's inauguration came together rather quickly. It did. I believe we had about three days notice in which to put the delegation together. There's been some discussion about whether the vice president was going to be able to lead that effort.
And as it turned out, he was not able to lead it. Do you have any information as to why the vice president was unable to join? I don't. And Mr. Morrison, do you have any information as to why the vice president was unable to participate in the delegation? No. Ambassador Volcker, you testified during your deposition that aid, in fact, does get held up from time to time for a whole assortment of reasons.
Is that your own? That is true. And sometimes the hold ups are rooted in something at OMB sometimes. Is it the Defense Department? Sometimes just at the State Department, sometimes on the Hill? Correct. That is correct. And so when the aide was held up for 55 days for Ukraine, that didn't in and of itself strike you as uncommon?
No, it's something that had happened in my career. In the past, I had seen holdups of assistance. I just assumed it was part of the decision making process. Somebody had an objection. We had to overcome it.
And in fact. There were concerns that perhaps President Wolanski wasn't going to be the reformer that he campaigned on. That was a supposition that I made because of the meeting with the president on May 23rd, I thought that could be what's behind it.
And in fact, the aid was lifted shortly after he was able to convene a parliament. Believe he let me get the dates straight. I believe, yes, he was able to convene the parliament around the 1st of September and I believe the aide was released on the 11th of September.
And when he was able to convene a parliament, he was able to push through a number of anti-corruption initiatives that began with the parliament seated on that day.
It was a 24 hour session, but then it continued for some time and that was an encouraging sign.
It started off in a very encouraging way. Yes. And other than these things going on in the background with the pause in the aid, the U.S. relations with Ukraine, you testified or you stated it was about as good as you'd want them to be. Can you repeat the question? I'm sorry. You testified at your deposition that once the hit aid was lifted, despite all the things going on in the background, that U.S. Ukrainian relations were strong words.
Guests. Yes. And you referenced that the security sector assistance was lifted. You know, any hold on that that there was a positive meeting in New York. That's correct. UNGA and there was momentum and putting pressure on the Russians.
That's correct. In your deposition, you made it clear that President Trump had deep rooted a negative view in Ukraine and their corruption environment. Yes. And you first became aware of his views back in September 2017.
That is correct. Tell us a little bit about that. Yes. In September of twenty seventeen, I was invited by Secretary Tillerson to do a pre brief with President Trump before his meeting with President Poroshenko on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly. I did the pre brief and then I took part in the bilateral meeting.
And so long before President Wolanski was elected president, Trump had a had a negative view of yes, he had a very strongly negative view.
Back in 2017, do you remember anything he said or did that give you a feeling that he had these negative views?
I want to be very careful here, because this was a bilateral meeting between the two presidents. I don't want to stray into classified material, but I can tell you my impression was that he had a very strongly negative view of Ukraine at the time.
Fair enough. And you describe the president's skepticism at your deposition as a reasonable position. Yes. And I believe you said most people who know anything about Ukraine would would possibly think that.
Yes. And you viewed it as part of your role to help change his mind that President Zelinsky was a genuine reformer, that he was not running for office for for self enrichment, that he was indeed a good person. That's correct. During the May 20 23rd meeting with president in the Oval Office. Could you just relate to us the concerns the president articulated about the Ukraine? Yes.
The president came into the meeting and immediately started speaking. He had a just a string of comments that Ukraine is a terrible place. They're all corrupt. They're terrible people. They tried to take me down. I tried to explain along with the others that were there. Each of us took turns speaking. I tried to explain the presence.
Lenski agrees with you that he was elected because of that situation in Ukraine. And he has a strong mandate from the people of Ukraine to change it. And that's why it's important that we actually show him very strong support now. But the president was not convinced. And he said that Zelinsky is no different. That he has terrible people around him. You know, it's not what I hear about Ukraine, what we're telling him. You know, I hear that.
You know, nothing has changed. Talk to Rudy that that kind of dialogue, as I described. And when the president said that the Ukrainians tried to take him down, did you have any idea what he was referring to?
I did. I believe that he was referring to the rumors of efforts to interfere in the 2016 election by providing damaging information about the president or about Paul Manafort to the Hillary Clinton campaign. That was one of the rumors that had been been out there and that had gotten some support from the Ukrainian prosecutor general.
And to the best of your knowledge, that president genuinely believed that. Right.
I believe he was concerned about it. I don't know what he actually believed, but he brought it up. And Mr Morrison. You were also aware of the president's skeptical view of foreign aid generally. Yes. And that there was a initiative that he was looking at foreign aid pretty broadly. Yes. In trying to scrutinize to make sure the U.S. taxpayers are getting their money's worth. Yes. And the president was also interested, was he not, in better understanding opportunities for increased burden sharing among the Europeans?
Yes. And what can you tell us about that? Well, the president was concerned that the United States seemed to bear the exclusive brunt of security assistance to Ukraine. He wanted to see the Europeans step up and contribute more security assistance.
And was there any inter-agency activity, whether it be with the State Department or the Defense Department coordination by the National Security Council to look into that a little bit for the president?
We were surveying the data to understand who was contributing what and sort of in what categories.
And so the president's evinced concerns the interagency tried to address them. Yes. And by late August, we just discussed with Ambassador Volker that a new Rada was seated. And did that give possibly some hope that President Zelinsky would be able to push through some of these reforms? Yes. And did you hope during this time period, during this 55 days where the aid was paused, that potentially Wolanski would be able to demonstrate his bonum bonafides and would subsequently be able to get the president to lift the aid?
Yes. In fact, you. Traveled with Ambassador Bolton to the Ukraine right around Labor Day weekend, correct? Yes. And you met with President Dolinsky on I believe was August at twenty twenty ninth.
Ambassador Bolton had a meeting with President Zelinsky and I staff that meeting.
And that's right around the time when the Rada had met and they had started to push through their reforms.
As I recall, the meeting, the date of the meeting between Ambassador Bolton and President Wolinsky was actually the first day of the new Rada.
And some of these reforms included naming a new prosecutor general, a new prosecutor general, a brand new cabinet. Yes. And they push through some legislation that eliminated immunity for Rada members. Yes. Eliminating a parliamentary immunity.
And I believe you. You provided some color into this experience, this meeting. And you said that the Ukrainians had been up all night working on some of these legislative initiatives. Yes. The the Kenyon's with whom we met were, by all appearances, exhausted from the pace of activity.
And was Ambassador Bolton encouraged by the activity? Yes, he was. And was the meeting altogether favourable? Quite. And at that point time after the meeting, Ambassador Bolton that did he head off to Warsaw with the vice president? Or did he just. I know you went to Warsaw. While we had a few stops between Ukraine and Poland, but yes, Ambassador Bolton proceeded to Warsaw, where we were expecting to ensure everything was staged properly for the president's arrival.
And did you have an opportunity to brief the vice president? I did not. Did Ambassador Bolton? He did. And what would he remember from what Ambassador Bolton shared with the vice president about does Wolanski meeting? So I was not there. The issue I remember most starkly was Ambassador Bolton was quite annoyed that Ambassador Sawmilling crashed the creamery. OK. But the ambassador had everything he needed to ensure that the either the president or the vice president were well-prepared. But did you brief Ambassador Bolton before he had an opportunity to meet with the vice president?
I didn't need to. I was Ambassador Bolton was there. OK. But as far as you know, Ambassador Bolton communicated to the vice president that the goings on in Ukraine were positive. That's my understanding with Presidents Wolanski. And at this time, Ambassador Bolton was advocating for the lifting of the aid he had been for some time.
Yes. And did you participate in the Warsaw meetings? We had a reduced schedule from what had been arranged for the president, for the vice president, but the vice president met with President Duda of Poland and he met with President Wollensky and I participated in both meetings.
And what do you remember from the meeting with President Zelinsky? It seemed very it seemed very positive. What was the message? I mean, President Olinsky. He raised raised the issue of the aid, correct? Yes. And what did the vice president respond?
He represented his support for the aid he represented to the strong commitment of the United States to Ukraine. And he explained that President Trump, because this is after the Politico article had come out, that that made clear there was a hold.
He explained that what we were doing was the United States government, the the interagency, was examining what more Europe could do in the security space and taking a look at how Ukraine was reforming what what had been a history of corruption. And was there any discussion during the meeting with President Wolanski on the part of ice, the vice president, about any of these investigations we've come to talk about? No. So charisma wasn't raised. No 2016 election wasn't raised, No.
And the vice president didn't mention any investigations at all. Did he know? You mentioned the August 28 Politico article. Was that the first time that you believe the Ukrainians may have had a real sense that the aid was on hold? Yes. So from the 55 day period spanning July 18th through September 11th, it didn't really become public until August 28. That's correct, Ambassador Taylor and I's had a number of phone calls where we, in fact talked about the Ukrainians know yet because we both felt very strongly it was important that we ensure that the president was able to make the decision to release the aid before the Ukrainians ever found out about it.
OK. And Ambassador Volker, is that is that also your your recollection? Yes, it is. It wasn't until the Politico article that that's correct.
I received a text message from one of my Ukrainian counterparts on August twenty ninth forwarding that article. And that's the first they raised it with me.
And can you share a little bit with us about your communications during that time period, about the holding, the aid?
Yes. I didn't have any communications with the Ukrainians about the hold on aid until after they raised it with me for the same reason that Tim just gave the hope that we could get it taken care of ourselves before it became something that they became aware of inside the U.S. government. I was aware that the hold was placed. I was aware of that on July 18th. It was referenced and an interagency meeting. And I got a readout from that meeting from one of my assistants.
I then immediately spoke with several people in the administration to object. I thought that this was a bad decision or a bad hold, maybe not a decision, but, you know, a a process. And I wanted to make sure that all of the arguments were marshaled to get it lifted. And so I spoke with the Pentagon lawyer. Cooper, I spoke with Assistant Secretary of Paul M. Affairs at the State Department, who is going to represent the State Department at the next higher level meeting.
I believe I spoke with officials in European Bureau, with National Security Council staff. So I was actively trying to convey that this needed to be lifted and I wanted them to be able to use my name in doing so, because I felt that the best prospect for positioning ourselves for negotiations with Russia is the strongest defense capability for Ukraine. And during this time period, did you come to believe that any of these investigations were part of a hold up in the eight?
Backtracking just a little bit on July 3rd.
You met in Toronto with President Wolinsky and there's been some. You know, Ambassador Taylor and Mr. Cance provided some testimony that they had some apprehension that that part of this year irregular channel that Ambassador Taylor referenced would rear its head in Toronto. I'm just wondering if you can tell us whether that in fact, happened.
I can only tell you what what I know there may have been other conversations or other things, but I know that we had a conversation, Bill Taylor and I believe Gordon's online and I around the twenty eighth of June that later connected to a believe a conversation with Presense Wolinsky, although I may not have been part of the latter. That being said, I was convinced after that conversation we had gotten nowhere. We had our White House briefing of President Trump on May 23rd.
He signed a letter inviting President Wolinsky to the White House on May twenty ninth. And for several weeks we were just temporizing with the Ukrainians saying, well, we're working on it. It's a scheduling issue. You know, we'll get there. Don't worry. And I told Bill and Gordon that I was going to see President Zelinsky in Toronto. And I feel an obligation to tell him the truth, that we have a problem here. We're not getting a date scheduled.
Here's what I think the problem is. It's the negative information flow from Mayor Giuliani and that he would I read also that I would advise him that he should call President Trump personally because he needed to renew that personal relationship and be able to convey to President Trump that he was serious about fighting corruption, investigating things that happened in the past and so forth. So I I did all of that with President Stilinski in a Placide after our formal bilateral meeting.
And during that meeting in Toronto were the series of meetings. There was no discussion of preconditions, investigations of anything. No. That sort? No. And you were there with Mr. Kent? Yes, I believe so. And did you ever have any discussions with him about preconditions or investigations?
Not at that time. I think later on these things came up about when we were talking about a statement, whether there were investigations. But I believe at this time in Toronto, it was really more you're referring to investigations generically. That that is how you go about fighting corruption and that President Zelinsky should reaffirm his commitment to President Trump in a direct phone call. OK.
And at any point in time, did had Mr. Gant raise any concerns to you about any of this?
Not at that time. Next event I want to cover is the July 10th meeting in Ambassador Bolton's office. Talked a little bit about this morning. I don't know if you caught the coverage, but there was testimony that at some point, Ambassador, someone mentioned investigations and reportedly that the meeting ended abruptly. What can you tell us about that fact? Thank you.
And let me answer that question first. I'd like to come back to your prior question for a second to if I may. But on the July 10th meeting, this was a meeting that we had arranged between Alex Jamelia. Who is the head of the National Security and Defense Council and the National Kier Divisor Bolton. Attending the meeting was also Secretary Kerry. Ambassador Solan, myself, I believe you on the Hill and also under a Yarmuk. The purpose was really a counterpart visit.
I thought that this would be the best opportunity is the first high level meeting that we're having in Washington with a senior U.S. official. Ambassador Bolton, after President Zilinskas inauguration, I thought I'd be a great opportunity for the Ukrainians to make their case. They are the new team in town. Real deal about fighting corruption. I was rather disappointed with the meeting as it transpired. It struck me as down in the weeds talking about reform of national security structures in Ukraine, legislation that they were working on and not the big picture and not the bilateral relationship.
So it's a bit disappointed by that at the end of the meeting. I do recall having seen some of the other testimony that I believe in Basra. Solin did raise the point of investigations and a generic way. This was after the meeting was already wrapping up and I think all of us thought it was inappropriate and the conversation did not pick up from there. It was the meeting was over. We all went outside and we had a picture taken in front of the White House.
And then all of us, except Ambassador Bolton went down to the wardroom to talk through follow up about, well, how do we follow up on this meeting to keep the momentum in the relationship. And I think we broke up into several small groups. I remember having a conversation with Secretary Perry in one of his assistants about energy reform as part of that. I don't recall other conversations following up on investigations or charisma and.
The best of your knowledge, there certainly was no precondition undiscussed, right? Don't know. Again, the issue of the security assistance was one where I thought that this was really related to a a general negative view about Ukraine. There was nothing specific ever communicated to me about it or the reasons why it was held. And we certainly didn't want to talk about it with Ukrainians. We wanted to fix it.
OK. And then a couple weeks later, the July 25th call happened and you were headed to Ukraine. During that time period?
Yes, I was actually already on my way to Ukraine, I think two days prior to that.
And you received readouts both from the U.S. side and the Ukrainian side. Could you tell us about that? Yes.
So I was not on the phone call. I had arrived in Ukraine and I had had that lunch with Mr. Yarmuk that we saw on the day of the phone call. I had been pushing for the phone call because I thought it was important to renew the personal connection between the two leaders and to congratulate President Zelinsky on the parliamentary election. The readout that I received from Mr. Yamaka and also from the U.S. side, although I'm not exactly sure who it was from on the U.S.
side, but there was a U.S. and a Ukrainian readout were largely the same, that it was a good call.
It was a congratulatory phone call for the president to win in the parliamentary election presence. Did reiterate his commitment to reform and fighting corruption in Ukraine. And President Trump did reiterate his invitation to Presidents LINSKY to come visit and visit him in the White House. It's exactly what I thought the phone call would be. So I was not surprised at getting that as the readout.
And did you ever have any discussions with Ambassador Taylor about this at that time?
We we were together in Ukraine at that time. We went the very next day to visit the conflict zone. And I'm sure he heard the same readout that I did.
And you had a meeting with President Zelinsky on the twenty sixth. Yes, we had a meeting the day after the phone call in the twenty sixth in the morning before heading out to the conflicts where any of these concerning elements that some witnesses have raised about the call raised in the meeting with President Zelinski.
No. Only the very bare bones read out that I had received. That was also how it was discussed in the meeting with President Zelinski.
So to the extent there's been assertions that President Wolanski was concerned about demands President Trump had made. I don't recall that.
You don't recall that. I do not recall him. Word. I don't recall. Well, let me turn that around and say he was very positive about the phone call. OK. I don't recall him saying anything about demands, but he was very upbeat about the fact of the call.
And there was no discussion on the part of President Wolanski on how to navigate the various. I don't recall the concerns that people have articulated about the call.
I don't remember that. And Mr. Zeldin asked you in the deposition that it in no way, shape or form in either readouts from the United States or Ukraine, did you receive any indication whatsoever or anything that resembles a quid pro quo?
Is that correct? That's correct. And the same would. I would go for this new allegation of bribery. I've only seen an allegation of bribery in the last week.
It's the same common set of facts. It's just instead a quid pro quo. Now it's bribery.
I was never involved in anything that I considered to be bribery at all. OK. Or extortion or extortion.
Mr. Castro, may I may I address two specific point source? One is I'm reminded that the meeting with Ambassador Bolton and Mr. DiNardo took place on July 10th. And I did not become aware of the hold on security assistance until July 18th. That is another reason why that did not come out OK.
And at that point in time, you didn't know that the potential pause in the security assistance was was brewing.
I did not know. I heard about it for the first time on the 18th. OK. May I make a second observation? Absolutely. I do remember having seen some of the testimony of Mr. Kent, a conversation in which he had asked me about the conspiracy theories that were out there in Ukraine. I don't remember what the date of this conversation was. And my view was, well, if there are things like that, then why not investigate the chain?
I don't believe that there's anything to them. If there is a 2016 election, interference is what I was thinking of, we would want to know about that. But I didn't really there is believe there's anything there to begin with.
You testified in your deposition to the extent the Ukrainians were going to investigate other Ukrainians for wrongdoing. That was perfectly appropriate.
And you're correct, that is had has been U.S. policy for years.
So if if certain Ukrainians involved with a charisma company, that I think is the only plausible thing to look at there.
As I said, I don't find it plausible or credible. The vice president Biden would have been influenced in his duties. But whether individual Ukrainians in this society that we know Ukraine has been for decades were trying to act in a corrupt way or to buy influence, that's plausible.
Right. Deputy assistant secretary can't last Wednesday told us about, you know, there was an investigation into Verismo trying to recoup millions of dollars, taxpayer dollars. And Ukrainians were pursuing an investigation. There was a bribe paid. Were you tracking that?
I was aware of those kinds of things. I couldn't give you those kinds of details. I just know that there was a reputation around the company.
OK. And subsequent to the to those facts and the bribe being paid by prisma company wanted to improve their image and added some folks to their board, including the president of Poland, including Hunter Biden. You're familiar with that? That's what I understand. And to the extent the Ukrainians, the folks affiliated with Verismo wanted to hire those people for their board for protection purposes so they can continue to engage in misdeeds. If that was a fact worth investigating, you certainly would be supportive of Ukrainians trying to get to the bottom of that, correct?
Well, I can't speculate as to any of the specifics of what was motivating Verismo or not. Ukrainian government authorities investigating possible corruption by Ukrainian citizens is a perfectly appropriate thing for them to do.
Mr Morrison, I want to. Turn our attention back to the July 25th call. You were in the room. Did anything concern you on the call? No. And after the call ended, you like Colonel Venkman. What are your next steps was to engage the NSC lawyers and your reasons for doing that were slightly different than Colonel Vestments. And you articulated three three concerns. And do you want to share them with us or would you? Would you rather I do it?
So I think I articulated two concerns, if I'm forgetting one. Please remind me again. The two concerns I had were one. I did not see representatives of NSC legal on the call. So I wanted to make sure that the legal adviser and his deputy were aware of the call. And I was also concerned about taking steps to protect the members on limited disclosure for fear of the consequences of it leaking. And you were concerned about it leaking for because you were worried about how it would play out in Washington's polarized political environment, correct?
Yes. And you were also worried how how that would lead to the bipartisan support here in Congress. Of course, towards Ukraine, right? Yes. And you were also concerned that it might affect the Ukrainians perception negatively. Yes. And in fact, all three of those things have played out, haven't they? Yes.
You you didn't ask the lawyers to put it on the codeword system. Correct. I want to be precise about the lexicon here. I did not ask her to be moved to a compartmented system.
OK. You just wanted the transcript to be controlled. I wanted access to be restricted. OK.
And when you learned that the transcript had been stored on the compartmented server, you believe that was a mistake? Correct. Well, there was represented to me that it was a mistake. I was trying to pull up that mamma.com because we were in the process of pulling together Ambassador Bolton's materials and the president's materials for what was a plan bilat between POTUS's and President's Wolinski. And when I went to do that, I could not pull up the package in our system.
And I did not understand why. I spoke with the NSC executive secretariat staff, ask them why, and they did their research and they inform me it had been moved to the higher classification system at the direction of John Aisenberg, whom I then asked why. I mean, that's that was the judgment he made. That's not necessarily mind a question, but I didn't understand it. And he essentially told me I gave no such direction. He did his own inquiry.
And he represented back to me that it was his understanding was it was a kind of administrative error that when he also gave direction to restrict access, the executive secretary staff understood that as an apprehension, that there was something in the content of the mamma.com that could not exist on the lower classification system.
So the best your knowledge is no malicious intent in moving the transcript to the compartmented server. And to your knowledge, anybody on the NSC staff that needed access to the transcript for their official duties always was able to access it. Correct. People that had a need to know and need to access it once it was moved to the compartmented system. Yes, OK. The emken of July 25th call was, in your experience, prepared? Normally. Yes. That there isn't a exact transcription of what's said on the call.
Correct. Correct. That there's no takers in THE SITUATION ROOM and then they prepare a draft and it's circulated among all relevant parties. Essentially, yes. And you had responsibility for coordinating any edits. Yes, we we look at the the the. You know, shorthand, we'll call it a transcript, but the memorandum of conversation and we ensure that that transcription is as close to accurate as possible given our requirements under the Presidential Records Act.
OK. And Colonel Vernment testified that he thought it was very accurate. Did you as well? I viewed it as complete and accurate.
OK, colonel them and did articulate that he he had a couple edits. He wanted Verismo inserted. I think it was on page three or four in place of the company in one of the sections where President Wolinsky was talking. You were that edit request.
I understand that he said in either this proceeding or the deposition that that he wanted that request. Yes. OK. At the time, did you understand that he had asked for that?
I don't recall that it was my practice. If if it edit was if I believed and edit accurately represented the call, I would accept it if I didn't hear it in the call. If it didn't exist in my notes, I wouldn't have made the edit.
OK. Yeah. He ju he just on page four he wanted to swap out the word company for verismo.
And when that edit from Colonel Venkman was not installed, did he give you any negative feedback that it was crucial that that edit get in the document? Not that I can recall. Did he ever raise any concerns to you about the accuracy of the transcript? Not that I can recall. Did he ever raise any concerns to you generally about the call? When we were discussing. The track changes version of the même con. I believe he raped me. He had some concerns about the call.
I believe we both agreed. We wanted that more full throated embrace of President Wolinsky and his reform agenda and. We didn't get it. OK. You indicated in your deposition that when you took over the portfolio for Dr. Hill July 15th, you were alerted to potential issues in kernel, vitamins, judgment. Yes. Did she relay anything specific to specifically to you? Why she thought that? Not not as such, it was more of a overarching statement from her and her deputy who became my deputy.
That. They had concerns about judgment. OK. Did any other NSC personnel raise concerns with you about Mr. Veniamin? Yes. I'm sorry, Colonel them. And what were some of those concerns that were brought to your attention? They were right.
I'm sorry, we we are not instruct him not and we're instructed not to answer, because I think that it's, uh, it's beyond the scope of of what you're asking for these these concerns. Mr. Kastor pre-dated any involvement in with Ukrainian es6 sector assistance.
Well, during the deposition, I asked you, Mr. Morrison, whether others raised the concern that Mr. Colonel Vernon may have leaked information.
You did ask that? Yes. Yeah. And your answer was. Others that represented that. Yes. OK. And I asked you whether you were concerned, Colonel, women did not keep you in the loop at all times with his official duties. Yes. And in fact, when he went to the National Security Council lawyers following the July 25th call, he did not first come to you, is that correct? Correct. And you were his supervisor in the chain of command, correct?
And in hindsight, did you wish that he had come to you first before going to the lawyers? Yes. And why is that? 1 If you had concerns about something about the content of the call, that's something I would have expect to have been notified of. I also think just as a matter of practice. Since we both went to the lawyers, we didn't necessarily both need to an economy of effort may have prevailed at any point.
Subsequently, did he become frustrated that he felt cut out of some some of the Ukraine portfolio? Yes. And what was the nature of his concerns? Well, he. I think the easiest way to say it is he was concerned with respect to, for example, the Ukraine trip, that he was not he did not go. He asked me why it was my practice to have a number of the conversations with Ambassador Taylor one on one. And there were certain other matters.
OK. And did you ever get the sense that you resolved his concerns or did they linger? I like I explained to him my thinking and. That was that, OK, before my time expires. Ambassador Voelker, I want to turn quickly to the. What Ambassador Taylor describes as the irregular channel. He he was a participant with you and ambassador. Hundreds of text messages, correct? Correct. And so did did he ever raise concerns about. What was what was going on around the time period of the early August time period only, as you saw, reflected in the text messages themselves, where he said, is this now a linkage or are we doing this?
He had a concern about just in general. You know, Rudy Giuliani, you think all of his head. But the issue is, what do you do about it, about the role that he's playing? And as you note, we were in frequent contact near daily contact throughout this entire period.
And so did did he ever engage you in a one on one telephone call to articulate his concerns?
Not that we were on many one on one telephone calls. He did not raise those concerns that way. OK.
And this I mean, you're a experienced diplomat. At one point in time, Senate confirmed Ambassador Sandlin is the ambassador to the European Union. Secretary Perry is a secretary of energy. Certainly not. It doesn't sound like an irregular bunch.
Did he ever articulate to you that he thought the three of you working on Ukraine policy was a problem? No, he did not. And were you surprised during his testimony when he came in for the deposition, when he sort of established these two tracks? That one was a regular channel that he was in charge of and the other was a.
Yes. I don't agree with his characterization of that, because I had been in my role for a couple of years. I had been the lead on U.S. Ukraine negotiations and negotiating with Russia and the inter-agency work and the work with our allies. And we have a secretary of energy who is a cabinet official. And I think having support from the various U.S. officials for our strengthening our engagement with Ukraine, I viewed as a very positive thing. And if the concern is not us so much, then because we're all U.S.
officials. But Mayor Giuliani, I don't view that as a channel at all because he's not a representative of the U.S. government. He's a private citizen. I viewed him as perhaps a useful barometer in understanding what may be helpful communication from the Ukrainian government, but not someone in a position to represent the U.S. government at all.
OK. Thank you. OK. Why don't we take a five or ten minute break? If I could ask the audience to allow the witnesses to leave the room first. We are in recess.