Transcript of Impeachment Hearing Day 5 Transcript – Fiona Hill and David Holmes Testimony

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Ask for your respect. As we proceed with today's hearing, it is the intention of the committee to proceed without disruptions. As chairman, I'll take all necessary, appropriate steps to maintain order and ensure that the committee is run in accordance with House Rules and House Resolution 660 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. Yesterday morning, the committee heard from Ambassador Gordon Sunland, the American ambassador to the European Union, the de facto leader of the three amigos who had regular access to President Donald Trump and press the new Ukrainian president, Vladimir Zelinsky, for two investigations.

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Trump believed would help his re-election campaign. The first investigation was of a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine and not Russia was responsible for interfering in our 2016 election. The second investigation was into the political rival. Trump apparently feared most. Joe Biden. Trump sought to weaken Biden and to refute the fact that his own election had been helped by a Russian hacking and dumping operation and Russian social media campaign directed by Vladimir Putin. Trump's scheme stood in contrast to the longstanding bipartisan foreign policy of the United States by undermining military and diplomatic support for a key ally and setback U.S.

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anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine in conditioning a meeting was wolinsky and then military aid on securing an investigation of his rival. Trump put his personal and political interests above the United States. As Ambassador Solin would later tell Career Foreign Service Officer David Holmes, immediately after speaking to the president, Trump did not give a expletive about Ukraine. He cares about big stuff that benefits him, like the Biden investigation that Giuliani was pushing. David Holmes is here with us today. He is a foreign service officer currently serving as the political counselor at the U.S.

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embassy in Kiev. Also with us is Dr. Phil on a hill whose job as the National Security Council's senior director for European and Russian affairs encompassed the coordination of U.S. policy towards Ukraine. Dr. Hill left the NSC in July after more than two years in that position. Dr. Hill and Mr. Holmes each provide a unique perspective on issues relating to Ukraine. Dr. Hill from Washington, D.C., and Mr. Holmes from on the ground in Kiev. In early twenty nineteen, Dr.

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Hill became concerned by the increasing prominence of Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, who was, as she has testified, asserting quite frequently on television in public appearances that he had been given some authority over matters related to Ukraine. Hill was not alone in her concerns. Her boss, National Security Adviser John Bolton, was also paying attention, as were other NSC and State Department officials, including homes at the U.S. embassy in Kiev. Bolton viewed Giuliani as a hand grenade that is going to blow everybody up and was powerless to prevent the former mayor from engineering, former U.S.

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ambassador to Ukraine Marie Evanovich, whose firing in late April or her recall. Holmes was stunned by the intensity and consistency of media attacks on Jovanovic by name as a U.S. ambassador and the scope of the allegations that were leveled against her. We have on a vicious dismissal as a result of Giuliani's smear campaign was one of several things that unsettled Dr. Hill. Another was the role of Gordon Sunland, who emerged as a key player in Ukraine. In Ukraine policy in May, when he was named as part of the U.S.

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delegation led by Secretary Rick Perry to President Zelinsky Inauguration Channel Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Venkman also attended the inauguration. And as Holmes recalls during a meeting with president, Zelinsky took the opportunity to advise the new Ukraine leader to stay out of U.S. domestic politics. Another concern that arose for Dr Hill around this time was her discovery of a potential NSC back-channel on Ukraine. Hill learned that an NSC staff member who did not work on Ukraine and for her may have been providing Ukraine related information to President Trump that Dr.

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Hill was not made aware of. According to Holmes, following this Wolinsky inauguration, Solin and Perry took a very active and unconventional role in formulating our priorities for the new Zelinsky administration and personally reaching out to Presidents Wolinsky and his senior team, sunland's newfound assertiveness also concerned Dr. Hill, who previously had enjoyed a cordial working relationship with the ambassador. On June 18. Twenty nineteen. Hill had a blow up with Sonnen when he told her that he was in charge of Ukraine policy.

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Dr. Hill testified that SOLMAN got testy with me, and I said, Who has put you in charge of it? He said, The president. On July 10th, Dr. Hill was part of a meeting at the White House with a group of U.S. and Ukrainian officials, including Bolton, Sunland and Energy Secretary Perry, another of the three amigos. The meeting was intended, among other things, to give the Ukrainians an opportunity to convey that they were anxious to set up a meeting, a first meeting between their new president and President Trump.

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Someone interjected to inform the group that, according to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, the White House meeting sought by the Ukrainian president would trump what happen if Ukraine undertook certain investigations. Hearing this, Bolton abruptly ended the meeting. Undeterred, Solin brought the Ukrainian delegation and the NSC director for Ukraine, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Veltman, downstairs to another part of the White House, where they were later joined by Dr. Hill. In the second meeting, someone was more explicit.

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Ukraine needed to conduct investigations if they were to get a meeting at all. Bolton directed Dr. Hill to report this to NSC legal adviser John Aisenberg, telling her, You go and tell Aisenberg that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sunlen and Mulvany are cooking up on this. And you go ahead and tell him what you've heard and what I've said. Dr. Hill did so, as did Lieutenant Colonel Venkman, who separately approached the same lawyers with his concerns.

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On July 18, the day before Dr. Hill left her post at the NSC, Holmes participated in a secure interagency video conference on Ukraine. Towards the end of the meeting, a representative from the Office of Management and Budget announced that the flow of nearly $400 million in security assistance for Ukraine was being held up. The order had come from the president and had been conveyed to OMB by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney without further explanation. Holmes, unaware of the hold prior to the call, was shocked.

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He thought the suspension of aid was extremely significant, undermining what he had understood to be longstanding U.S. national security goals in Ukraine. One week later, on July 25th, President Trump spoke with President Zelinsky by phone. When President Stilinski brought up U.S. military support and noted that Ukraine would like to buy more Javelin anti-tank missiles from the United States, Trump responded by saying, I would like you to do us a favor, though. Trump then requested that Zelinsky investigate the discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

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Even more ominously, Trump asked Wolinsky to look into the Bidens. Neither request had been included in the official talking points for the call prepared by the NSC staff. But both were in Donald Trump's personal interests and the interests of his 2020 re-election campaign. And the Ukrainian president knew about both in advance, in part because of efforts by ambassadors Sunlen and Voelker to make him aware of President Trump's demands. The next day, July 26 in Kiev, Holmes served as a note taker during a meeting between Acting Ambassador Bill Taylor, Voelker and Solin with President Wolinsky and other senior Ukrainian officials.

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So Lansky's said on the previous day's call said that on the previous day's call, President Trump had, quote, three times, raised some very sensitive issues that he would have to follow up on those issues when they met in person. Although he did not realize it at the times at the time, Holmes came to understand that the sensitive issues were the investigations that President Trump demanded on the July 25th call. Following the meeting was Wolinsky Holmes accompanied song into a separate meeting with one of Ukrainian, the Ukrainian president's top advisers, Andre Yarmuk.

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But Holmes was not allowed into the meeting and waited for 30 minutes while Sunland and the Ukrainian met alone without any no takers to record what they said. After the meeting, Solin Holmes and two other State Department staff went to lunch at a nearby restaurant and sat on an outdoor terrorists. At some point during the meal, someone pulled out his cell phone, placed a call to the White House and asked to be connected to the president. When Trump came on the line, Holmes could hear the president's voice clearly.

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Holmes recalled that, quote, The president's voice was very loud and recognizable and Ambassador Sunlen held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume. Songlines said he was calling from Kif. He told the president that President Zelinsky loves your ass. Holmes then heard President Trump ask. So he's gonna do the investigation. M. Sandlin replied, He's going to do it. Adding that President Stilinski will do anything you ask him.

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After the call ended, Holmes took the opportunity to ask someone for his candid impression of the president's views on Ukraine. It was at this point that someone revealed that the president that President Trump doesn't give a expletive about Ukraine. The president only cares about big stuff that benefits the president like the Biden investigation. Mr Giuliani was pushing. A month later, National Security Adviser Bolden traveled to Kiev between meetings with Ukrainian government officials. Holmes heard Bolton expressed Ambassador Bill Taylor his frustration about Mr Giuliani's influence with the president.

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Bolton made clear, however, there was nothing he could do about it. Bolton further stated that the hold on security assistance would not be lifted prior to the upcoming meeting between President Trump and Zelinsky in Warsaw, where would hang on whether Zelinsky was able to favorably impressed President Trump. Trump canceled his trip to Warsaw, but Solin, Voelker and others continued to press for a public announcement of the opening of investigations by Zelinsky on Sept. 8. Taylor told Holmes that, quote, Now they're insisting is Wolinsky commit to the investigation?

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In an interview with CNN. Holmes was surprised the requirement was so specific and concrete since it amounted to nothing less than a, quote, demand. President Stilinski personally commit to a specific investigation of President Trump's political rival on a cable news channel. Unquote. On September 9, this committee, along with the Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees, launched our investigation of this corrupt scheme. President Trump released the hold on aid two days later. As CNN's Fareed Zakaria has revealed, the Ukrainians canceled the CNN interview shortly thereafter.

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Two weeks later, on September 25th, the transcript of the July 25th call was released by the White House on the details of the present scheme started coming into view. In the coming days, Congress will determine what response is appropriate if the president abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections, if he sought to condition, coerce, extort or bribe a vulnerable ally into conducting investigations to aid his re-election campaign and did so by withholding official acts. A White House meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars of needed military aid?

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It will be up. It will be for us to decide whether those acts are compatible with the office of the presidency. I now recognize Ranking Member Nunez for any remarks he would like to make. Thank you. Throughout these bizarre hearings, the Democrats have struggled to make the case that President Trump committed some impeachable offense on his phone call with Ukrainian President Zelinski. The offense itself changes depending on the day, ranging from quid pro quo to extortion to bribery to obstruction of justice.

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Then back to quid pro quo. Pro quo. It's clear why the Democrats have been forced onto this carousel of accusations. President Trump had good reason to be wary of Ukrainian election meddling against his campaign and of widespread corruption in that country. President Zelinsky, who didn't even know aid to Ukraine had been paused at the time of the call, has repeatedly said there was nothing wrong with the conversation. The aid was resumed without the Ukrainians taking the actions they were supposedly being coerced into doing.

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Aid to Ukraine under President Trump has been much more robust than it was under President Obama. Thanks to the provision of Javelin anti-tank weapons. As numerous witnesses have testified, temporary holds on foreign aid occur fairly frequently for different many different reasons. So how do we have an impeachable offense here when there is no actual misdeed and no one even claiming to be a victim? The Democrats have tried to solve this dilemma with a simple slogan. He got cut. President Trump, we are to believe, was just about to do something wrong and getting cut was the only reason he backed down from whatever nefarious thought crime.

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The Democrats are accusing him of almost. Committee. I once again urge Americans to continue to consider the credibility of the Democrats on this committee who are now hurling these charges. For the last three years, it's not President Trump who got caught. It's the Democrats who got caught. They got cut. Falsely claiming they had more than circumstantial evidence that Trump colluded with Russians to hack the 2016 election. They got caught orchestrating this entire farce with the whistleblower and lying about their secret meetings with him.

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They got caught. Defending the false allegations of the still dossier which was paid for by them. They got caught. Breaking their promise that impeachment would only go forward with bipartisan support because of how damaging it is to the American people. They got caught running a sham impeachment process featuring secret depositions, hidden transcripts and an unending flood of Democrat leaks to the media. They got caught trying to obtain nude photos of President Trump from Russian pranksters pretending to be Ukrainians.

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And they got caught covering up for Alexander Chalupa, a Democratic National Committee operative who colluded with Ukrainian officials to smear the Trump campaign by improperly redacting her name from deposition transcripts, transcripts and refusing to let Americans hear her testimony as a witness. And these proceedings. That is the Democrats pitiful legacy in recent years. They got caught. Meanwhile, their supposed star witness testified that he was guessing that President Trump was trying time Ukrainian aid to investigations, despite no one telling him that was true.

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And the president himself explicitly telling him the opposite, that he wanted nothing from Ukraine. Ladies and gentlemen, unless the Democrats once again scrambled their kangaroo court rules, today's hearing marks the merciful end of the spectacle and the impeachment committee formerly known as the Intelligence Committee. Whether the Democrats reap the political benefit they want from this impeachment remains to be seen. But the damage they have done to this country will be long lasting. With this wrenching attempt to overthrow the president, they have pitted Americans against one another and poisoned the mind of fanatics who actually believe the entire galaxy of bizarre accusations they have leveled against the president since the day the American people elected him.

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I sincerely hope the Democrats in this affair as quickly as possible so our nation can begin to heal the many wounds it has inflicted on us. The people's faith in government and their belief that their vote counts for something has been shaken. From the Russia hoax to the shoddy Ukrainian sequel. The Democrats got caught. Let's hope they finally learn a lesson. Give their conspiracy theories, arrest and focus on governing for a change. In addition, Mr. Chairman. Pursuant to House Rule Eleven, Clause 2 J 1, the Republican members transmit our request to convene a minority day of hearings.

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To date, you have blocked key witnesses that we have requested from testifying in this partisan impeachment inquiry. This role was not displaced by H. reste 660 and therefore under House Rule Eleven Clause 1 8 1A, it applies to the Democrats impeachment inquiry. We look forward to the chair promptly scheduling an agreed upon time for the minority day of hearings so that we can hear from key witnesses that you have continually blocked from testifying. I'd also like to take a quick moment on an assertion Miss Hill made in the statement that she submitted to this committee.

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In which she claimed that some committee members deny that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. As I noted in my opening statement on Wednesday. But in March 2018, Intelligence Committee Republicans published the results of a year long investigation into Russian meddling. A 240 page report. Analyze 2016 Russian medaling campaign. The U.S. government reaction to it. Russian campaigns in other countries and provided specific recommendations to improve American election security. When asked my staff to hand these reports to our two witnesses today, just so I can have a recollection of their memory.

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As America may or may not know. Democrats refused to sign on to the Republican report. Instead, they decided to adopt minority views filled with collusion, conspiracy theories. Needless to say, it is entirely possible for two separate nations to engage in election medaling at the same time. And Republicans believe we should take medaling seriously by all foreign countries. Regardless of which campaign is the target. I'd like to submit for the record a copy of our report titled Report on Russian Active Measures.

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I yield back. Today, we are joined by Dr. Fiona Hill and David Holmes. Dr. Phil on the Hill is a former deputy assistant to the president and senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council. Before returning to government, she was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where she directs the Center on the United States and Europe. She previously worked at the National Intelligence Council, the Eurasia Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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David Holmes is the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, where he serves as the senior policy and political adviser to Ambassador Taylor, who testified earlier in these hearings. He is a career foreign service officer. He has previously served in Moscow, New Delhi, Kabul, Bogota and Pristina. He has also served on the staff of the National Security Council as his special assistant. As special assistant to the United States, secretary of state to find the points before witnesses are sworn first witness depositions as part of this inquiry were unclassified in nature and all open hearings will also be held at the unclassified level.

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Any information that may 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 any of your colleagues. If you would, please rise. Raise your right hand. I will begin by swearing you in. 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?

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Let the record show that the witnesses answered in the affirmative. Thank you. And you may be seated. The microphones are sensitive, so you'll need to speak directly into them. Without objection, your written statements will be made part of the record. With that, Mr. Holmes, you are now recognized for your opening statement. And when you conclude Dr. Hill, you'll be immediately recognized thereafter for your opening statement. Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Munoz and members of the committee.

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My name is David Holmes and I'm a career foreign service officer with the Department of State. Since August twenty seventeen, I've been a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine. While it is an honor to appear before you today, I want to make clear that I did not seek this opportunity to testify today. Since you determined that I may have something of value to these proceedings and issued a subpoena, it is my obligation to appear and to tell you what I know.

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Indeed, as Secretary Pompeo has stated, I hope everyone who testifies will do so truthfully and accurately. What when they do the oversight role will have been performed and I think America will come to see what took place here. That is my only goal, to testify truthfully and accurately to enable you to perform that role. And to that end, I put together the statement to lay out as best I can my recollection of events that may be relevant to this matter.

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By way of background, I have spent my entire professional career as a foreign service officer. Like many of the dedicated public servants who have testified in these proceedings, my entire career has been in the service of my country. I'm a graduate of product of Mona College in Claremont, California, and received degrees in international affairs from University of St. Andrews in Scotland and from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. I joined the Foreign Service in 2002 during a political merit based process under the George W.

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Bush administration, and I have proudly served administrations of both parties and worked for their appointees, both political and career. Prior to my current post in Kiev, Ukraine, I served in the political and economic sections at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. In Washington, I served on the National Security Council staff as director for Afghanistan and as a special assistant to the Undersecretary of State. My prior overseas assignments include New Delhi, India. Kabul, Afghanistan.

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Bogota, Colombia. And Pristina, Kosovo. As the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy Embassy in Kiev, I lead the political section covering Ukraine's internal politics, foreign relations and security policies. And I serve as the senior policy and political ambassador to the about advisor to the ambassador. The job of an embassy political counsellor is to gather information about the host countries political landscape, to report back to Washington to represent U.S. policies, to foreign contacts, and to advise the ambassador on policy development and implementation.

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In this role, I'm a senior member of the embassy's country team and continually involved in addressing issues as they arise. I'm also often called upon to take notes in meetings involving ambassador or visiting senior U.S. officials with Ukrainian counterparts. For this reason, I've been present in many of the meetings with President Zelinsky and his administration, some of which may be germane to this inquiry. While I'm a political counselor at the embassy, it is important to note that I am not a political appointee or engage in U.S.

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politics in any way. It is not my job to cover or advise on U.S. politics. On the contrary, I am an apolitical foreign policy professional in my job. My job is to focus on the politics of the country in which I serve so that we can better understand the local landscape and better advance U.S. national interests there. In fact, during the period that will cover today, my colleagues and I followed direct guidance for Ambassador Jovanovic and Ambassador Taylor to focus on doing our jobs as foreign policy professionals and to stay clear of Washington politics.

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I arrived in keif to take up my assignment as political counselor in August 2017, a year after in Basra. You want to receive her appointment from August twenty seventeen until her removal from post in May twenty nineteen. I was in Basra, Jovanovic, which is chief policy advisor and developed a deep respect for her dedication, determination, decency and professionalism. During this time, we worked together closely, became multiple times per day, and I accompanied Ambassador Yovani to many of her meetings with senior Ukrainian counterparts.

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Our work in Ukraine focused on three policy priorities peace and security, economic growth and reform and anti-corruption and rule of law. These policies match the three consistent priorities of the Ukrainian people since 2014 as measured in public opinion polling, namely an end to the conflict with Russia that restores national unity and territorial integrity. Responsible economic policies that deliver European standards of growth and opportunity. An effective and impartial rule of law. Institutions that deliver justice in cases of high level official corruption.

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Our efforts on this third policy priority merits special mention, because it was during Ambassador Yovani just tenure that we achieved the hard fought passage of a law establishing an independent court to try corruption cases. These efforts strained Ambassador Voinovich's relationship with former President Poroshenko and some of his allies, including Prosecutor General Uri Lutsenko. Who resisted fully empowering, truly antique, truly independent anti-corruption institutions that would help ensure that no Ukrainian's, however powerful, were above the law. Despite this resistance, the ambassador in the embassy kept pushing anti-corruption and other priorities of our policy towards Ukraine.

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Beginning in March twenty nineteen. The situation at the embassy and in Ukraine changed dramatically. Specifically, the three priorities of security, economy and justice and our support for Ukrainian democratic resistance to Russian aggression became overshadowed by a political agenda promoted by former New York Mayor New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and a corddry of officials operating with a direct channel to the White House. That change began with the emergence of press reports critical of Ambassador Jovanovic Imagination's by then Prosecutor General Lute, Sango and others to discredit her.

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In mid-March, twenty nineteen, an embassy colleague learned from a Ukrainian contact that Mr. Lutsenko had complained that Ambassador Jovanovic had, quote, destroyed him with her refusal to support him until he followed through with his reform commitments and ceased using his his position for personal gain. In retaliation, Mr. Lute's Sanco made a series of unsupported allegations against Ambassador Jovanovic, mostly suggesting that a battery of Bondevik improperly used the embassy to advance the political interests of the Democratic Party. Among Mr.

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Deludes thinkers, allegations were that the embassy had ordered the investigation of a former Ukrainian official solely because that former official was allegedly the main Ukrainian contact of the Republican Party and a President Trump personally, and that the embassy had allegedly pressured Luke Sankoh's predecessor to close the case against a different former Ukrainian official solely because of an alleged connection between that official's company, Berrima, and former Vice President Biden's son. Mr. Lutsenko also claimed that he had never received $4.4 million in U.S.

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funds intended for his office and that there was a tape of a Ukrainian official saying that he was trying to help her. Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election. Finally, Mr. Lutsenko publicly publicly claimed that Ambassador Bondevik had given him a do not prosecute list containing the names of her supposed allies, an allegation the State Department called an outright fabrication and that Mr. Lutsenko Sanco later attracted. Mr. Lutsenko said that as a result of these allegations, Ambassador Jovanovic would face serious problems in the United States.

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Public opinion polls indicated Ukrainians generally did not believe Mr. Luis Sankoh's allegations, and in March, on March 22nd, President Poroshenko issued a statement in support of Ambassador of Image. Following Mr Lukashenko's allegations, Mr Giuliani and others made a number of public statements critical of mastery of onwhich questioning her integrity and calling for her removal from office. Mr Giuliani was also making frequent public statements, pushing for Ukraine to investigate interference in the 2016 election and issues related to Berrima and the Bidens.

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For example, on May 1st twenty nineteen, The New York Times reported that Mr Giuliani had, quote, discussed the Barrès investigation and its intersection with the Bidens, with the ousted Ukrainian prosecutor general and the current prosecutor. On May 9th, The New York Times reported that Mr Giuliani said he planned to travel to Ukraine to pursue investigations into the 2016 election interference and into the involvement of former Vice President Biden's son in a Ukrainian gas company. Over the next few months, Mr Giuliani also issued a series of tweets asking, quote, why Biden shouldn't be investigated.

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Attacking, quote, the new president of Ukraine, Zelinsky, for being silent on the 2016 election and Biden investigations and complaining about The New York Times attacking him for, quote, exposing the Biden family history of making millions from Ukrainian criminals. Around this time, Ukrainian presidential election was approaching and political newcomer and entertainer Vladimir Zelinsky, who had played a president on television, was surging in the polls ahead of Mr. Luthe Sankoh's political ally, President Poroshenko. On April 20th, I was president, I was present for Ambassador Jovanovic, his third and final meeting with then candidate Zelinsky ahead of his landslide victory in the runoff election the next day.

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As in her two prior meetings that I also attended, they had an entirely cordial, pleasant conversation and signalled their mutual desire to work together. However, the negative narratives about Ambassador Voinovich had gained currency in certain segments of the United States press on April twenty sixth and Basri of Voinovich departed for Washington, D.C., where she learned that she would be recalled early. The barrage of allegations directed at Ambassador Yovani, which a career ambassador is unlike anything I have seen in my professional career.

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Following President elect Zelinsky victory, our attention in the embassy focused on getting to know the incoming Zelinsky administration on preparations for the inauguration scheduled for May 20th, the same day that Ambassador Jovanovic departed post permanently. It was it quickly became clear that the White House was not prepared to show the level of support for the Zelinsky administration that we had originally anticipated. In early May, Mr. Giuliani publicly alleged that Mr. Zelinsky was, quote, surrounded by enemies of the U.S.

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president and canceled a visit to Ukraine. Shortly thereafter, we learned that Vice President Pence no longer planned to lead the presidential delegation to the inauguration. The White House then whittled down an initial proposed list for the official presidential delegation to the inauguration from over a dozen individuals to just five. Secretary Perry, as its head special representative for Ukraine negotiations, Kurt Volker, representing the State Department, National Security Council director Alex Vandeman, representing the White House temporary acting Chavez aide affair's Joseph Pennington, representing the embassy and ambassador to the European Union Gordon Silane.

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While Ambassador sunland's mandate as ambassador as the accredited ambassador to the European Union did not cover individual member states, let alone non-member countries like Ukraine. He made clear that he had direct and frequent access to President Trump and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and portrayed himself as the conduit to the president and Mr. Oblate Mulvaney for this group. Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sandlin and Ambassador Volcker later styled themselves the Three Amigos and made clear they would take the lead on coordinating our policy and engagement with Zelinsky administration.

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Around the same time, I became aware that Mr. Giuliani, a private lawyer, was taking a direct role in Ukrainian diplomacy. On April 25th, Yvonne Backon of who was Mr. Zelinsky childhood friend and campaign chair, was ultimately appointed as the head of the security services of Ukraine. Indicated to me privately that he had been contacted by, quote, someone named Giuliani who said he was an adviser to the vice president. I reported Mr. Mercado's message to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent.

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Over the following months, it became apparent that Mr Giuliani was having a direct influence on the foreign policy agenda that the three amigos were executing on the ground in Ukraine. In fact, at one point during a preliminary meeting of the inaugural delegation, someone wondered aloud why Mr Giuliani was so active in the media with respect to Ukraine. My recollection is that Ambassador Silane stated, quote, Damn it, Rudy, every time Rudy gets involved, he goes and f.'s everything up.

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The inauguration took place on May 20th, and I took notes in the delegations meeting with President Zelinski during the meeting, Secretary Perry past President Zelinsky, a list that Perry described as, quote, people he trusts. Secretary Perry told President Zelinsky that you could seek advice from the people on this list on issues of energy sector reform, which was the topic of subsequent meetings between Secretary Perry and key Ukrainian energy sector contacts. Embassy personnel were excluded from some of these later meetings by Secretary Perry's staff.

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On May 23rd, Ambassador Voelker, Basser sunland's, Secretary Perry and Senator Ron Johnson, who had also attended the inauguration no, not on the official delegation, returned to United States and briefed President Trump on May twenty ninth. President Trump signed a congratulatory congratulatory letter to President Zelinsky, which included an invitation to visit the White House at an unspecified date. It is important to understand that a White House visit was critical to President Zelinski. President Zelinsky needed to show U.S.

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support at the highest levels in order to demonstrate to Russian President Putin that he had U.S. backing as well as to advance his ambitious anti-corruption reform agenda at home. President Alinsky's team immediately began pressing to set a date for that visit. President Zelinsky and senior members of his team made clear that they wanted President Zelinsky his first overseas trip to be to Washington to send a strong signal of American support and requested a call with President Trump as soon as possible. We at the embassy also believe that a meeting was critical to the success of Presense Alinsky's administration and its reform agenda.

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And we worked hard to get it arange. When President Zilinskas team did not receive a confirmed date for a White House visit, they made alternative plans for President Zelinsky, his first overseas trip to be to Brussels instead, in part to attended American Independence Day event. Basser Sandlin hosted on June 4th. Ambassador Silent hosted a dinner in President Alinsky's honor following the reception, which included President Zelinsky, Jared Kushner, Secretary Pompei, whose counsellor Oelrich Brekke Bewell, senior European Union officials and comedian Jay Leno, among others.

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Ambassador Bill Taylor arrived in kieff as charged affairs on June 17th. For the next month, a focus of our activities, along with those of the three amigos, was to coordinate a White House visit. To that end, we were working with Ukrainians to deliver things that we thought President Trump might care about, such as commercial deals would benefit the United States, which might convince President Trump to agree to a meeting with President Zelinsky. Ukrainian policy community was unanimous in its recommendation and recommend recognizing the importance of securing the meeting and President Trump's support.

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Ambassador Taylor reported that Secretary Pompeo had told him prior to his arrival in Kiev, quote, We need to work on turning the president around on Ukraine. Ambassador Voelker told us the first that the next five years could hang on what could be accomplished in the next three months. I took that to mean that if we did not earn President Trump's support in the next three months, we could lose the opportunity to make progress during President Zilinskas five year term. Within a week or two, it became apparent that the energy sector reforms, the commercial deals and the anti-corruption efforts on which we were making progress were not making a dent in terms of persuading the White House to schedule a meeting between the presidents on June twenty seventh.

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M. sunland's told Ambassador Taylor in a phone conversation. The gist of which Ambassador Taylor shared with me at the time that President Zelinsky needed to make clear to President Trump that President Zelinsky was not standing the way of, quote, investigations. I understood that, that this meant the Biden Barre's my investigations that Mr. Giuliani and his associates have been speaking about in the media since March. While Ambassador Taylor did not brief me on every detail of his communications with the three amigos, he did tell me that on a June 28 call with President Zelinski, Ambassador Taylor and the Three Amigos.

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It was made clear that some action on Barrès HMA Biden investigation was a precondition for an Oval Office visit. Also, on June 28, while President Trump was still not moving forward on a meeting with President Zelinsky, we met with he met with Russian President Putin at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, sending a further signal of lack of support to Ukraine. We became concerned that even if a meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelinsky could occur, it would not go well.

00:41:22

And I discussed with embassy colleagues whether we should stop seeking a meeting altogether. While the White House visit was critical to the Zelinsky administration, a visit that failed to send a clear and strong signal of support likely would be worse for President Zelinsky than no visit at all. Congress has appropriated 1.5 billion dollars in security assistance for Ukraine since 2014. This assistance has provided crucial material and moral support to Ukraine and its defensive war with Russia and has helped Ukraine build its armed forces virtually from scratch into arguably the most capable and battle-hardened land force in Europe.

00:42:06

I've had the honor of visiting the main training facility in western Ukraine with members of Congress and members of this very committee. Mr. Phonic, where we witnessed firsthand U.S. National Guard troops along with allies conducting training for Ukrainian soldiers since 2014, National Guard units from California, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee and Wisconsin have trained shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainian counterparts. Given the history of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine and the bipartisan record, bipartisan recognition of its importance, I was shocked when on July 18th and Office of Management and Budget staff members surprisingly announced the hold on Ukraine security assistance.

00:42:50

The announcement came toward the end of a nearly two hour National Security Council secure video conference call, which I participated in from the embassy conference room. The official said that the order had come from the president and had been conveyed to OMB by Mr. Mulvany with no further explanation. This began a week or so of efforts by various agencies to identify the rationale for the freeze, to conduct a review of the assistance and to reaffirm the unanimous view of Ukraine policy community of its importance.

00:43:22

NSC counterparts confirmed to us that there had been no change in our Ukraine policy, but could not determine the course of the hold or how to lift it. On July 25th, President Trump made a congratulatory phone phone call to President Zelinski after his party won a commanding majority in Ukraine's parliamentary election. Contrary to standard procedure, the embassy received no readout of that call, and I was unaware of what was discussed until the transcript was released on September 25th. Upon reading the transcript, I was deeply disappointed to see that the president raised none of what I understood to be our inner agency, agreed upon foreign policy priorities in Ukraine and instead raised the bite in Berrima investigation and referred to the theory about CrowdStrike and its supposed connection to Ukraine and the 2016 election.

00:44:14

The next day, July 26, 2019, I attended meetings, the Presidential Administration Building and kieff with Ambassador Kate Taylor, Ambassador Voelker, Ambassador Sunlen. And I took notes during those meetings. Our first meeting was with President Zelinsky as chief of staff. It was brief as he'd already been summoned by President Zelinsky to prepare for a subsequent broader meeting. But he did say the President Trump had expressed interest during the previous days phone call and President Zelinsky personnel decisions related to the prosecutor general's office.

00:44:45

The delegation then met with President Wolanski and several other senior officials during the meeting. President Zelinsky stated that during the July 25th call, President Trump had quote, three times, raised some very sensitive issues and that he would have to follow up his wolinsky, would have to follow up on those issues when he and President Trump met in person. Not having received a readout of the July 25th call. I did not know at the time what those sensitive issues were.

00:45:13

After the meeting with President Zelinski, Ambassador Volker and Basser Taylor quickly left the presidential administration building for a trip to the front lines. Ambassador Solin, who was to fly out that afternoon, stayed behind to have a meeting with Andrew Earmark, a top aide to President Zelinski. As I was leaving the meeting with President Zelinski, I was told to join the meeting with Ambassador Sann led Mr. GARRIOCH to take notes. I had not expected to join that meeting and was a flight of stairs behind a master sanguine as he headed to meet with Mr.

00:45:41

Jarmon. When I reached Mr. Miramax office, Ambassador Silane had already gone into the meeting. I explain to Mr. Yarmuk assistant that I was supposed to join the meeting as the embassy's representative and strongly urge her to let me in. But she told me that Ambassador Sann Linda Mr. Yarmuk had insisted that the meeting be one on one with no note taker. I then waited in the ante room until a meeting ended, along with a member of Ambassador silence. staff and a member of the U.S.

00:46:08

Embassy Cheif staff. When the meeting ended, the two staffers and I accompanied Ambassador Solin out of the presidential administration building, Master Solin, that said that he want to go to lunch. And I told him, Basser silane, that I'd be happy to join him and the two staffers for lunch if he wanted to brief me out on his meeting with Mr. Yarmouk or discuss other issues. The Basra Solin said that I should join. The four of us went to a nearby restaurant and sat on an outdoor terrorists.

00:46:34

I sat directly across from Abbas Rosenblatt and the two staffers sat off to our sides. At first, the lunch was largely social. Ambassador Solin selected a bottle of wine that he shared among the four of us, and we discussed topics such as marketing strategies for his hotel business. During a lunch, Ambassador Silane said that he was going to call President Trump to give an update. Master silane placed a call on his mobile phone. I heard him announce himself several times along the lines of Gorden Solin holding for the president.

00:47:04

It appeared that he was being transferred through several layers of switchboards and assistance, and I then noticed Ambassador Stockland's demeanor changed and understood that he had been connected to President Trump. Well, Ambassador silence. phone was not on speaker phone. I could hear the president's voice through the earpiece of the phone. The President's voice was loud and recognizable and a Basra song then held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume.

00:47:32

I heard Ambassador Solin greet the president and explain he was calling from Kif. I heard President Trump then clarify that Ambassador Song was in Ukraine. Basra, Solin replied, Yes, he was in Ukraine and went on to state that President Zelinsky, quote, loves your ass. I then heard President Trump ask. So he's going to do the investigation. Bhasker Song and replied that he's gonna do it, adding that President Zelinsky will do anything you ask him to do.

00:48:00

Even though I did not take notes of these statements, I have a clear recollection that these statements were made. I believe that my colleagues who were sitting at the table also knew that Ambassador Silane was speaking with the president. The conversation then shifted to Ambassador Songlines efforts on behalf of the president to assist a rapper who was jailed in Sweden. I can only hear Ambassador Song one side of the conversation. Ambassador Solin told the president that the rapper was, quote, kind of effort there and should have pled guilty.

00:48:31

He recommended that the president, quote, wait until after the sentencing or only make it worse. And he added that the president should let him get sentenced to play the racism card, give him a ticker tape when he comes home. Basra silent further told the president that Sweden, quote, should have released him on your word, but you can tell the Cardassians you tried. After the call ended, Ambassador Sonnen remarked that the president was in a bad mood as Ambassador Song and stated it was often the case early in the morning.

00:49:02

I then took the opportunity to ask Ambassador Solin for his candid impression of the president's views on Ukraine in particular. I asked Ambassador Solin if it was true that the President did not give a expletive about Ukraine. Basser song and agreed that the president did not give an expletive about Ukraine. I asked why not? Ambassador son'll stated to the President only cares about big stuff. I noted there was big stuff going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia.

00:49:31

Al-Basrah silane replied that he meant big stuff that benefits the president like the Biden investigation. The Mr. Giuliani was pushing. The conversation then moved on to other topics. Upon returning to the embassy, I immediately briefed my direct supervisor, the deputy chief of Mission, about Ambassador Songlines call with President Trump and my subsequent conversation with Ambassador Sanglah. I told others at the embassy about the call as well. I also e-mailed an embassy official in Sweden regarding the issue with U.S.

00:50:00

rapper that was discussed on the call. July 26 was my last day in the office ahead of a long planned vacation that ended on August 6th after returning to the embassy, I told him, Master Taylor, about the July 26 call. I also repeated repeatedly referred to the call and the conversation with Ambassador Solin in meetings and conversations where the issue of the president's interest in Ukraine was potentially relevant at that time. Ambassador, silane statement of the president, statement of the president's lack of interest in Ukraine was a particular focus.

00:50:34

We understood that in order to secure a meeting between President Trump and President Zelinsky, we would have to work hard to find a way to explain Ukraine's importance to President Trump in terms that he found compelling. Over the ensuing weeks, we continue to try to identify ways to frame the importance of Ukraine in ways that would appeal to the president to determine how to lift the hold on security assistance and to move forward on the scheduling of a White House visit by President Wolinsky.

00:51:01

Ukrainian Ukrainian Independence Day August 24th presented another good opportunity to show support for Ukraine. Secretary Pompei, I considered attending as national secured adviser. Bolton had attended in 2018. And Defense Secretary Mattis had attended in twenty seventeen. But in the end, nobody senior to Ambassador Voelker attended. Shortly thereafter, on August twenty seventh, Ambassador Volk. Ambassador Bolton visited Ukraine and brought welcome news that President Trump had agreed to meet President Zelinsky on September 1st in Warsaw. Ambassador Bolton further indicated that the hold on security assistance would not be lifted prior to the Warsaw meeting, where it would hang on whether President Zelinsky was able to, quote, favorably impressed President Trump.

00:51:45

I took notes in a Basra Bolton's meetings that day with Presense Wolinsky and as chief of staff Basser Bolton told Zelinsky as chief of staff that the meeting between the presidents in Warsaw would be, quote, crucial to cementing their relationship. However, President Trump ultimately pulled out of the Warsaw trip, so the hold remained in place with no clear means to get it lifted. Between the meetings on on August twenty seventh, I heard Ambassador Bolton expressed to Ambassador Taylor, a National Security Council senior director, Tim Morrison, his frustration about Mr Giuliani's influence with the president, making clear there was nothing you could do about it.

00:52:22

You recommended that Mr. Sankoh's replacement as prosecutor, Prosecutor-General, open a channel with his counterpart, attorney general bar in place of the informal channel between Mr. Yaara market, Mr. Giuliani, Ambassador Bolton also expressed frustration about Ambassador sunland's expansive interpretation of his mandate. After President Trump canceled his visit to Warsaw, we continued to try to appeal to the president and foreign policy and national security terms. To that end, Ambassador Taylor told me that Ambassador Bolton recommended that he, Ambassador Taylor, send a first person cable to Secretary Pompeo, articulating the importance of the security assistance and Pastor Taylor's direction.

00:53:02

I drafted and transmitted the cable on on Ambassador Taylor's behalf on August twenty ninth, which further attempted to explain the importance of Ukraine and the security assistance to U.S. national security. By this point, however, my clear impression was that the security assistance hold was likely intended by the president either as an expression of dissatisfaction with Ukrainians who had not yet agreed the breeze mobile investigation or as an effort to increase the pressure on them to do so. On September 5th, I took notes as Senator Johnson and Senator Chris Murphy's meetings with President Zelinsky and TEEF, where President Zelinsky asked about the security assistance.

00:53:41

Although both senators stressed strong bipartisan congressional support for Ukraine, Senator Johnson cautioned Presidents Wolinski that President Trump has a negative view of Ukraine and that Presidents Wolinsky would have a difficult time overcoming it. Senator Johnson further explained that he had been, quote, shocked by President Trump's negative reaction during an Oval Office meeting on May 23rd, when he and the three amigos proposed that President Trump meet President Zelinsky in show support for Ukraine. On September 8th, Ambassador Taylor told me, quote, Now they're insisting Zelinsky commit to the investigation.

00:54:16

In an interview with CNN, which I took to refer to this three amigos, I was shocked. The requirement was so specific and concrete. While we advised our Ukrainian counterparts to voice a commitment to following the rule of law and generally investigating credible corruption allegations. This was a demand that President Zelinsky personally commit on a cable news channel to a specific investigation of President Trump's political rival. On September 11th, the hold was finally lifted after significant press coverage and bipartisan congressional expressions of concern about the withholding of security assistance.

00:54:56

Although we knew the hold was lifted, we were still concerned that President Zelinsky had committed in exchange for the lifting to give the requested CNN interview. We had several indications that the interview would occur first. The U.S. conference in Keeffe was held from September 12 to 14. And CNN's Fareed Zakaria was one of the moderators seconds on September 13th. An embassy colleague received a phone call from another colleague who worked for Ambassador Solin. My colleague texted me regarding that call, that quote Sunlen and his Wolinsky interview.

00:55:28

songs. said the Zelinsky interview is supposed to be today or Monday, and they plan to announce that a certain investigation that was on hold with will progress. silenzi did not know if this was decided or if someone was Advocare advocating for it. Apparently he's been discussing this with Yarmuk. Finally, also on September 13th, Ambassador Taylor and I ran into Mr. Yarmouk on our way out of a meeting with President Zelinsky in his private office. Ambassador Taylor again stressed the importance of staying out of U.S.

00:55:56

politics and said he hoped no interview was planned. Mr. Yarmuk did not answer, but shrugged in resignation, as if just to indicate that he had no choice. In short, everybody thought there was going to be an interview and that the Ukrainians believe they had to do it. The interview ultimately did not occur. On September 21st, Ambassador Taylor and I collaborated on input he sent to Mr Morrison to brief President Trump ahead of a September 25th meeting that had been scheduled with President Zelinsky in New York on the margins of the U.N.

00:56:27

General Assembly. The transcript of the July 25th call was released the same day. As of today, I still have still not seen a readout of the September 25th meeting. As the impeachment inquiry has progressed, I've followed press reports and reviewed the statements of Ambassadors Taylor and in your own image. Based on my experiences in Ukraine, my recollection is generally consistent with their testimony. And I believe that the relevant facts were therefore being laid out for the American people.

00:56:59

However, in the last couple of weeks I read press reports expressing for the first time that certain senior officials may have been acting without the president's knowledge or freelancing in their dealings with Ukraine. At the same time, I also read reports noting the lack of firsthand evidence in the investigation and suggesting that the only evidence being elicited the hearings was hearsay. I came to realize that I had firsthand knowledge regarding certain events on July 26 that had not otherwise been reported and that those events potentially bore on the question of whether the president did in fact have knowledge that those senior officials were using the levers of diplomatic power to influence the new Ukrainian president to announce the opening of a criminal investigation against President Trump's political opponent.

00:57:45

It is at that point that I made the observation to Ambassador Taylor that the incident I had witnessed on July 26 had acquired greater significance, which is what he reported in his testimony last week and is what led to the subpoena for me to appear here today. In conclusion, I'd like to take a moment to turn back to Ukraine. Today, this very day marks exactly six years. Since throngs of pro-Western Ukrainians spontaneously gathered on Kiev's Independence Square to launch what became known as the revolution of dignity.

00:58:23

While the protests began in opposition to a turn towards Russia and away from the West, they expanded over three months to reject the entire corrupt, repressive system that had been sustained by Russian influence in the country. Those events were followed by Russia's occupation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, an invasion of Ukraine's eastern Donbass region, and an ensuing war that to date has cost almost fourteen thousand lives. Despite the Russian aggression over the past five years, Ukrainians have rebuilt a shattered economy, adhere to a peace process and moved economically and socially closer to the west toward our way of life.

00:59:08

Earlier this year, large majorities of Ukrainians again chose a fresh start by voting for a political newcomer as president, replacing 80 percent of their parliament and endorsing a platform consistent with our democratic values. Our reform priorities and our strategic interests. This year's revolution at the ballot box underscores that despite its imperfections, Ukraine is a genuine and vibrant democracy and an example to other post-Soviet countries and beyond. From Moscow to Hong Kong. How we respond to this historic opportunity will set the trajectory of our relationship with Ukraine and we'll define our willingness to defend our bedrock international principles and our leadership role in the world.

00:59:57

Ukrainians want to hear a clear and unambiguous reaffirmation that our longstanding bipartisan policy of strong support for Ukraine remains unchanged and that we fully back it at the highest levels. Now is not the time to retreat from our relationship with Ukraine, but rather to double down on it. As we sit here, as we sit here today, Ukrainians are fighting a hot war on Ukrainian territory against Russian aggression. This week alone, since I have been here in Washington, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two injured by Russian led forces in eastern Ukraine despite a declared cease fire.

01:00:38

I learned overnight that seven more were injured yesterday. As Vice President Pence said after his meeting with President Zelinsky in Warsaw, the U.S., Ukraine, Ukraine relationship has never been stronger. Ukrainians and their new government earnestly want to believe that. Ukrainians cherish their bipartisan American support to sustain their Euro-Atlantic aspirations, and they recoil at the thought of playing a role in U.S. domestic politics or elections. At a time of shifting allegiances and rising competitors in the world, we have no better friends than Ukraine.

01:01:16

A scrappy, unbowed, determined and above all, dignified people who are standing up against Russian authoritarianism and aggression, they deserve better. We're now at an inflection point in Ukraine, and it is critical to our national security that we stand in strong support of our Ukrainian partners. Ukrainians and freedom loving people everywhere are watching an example we set here of democracy and the rule of law. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Holmes. Dr. Hill. Thank you, Mr.

01:01:52

Chairman. Just the mike is the microphone on? I believe it is now is up. Yes. Perfect. Thank you again, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, ranking member, newness and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify before you today. I have a short opening statement. I appreciate the importance of Congress's impeachment inquiry and I am appearing today as a fact witness, as I did during my deposition on October 14th. In order to answer your questions about what I saw, what I did, what I knew and what I know with regard to the subjects of your inquiry.

01:02:33

I believe that those who have information that the Congress deems relevant have a legal and a moral obligation to provide it. I take great pride in the fact that I'm a non partisan foreign policy expert who was served under three Republican and Democratic presidents. I have no interest in advancing the outcome of your inquiry in any particular direction except toward the truth. I will not provide a long narrative statement because I believe that the interest of Congress and the American people is best served by allowing you to ask me your questions.

01:03:06

And I'm happy to expand upon my October 14th deposition testimony in response to your questions today. But before I do so, I'd like to communicate two things. First, I'd like to show a little bit about who I am. I'm an American by choice, having become a citizen in 2002. I was born in northeast of England, in the same region that George Washington's ancestors came from. Both my region and my family have deep ties to the United States.

01:03:35

My paternal grandfather fought through World War 1 in the Royal Field Artillery, surviving, being shot, shelled and gassed before American troops intervened to end the war in 1918. During the Second World War, other members of my family fought to defend the free world from fascism, alongside American soldiers, sailors and airmen. The men in my father's family were coal miners whose family always struggled with poverty. When my father Alfred was 14, he joined his father, brothers, brother, uncles and cousins in the coal mines to help put food on the table.

01:04:11

When the lost of the local mines closed in the 1960s, my father wanted to emigrate to the United States to work in the coal mines in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. But his mother, my grandmother, had been crippled from hard labor and my father couldn't leave. So he stayed in northern England until he died in 2012. My mother still lives in my hometown today. While his dream of emigrating to America was thwarted. My father left America its culture, its history and its role as a beacon of hope for the world.

01:04:39

He always wanted someone in the family to make it to the United States. I began my university studies in 1984, and I just learned that I went to the same university as my colleague here, Mr. Holmes in St. Andrews in Scotland. Just thought I would do that. And in 1987, I went to place on an academic extends to the Soviet Union. I was there for the signing of the intermediate nuclear forces are in a treaty. And when President Ronald Reagan met Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow, this was a turning point for me.

01:05:09

An American professor who I met there told me about graduate students, scholarships, the United States and the very next year. Thanks to his advice, I arrived in America to start my advanced studies at Harvard. Years later, I can say with confidence that this country has offered me opportunities I never would have had in England. I grew up poor with a very distinctive working class accent in England in the 1980s and 1990s. This would have impeded my professional advancement.

01:05:36

This background has never set me back in America for the best part of three decades. I've built a career as a non-partisan, non-political national security professional, focusing on Europe and Eurasia and especially the former Soviet Union. I've served our country under three presidents, and my most recent capacity under President Trump, as well as in my former position under was under my former position of national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In that role, I was the Intelligence Committee senior expert on Russia and the former Soviet republics, including Ukraine.

01:06:11

It was because of my background and experience that as I was asked to join the National Security Council in 2017 at the NSC, Russia was part of my portfolio. But I was also responsible for coordinating U.S. policy for all of Western Europe, all of Eastern Europe, including Ukraine and Turkey, along with NATO and the European Union. I was hired initially by General Michael Flynn, K.T. McFarland and General Keith Kellogg. But then I started work in April 2017 when General McMaster was the National Security Advisor I and there so that I could help them with President Trump's stated goal of improving relations with Russia while still implementing policies designed to deter Russian conduct that threatens the United States, including the unprecedented and successful Russian operation to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

01:07:01

This relates the second thing I want to communicate based on questions and statements. I've heard some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps somehow for some reason Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves. The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies confirmed in bipartisan congressional reports.

01:07:39

It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified. The impacts of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today. Our nation is being torn apart. Truth is questioned. Our highly professional and expert career foreign service is being undermined. U.S. support for Ukraine, which continues to face armed Russian aggression, has been politicized. The Russian government's goal is to weaken our country, to diminish America's global role, and to neutralize the perceived U.S.

01:08:10

threat to Russian interests. President Putin and the Russian security services aim to counter U.S. foreign policy objectives in Europe, including in Ukraine, where Moscow wishes to reassert political and economic dominance. I say this not as an alarmist, but as a realist. I do not think Long-Term Conflict with Russia is either desirable or inevitable. I continue to believe that we need to seek ways of stabilizing our relationship with Moscow even as we come to their efforts to harm us.

01:08:40

Right now, Russia's security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election. We're running out of time to stop them. And the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advanced Russian interests as Republicans and Democrats have agreed for decades. Ukraine is a valued partner of the United States, and it plays an important role in our national security. As I told the committee last month, I refused to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a US adversary and that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked us in 2016.

01:09:17

These frictions are harmful, even if they're deployed for purely domestic political purposes. President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a superPAC. They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition, research and false narratives when we are consumed by partisan rancor. We cannot come by combat. These external forces are there as they seek to divide us against each other, degrade our institutions and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy. I respect the work that this Congress does in carrying out its Constitution responsibilities, including this recovery.

01:09:53

And I'm here to help you to the best of my ability. If the president or anyone else impedes or subverts the national security, the United States, in order to further domestic, political or personal interests, that's more than worthy of your attention. But we must not let domestic politics stop us from defending ourselves against the foreign powers who truly wish us harm. I'm ready to answer your questions. Thank you.