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Order. Good morning, everyone. This is the second in a series of public hearings. The committee will be holding as part of the Houses 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 first hearing. I'll make an opening statement and then Ranking Member Nunez will have the opportunity to make a statement. Then we will turn to our witness for an opening statement and then to questions for audience members.
We welcome you and respect your interest in being here. In turn, we 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 to 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 in April.
Twenty nineteen. The United States Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Ivánovich, was in Kiev when she was called by a senior State Department official and told to get on the next plane back to Washington. Upon her return to D.C., she was informed by her superiors that although she had done nothing wrong, she could no longer serve as ambassador to Ukraine because she did not have the confidence of the president. It was a stunning turn of events for this highly regarded career diplomat who had done such a remarkable job fighting corruption in Ukraine that a short time earlier she had been asked by the State Department to extend her tour.
Ambassador Evanovich has been in the Foreign Service for 33 years and served much of that time in the former Soviet Union. Her parents had fled Stalin and later Hitler before settling in the United States. She does an exemplary officer who is widely praised and respected by her colleagues. She is known as an anti-corruption champion whose tour in Kiev was viewed as very successful. Ambassador Michael McKinley, who had served with her in the Foreign Service for several decades, stated that from the earliest days of her career in the Foreign Service, she was excellent, serious, committed.
I certainly remember her being one of those people who seemed to be destined for greater things. Her successor as acting chief of mission in Ukraine, Ambassador Bill Taylor, described her as very frank. She was very direct. She made points very clearly and she was indeed tough on corruption. And she named names and that sometimes is controversial out but out there. But she's a strong person and made those charges in her time in Kiev. Ambassador Jovanovic was tough on corruption, too tough on corruption for some.
And a principled stance made her enemies, as George Kent told this committee on Wednesday. You can't promote principled anti-corruption action without pissing off corrupt people. And Ambassador Jovanovic did not just piss off corrupt Ukrainians like the corrupt former prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko, but also certain Americans like Rudy Giuliani. Donald Trump's personal attorney and two individuals now indicted who worked with him, eager Frumin and live Parnas Ludes, Sanco, Giuliani, froom and Parnas and others who had come to include the president's own son, Don Junior, promoted a smear campaign against her based on false allegations.
At the State Department, there was an effort to push back to obtain a statement of support from Secretary Pompeo. But those efforts failed when it became clear that President Trump wanted her gone. Some have argued that a president has the ability to nominate or remove any ambassador he wants, that they serve at the pleasure of the president. And that is true. The question before us is not whether Donald Trump could recall an American ambassador with a stellar reputation for fighting corruption in Ukraine.
But why would he want to? Why did Rudy Giuliani want her gone and why did Donald Trump and why would Donald Trump instruct the new team he put in place the three amigos Gordon Solin, Rick Perry and Kurt Volker to work with the same man, Rudy Giuliani, who played such a central role in the smear campaign against her. Rudy Giuliani has made no secret of his desire to get Ukraine to open investigations into the Bidens, as well as a conspiracy theory of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.
As he said in one interview in May, twenty nineteen. We're not meddling in an election where many medaling in an investigation, which we have a right to do. More recently, he told CNN's Chris Cuomo, of course I did. When asked if he had pressed Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. And he's never been shy about who he is doing this work for his client, the president. One powerful ally Giuliani had in Ukraine to promote these political investigations was loots Sancho, the corrupt former prosecutor general and one powerful adversary.
Sancho had was a certain United States ambassador named Marie Evanovich. It is no coincidence that in the now infamous July 25th call was Wolinsky, Donald Trump brings up a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor and praises him. Against all evidence, Trump claims that this former prosecutor general was very good and he was shut down. And that's really unfair. But the woman known for fighting corruption, his own former ambassador, the woman ruthlessly smeared and driven from her post. The president does nothing but disparage or worse, threaten.
Well, she's going to go through some things. The president declares. That tells you a lot about the president's priorities and intentions. Getting rid of Ambassador Jovanovic helped to set the stage for an irregular channel that could pursue the two investigations that mattered so much to the president. The 2016 conspiracy theory and most important, an investigation into the 2020 political opponent he apparently feared most. Joe Biden and the president's scheme might have worked, but for the fact that the man who would succeed, Ambassador Jovanovic, when we heard from on Wednesday, Acting Ambassador Taylor would eventually discover the effort to press Ukraine into conducting these investigations and would push back.
But for the fact also that someone blew the whistle. Ambassador Jovanovic was serving our nation's interest in fighting corruption in Ukraine, but she was considered an obstacle to the furtherance of the president's personal and political agenda. For that, she was smeared and cast aside. The powers of the presidency are immense. But they are not absolute and they cannot be used for corrupt purpose. The American people expect their president to use the authority they grant him in the service of the nation, not to destroy others, to advance his personal or political interests.
I now recognize ranking Member Nunez for his remarks. I thank the gentleman. It's unfortunate that today and for most of next week, we will continue engaging in the Democrats and day long TV spectacles instead of solving the problems we were all sent to Washington to address. We now have a major trade agreement with Canada and Mexico ready for approval. A deal that would create jobs and boost our economy. Meanwhile, we have not yet approved funding for the government, which expires next week.
Along with funding for our men and women in uniform. Instead, the Democrats have convened us once again to advance their operation to topple a duly elected president. I'll note that five, five Democrats on this committee had already voted to impeach this president before the trunk Zelinsky phone call occurred. In fact, Democrats have been vowing to oust President Trump since the day he was elected. So Americans can rightly suspect that his phone call with President Zelinsky was used as an excuse for the Democrats to fulfill their Watergate fantasies.
But I'm glad that on Wednesday, after the Democrats staged six weeks of secret depositions in the basement of the Capitol like some kind of strange cult. The American people finally got to see this farce for themselves. They saw a sit through hours of hearsay testimony about conversations that two diplomats who had never spoken to the president heard second and third hand and fourth hand from other people. In other words, rumors. The problem of trying to overthrow a president based on this type of evidence is obvious.
But that's what their whole case relies on, beginning with second hand and third hand information cited by the whistleblower. That's why on Wednesday the Democrats were forced to make the absurd argument that hearsay can be much better evidence than direct evidence. And just when you thought the spectacle couldn't get more bizarre, committee Republicans received a memo from the Democrats threatening ethics referrals if we out the whistleblower. As the Democrats are well aware, no Republicans here know the whistleblower's identity because the whistleblower only met with Democrats, not with Republicans.
Chairmanship claimed not to know who it is. He also vowed to block us from asking questions that could reveal his or her identity. Republicans on this committee are left wondering how it's even possible for the chairman to block questions about a person whose identity he claims not to know. The American people may be seeing these absurdities for the first time. But Republicans on this diet are used to them until they secretly met with the whistleblower and Democrats showed little interest for the last three years and any topic.
Aside from the ridiculous conspiracy theories that President Trump is a Russian agent. When you find yourself on the phone, like the Democrats did with the Russian pranksters offering you nude pictures of Trump, and afterwards you order your staff to follow up and get the photos. As the Democrats also did. Then it might be time to ask yourself if you've gone out too far on a limb. Even as they were accusing Republicans of colluding with the Russians, the Democrats themselves were colluding with the Russians by funding the Steele dossier, which was based on Russian and Ukrainian sources.
Meanwhile, they turn a blind eye to Ukrainian's meddling in our elections because the Democrats were cooperating with that operation. This was the subject of a July 20th, 2017 letter sent by Senator Grassley to then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The letter raised concerns about the activities of Alexander Chalupa, a contractor for the Democratic National Committee who worked with the Ukrainian embassy officials to spread dirt on the Trump campaign. As Senator Grassley wrote, chalupas, action, quote, chalupas actions appear to show that she was simultaneously working on behalf of a foreign government, Ukraine and on behalf of the DNC and the Clinton campaign in an effort to influence not only the US voting population, but US government officials, unquote.
After touting the still dossier and defending the FBI as Russia investigation, which are now being investigated by Inspector General Horowitz and Attorney General Barr. Democrats on this committee ignore Ukrainian election medaling, even though Chalupa publicly admitted to the Democrats scheme. Likewise, they are blind to the blaring signs of corruption. Surrounding Hunter Biden's well-paid position on the board of a corrupt Ukrainian company while his father served as vice president and point man for Ukraine, issues in the Obama administration.
But the Democrats media hacks only cared about that issue briefly. When they were trying to stop Joe Biden from running against Hillary Clinton in 2015. As I previously stated, these hearings should not be occurring at all until we get the answers to three crucial questions the Democrats refuse to ask first. What is the full extent of the Democrats prior coordination with the whistleblower? And who else did the whistleblower coordinate this effort with? Second, what is the full extent of Ukraine's election medaling against the Trump campaign?
And third, why did Brisman hire Hunter Biden? What did he do for them? And did his position affect any government actions under the Obama administration? All note that House Democrats vowed they would not put the American people through a wrenching impeachment process. Without bipartisan support and they have done. Add that to their ever growing list of broken promises and destructive deceptions. In closing. Mr. Chair, the president cited states released his transcript right before the hearing began.
I think it's important that I read this into the record so that there's no confusion over this first phone call that occurred on April 21st with President elect Zelinsky, and I'd like to read it. The president. I'd like to congratulate you on a job well done and congratulations on a fantastic election. Zelinski, good to hear from you. Thank you so very much. It's nice to hear from you. And I appreciate the congratulations. The president that was an incredible election, Zelinsky, again.
Thank you so very much. As you can see, we tried very hard to do our best. We had you as a great example. The president, I think he will do a great job. I have many friends in Ukraine who know you and like you, I have many friends from Ukraine and frankly expected you to win. And it's really an amazing thing that you've done.
I guess in a way, I did something similar. We're making tremendous progress in the US. We have the most tremendous economy ever. I just wanted to congratulate you. I have no doubt you will be a fantastic president. Zelinski, first of all, thank you so very much again for the congratulations, we in Ukraine are an independent country, an independent Ukraine. We're going to do everything for the people. You are, as I said, a great example.
We are hoping we can expand on our jobs as you did. You will also be a great example for many. You are a great example for our new managers. I'd also like to invite you, if possible, to the inauguration. I know how busy you are, but if it's possible for you to come to the inauguration ceremony, that would be great. Great for you to do to be with us on that day. The President. That's very nice.
All look into that and give us a date at the very minimum. We'll have a great representative or more from the United States. We'll be with you on that great day. So we will have somebody, at a minimum, a very, very high level. And we'll be with you. Really an incredible day for an incredible and chief achievement. Zelinsky, again, thank you, we're looking forward to your visit to the visit of a high level delegation.
But there's no words that can describe our wonderful country how nice, warm and friendly our people are, how tasty and delicious our food is, and how wonderful Ukrainian's words cannot describe our country. So it would be best for you to see it yourself. So if you can come, that would be great. So, again, I invite you to come. THE PRESIDENT Well, I agree with you about your country. And I look forward to it.
When I own Miss Universe, they always had great people. Ukraine always very well represented, was always very well represented. When you're settled in and ready, I'd like to invite you to the White House. We'll have a lot of things to talk about, but we're with you all the way. Zelinski, thank you for the invitation. We accept the invitation and look forward to the visit. Thank you again. The whole team and I are looking forward to the visit.
Thank you for the congratulations and I think it will still be great if you could come and be with this on this. Be with us on this important day. The results are incredible. They're very impressive for us. So it will be absolutely fantastic if you could come on that day, the president. Very good. We'll let you know very soon. And we will see you very, very soon, regardless. Congratulations. And please say hello to the Ukrainian people and your family.
Let them know I send my best regards. Well, thank you. Zelinski Well, thank you. You have a safe flight and see you soon. President, take care of yourself and give a great speech today. You take care of self and I'll see you soon. ZELINSKI Thank you very much. It's difficult for me, but I will practice English and I will meet in English. Thank you very much, the President. Laughing All That's beautiful to hear.
That's really good. I could not do it. And your language. I'm very impressed. Thank you so much. SELENSKI Thank you so much. President Good day. Good luck. But I was able to read that into the records to the now the American people know the very first call that President Trump had with President Zelinski. And with that, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. Chairman, I have a parliamentary inquiry. The general was not recognized. I do want to comment. And I have a point of order under a trez 660. The gentleman will state or point of order. At the point of order is will the chairman continue to prohibit witnesses from answering Republican questions? As you've done in closed hearings and as you did with the space we have been, our question on the proper point of origin was this will suspend. Mr.
Speaker, I have new chairman ever. John was not recognized. The chairman. I have a point of order. I must not recognize a point of order that John was not recognized. I do. When I respond, I allowed the right to order. John was not recognized. Is he allowed in there for gentlemen scripts that haven't been released? I mean, is not recognized. Oh, the ranking member was allowed to exceed the opening statement, and I was happy to allow him to do so.
I do want to respond to the call record. First of all, I'm grateful that the president has released the call record. I would now ask the president to release the thousands of other records that he has instructed the State Department not to release, including Ambassador Taylor's notes, including Ambassador Taylor's cable, including George Kents memo, including documents from the Office of Management Budget about why the military aid was withheld. Mr. Chairman, I want you to release that.
The gentleman may not recognize the zestimates. Well, that's a point of order I will suspend. We would ask the president to stop obstructing the impeachment inquiry. And while we grateful he has released a single document, he has nonetheless obstructed witnesses and their testimony and the production of thousands and thousands of other records. And finally, I would say this, Mr. President, I hope you explain to the country today why it was after this call. And while the vice president was making plans to attend the inauguration, you instructed the vice president not to attend.
So Lansky's inauguration. Mr. Chairman, I have a point of order. Mr. Chairman, I had a point of order. It is not recognized. So we know clearly you gentlewoman interruptus. Throughout this hearing, a woman is not recognized as chairman. Everday dispersant request today. Now, here we have unanimous gentlemen, not request, not recognized. Today we are joined by a Master Marie-Eve, on which she was born in Canada to parents who fled the Soviet Union and the Nazis.
Basti Evanovich immigrated to Connecticut at three, became a naturalized American at 18, and entered the U.S. Foreign Service in nineteen eighty six. She has served as U.S. ambassador three times and been nominated by presidents of both parties. George W. Bush nominated to be ambassador to the Kerrigan's Republic, where she served from 2005 to 2008. President Obama nominated her to be U.S. ambassador to Armenia, where she served from 2008 until 2011, and U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, where she served from 2016 until she was recalled to Washington by President Trump.
This may be on these ambassadorial post. She has held numerous other senior positions at the State Department in Cuba, including in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. She served as a dean at the Foreign Service Institute and taught national security strategy at the Defense University. She also previously served at U.S. embassies in Kiev, Ottawa, Moscow, London and Mogadishu. Master of ONWHICH has received multiple honors from the Department for a diplomatic work, including the Presidential Distinguished Service Award and the Secretary's Diplomacy in Human Rights Award.
Two final points before witnesses 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. 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 and 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? Let the record show that the witnesses answered in the affirmative. Thank you. And please be seated. Without objection, your written statement will be made part of the record with that Ambassador Marie on you are recognized for your opening statement.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Nunez and other members of the committee.
And Ambassador, you'll need to speak very close to the microphone. Thank you for the opportunity to start with this statement, to reintroduce myself to the committee and to highlight parts of my biography and experience. I come before you as an American citizen who has devoted the majority of my life, 33 years to service to the country that all of us love, love, like my colleagues. I entered the Foreign Service understanding that my job was to implement the foreign policy interests of this nation as defined by the president and Congress, and to do so regardless of which person or party was in power.
I had no agenda other than to pursue our stated foreign policy goals. My service is an expression of gratitude for all that this country has given to me and to my family. My late parents did not have the good fortune to come of age in a free society. My father fled the Soviets before ultimately finding refuge in the United States. My mother's family escaped the USSR after the Bolshevik Revolution and she grew up stateless in Nazi Germany before it also eventually making her way to the United States.
Their personal histories. My personal history gave me both deep gratitude towards the United States and great empathy for others like the Ukrainian people who want to be free. I joined the Foreign Service during the Reagan administration and subsequently served three other Republican presidents as well as to Democratic presidents. It was my great honor to be appointed to serve as an ambassador three times twice by George W. Bush and once by Barack Obama. There is a perception that diplomats lead a comfortable life throwing dinner parties and fancy homes.
Let me tell you about some of my reality. It has not always been easy. I have moved 13 times and served in seven different countries, five of them hardship posts. My first tour was Mogadishu, Somalia, an increasingly dangerous place as that country's civil war grinding on and the government was weakening. The military took over policing functions in a particularly brutal way and basic service services disappeared. Several years later, after the Soviet Union collapsed, I helped open our embassy in Tashkent to Becca Starn as we were establishing relations with a new country.
Our small embassy was attacked by a gunman who sprayed the embassy building with gunfire. I later served in Moscow in 1993 during the attempted coup in Moscow, in Russia. I was caught in crossfire between presidential and parliamentary forces. It took us three tries me without a helmet or body armor to get into a vehicle to go to the embassy. We went because the ambassador asked us to come and we went because it was our duty from August 2016 until May 2019.
I served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine during my tenure in Ukraine. I went to the front line approximately 10 times during a hot war. Just show the American flag to hear what was going on. Sometimes literally, as we heard the impact of artillery and to see how our assistance dollars were being put to use. I worked to advance U.S. policy fully embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike, to help Ukraine become a stable and independent Democratic state. With a market economy integrated into Europe, a secure, democratic and free Ukraine serves not just the Ukrainian people, but the American people as well.
That's why it was our policy continues to be our policy to help the Ukrainians achieve their objectives. They match our objectives and objectives. The U.S. is the most powerful country in the history of the world, in large part because of our values and our values have made possible the network of alliances and partnerships that buttresses our own strength. Ukraine, with an enormous landmass and a large population, has the potential to be a significant commercial and political partner for the United States, as well as a force multiplier on the security side.
We see the potential in Ukraine. Russia sees, by contrast, sees the risk. The history is not written yet, but Ukraine could move out of Russia's orbit. And now Ukraine is a battleground for great power competition with a hot war for the control of territory and a hybrid war to control Ukraine's leadership. The US has provided significant security assistance since the onset of the war against Russia in 2014, and the Trump administration strengthened our policy by approving the provision to Ukraine of anti-tank missiles known as javelins.
Supporting Ukraine is the right thing to do. It's also the smart thing to do if Russia prevails and Ukraine falls to Russian dominion. We can expect to see other attempts by Russia to expand its territory and its influence. As critical as the war against Russia is, Ukraine's struggling democracy has an equally important challenge battling the Soviet legacy of corruption, which has pervaded Ukraine's government corruption makes Ukraine's leaders ever vulnerable to Russia. And the Ukrainian people understand that. That's why they launched the revolution of Dignity in 2014, demanding to be a part of Europe, demanding the transformation of the system, demanding to live under the rule of law.
Ukrainians, one of the law to apply equally to all people, whether the individual in question is the president or any other citizen. It was a question of fairness, of dignity. Here again, there is a coincidence of interests. Corrupt leaders are inherently less trustworthy, while an honest and accountable Ukrainian leadership makes a US Ukrainian partnership more reliable and more valuable to the United States. A level playing field in this strategically located country bordering four NATO allies creates an environment in which U.S.
business can more easily trade, invest and profit. Corruption is also a security issue because corrupt officials are vulnerable to Moscow. In short, it is in America's national security interest to help Ukraine transform into a country where the rule of law governs and corruption is held in check. It was and remains a top U.S. priority to help Ukraine fight corruption. And significant progress has been made since the 2014 revolution of dignity. Unfortunately, as the past couple of months have underlined, not all Ukrainians embraced our anti-corruption work.
That's perhaps it was not surprising that when our anti-corruption efforts got in the way of a desire for profit or power, Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old corrupt rules sought to remove me. What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them and working together. They apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. ambassador. How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests can manipulate our government? Which countries interests are served when the very corrupt behavior we have been criticizing is allowed to prevail?
Such conduct undermines the US, exposes our friends and widens the playing field for autocrats like President Putin. Our leadership depends on the power of our example and the consistency of our purpose. Both have now been opened to question. With that background in mind, I'd like to briefly address some of the factual issues. I expect you or me. You may want to ask me about starting with my timeline in Ukraine and the events about which I do and do not have firsthand knowledge.
I arrived in Ukraine on August 22nd, 2016 and left Ukraine permanently on May 20th in 2019. There are a number of events you are investigating to which I cannot bring any firsthand knowledge. The events that pre-dated my Ukraine service include the release of the so-called Black Ledger and Mr Manafort's subsequent resignation from President Trump's campaign and the departure from office of former Prosecutor General Victor Chauhan. Several other events occurred after I returned from Ukraine. These include President Trump's July 25th, 2019 call with Presidents Wolinski, the discussions surrounding that phone call and any discussions surrounding the delay of security assistance to Ukraine in the summer of twenty nineteen.
As for events during my tenure in Ukraine, I want to reiterate and to reiterate first that the allegation that I disseminated a do not prosecute list was a fabrication. Mr Litt Sinco, the former Ukrainian prosecutor general who made that allegation, has acknowledged that the list never existed. I did not tell Mr Lutsenko or other Ukrainian officials who they should or should not prosecute. Instead, I advocated the U.S. position that rule of law should prevail and Ukrainian law enforcement, prosecutors and judges should stop wielding their power selectively as a political weapon against their adversaries and start dealing with all consistently and according to the law.
Also untrue are unsourced allegations that I told unidentified embassy employees or Ukrainian officials that President Trump's orders should be ignored because he was going to be impeached or for any other reason. I did not and I would not say such a thing. Such statements would be inconsistent with my training as a foreign service officer and my role as an ambassador. The Obama administration did not ask me to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign, nor would I have taken any such steps if they had partisanship of this type is not compatible with the role of a career foreign service officer.
I have never met Hunter Biden, nor have I had any direct or indirect conversations with him. And although I have met former Vice President Biden several times over the course of our many years in government service. Neither he nor the previous administration ever raise the issue of either very smart or Hunter Biden with me with respect to Mayor Giuliani. I have had only minimal contact with him, a total of three, none related to the events at issue. I do not understand Mr.
Giuliani's motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me. Clearly, no one at the State Department and. What I can say is that Mr Giuliani should have known those claims were suspect coming, as they reportedly did, from individuals with questionable motives and with reason to believe that their political and financial ambitions would be stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.
After being asked by the undersecretary of state for political affairs in early March twenty nineteen to extend my tour until 2020. The smear campaign against me entered a new public phase in the United States in the wake of the negative press. State Department officials suggested an earlier departure and we agreed upon July twenty nineteen. I was then abruptly told just weeks later, in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine on the next plane. At the time I departed, Ukraine had just concluded game changing presidential elections.
It was a sensitive period with much at stake for the United States and called for all the experience and expertise we could muster. When I returned to the United States, Deputy Secretary of State Sullivan told me there had been a concerted campaign against me that the president no longer wished me to serve as ambassador to Ukraine and that, in fact, the president had been pushing for my removal since the prior summer. As Mr. Sullivan recently recounted during his Senate confirmation hearing, neither he nor anyone else ever explained or sought to justify the president's concerns about me, nor did anyone in the department justify my early departure by suggesting I had done something wrong.
I appreciate that Mr. Sullivan publicly affirmed at his hearing that I had served capably and admirably, although then and now I have always understood that I served at the pleasure of the president. I still find it difficult to comprehend that foreign and private interests were able to undermine U.S. interests in this way, individuals who apparently felt stymied by our our efforts to promote stated U.S. policy against corruption. That is, to do our mission were able to successfully conduct a campaign of disinformation against a sitting ambassador using unofficial back channels, as various witnesses have recounted.
They share baseless allegations with the president and convinced him to remove his ambassador, despite the fact that the State Department fully understood that the allegations were false and the sources highly suspect these events should concern everyone in this room. Ambassadors are the symbol of the United States abroad. They are the personal representative of the president. They should always act and speak with full authority to advocate for U.S. policies. If our chief representative is kneecapped, it limits our effectiveness to safeguard the vital national security interests of the United States.
This is especially important now when the international landscape is more complicated and more competitive than it has been since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray and shady interests. The word of the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want. After these events, what foreign official, corrupt or not, could be blamed for wondering whether the U.S. ambassador represents the president's views and what U.S.
ambassador could be blamed for harboring the fear that they can't count on our government to support them as they implement the stated U.S. policy and protect and defend U.S. interests. I'd like to comment on one other matter before taking your questions at the closed deposition. I expressed grave concerns about the degradation of the Foreign Service over the past few years and the failure of State Department leadership to push back as foreign and corrupt interests apparently hijacked our Ukraine policy. I remain disappointed that the department's leadership and others have declined to acknowledge that the attacks against me and others are dangerously wrong.
This is about for far, far more than me or a couple of individuals. As foreign service professionals are being denigrated and undermined, the institution is also being degraded. This will soon cause real harm if it hasn't already. The State Department is a tool of foreign policy, often doesn't get the same kind of attention or even respect as the military might of the Pentagon. But we are, as they say, the pointy end of the spear. If we lose our edge, the US will inevitably have to use other tools even more than it does today.
And those other tools are blunter, more expensive and not universally effective. Moreover, the attacks are leading to a crisis in the State Department as the policy process is visibly unraveling. Leadership vacancies go unfilled and senior and mid-level officers ponder an uncertain future. The crisis has moved from the impact on individuals to an impact on the institution itself. The State Department is being hollowed out from within. At a competitive and complex time on the world stage, this is not a time to undercut our diplomats.
It is the responsibility of the department's leaders to stand up for the institution and the individuals who make that institution still today the most effective diplomatic force in the world. And Congress has a responsibility to reinvest in our diplomacy. That's an investment in our national security. It's an investment in our future and our children's future. As I close, let me be clear on who we are and how we serve this country. We are professionals. We are public servants who by vocation and training pursue the policies of the president regardless of who holds out office or what party they affiliate with.
We handle American citizen services, facilitate trade and commerce, work security issues, represent the US and report to and advise Washington to mention just some of our functions. And we make a difference every day. We are people who repeatedly uproot our lives, who risk and sometimes give our lives for this country. We are the 52 Americans who 40 years ago this month began 444 days of deprivation, torture and captivity in Tehran. We are the dozens of Americans stationed at our embassy in Cuba and consulates in China who mysteriously and dangerously and in some cases perhaps even permanently were injured in attacks from unknown sources.
Several years ago and we are Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Patrick Smith, Ty Woods and Glen Doherty. People rightly called heroes for their ultimate sacrifice to this nation's foreign policy interests in Libya. Eight years ago, we honor these individuals. They represent each one of you here and every American. These courageous individuals were attacked because they symbolized America. What you need to know, what Americans need to know is that while thankfully most of us answer the call to duty in far less dramatic ways, every foreign service officer runs the same risks.
And very often so do our families. They serve to as individuals, as a community. We answer the call to duty to advance and protect the interests of the United States. We take our oath seriously, the same oath that each one of you take to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same. I count myself lucky to be a foreign service officer, fortunate to serve with the best America has to offer.
Blessed to serve the American people for the last 33 years. I thank you for your attention. I welcome your questions.
Thank you, Ambassador. We count ourselves lucky to have you serve the country as you have for decades. Will now move to the forty five minute rounds. I recognize myself and majority counsel for forty five minutes, virtually. Voinovich. Thank you again for appearing today. All Americans are deeply in your debt before it headed over to Mr. Goldman, our staff counsel, I want to ask you about a few of the pivotal events of interest to the country. First of all, was fighting corruption in Ukraine a key element of U.S.
policy and one in which you place the highest priority?
Yes, it was.
And can you explain why it was important and it was actually stated in our in our policy and our strategy. It was important because corruption was undermining the integrity of the governance ASC's governance system in Ukraine. And as I noted in my statement, countries that have leaders that are honest and trustworthy make better partners for us. Countries where there is a level playing field for our U.S. business makes it easier for our companies to to do business there, to trade and to profit in those countries.
And what had been happening since the Soviet Union and this is very much a Soviet legacy, is that corrupt interests were undermining not only the governance, but also the economy of Ukraine. We see enormous potential in Ukraine and would like to have a more capable, more trustworthy partner there.
And I know this may be awkward for you to answer, since it's a question about yourself and your reputation. But is it fair to say that you earned a reputation for being a champion of anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine? Yes.
Yes. I don't know if you had a chance to watch George Kent's testimony yesterday, but would you agree with his rather frank assessment that if you fight corruption, you're gonna piss off some corrupt people?
Yes. And in your efforts fighting corruption to advance U.S. policy interests, you anger some of the corrupt leaders in Ukraine.
Yes. Was one of those corrupt people. Prosecutor General Yuri let Sanco. Yes. I believe Sam was another one of those corrupt people in Sankoh's predecessor, another corrupt prosecutor general named Victor shawkan.
Apparently so, although I've never met him at some point. Did you come to learn that Bowflex Sinco and show Ken were in touch with Rudy Giuliani presents to Trump's lawyer and representative?
Yes. In fact, did Giuliani try to overturn a decision that you participated in to deny show Cohen a visa? Yes, that's what I was told.
And that denial was based on Mr. Shopkins corruption.
Yes, that's true. And was it Mr. Lind's to the Lutsenko, among others, who coordinated with Mr. Giuliani to peddle false accusations against you as well as the Bidens?
Yes, that is my understanding. And were these smears also amplified by the president's son, Donald Trump junior, as well as certain hosts on Fox? Yes. Yes. That is the case. In the face of this smear campaign, did colleagues at the State Department try to get a statement of support for you from Secretary Pompeo? Yes. Were they successful? No.
Did you come to learn that they couldn't issue such as they had been because they feared it would be undercut by the president?
Yes. And then were you told that, though, you had done nothing wrong, you did not enjoy the confidence of the president and could no longer serve as ambassador?
Yes, that is correct. In fact, you flew home from Kiev on the same day as the inauguration of Ukraine's new president. That's true. That inauguration was attended by three have become known as the Three Amigos, Ambassador Sundlun, Voelker and Perry, was it?
Yes. And three days after that inauguration, in a meeting with President Trump. Are you aware that the president designated these three amigos to coordinate Ukraine policy with Rudy Giuliani?
Since then, I have become aware of that. This is the same Rudy Giuliani who orchestrated the smear campaign against you. Yes. And the same Rudy Giuliani, who during the now infamous July 25th phone call, the president recommended to Zelinski in the context of the two investigations the president wanted into the 2016 election. And the Bidens.
Yes. And finally, Ambassador, in that July 25th phone call, the president praises one of these corrupt former Ukrainian prosecutors and says they were treated very unfairly. They were treated unfairly. Not you who is smeared and recalled. But one of them. What message does that send to your colleagues in the U.S. embassy in Kiev? I'm just not sure what the basis for that kind of a statement would be. Certainly not from our reporting over years. Did you have concerns, though?
Do you have concern today about what message the president's action sends to the people who are still in Ukraine? Represent the United States. When a well-respected ambassador can be smeared out of her post with the participation and acquiescence of the president, United States?
Well, it's, I think, been a big hit from around both that U.S. embassy key, but also more broadly in the State Department.
Is it fair to say that other ambassadors and others of lesser rank who served the United States and embassies around the world might look at this and think, if I take on corrupt people in these countries, that could happen to me? I think that's a fair statement. Yes, Mr. Goldman.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ambassador Evanovich, on April 24th of this year, at approximately 10:00 p.m., you received a telephone call while you were at the embassy in Kiev. From the director general of the State Department, this was just three days after President's Alinsky's election. And the call between President Trump and President's Wolanski that we just heard from ranking member newness at the time that this urgent call came in. What were you in the middle of doing? I was hosting an event in honor, of course, Johann's you.
Who is an anti-corruption activist or was an anti-corruption activist in Ukraine. We had given her the Woman of Courage Award from Ukraine. And in fact, the worldwide woman of Courage event at the whole world, like Women of Courage event in Washington, D.C., Secretary Pompei on singled her out for her amazing work in in Ukraine to fight corrupt interests in the south of Ukraine. She very tragically died because she was attacked by acid and several months later died, a very, very painful death.
We thought it was important that justice be done for Katya Hunsrück and for others who fight corruption in Ukraine, because this is it's not a kind of a tabletop exercise. Their lives are in the balance. And so we wanted to bring attention to this. We held an event and gave her father, who, of course, is still mourning her, that that award, the Women of Courage event and Woman of Courage Award stem from her anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.
Yes, that is true. Was it ever determined to throw the acid and killed her?
There have been investigations. But while some of the lower ranking individuals that were involved in this have been arrested, those who ordered this have not yet been apprehended.
After you stepped away from this anti-corruption event to take this call, what did the director general tell you?
She said that there was great concern on the seventh floor of the State Department. That's where the leadership of the State Department sits. There was great concern. They were worried. She just wanted to give me a heads up about this. And, you know, things seem to be going on. And so she just wanted to give me a heads up. I know it hard to know how to react to something like that. I asked her what it was about.
What did she think it was about? She didn't know. She said that she was going to try and find out more, but she had wanted to give me a heads up. In fact, I think she may even have been instructed to give me a heads up on that. So I asked her, you know, what is the next step here? So she said she would try to find out more and she would try to call me by midnight.
What happened next round 1 o'clock in the morning? She called me again and she said that there were great concerns. There were concerns up the street. And she said, I needed to get on home, come home immediately, get on the next plane to the US. And I asked her why. And she said she wasn't sure. But there were concerns about my security. I asked her my physical security because sometimes Washington knows more than we do about these things.
And she said, no, she hadn't gotten that impression that it was a physical security issue, but they were concerned about my security and I needed to come home right away. You know, I argued this is extremely irregular and no reason given. But in the end, I did get on the next plane home.
You said you there were concerns up the street. What did you understand that to me, the White House?
Did she explain in any more detail what she meant by concerns about your security?
No, she didn't. I did specifically ask whether this had to do with the Mayor Giuliani's allegations against me and so forth. And she said she didn't know it didn't even actually appear to me that she seemed to be aware of that. No, no, no reason was offered.
Did she explain what the urgency was for you to come back on the next flight?
The only thing that's pertinent to that was that when she said that there were concerns about my security. That's all. But it was not further explained.
Now, prior to this abrupt call back to Washington, D.C., had you been offered an extension of your post by the State Department?
Yes, Undersecretary, the undersecretary for political affairs had asked whether I would extend for another another year departing in July of 2020.
When was that request made? In early March.
So about a month and a half before this call? Yes. Did anyone at the State Department ever express concerns about your job performance?
No. Now, after you returned to Washington a couple days after that, you met with the deputy secretary of state. And at your deposition, you said that decorative deputy secretary of state told you that you had done nothing wrong, but that there was a concerted campaign against you. What did he mean by that? I'm not exactly sure, but I took it to mean that the allegations that Mayor Giuliani and others were putting out there, that that's that's what it was.
And who else was involved in this concerted campaign against you?
There were some members of the press and others and Mayor Giuliani circle and who from Ukraine?
In Ukraine, I think. Well, Mr. Lutsenko, the prosecutor general, and Mr. Shooken, his predecessor, certainly at this time, Mr. Lutsenko was the lead prosecutor general.
Is that right? That's correct. And had Presidents Wolinsky indicated whether or not he was going to keep him on after the election, he had indicated he would not be heaping on Mr. senka.
And I believe you testified earlier that Mr. Lutsenko had a reputation for being corrupt. Is that right? That's correct. Now, during this conversation, did the deputy secretary tell you about your future as the ambassador to Ukraine?
Well, he told me I needed to leave. What did he say?
He said that I mean, there was a lot of back and forth, but ultimately he said the words that every foreign service officer understands the president has lost confidence in you. That was a terrible thing to hear. And I said, well, you know, I guess I have to go. But no, no real reason was offered as to why I had to leave and why it was being done in such a manner.
Did you have any indication that the State Department had lost confidence in you? No.
And were you provided any reason why the president lost confidence in you?
No. Now, you testified at your deposition that you were told at some point that Secretary Pompeo had tried to protect you, but that he was no longer able to do that. Were you aware of these efforts to protect you?
No, I was not until until that meeting with Deputy Secretary Sullivan.
And were you did you understand who he was trying to protect you from?
Well, my understanding was that the president had wanted me to leave and there was some discussion about that over the prior months.
Did you have any understanding why Secretary Powell was no longer able to protect you?
No. It was just a statement made that he was no longer able to protect me.
So just like that, you had to leave Ukraine as soon as possible? Yes. How did that make you feel?
Terrible, honestly. I mean, after 33 years of service to our country. It was terrible. It's not the way I wanted my career to end.
Now, you also told us, Deputy Secretary, that this was a dangerous precedent. What did you mean by that? I was worried I was worried about our policy, but also personnel that. And I asked him how how are you going to explain this to people in the State Department, the press, the public, Ukrainians, because everybody is watching. And so if people see somebody who and of course, it had been very public, the frankly, the attacks on me by Mayor Giuliani and others and Mr.
Reed Sanco in Ukraine, if people see that I who have been, you know, promoting our policies on anti-corruption. If they can undermine me and get me pulled out of Ukraine, what does that mean for our policy? Do we still have that same policy? How are we going to affirmatively put that forward? Number one. Number two. When other countries, other actors and other countries see that private interests. Foreign interests can come together and get a U.S.
ambassador removed. What's going to stop them from doing that in the future in other countries? Often the work we do, we try to be diplomatic about it. But as deputy assistant secretary George Kent said, you know, sometimes we get people really angry with us. It's uncomfortable and we are doing our jobs. But sometimes people become very angry with us. And if they realize that they can just remove us, they're going to do that.
How did the deputy secretary respond? He he said those were good questions and he would get back to me.
Did he ever get back to you? He asked to see me the following day. What did he say to you then? He really the conversation was more and you know, again, I'm grateful for this, but really more to see how I was doing. And, you know, what would I do next? Kind of how how could he help?
But he didn't address the dangerous precedent that you flagged for him now. Now, you understood, of course, that the president, the United States, could remove you and that you served at the pleasure of the president. Is that right? That's right. What did your 33 years as a foreign service officer? Have you ever heard of a president of the United States recalling another ambassador without cause based on allegations that the State Department itself knew to be false?
No. Now, you've testified in your opening statement that you had left Ukraine by the time of the July 25th call between President Trump and President's Wolinsky. When was the first time that you saw the call record for this phone call?
When it was released publicly at the end of September, I believe, and prior to reading that call record. Were you aware that President Trump had specifically made reference to you in that call? No. What was your reaction to learning that?
I was shocked, absolutely shocked and devastated, frankly.
What do you mean by Devastator? I was shocked and devastated that I would feature in a phone call between two heads of state in such a manner where President Trump said that I was bad news to another world leader and that I would be going through some things. So I was it was it was a terrible moment. A person who saw me actually reading the transcript said that the color drained from my face. I think I even had a physical reaction. I think even now works of family.
Well, without upsetting you too much, I'd like to show you the excerpts from the call and the first one where President Trump says the former ambassador from the United States. The woman was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news. So I just want to let you know. What was your reaction when you heard the president of the United States refer to you as bad news?
I couldn't believe it. I mean, again, shocked, appalled, devastated that the president of the United States would talk about any ambassador like that to a foreign head of state. And it was me. I mean, I couldn't believe it.
The next excerpt when the president references you, he's a short one. But he said, well, she's going to go through some things. What did you think when President Trump told Presidents Wolinsky? And you read that you were going to go through some things.
I didn't know what to think, but I was very concerned.
What were you concerned about? She's gonna go through some things. It didn't sound good. Sounded like a threat.
Did you feel threatened? I did. How so?
I didn't know exactly. It's not a very precise phrase, but I think.
It it didn't feel like I was. I really don't know how to answer the question any further except to say that I kind of felt like a vague threat. And so I wondered what that meant concern to me.
Now in this same call where the president, as you just said, threatens you to a foreign leader, he also prorate praises, rather, the corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor who led the false smear campaign against you. I want to show you another excerpt or two from the transcript or the call record, rather, where the president of the United States says, good, because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down. And that's really unfair.
A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down. And you had some very bad people involved. And he went on later to say, I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor. So good luck with everything. Now, Ambassador Evanovich, after nearly three years in Ukraine, where you tried to clean up the prosecutor general's office, was it the U.S. embassies view that the former prosecutor general was a very good and very fair prosecutor?
No, it was not. In fact, he was rather corrupt. Is that right? That was our belief. The prosecutor general's office is a long running problem in Ukraine. Is that right? Yes. So how did you feel when you heard President Trump speak so highly of the corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor who helped to execute the smear campaign to have you removed?
Well, it was. It was disappointing. It was concerning. It wasn't certainly based on anything that the State Department would have reported or frankly, anybody else in the U.S. government, there was a inter-agency consensus that while when Mr. Lutsenko came into office, we were very hopeful that he would actually do the things that he said he would set out to do, including reforming the prosecutor general's office. But that did not materialize.
So this was not the uniform position of the official U.S. policy makers. Is that right? Right now, let's go back to the smear campaign that you referenced. And in March, when you said it became public and you previously testified that you had learned that Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's lawyer and representative, who was also mentioned in that July 25th call, was in regular communication with the corrupt prosecutor general in late 2013 and early 2019. And at one point in your deposition, you said that they that being Giuliani and the corrupt foreign prosecutor general had plans to, quote, do things to me.
What did you mean by that?
I didn't I didn't really know. But that's what I had been told by Ukrainian officials.
Did you subsequently understand a little bit more what that meant? Well, you know, now with the advantage of hindsight, I think that meant removing me from my job and Ukraine.
How did you understand to be working with Mr. Giuliani as his associates in Ukraine? Well, certainly, Mr. Lee Tanko, Mr. Show, can I believe that there were also Ukrainian Americans, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Freeman, who have recently been indicted.
Those are the two who have been indicted in New York, southern district of New York.
Now, at the end of March, this effort by Giuliani and his associates resulted in a series of articles in Hill publication that were based on allegations in part from Lewis Sanco, the corrupt Polish prosecutor general. And just to summarize some of these allegations, there were, among others, three different categories. One category included the attacks against you, which you referenced in your opening statement, including that you had bad mouth the president and had given the prosecutor general a do not prosecute list.
There was another that included allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. And then there was a third that related to allegations concerning charisma. And the Bidens does that. Is that accurate?
Yes. Were these articles and allegations then promoted by others associated with the president in the United States? They seem to be promoted by those around me. Julian, I want to show you a couple of exhibits, including a tweet here by President Trump himself on March 20th, which was the first day that one of these articles was published. It appears to be a quote that says, John Solomon is the author of the articles codlin As Russia Collusion Fades Ukrainian Plot to Help Clinton emerges, unquote, at Sean HANNITY at Fox News.
And then if I could go to another tweet four days later, this is the president's son, Donald Trump, junior, who tweets, We need more at Richard Grenell's, who is the ambassador of Germany. Is that right? That's correct. And less of these jokers as ambassadors. And it's a retweet of one of John Solomon's articles or an article referencing the allegations that says calls grow to remove Obama's U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Were you aware of these tweets at the time?
Yes. What was your reaction to seeing this? Well, I was worried.
What are you worried about that this didn't seem these attacks were being repeated by the president himself and his son.
And were you aware whether they received attention on primetime television, on Fox News as well? Yes, they did. Now, where was the allegation that you were bad mouthing President Trump? True. Now, was the allegation that you had created a do not prosecute list to give to the prosecutor general in Ukraine. True. In fact, didn't the corrupt prosecutor general himself later recant those allegations?
Yes. Now, when these articles were first published, did the State Department issue a response? As you said, there was a series of articles. So after the first article, which was an interview with Mr. Lead Sanco and was only really about me and made certain allegations about me, the State Department came out the following day with a very strong statement saying that, you know, these these allegations are fabrications.
So the statement addressed the falsity of the allegations themselves. Yes. It didn't say anything about your job performance in any way.
Honestly, I haven't looked at it in a very long time. I think it is generally probably laudatory. I can't recall.
Did anyone in the State Department raise any concerns with you or express any belief in these allegations?
No. I mean, people thought it was ridiculous.
Now, after these false allegations were made against you. Did you have any discussions with anyone in leadership in the State Department about a potential statement of support from the department or the secretary himself? Yes.
After the the tweets that that you just showed us, I mean, it seemed to me that if the president's son, as is saying things like this, that it would be very hard to continue in my position and have authority in Ukraine unless the State Department came out pretty strongly behind me. And so, you know, over over the weekend of March 22nd, I think that's about the date. There was a lot of discussion on email among a number of people about what could what could be done.
I and undersecretary, the undersecretary for political affairs called me on on Sunday and I said, you know, it's really important that the secretary himself come out and be supportive because otherwise it's hard for me to be the kind of representative he need here. And he said he would talk to the secretary. I mean, that was that's my recollection of the call. That may not be exactly how it played out, but that was my recollection.
This is David Hale, the undersecretary political affairs is the number three person at the State Department. Yes. Did he indicate to you that he supported such a statement of support for you? I think he must've because I don't think he would have gone to the secretary if he if he didn't support it.
I mean, you wouldn't bring a bad idea to the secretary of state near your general understanding is that you did have the full support of the State Department, is that right?
And in fact, during your 33 year career as a foreign service officer, did you ever hear of any serious concerns about your job performance? Was this statement of support ultimately issued for you? No, it was not. Did you learn? Why not? Yeah.
Yes, I was told that there was a concern on the seventh floor that if a statement of support was issued, whether by the State Department or by the secretary personally, that it could be undermined.
How would it?
Could it be undermined that the president might issue a tweet contradicting that or something to that effect?
So let me see if I get this right. You were one of the most senior diplomats in the State Department. You've been there for 33 years. Won numerous awards. You've been appointed as an ambassador three times by both Republican and Democratic presidents. And the State Department would not issue a statement in support of you against false allegations because they were concerned about a tweet from the president, the United States. That's my understanding. SCHOEMAN If I could help on that question, it seems like an appropriate time.
VASSILIOU on Twitch As we sit here testifying, the President is attacking you on Twitter, and I'd like to give you a chance to respond. I'll read part of one of his tweets everywhere. Marie-Eve on Twitter When turned bad, she started off in Somalia. How did that go? He goes on to say later in the tweet, Is that U.S. presence absolute right to appoint ambassadors? First of all, Baffsky Voinovich. The Senate has a chance to confirm or deny it a bastard, do they not?
Yes. Advise and consent. But would you like to respond to the president's attack that everywhere you went. Turned bad? Well, I mean, I don't think I have such powers. Not Mogadishu. Somali. Somalia. Not in other places. I actually think that where I've served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better. You know, for the U.S. as well as for the countries that I've served in Ukraine, for example, where there are huge challenges, including, you know, on the issue that we're discussing today of corruption, huge challenges.
But they've made a lot of progress since 2014, including in the years that I was there. And I think in part, I mean, the Ukrainian people get the most the most credit for that. But a part of that credit goes to the work of the United States and and to me as the ambassador and in the United in Ukraine.
Ambassador, you're shown the courage to come forward today and testify. Notwithstanding the fact you urged by the White House or State Department not to notwithstanding the fact that as you testified earlier, the president implicitly threatened you in that call record and now the president real time is attacking you.
What effect do you think that has on other witnesses willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?
Well, it's very intimidating. It's a time designed to intimidate, is it not? I mean, I can't speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.
Well, I want to let you know, the ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously. Mr. Goldman. Ambassador Evanovich, you indicated that those same articles in March that included the smear campaign also included allegations related to Ukraine's interference in the 2016 election and the Brisman Biden connection. Is that right? Yes. So I'm going to end my questioning where we were before, which was the July 25th call. And President Trump not only insults you and praises the corrupt prosecutor general, but he also, as you know by now, references these two investigations first immediately after President Wolinsky, thanks, President Trump, for his, quote, great support in the area of defense, unquote.
President Trump responds, 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 then he goes on in that same paragraph to say whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it, if that's possible.
No, ambassador, about a it's from your experience as ambassador in Ukraine for almost three years and understanding that Presidents Wolinsky was not in politics before he ran for president and was a new president. On this call. How would you expect Presidents Wolinsky, to interpret a request for a favor? The US relationship for Ukraine is the single most important relationship. And so I think that President Lonski, any president would, you know, do what they could to, you know, lean in on a favor request.
I'm not saying that that's a yes. I'm saying they would try to lean in and see what they could do.
Fair to say that a president of Ukraine that is so dependent on the United States would do just about anything within his power to please the president, the United States. If he could. You know, if he could I mean, I'm I'm sure there are limits. And I understand there are a lot of discussions in the Ukrainian government about all of this. But but, yeah, I mean, we are an important relationship on the security side and on the political side.
And so the president of Ukraine, one of the most important functions that individual has is to make sure the relationship with the US is rock solid.
Now, are you familiar with these allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election?
I mean, there have been rumors out there about things like that, but, you know, there was nothing hard, at least nothing that I was aware of.
There was nothing based, in fact, to support these allegations. Yes. And in fact, who was responsible for interfering and meddling in the 2016 election?
Well, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that it was Russian.
Ambassador Evanovich, are you aware that in February of 2017, Vladimir Putin himself promoted this theory of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election? You know, maybe I knew that once and have forgotten that I am not familiar with it.
Well, let me show you a press statement that President Putin made in a joint press conference with Viktor Orban of Hungary on February 2nd of 2017, where he says. Second, as we all know, during the presidential campaign in the United States, the Ukrainian government adopted a unilateral position in favor of one candidate. More than that, certain oligarchs, certainly with the approval of the political leadership, funded this candidate or female candidate, to be more precise. Now, how would this theory of Ukraine interference in the 2016 election be in Vladimir Putin's interest?
Well, I mean, President Putin must have been aware that there were concerns in the US about Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and what the potential was for Russian meddling in the future. So, you know, classic for an intelligence officer to try to throw off the scent and create an alternative narrative that maybe might get picked up and get some credence, an alternative narrative that would resolve his own wrongdoing.
Yeah. And when he talks about an oligarch and he talks about the support of the Ukrainian government, there is also a reference in the July 25th call to a wealthy Ukrainian. Is it your understanding that what Vladimir Putin is saying here in this press statement in February 2017 is similar to what President Trump says on the July 25th call related to the 2016 election?
Maybe. Now, let me show you another exhibit from the call related to the Bidens, which I'm sure you're familiar with. 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, are you familiar with the allegations, these allegations related to Vice President Biden? Yes. Do you know whether he ever went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution of anyone?
And in fact, when Vice President Biden acted to remove the former corrupt prosecutor in Ukraine, did he do so as part of official United States policy?
Official U.S. policy that was endorsed and was the policy of a number of other international stakeholders. Other countries are there monitoring institutions, financial institutions.
And in fact, if he were helped to remove a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor general who was not prosecuting enough corruption, that would increase the chances that corrupt companies in Ukraine would be investigated. Isn't that right? One would think so. And that could include Barry PSMA. Right? Yes. Now, at the time of this call, Vice President Biden was the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president and President Trump's potential next opponent in the election. Is it your understanding that President Trump's request to have Vice President Biden investigated?
Was that part of official U.S. policy as you know it? Well, I should say that I had at the time of this phone call, I had already departed Ukraine two months pregnant.
Right. But you're familiar with it didn't change that much in two months, right?
It certainly would not have been the policy in May when I left. And were you were these two investigations part of the anti-corruption platform that you championed in Ukraine for three years? No. In these investigations, do they appear to you to be to benefit in the president's personal and political interests rather than the national interest?
Well, they certainly could.
Now, just returning to the allegations in the Hill publication in March that were promoted by Mr. Giuliani, the president's lawyer. Were those two allegations similar to the two allegations that the president wanted Presidents Wolanski to investigate? Yes. So ultimately, in the July twenty fifth phone call with the Ukrainian president, president of the United States endorsed the false allegations against you and the Bidens. Is that right? Yes, I yield back, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I have a problem in your car, please.
The general suspend votes are fairly imminent. We're going to take a brief recess. I would ask everyone to remain seated. I've been to allow them to complete to exit the room and we will resume after votes was at point of enichar. The Jumma can seek recognition after we resume. All right. So right now there is a how House floor vote that the congressmen and women have to go with, so they are suspending the portion of this hearing. Don't go anywhere.
Everyone, because it will come back and.