Impeachment Hearing Live(ish) Transcripts

Transcript: Impeachment Hearing, Day 1: William B. Taylor, George Kent

EVENT: Washington, DC
DATE: November 13, 2019 @ 10:00 am ET
Text-Only View
Adam B. Schiff
The committee will come to order. Good morning, everyone. This is the first in a series of public hearings the committee will be holding as part of the House's impeachment inquiry. Without objection, the chair is authorized to declare a recess of the committee at any time there is a quorum present. Here is how the committee will proceed for this hearing.
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I will make an opening statement, and then Ranking Member Nunes will have an opportunity to make a statement. Then we will go to witness statements and then to questions. For audience members, we welcome you, and we respect your interest in being here. In turn, we ask for your respect as we proceed with today's hearing.
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John Ratcliffe
Mr. Chairman.
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Adam B. Schiff
It is the intention of the committee to proceed without disruption.
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John Ratcliffe
Mr. Chairman, may I make a parliamentary inquiry?
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Adam B. Schiff
The gentleman will state the inquiry.
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John Ratcliffe
Mr. Chairman, this is our first hearing under these new set of rules. House Resolution 660 gives you the discretion to allow yourself and the ranking member periods of extended questions of up to 45 minutes each before other members are allowed to ask questions. If possible, we'd like to know the rules of engagement before we get started.
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Have you made a decision yet as to how many 45-minute rounds you will allow yourself and the ranking member?
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Adam B. Schiff
I have not. As we informed the minority yesterday, we will see how the first period goes and how much material we are able to get through. At that point the chair will announce the period, if there is a period, of the second round, which may be up to 45 minutes, or we'll go straight to 5-minute questions by members.
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For audience members, again, we welcome you and your interest. In turn, we expect and will insist on decorum in the committee. As chairman, I will take all necessary and appropriate steps to maintain order and ensure the committee is run in accordance with House rules and House Resolution 660. With that, I now recognize myself to give an opening statement in the impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States.
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In 2014, Russia invaded the United States' ally Ukraine to reverse that Nation's embrace of the West and to fulfill Vladimir Putin's desire to rebuild a Russian empire. In the following years, 14,000 Ukrainians died as they battled superior Russian forces. Earlier this year, Volodymyr Zelensky was elected President of the Ukraine on a platform of ending the conflict and tackling corruption.
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He was a newcomer to politics and immediately sought to establish a relationship with Ukraine's most powerful patron: the United States. The questions presented by this impeachment inquiry are whether President Trump sought to exploit that ally's vulnerability and invite Ukraine's interference in our elections; whether President Trump sought to condition official acts, such as a White House meeting or U.S. military assistance, on Ukraine's willingness to assist with two political investigations that would help his reelection campaign; and, if President Trump did either, whether such an abuse of his power is compatible with the office of the Presidency.
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The matter is as simple and as terrible as that. Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this Presidency but the future of the Presidency itself and what kind of conduct or misconduct the American people may come to expect from their Commander in Chief. There are few actions as consequential as the impeachment of a President.
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While the Founders did not intend that impeachment be employed for mere differences over policy, they also made impeachment a constitutional process that the Congress must utilize as necessary. The facts in the present inquiry are not seriously contested. Beginning in January of this year, the President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, pressed Ukrainian authorities to investigate Burisma, the country's largest natural gas producer, and the Bidens, since Vice President Joe Biden was seen as a strong potential challenger to Trump.
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Giuliani also promoted a debunked conspiracy that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that hacked the 2016 U.S. election. The Nation's intelligence agencies have stated unequivocally that it was Russia, not Ukraine, that interfered in our election, but Giuliani believed this conspiracy theory, referred to as CrowdStrike, shorthand for the company that discovered the Russian hack, would aid his client's reelection.
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Giuliani also conducted a smear campaign against the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. On April 29, a senior State Department official told her that, although she had done nothing wrong, President Trump had lost confidence in her. With the sidelining of Yovanovitch, the stage was set for the establishment of an irregular channel in which Giuliani and later others, including Gordon Sondland, an influential donor to the President's inauguration, now serving as Ambassador to the European Union, could advance the President's personal and political interests.
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Yovanovitch's replacement in Kyiv, Ambassador Bill Taylor, is a West Point graduate and a Vietnam veteran. As he began to better understand the scheme through the summer of 2019, he pushed back, informing Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent and others about a plan to condition U.S. Government actions and funding on the performance of political favors by the Ukrainian Government, favors intended for President Trump that would undermine our security and our elections.
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Several key events in this scheme took place in the month of July. On July 10th, Ambassador Sondland informed a group of U.S. and Ukrainian officials meeting at the White House that, according to Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, a White House meeting desperately sought by the Ukrainian President with Trump would happen only if Ukraine undertook an investigation into the energy sector, which was understood to mean Burisma and specifically the Bidens.
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National Security Advisor Bolton abruptly ended the meeting and said afterwards that he would not be, quote, part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this, end quote. A week later on July 18th, a representative of the Office of Management and Budget, the White House agency that oversees Federal spending, announced on a video conference that Mulvaney, at the direction of the President, was freezing nearly $400 million in security assistance authorized and appropriated by Congress and which the entirety of the U.S. national security establishment supported.
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One week after that, Donald Trump would have the now-infamous July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. During that call, Trump complained that the U.S. relationship with Ukraine had not been reciprocal. Later, Zelensky thanks Trump for his support in the area of defense and says that Ukraine is ready to purchase more Javelins, an antitank weapon that was among the most important deterrents of further Russian military action.
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Trump's immediate response: I would like to you do us a favor, though. Trump then requested that Zelensky investigate the discredited 2016 CrowdStrike conspiracy theory and, even more ominously, look into the Bidens. Neither of these investigations was in the U.S. national interest, and neither was part of the official preparatory material for the call.
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Both, however, were in Donald Trump's personal interest and in the interest of his 2020 reelection campaign, and the Ukrainian President knew about both in advance because Sondland and others had been pressing Ukraine for weeks about investigations into the 2016 election, Burisma, and the Bidens. After the call, multiple individuals were concerned enough to report it to the National Security Council's top lawyer.
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The White House would then take the extraordinary step of moving the call record to a highly classified server exclusively reserved for the most sensitive intelligence matters. In the weeks that followed, Ambassador Taylor learned new facts about a scheme that even Sondland would describe as becoming more insidious.
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Taylor texted Sondland, quote: Are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are conditioned on investigations? As summer turned to fall, it kept getting more insidious, Mr. Sondland testified. Mr. Taylor, who took notes of his conversations, said the Ambassador told him on a September 1st phone call that everything was dependent on the public announcement of investigations, including security assistance.
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President Trump wanted Mr. Zelensky in a public box. "President Trump is a businessman," Sondland said later. "When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check." In a sworn declaration after Taylor's testimony, Sondland would admit to telling Ukrainians at a September 1st meeting in Warsaw, quote: The resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we have been discussing for many weeks.
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The President's chief of staff confirmed Trump's efforts to coerce Ukraine by withholding aid. When Mick Mulvaney was asked publicly about it, his answer was breathtaking. "We do that all the time with foreign policy," he said. "I have news for everybody: get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.
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That is going to happen." The video of that confession is plain for all to see. Some have argued in the President's defense that the aid was ultimately released. And that is true, but only after Congress began an investigation, only after the President's lawyers learned of a whistleblower complaint, and only after Members of Congress began asking uncomfortable questions about quid pro quos.
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A scheme to condition official acts or taxpayer funding to obtain a personal political benefit does not become less odious because it is discovered before it is fully consummated. In fact, the security assistance had been delayed so long, it would take another act of Congress to ensure that it could still go out.
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And that Oval Office meeting that Zelensky desperately sought, it still hasn't happened. Although we have learned a great deal about these events in the last several weeks, there are still missing pieces. The President has instructed the State Department and other agencies to ignore congressional subpoenas for documents.
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He has instructed witnesses to defy subpoenas and refuse to appear, and he has suggested that those who do expose wrongdoing should be treated like traitors and spies. These actions will force Congress to consider, as it did with President Nixon, whether Trump's obstruction of the constitutional duties of Congress constitute additional grounds for impeachment.
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If the President can simply refuse all oversight, particular in the context of an impeachment proceeding, the balance of power between our two branches of government will be irrevocably altered. That is not what the Founders intended, and the prospects for further corruption and abuse of power in this administration or any other will be exponentially increased.
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This is what we believe the testimony will show, both as to the President's conduct and as to his obstruction of Congress. The issue that we confront is the one posed by the President's acting chief of staff when he challenged Americans to get over it. If we find that the President of the United States abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections or if he sought to condition, coerce, extort, or bribe an ally into conducting investigations to aid his reelection campaign and did so by withholding official acts, a White House meeting, or hundreds of millions of dollars of needed military aid, must we simply get over it? Is this what Americans should now expect from their President?
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If this is not impeachable conduct, what is? Does the oath of office itself requiring that our laws be faithfully executed, that our President defend the Constitution that balances the powers of its branches, setting ambition against ambition so we become no monarchy, still have meaning? These are the questions we must ask and answer, without rancor, if we can, without delay regardless, and without party favor, and without prejudice if we are true to our responsibilities.
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Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of a country America was to become. "A republic," he answered, "if you can keep it." The fundamental issue raised by the impeachment inquiry into Donald J Trump is: Can we keep it? I now recognize Ranking Member Nunes for any remarks he may wish to make.
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Devin Nunes
Thank you, Chairman. In a July open hearing of this committee following publication of the Mueller report, the Democrats engaged in a last-ditch effort to convince the American people that President Trump is a Russian agent. That hearing was the pitiful finale of a 3-year-long operation by the Democrats, a corrupt media, and partisan bureaucrats to overturn the results of the 2016 election.
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After the spectacular implosion of their Russia hoax on July 24th, in which they spent years denouncing any Republican who ever shook hands with a Russian, on July 25th, they turned on a dime and now claim the real malfeasance is Republicans' dealings with Ukraine. In the blink of an eye, we're asked to simply forget about Democrats on this committee falsely claiming they had more than circumstantial evidence of collusion between President Trump and Russians.
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We should forget about them reading fabrications of Trump/Russia collusion from the Steele dossier into the Congressional Record. We should also forget about them trying to obtain nude pictures of Trump from Russian pranksters who pretended to be Ukrainian officials. We should forget about them leaking a false story to CNN while he was still testifying to our committee, claiming that Donald Trump, Jr., was colluding with Wikileaks, and forget about countless other deceptions, large and small, that make them the last people on Earth with the credibility to hurl more preposterous accusations at their political opponents.
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And yet now here we are. We are supposed to take these people at face value when they trot out a new batch of allegations, but anyone familiar with the Democrat's scorched-earth war against President Trump would not be surprised to see all the typical signs that this is a carefully orchestrated media smear campaign.
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For example, after vowing publicly that impeachment requires bipartisan support, Democrats are pushing impeachment forward without the backing of a single Republican. The witnesses deemed suitable for television by the Democrats were put through a closed-door audition process in a cult-like atmosphere in the basement of the Capitol where Democrats conducted secret depositions, released a flood of misleading and one-sided leaks, and, later, selectively released transcripts in a highly staged manner.
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Violating their own guidelines, Democrats repeatedly redacted from the transcripts the name of Alexandra Chalupa, a contractor for the Democrat National Committee who worked with Ukrainian officials to collect dirt on the Trump campaign which she provided to the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign. The Democrats rejected most of the Republicans' witness requests, resulting in a horrifically one-sided process where the crucial witnesses are denied a platform if their testimony does not support the Democrats' absurd accusations.
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Notably, they are trying to impeach the President for inquiring about Hunter Biden's activities, yet they refuse our request to hear from Biden himself. The whistleblower was acknowledged to have a bias against President Trump, and his attorney touted a coup against the President and called for his impeachment just weeks after the election.
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At a prior hearing, Democrats on this committee read out a purely fictitious rendition of the President's phone call with President Zelensky. They clearly found the real conversation to be insufficient for their impeachment narrative. So they just made up a new one. And most egregiously, the staff of the Democrats on this committee had direct discussions with the whistleblower before his or her complaint was submitted to the inspector general.
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Republicans can't get a full account of these contacts because Democrats broke their promise to have the whistleblower testify to this committee. Democrat members hid these contacts from Republicans and then lied about them to the American people on national television. I have noted before the Democrats have a long habit of accusing Republicans of offenses they themselves are committing.
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Let's recall: For years, they accused the Trump campaign of colluding with Russia when they themselves were colluding with Russia by funding and spreading the Steele dossier, which relied on Russian sources, and now they accuse President Trump of malfeasance in Ukraine when they themselves are culpable. The Democrats cooperated in Ukrainian election meddling, and they defend Hunter Biden's securing of a lavishly paid position with a corrupt Ukrainian company, all while his father served as Vice President.
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Despite this hypocrisy, the Democrats are advancing their impeachment sham, but we should not hold any hearings at all until we get answers to three crucial questions the Democrats are determined to avoid asking. First, what is the full extent of the Democrats' prior coordination with the whistleblower, and who else did the whistleblower coordinate this effort with?
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Second, what is the full extent of Ukraine's election meddling against the Trump campaign? And, third, why did Burisma hire Hunter Biden, and what did he do for them, and did his position affect any U.S. actions under the Obama administration? These questions will remain outstanding because Republicans were denied their right to call witnesses that know these answers.
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What we will witness today is a televised theatrical performance staged by the Democrats. Ambassador Taylor and Mr. Kent, I would like to welcome you here. I would like to congratulate you for passing the Democrats' star chamber auditions held for the last weeks in the basement of the Capitol. It seems you agreed witting or unwittingly to participate in a drama, but the main performance, the Russia hoax, has ended and you've been cast in the low-rent Ukrainian sequel.
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I will conclude by noting the immense damage the politicized bureaucracy has done to Americans' faith in government. Though executive branches employees are charged with implementing the policies set by our President, who is elected and responsible to the American people, elements of the Civil Service have decided that they, not the President, are really in charge.
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Thus, as we will learn in these hearings, after expressing skepticism of foreign aid and concern about foreign corruption on the campaign trail, President Trump outraged the bureaucracy about acting skeptically about foreign aid and expressing concerns about foreign corruption. Officials alarm at the President's actions was typically based on secondhand, thirdhand, and even fourth-hand rumors and innuendo.
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They believed it was an outrage for the President to fire an ambassador, even though the President has full authority to retain or remove diplomats for any reason at any time. Officials showed a surprising lack of interest in the indications of Ukrainian election meddling that deeply concerned the President at whose pleasure they serve.
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Despite all their dissatisfaction with President Trump's Ukraine policy, the President approved the supply of weapons to Ukraine, unlike the previous administration, which provided blankets as defense against invading Russians. By undermining the President, who they are supposed to be serving, the elements of the FBI or the Department of Justice and now the State Department have lost the confidence of millions of Americans who believe that their vote should count for something.
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It will take years, if not decades, to restore faith in these institutions. This spectacle is doing great damage to our country. It's nothing more than an impeachment process in search of a crime. With that, I yield back.
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Adam B. Schiff
Today, we are joined by Ambassador William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, both of whom are appearing under subpoena. Ambassador William Taylor has served our country for over half a century. He attended U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating in the top 1 percent of his class before serving as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army for 6 years, including with the 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War.
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Ambassador Taylor led a rifle platoon in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Air Medal for Valor. Following his military service, he worked at the Department of Energy, as a staffer in the U.S. Senate, as an advisor as well to U.S. Ambassador to NATO. In the 1990s, Ambassador Taylor coordinated U.S. assistance to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and later served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and worked on the Middle East peace process.
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In 2006, President Bush nominated him as Ambassador to Ukraine where he served until 2009 and then was appointed by President Barack Obama to be Special Coordinator For Middle East Transitions. Ambassador Taylor was serving as the executive vice president of the nonpartisan U.S. Institute for Peace when, in June 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked him to return to lead the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv as charge d'affaires.
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Mr. George Kent currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department of State's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, overseeing policy towards Ukraine and other countries. He has served twice in Ukraine from 2004 to 2007. He was the deputy political counsel including during the Orange Revolution.
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And from 2015 to 2018, he served as deputy chief of mission in Kyiv. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1992, Mr. Kent has served in Poland, Uzbekistan, and Thailand. He also served as the senior anticorruption coordinator and oversaw programs to strengthen the rule of law. All witness depositions as part of this inquiry were unclassified in nature, and all open hearings will also be at the unclassified level.
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Any information that may touch on classified information will be addressed separately. 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 both rise and raise your right hand, I will begin by swearing you in. Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are 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 please be seated.
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Elise M. Stefanik
Mr. Chairman, before we hear from the witnesses, I have a parliamentary inquiry.
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Adam B. Schiff
The gentlewoman will state her parliamentary inquiry.
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Elise M. Stefanik
Mr. Chairman, when can we anticipate a response to our November 9th letter requesting certain individual witnesses to be called?
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Adam B. Schiff
The gentlewoman should be aware that three of the witnesses the minority has requested are scheduled for next week.
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Elise M. Stefanik
Those were your witnesses, Mr. Chairman. What about the additional six witnesses?
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Adam B. Schiff
The gentlewoman may inquire about additional witnesses or make a request for a vote on additional witnesses following the witness testimony.
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Elise M. Stefanik
And, Mr. Chairman, I have a point of order under H.Res. 660.
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Adam B. Schiff
The gentlewoman will state her point of order.
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Elise M. Stefanik
Mr. Chairman, will you be prohibiting witnesses from answering members' questions as you have in the closed-door depositions?
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Adam B. Schiff
As the gentlewoman should know if she was present for the depositions --
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Elise M. Stefanik
Which I was, Mr. Chairman.
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Adam B. Schiff
For some of them, yes.
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Elise M. Stefanik
Correct.
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Adam B. Schiff
The only times I prevented witnesses from answering questions, along with their counsel, was when it was apparent that members were seeking to out the whistleblower. We will do everything necessary to protect the whistleblower's identity, and I am disturbed to hear members of the committee, who have in the past voiced strong support for whistleblower protections, seek to undermine those protections by outing the whistleblower.
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Elise M. Stefanik
Mr. Chairman, only one member and their staff --
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Adam B. Schiff
The gentlewoman --
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Elise M. Stefanik
-- has direct knowledge of the identity of the whistleblower.
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Adam B. Schiff
The gentlewoman will suspend. You asked a parliamentary inquiry, and I am responding -- or a point of order, and I am responding. We will not permit the outing of the whistleblower, and questions along those lines, counsel will inform their clients not to respond to. If necessary, I will intervene. Otherwise, I want members to feel free to ask any questions they like.
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K. Michael Conaway
Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a motion --
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Adam B. Schiff
The gentlemen is not recognized. I am responding to the gentlewoman's point of order. Otherwise, members will have every opportunity to ask any questions they like. Mr. Conaway, do you seek recognition and for what purpose?
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K. Michael Conaway
I seek recognition to make a motion that we actually subpoena the whistleblower for a closed-door secret deposition so that the questions that should be appropriately asked of the whistleblower by our side and your side may be asked, and I would prefer that, rather than it be your single decision, that the committee speak to that issue rather than just the chairman, and I move that we --
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Adam B. Schiff
I thank the gentleman. It won't be my single decision.
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K. Michael Conaway
-- subpoena the whistleblower.
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Adam B. Schiff
It won't be my single decision. We will entertain a motion to subpoena any witness but after the witnesses have had an opportunity to testify. That motion will be in order, but that motion will be suspended until after the witnesses testify.
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Jim Jordan
Mr. Chairman, do you anticipate when we would vote on that?
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Adam B. Schiff
For what purpose does Mr. Jordan seek recognition?
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Jim Jordan
Just to ask a clarifying questioning. Do you anticipate when we might vote on the ability to have the whistleblower in front of us, something you -- of the Members of the Congress, you are the only Member who knows who that individual is, and your staff is the only staff of any Member of Congress who has had a chance to talk with that individual.
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We would like that opportunity. When might that happen in this proceeding today?
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Adam B. Schiff
First, as the gentleman knows, that is a false statement. I do not know the identity of the whistleblower, and I am determined to make sure that identity is protected. But as I said to Mr. Conaway, you have an opportunity after the witnesses testify to make a motion to subpoena any witness and compel a vote.
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With that, I now recognize the witnesses. Before I do, I want to just emphasize the microphones are sensitive, so please speak directly into them. Without objection, your written statements will be made part of the record. With that, Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent, you are recognized for your opening statement.
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Ambassador Taylor, you are recognized immediately thereafter for your opening statement.
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George Kent
Good morning. My name is George Kent, and I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. I have served proudly as a nonpartisan career Foreign Service officer for more than 27 years under five Presidents, three Republican and two Democrat. As I mentioned in my opening comments last month in the closed-door deposition, I represent the third generation of my family to have chosen a career in public service and sworn the oath of office that all U.S. public servants do in defense of our Constitution.
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Indeed, there has been a George Kent sworn to defend the Constitution continuously for nearly 60 years, ever since my father reported to Annapolis for his Plebe Summer. After graduating first in his Naval Academy class in 1965, the year best known for his Heisman-winning classmate Roger Staubach, my father served a full honorable years, including as a captain of a nuclear ballistic missile submarine during the height of the Cold War.
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Five great unless served honorably in the Navy and the Army in World War II. In particular, Tom Taggart was stationed in the Philippines at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He survived the brutal Bataan Death March and 3 and a half years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp unbroken. He returned to service as an Air Force judge advocate, upholding the rule of law until his death in 1965. Today, I appear before you once again under subpoena as a fact witness, ready to answer all of your questions about the events and developments examined in this inquiry to the best of my ability and recollection, subject to the limits placed on me by the law and this process.
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I will begin with some opening comments on the key principles at the heart of what brings me before you today, to wit, principled public service in pursuit of our enduring national interests and the place of Ukraine in our national and security interests. For the past 5 years, we have focused our united efforts across the Atlantic to support Ukraine in its fight for the cause of freedom and the rebirth of a country free from Russian dominion and the warped legacy of Soviet institutions and post-Soviet behavior.
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As I stated in my closed-door deposition last month, you don't step into the public arena of international diplomacy in active pursuit of principled U.S. interests without expecting vigorous pushback including personal attacks. Such attacks came from the Russians, their proxies, and corrupt Ukrainians. That tells me our efforts were hitting their mark.
[00:32:40.080 - 00:33:05.760]

It was unexpected and most unfortunate, however, to watch some Americans, including those who allied themselves with corrupt Ukrainians in pursuit of private agendas, launch attacks on dedicated public servants advancing U.S. interests in Ukraine. In my opinion, those attacks undermined U.S. and Ukrainian national interests and damaged our critical bilateral relationship.
[00:33:05.760 - 00:33:31.000]

The United States has very clear national interests at stake in Ukraine. Ukraine's success is very much in our national interest in the way we have defined our national interests broadly in Europe for the past 75 years. After World War II, U.S. leadership furthered farsighted policies like the Marshall Plan in the creation of a rules-based international order.
[00:33:31.000 - 00:33:55.480]

Protected by the collective security provided by NATO, Western Europe recovered and thrived after the carnage of World War II, notwithstanding the shadow of the Iron Curtain. Europe's security and prosperity contributed to our security and prosperity. Support of Ukraine's success also fits squarely into our strategy for Central and Eastern Europe since the fall of the wall 30 years ago this past week.
[00:33:55.480 - 00:34:24.320]

A Europe truly whole, free, and at peace, our strategic aim for the entirety of my Foreign Service career is not possible without a Ukraine whole, free, and at peace, including Crimea and the Donbas, territories currently occupied by Russian, represented by the red in the map. Looking forward, the Trump administration's national security strategy makes clear the global strategic challenge now before us, great power competition with rivals such as Russia and China, and the need to compete for positive influence without taking countries for granted.
[00:34:24.320 - 00:35:01.160]

In that sense, Ukraine has been on the front lines not just of Russia's conventional war in Eastern Europe since 2014 and its broader campaign of malign influence but of the greater geopolitical challenges now facing the United States. Ukraine's popular revolution of dignity in 2014 forced a corrupt pro-Russian leadership to flee to Moscow.
[00:35:01.160 - 00:35:26.440]

After that, Russia invaded Ukraine, occupying 7 percent of its territory, roughly equivalent to the size of Texas for the United States. At that time, Ukraine's state institutions were on the verge of collapse. Ukrainian civil society answered the challenge. They formed volunteer battalions of citizens including technology professionals and medics.
[00:35:26.440 - 00:35:49.760]

They crowdsourced funding for their own weapons, body armor, and supplies. They were the st century Ukrainian equivalent of our own minutemen of 1776, buying time for a regular Army to reconstitute. Since then, more than 13,000 Ukrainians have died on Ukrainian soil, defending their territorial integrity and sovereignty from Russia aggression.
[00:35:49.760 - 00:36:14.560]

America's support in Ukraine's own de facto war of independence has been critical in this regard. By analogy, the American Colonies may not have prevailed against the British imperial might without the help of transatlantic friends after 1776. In an echo of Lafayette's organized assistance to General George Washington's Army and Admiral John Paul Jones' Navy, Congress has generously appropriated over $1.5 billion over the past 5 years in desperately needed train-and-equip security assistance to Ukraine.
[00:36:14.560 - 00:36:46.560]

These funds increase Ukraine's strength and ability to fight Russian aggression. Ultimately, Ukraine is on a path to become a full security partner of the United States within NATO. Similar to von Steuben training colonials at Valley Forge, U.S. and NATO allied trainers developed the skills of Ukrainian units at Yavoriv near the Polish border and elsewhere.
[00:36:46.560 - 00:37:08.720]

They help rewrite military education for Ukraine's next generation as von Steuben did for America's first. In supporting Ukraine's brave resistance to Russian aggression, we have a front-row seat to the Russian way of war in the 21st century, gaining priceless insights that contribute to our own security.
[00:37:08.720 - 00:37:29.560]

This year, in 2019, Ukrainian citizens passed the political torch to a new generation, one that came of age not in the final years of the Soviet Union but in an independent Ukraine. Presidential and parliamentary elections swept out much of Ukraine's previous governing elite and seated 41-year-old President Zelensky a Cabinet with an average age of 39, and a Parliament with the average age of 41. At the heart of that change mandate 5 years after Ukraine's revolution of dignity is a thirst for justice because there cannot be dignity without justice.
[00:37:29.560 - 00:38:07.080]

Without a reformed judicial sector that delivers justice with integrity for all, Ukrainian society will remain unsettled. Foreign investors, including American investors, will not bring the great investment needed to ensure that Ukraine's long-term prosperity is secured. This is why the principled promotion of the rule of law and institutional integrity is so necessary to our strategy for a successful Ukraine.
[00:38:07.080 - 00:38:33.880]

It is also true for other former captive nations still recovering from the ashes of Soviet and Communist misrule. It is why acting inconsistently with the core principle of the rule of law comes at great peril. I am grateful to all of the Members of Congress and staffers, including many of you sitting here today, who have traveled to Ukraine over the past 5 years and appropriated billions of dollars of assistance in support of our primary policy goals.
[00:38:33.880 - 00:38:59.640]

Those funds increase Ukraine's ability to fight Russian aggression in the defense, energy, cyber, and information spheres. And they also empower state institutions and civil society to undertake systemic reforms and tackle corruption. I believe all of us can be proud of our efforts in Ukraine over the past 5 years, even though much remains to be done.
[00:38:59.640 - 00:39:20.400]

And by "all of us," I mean those of us in the legislative and the executive branches, in both parties, the interagency community working out of our Embassy in Kyiv, with Ukrainians in government, the military, and civil society, and our transatlantic allies and partners. We cannot allow our resolve to waiver since too much is at stake, not just for Ukraine and the future of European security but for the national interests of the United States broadly defined.
[00:39:20.400 - 00:39:47.360]

My prior deposition covered a lot of ground over 10 hours. Here are the main 10 themes from my testimony. I outlined my experience with longstanding U.S. interests in supporting anticorruption efforts in Ukraine. This work gave me a front row seat to problematic activities by successive prosecutors general in Ukraine.
[00:39:47.360 - 00:40:07.040]

For many of the issues this committee is investigating, my knowledge and understanding is sometimes firsthand and sometimes comes from others involved in specific conversations and meetings. This is no different than how anyone learns and carries out his or her job responsibilities. I have been and remain willing to share my factual observations with the committee and will make clear when those are based on personal knowledge or from information gleaned from others.
[00:40:07.040 - 00:40:34.920]

U.S. efforts to counter corruption in Ukraine focus on building institutional capacity so that the Ukrainian Government has the ability to go after corruption and effectively investigate, prosecute, and judge alleged criminal activities using appropriate institutional mechanisms, that is, to create and follow the rule of law.
[00:40:34.920 - 00:40:55.000]

That means that if there are criminal nexuses for activity in the United States, U.S. law enforcement should pursue the case. If we think there has been a criminal act overseas that violates U.S. law, we have the institutional mechanisms to address that. It could be through the Justice Department and FBI agents assigned overseas or through treaty mechanisms, such as the mutual legal assistance treaty.
[00:40:55.000 - 00:41:18.960]

As a general principle, I do not believe the United States should ask other countries to engage in selective politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power because such selective actions undermine the rule of law, regardless of the country. The pervasive and longstanding problem of corruption in Ukraine included exposure to a situation involving the energy company Burisma.
[00:41:18.960 - 00:41:44.080]

The primary concern of the U.S. Government since 2014 was Burisma's owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, whose frozen assets abroad we had attempted to recover on Ukraine's behalf. In early 2015, I raised questions with the deputy prosecutor general about why the investigation of Mr. Zlochevsky had been terminated based on our belief that prosecutors had accepted bribes to close the case.
[00:41:44.080 - 00:42:07.040]

Later, I became aware that Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma. Soon after that, in a briefing call with the national security staff of the Office of the Vice President in February of 2015, I raised my concern that Hunter Biden's status as a board member could create the perception of a conflict of interest.
[00:42:07.040 - 00:42:25.000]

Let me be clear, however: I did not witness any effort by any U.S. official to shield Burisma from scrutiny. In fact, I and other U.S. officials consistently advocated reinstituting a scuttled investigation of Zlochevsky, Burisma's founder, as well as holding the corrupt prosecutors who closed the case to account.
[00:42:25.000 - 00:42:43.040]

Over the course of 2018 and 2019, I became increasingly aware of an effort by Rudy Giuliani and others, including his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, to run a campaign to smear Ambassador Yovanovitch and other officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. The chief agitators on the Ukrainian side of this effort were some of those same corrupt former prosecutors I had encountered, particularly Yuriy Lutsenko and Viktor Shokin.
[00:42:43.040 - 00:43:08.640]

They were now peddling false information in order to extract revenge against those who had exposed their misconduct, including U.S. diplomats, Ukrainian anticorruption officials, and reform-minded civil society groups in Ukraine. During the late spring and summer of 2019, I became alarmed as those efforts bore fruit.
[00:43:08.640 - 00:43:27.800]

They led to the outer of Ambassador Yovanovitch and hampered U.S. efforts to establish rapport with the new Zelensky administration in Ukraine. In mid-August, it became clear to me that Giuliani's efforts to gin up politically motivated investigations were now infecting U.S. engagement with Ukraine, leveraging President Zelensky's desire for a White House meeting.
[00:43:27.800 - 00:43:48.240]

There are and always have been conditionality placed on our sovereign loan guarantees for Ukraine. Conditions include anticorruption reforms, as well as meeting larger stability goals and social safety nets. The International Monetary Fund does the same thing. Congress and the executive branch work together to put conditionality on some security assistance in the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
[00:43:48.240 - 00:44:12.520]

Regarding my testimony today, I will do my best to answer your questions, questions that will involve issues, conversations, and documents that span a number of years. I may be limited by three considerations. First, the State Department has collected all materials in response to the September 27th subpoena that may contain facts relevant to my testimony.
[00:44:12.520 - 00:44:32.880]

I have no such documents or materials with me today. I will thus do my best to answer as accurately, completely, and truthfully as I can to the best of my recollection. Second, as this committee knows from the deposition testimony, throughout this process there have been concerns that questions may be asked about classified information.
[00:44:32.880 - 00:44:51.200]

We have asked the State Department for guidance about classification concerns related to the public release of my deposition, and the State Department has declined to provide any. So, if I'm asked a question today that I believe may implicate classified information, I will respectfully decline to answer in this public forum.
[00:44:51.200 - 00:45:09.040]

Third, there may be questions focusing on the identity of people in the Intelligence Community. These questions were redacted from my deposition's transcript. If such a question arises today, I will follow my counsel's advice and decline to answer. I would like to conclude my opening remarks with an observation about some of my fellow public servants who have come under personal attacks: Ambassador Yovanovitch, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, and Dr. Hill, at least one of whom is going appear before this body in the coming days.
[00:45:09.040 - 00:45:40.240]

Masha, Alex, and Fiona were born abroad before their families or they themselves personally chose to immigrate to the United States. They all made the professional choice to serve the United States as public officials, helping shape our national security policy towards Russia in particular. And we and our national security are the better for it. In this sense, they are the 21st century heirs of two giants of 20th century national security policy who also were born abroad, my former professor Zbigniew Brzezinski and his fellow immigrant, Henry Kissinger.
[00:45:40.240 - 00:46:13.200]

Like the Brzezinskis and Kissingers, the Yovanovitches and Vindmans fled Nazi and Communist oppression to contribute to a stronger, more secure America. That honorable tradition of transatlantic ties goes back to the very founding of our Republic. Our 18th century independence would not have been secured without the choice of European officers, the French-born Lafayette and Rochambeau, the German-born von Steuben, and the Pols Pulaski and Kosciuszko to come to the new world and fight for our cause of freedom and the birth of a new country, free from imperil dominion.
[00:46:13.200 - 00:46:48.320]

It is my privilege to sit next to my former boss, Ambassador Taylor, today. And it is my honor to serve with all of these patriotic Americans. Thank you.
[00:46:48.320 - 00:47:00.160]
Adam B. Schiff
Thank you.
[00:47:00.160 - 00:47:00.440]
William Taylor
Mr. Chairman, I'm appearing today at the committee's request to provide my perspective on the events that are the subject of the committee's inquiry. I want to emphasize at the outset that while I am aware that the committee has requested my testimony as part of impeachment proceedings, I am not here to take one side or the other or to advocate for any particular outcome of these proceedings.
[00:47:00.440 - 00:47:29.320]

My sole purpose is to provide facts as I know them about the incidents in question, as well as my views about the strategic importance of Ukraine to the United States. By way of background, it has been a privilege for me to serve our country and the American people for more than 50 years, starting as a cadet at West Point, as you have mentioned, Mr. Chairman; then as an infantry officer for six years including with the st Airborne Division in Vietnam; then at the Department of Energy; then as a member of a Senate staff; then at NATO; then with the State Department here and abroad in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jerusalem, and Ukraine.
[00:47:29.320 - 00:48:08.440]

I retired from the State Department in 2009 to join the United States Institute of Peace. I am neither a career member of the Foreign Service nor of the Civil Service. I am nonpartisan and have been appointed to my positions by every President from President Reagan to President Trump. Let me emphasize my main points.
[00:48:08.440 - 00:48:26.720]

First, Ukraine is a strategic partner of the United States, important for the security of our country as well as Europe. Ukraine is on the front line in the conflict with a newly aggressive Russia. Second, even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers in their own country and have been for the last 4 years.
[00:48:26.720 - 00:48:54.920]

I saw this on the front line last week. The day I was there, a Ukrainian solder was killed and four were wounded. Third, the security assistance we provide is crucial to Ukraine's defense and to the protection of the solders I met on the front line last week. It demonstrates to Ukrainians and Russians that we are Ukraine's reliable strategic partner.
[00:48:54.920 - 00:49:21.640]

It is clearly in our national interest to deter further Russian aggression. And, finally, as the committee is aware, I wrote that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be crazy. I believe that then, and I believe it now. Let me tell you why.
[00:49:21.640 - 00:49:45.040]

On May 28th of this year, I met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who asked me to rejoin the State Department and return to Kyiv to lead our embassy in Ukraine. It was and is a critical time for U.S./Ukraine elations. I had served as Ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, having been nominated by George W. Bush, and in the intervening 10 years had stayed engaged with Ukraine.
[00:49:45.040 - 00:50:10.240]

Across the responsibilities I have had in public service, Ukraine is the highlight. And so Secretary Pompeo's offer to return as chief of mission was compelling. Since I left Ukraine in 2009, the country had continued to turn toward the West, but in 2013, Vladimir Putin was so threatened by the prospect of Ukraine joining the European Union that he tried to bribe the Ukrainian President.
[00:50:10.240 - 00:50:38.440]

This triggered mass protests in the winter of 2013 that drove that President to flee to Russia in February of 2014 but not before his forces killed a hundred Ukrainian protestors in central Kyiv. Days later, Mr. Putin invaded Crimea, holding a sham referendum at the point of Russian Army rifles. The Russians absurdly claimed that 97 percent voted to join Russia.
[00:50:38.440 - 00:51:07.080]

In early April, Putin sent his Army and security forces into southeastern Ukraine to generate illegal armed formations and puppet governments in what we know at Donbas. You can see this on the map in the right-hand portion in the eastern portion of the country. 14,000 Ukrainians have died in the war in Donbas, and more die each week.
[00:51:07.080 - 00:51:32.160]

In July 2014, these Russian-led forces in Donbas shot down a civilian airliner en route from Amsterdam to Malaysia, killing all 298 people on board. We, the Europeans, and most of the West imposed economic sanctions and kicked the Russians out of the G8. Beginning in 2014, we and NATO began to provide military assistance to Ukraine's Armed Forces in the form of training, advice, military equipment, and weapons.
[00:51:32.160 - 00:52:04.880]

It is this security assistance that is at the heart of the controversy that we are discussing today. The pro-Russian President, who was run out of Kyiv in 2014, had let the Russian Armed Forces deteriorate to the point of ruin. In response to the Russian invasion, the new Ukrainian authorities, with an amazing outpouring of support from regular Ukrainian people, rebuilt the Army nearly from scratch, spending more than percent of Ukrainian GDP on defense since the war started.
[00:52:04.880 - 00:52:38.000]

The whole Ukrainian nation fiercely responded to the Russian attack. The nation united like never before. A ragtag army developed into a strong fighting force, and the United States played a vital role. Since 2014, you and Congress have provided over $1.6 billion in military assistance to Ukraine. The security assistance provides small unit training at an Army base near Lviv in the west end of the country.
[00:52:38.000 - 00:53:06.040]

It provides ambulances, night-vision devices, communications equipment, counterbattery radar, Navy ships, and, finally, weapons. This security assistance demonstrates our commitment to resist aggression and defend freedom. During the 2014 to 2016 period, I was serving outside of government and joined two other former Ambassadors to Ukraine, urging the Obama administration officials at the State Department, Defense Department, and other agencies to provide lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine in order to deter further Russian aggression.
[00:53:06.040 - 00:53:39.600]

I also supported much stronger sanctions on Russia. I was pleased when the Trump administration provided Javelin antitank missiles and enacted stronger sanctions. All to say, I cared about Ukraine's future and the important U.S. interests there. So, when Secretary Pompeo asked me to go back to Kyiv, I wanted to say yes, but it was not an easy decision.
[00:53:39.600 - 00:54:05.800]

The former Ambassador, Masha Yovanovitch, has been treated poorly, caught in a web of political machinations, both in Kyiv and Washington. I feared that those problems were still present. I consulted both my wife and the respected former senior Republican official who has been a mentor. I will tell you that my wife in no uncertain terms strongly opposed the idea.
[00:54:05.800 - 00:54:30.320]

The mentor counseled: If your country asks to you do something, you do it if you can be effective. I could be effective only if the U.S. policy of strong support for Ukraine, strong diplomatic support, along with robust security, economic, and technical assistance were to continue, and if I had the backing of the Secretary of State to implement that policy.
[00:54:30.320 - 00:54:51.600]

And I worried about what I had heard concerning the role of Rudy Giuliani, who had made several controversial statements about Ukraine and U.S. policy toward the country. So, during my meeting with Secretary Pompeo on May 28th, I made clear to him and the others present that if U.S. policy towards Ukraine changed, he would not want me posted there and I could not stay.
[00:54:51.600 - 00:55:23.160]

He assured me that the policy of strong support for Ukraine would continue and that he would support me in defending that policy. With that understanding, I agreed to go back to Kyiv. Because I was appointed by the Secretary but not reconfirmed by the Senate, my official position was charge d'affaires ad interim.
[00:55:23.160 - 00:55:42.120]

In effect, I was the Acting Ambassador to Ukraine. I returned to Kyiv on June 17th, carrying the original copy of a letter President Trump signed the day after I met with the Secretary. In that letter, President Trump congratulated President Zelensky on his election victory and invited him to a meeting in the Oval Office.
[00:55:42.120 - 00:56:00.880]

But once I arrived in Kyiv, I discovered a weird combination of encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances. First the encouraging. President Zelensky was reforming Ukraine in a hurry. He appointed reformist ministers and supported long-stalled anticorruption legislation. He took quick executive action, including opening Ukraine's high anticorruption court.
[00:56:00.880 - 00:56:28.040]

With a new parliamentary majority stemming from snap elections, President Zelensky changed the Ukrainian constitution to remove absolute immunity from Rada deputies, the source of raw corruption for two decades. The excitement in Kyiv was palpable. This time could be different, a new Ukraine finally breaking from its corrupt post-Soviet past.
[00:56:28.040 - 00:56:51.680]

And yet I found the confusing and unusual arrangement for making U.S. policy towards Ukraine. There appeared to be two channels of U.S. policymaking and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular. As the Acting Ambassador, I had authority over the regular, formal diplomatic processes, including the bulk of the U.S. effort to support Ukraine against Russian invasion and to help it defeat corruption.
[00:56:51.680 - 00:57:17.480]

My colleague, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, and our colleagues at the National Security Council were my main points of contact in Washington in this regular channel. This channel is formally responsibility for formulating and overseeing the implementation of U.S. foreign policy with respect to Ukraine, a policy that has consistently enjoyed strong, bipartisan support both in Congress and in all administrations since Ukraine's independence from Russia in 1991. At the same time, however, I encountered an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policymaking with respect to Ukraine.
[00:57:17.480 - 00:57:57.560]

Unaccountable to Congress, a channel that included then Special Envy Kurt Volker, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and, as I subsequently learned, Mr. Giuliani. I was clearly in the regular channel, but I was also in the irregular one to the extent that Ambassadors Volker and Sondland included me in certain conversations.
[00:57:57.560 - 00:58:26.240]

Although this irregular channel was well connected in Washington, it operated mostly outside of official State Department channels. The irregular channel began when Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, Secretary Perry, and Senator Ron Johnson briefed President Trump on May 23rd upon their return from President Zelensky's inauguration.
[00:58:26.240 - 00:58:50.080]

The delegation was as enthusiastic as I would soon become about the new Ukrainian President and urged President Trump to meet with him early on to cement the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. But from what I understood from the participants, President Trump did not share their enthusiasm for a meeting with President Zelensky.
[00:58:50.080 - 00:59:12.040]

When I arrived in Kyiv, the actions of both the regular and the irregular channels of foreign policy appeared to serve the same goal: a strong U.S.-Ukraine partnership. But it became clear to me by August that the channels had diverged in their objectives. As this occurred, I became increasingly concerned.
[00:59:12.040 - 00:59:34.000]

In late June, both channels were trying to facilitate a visit by President Zelensky to the White House for a meeting with President Trump, which President Trump had promised in his congratulatory letter of May 29th. The Ukrainians were clearly eager for the meeting to happen. But during my subsequent communications with Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, they relayed to me that the President wanted to hear from Zelensky before scheduling the meeting in the Oval Office.
[00:59:34.000 - 01:00:04.880]

It was not clear to me what this meant. On June 27th, Ambassador Sondland told me during a phone conversation that President Zelensky needed to make clear to President Trump that he, President Zelensky, was not standing in the way of investigations. I sensed something odd when Ambassador Sondland told me on June 28th that he did not wish to include most of the regular interagency participants in a call planned with President Zelensky later that day.
[01:00:04.880 - 01:00:34.080]

Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Volker, Secretary Perry, and I were on this call, dialing in from different locations. However, Ambassador Sondland said he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelensky to the call. Also, before President Zelensky joined the call, Ambassador Volker separately told the U.S. participants that he, Ambassador Volker, planned to be explicit with President Zelensky in a one-on-one meeting in Toronto on July 2nd. In that meeting, Ambassador Volker planned to make clear what President Zelensky should do to get the White House meeting.
[01:00:34.080 - 01:01:13.080]

I did not understand what this meant, but Ambassador Volker said he would relay that President Trump wanted to see rule of law, transparency, but also, specifically, cooperation on investigations to get to the bottom of things. Once President Zelensky joined the call, the conversation was focused on energy policy and the war in Donbas.
[01:01:13.080 - 01:01:34.720]

President Zelensky also said he looked forward to the White House visit President Trump had offered in his May 29th letter. By mid-July, it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on the investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.
[01:01:34.720 - 01:01:55.280]

It was also clear that this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel I had come to understand was guided by Mr. Giuliani. In a regular NSC secure video conference call on July 18th, I heard a staff person from the Office of Management and Budget say that there was a hold on security assistance to Ukraine but could not say why.
[01:01:55.280 - 01:02:18.800]

Toward the end of an otherwise normal meeting, a voice on the call -- the person was off-screen -- said that she was from OMB and her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending on security assistance for Ukraine until further notice. I and others sat in astonishment. The Ukrainians were fighting Russians and counted on not only the training and weapons but also the assurance of U.S. support.
[01:02:18.800 - 01:02:46.880]

All that the OMB staff person said was that the directive had come from the President, to the Chief of Staff, to OMB. In an instant, I realized that one of the key pillars of our strong support for Ukraine was threatened. The irregular policy channel was running contrary to the goals of longstanding U.S. policy.
[01:02:46.880 - 01:03:06.720]

There followed a series of NSC-led interagency meetings, starting at the staff level and quickly reaching the level of Cabinet Secretaries. At every meeting, the unanimous conclusion was that the security assistance should be resumed, the hold lifted. At one point, the Defense Department was asked to perform an analysis of the effectiveness of the assistance.
[01:03:06.720 - 01:03:27.800]

Within a day, the Defense Department came back with the determination that the assistance was effective and should be resumed. My understanding was that the Secretaries of Defense and State, the CIA Director, and the National Security Advisor sought a joint meeting with the President to convince him to release the hold, but such a meeting was hard to schedule, and the hold lasted well into September.
[01:03:27.800 - 01:03:50.280]

On July 9th, in a phone call with then-Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs Fiona Hill and Director of European Affairs Lieutenant Colonel Alex Vindman at the NSC, they tried to assure me that they were not aware of any official change in U.S. policy towards Ukraine, OMB's announcement notwithstanding.
[01:03:50.280 - 01:04:12.680]

They did confirm that the hold on security assistance for Ukraine came from Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who maintained a skeptical view of Ukraine. In the same July 19th phone call, they gave me an account of a July 10th meeting with Ukrainian and American officials at the White House. They told me that, partway through the meeting, Ambassador Sondland had connected investigations with an Oval Office meeting for President Zelensky, which so irritated then-National Security Advisor John Bolton that he abruptly ended the meeting, telling Dr. Hill and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman that they should have nothing to do with domestic politics.
[01:04:12.680 - 01:04:52.160]

He also directed Dr. Hill to brief the lawyers. Dr. Hill said that Ambassador Bolton referred to this deal as -- this as a drug deal after the July 10th meeting. Ambassador Bolton opposed a call between President Zelensky and President Trump, out of concern that it would be a disaster. Needless to say, the Ukrainians in the meetings were confused.
[01:04:52.160 - 01:05:16.480]

Ambassador Bolton and the regular Ukraine policy decision-making channel wanted to talk about security, energy, and reform. Ambassador Sondland, a participant in the irregular channel, wanted to talk about the connection between a White House meeting and Ukrainian investigations. Also during our July 19th call, Dr. Hill informed me that Ambassador Volker had met with Mr. Giuliani to discuss Ukraine.
[01:05:16.480 - 01:05:41.080]

This caught me by surprise. The next day, I asked Ambassador Volker about that meeting but received no response. I began to sense that these two separate decision-making channels, the regular and the irregular, were separate and at odds. Later that day, I received text messages on a three-way WhatsApp text conversation with Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, a record of which was provided by Ambassador Volker.
[01:05:41.080 - 01:06:07.440]

Ambassador Sondland said that a call between President Trump and President Zelensky would take place soon. Ambassador Volker said that what was most important is for Zelensky to say that he will help the investigation and address any specific personnel issues, if there are any. On the next day, July 20th, I had a phone conversation with Ambassador Sondland while he was on a train from Paris to London.
[01:06:07.440 - 01:06:32.120]

Ambassador Sondland told me that he had recommended to President Zelensky that he use the phrase "I will leave no stone unturned" with regard to investigations when President Zelensky spoke with President Trump. Also on July 20th, I had a phone conversation with Oleksandr Danylyuk, President Zelensky's national security advisor, who emphasized that President Zelensky did not want to be used as an instrument in a U.S. reelection campaign.
[01:06:32.120 - 01:07:12.160]

The next day, I texted both Ambassadors Volker and Sondland about President Zelensky's concern. On July 25th, President Trump and President Zelensky had the long-awaited phone conversation. Even though I was Acting Ambassador and was scheduled to meet with President Zelensky along with Ambassador Volker the following day, I received no readout of the call from the White House.
[01:07:12.160 - 01:07:35.600]

The Ukrainian Government issued a short, cryptic summary. During a previously planned July 26th meeting, President Zelensky told Ambassador Volker and me that he was happy with the call but did not elaborate. President Zelensky then asked about the face-to-face meeting in the Oval Office, as promised in the May 29th letter from President Trump.
[01:07:35.600 - 01:07:58.320]

We could give him no firm answer. After our meeting with President Zelensky, Ambassador Volker and I traveled to the front line in northern Donbas to receive a briefing from the commander of forces on the line of contact. Arriving for the briefing in the military headquarters, the commander thanked us for the security assistance.
[01:07:58.320 - 01:08:16.960]

But I was aware that this assistance was on hold, which made me uncomfortable. Ambassador Volker and I could see the armed and hostile Russian-led forces on the other side of the damaged bridge across the line of contact. Russian-led forces continued to kill Ukrainians in the war, one or two a week. More Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without the U.S. assistance.
[01:08:16.960 - 01:08:40.640]

Although I spent the morning of July 26th with President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials, the first summary of the July 25th Trump-Zelensky call that I heard from anybody inside the U.S. Government was during a phone call I had with Tim Morrison, Dr. Hill's recent replacement at the NSC, on July 28th. Mr. Morrison told me that the call could have been better and that President Trump had suggested that President Zelensky or his staff meet with Mr. Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr.
[01:08:40.640 - 01:09:14.840]

I did not see any official readout of the call until it was publicly released on September 25th. By August, I was becoming more concerned. On August 16th, I exchanged text messages with Ambassador Volker in which I learned that Andriy Yermak, a senior advisor to President Zelensky, had asked that the United States submit an official request for an investigation into Burisma's alleged violations of Ukrainian law if that is what the United States desired.
[01:09:14.840 - 01:09:44.160]

A formal U.S. request to the Ukrainians to conduct an investigation based on violations of their own law struck me as improper, and I recommended to Ambassador Volker that we stayed clear. To find out the legal aspects of the question, however, I gave him the name of a deputy assistant attorney general whom I thought would be the proper point of contact for seeking a U.S. request for a foreign investigation.
[01:09:44.160 - 01:10:09.960]

By mid-August, because the security assistance had been held for over a month for no reason that I could discern, I was beginning to fear that the longstanding U.S. policy of support for Ukraine was shifting. I called State Department counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl to discuss this on August st. He said he was not aware of a change in policy but would check on the status of the security assistance.
[01:10:09.960 - 01:10:35.920]

My concern deepened the next daily, on August 22nd, during a phone conversation with Mr. Morrison. I asked him if there had been a change in policy of strong support for Ukraine, to which he responded, "It remains to be seen." He also told me during this call that "the President doesn't want to provide any assistance at all." That was extremely troubling to me, as I had told Secretary Pompeo in May, if the policy of strong support for Ukraine were to change, I would have to resign.
[01:10:35.920 - 01:11:07.360]

Based on my call with Mr. Morrison, I was preparing to do so. Just days later, on August 27th, Ambassador Bolton arrived in Kyiv and met with President Zelensky. During their meeting, security assistance was not discussed. As far as I knew, the Ukrainians were not aware of the hold until August 29th. I, on the other hand, was all too aware of and still troubled by the hold.
[01:11:07.360 - 01:11:32.920]

Near the end of Ambassador Bolton's visit, I asked to meet him privately, during which I expressed to him my serious concern about the withholding of military assistance to Ukraine while the Ukrainians were defending their country from Russian aggression. Ambassador Bolton recommended that I send a first-person cable to Secretary Pompeo directly relaying my concerns.
[01:11:32.920 - 01:11:56.080]

I wrote and transmitted such a cable on August 29th, describing the folly I saw in withholding military aid to Ukraine at a time when hostilities were still active in the east and when Russia was watching closely to gauge the level of American support for the Ukrainian Government. The Russians, as I said at my deposition, would love to see the humiliation of President Zelensky at the hands of the Americans.
[01:11:56.080 - 01:12:20.920]

I told the Secretary that I could not and would not defend such a policy. Although I received no specific response, I heard that soon thereafter the Secretary carried the cable with him to a meeting at the White House focused on security assistance for Ukraine. The same day that I sent my cable to the Secretary, Mr. Yermak contacted me, very concerned, asking about the withheld security assistance.
[01:12:20.920 - 01:12:45.640]

The hold that the White House had placed on assistance had just been made public that day in a Politico story. At that point, I was embarrassed that I could give him no explanation for why it was withheld. It had still not occurred to me that the hold on security assistance could be related to the investigations.
[01:12:45.640 - 01:13:03.840]

That, however, would change. On September 1st, just 3 days after my cable to Secretary Pompeo, President Zelensky met Vice President Pence at a bilateral meeting in Warsaw. President Trump had planned to travel to Warsaw but at the last minute had canceled because of Hurricane Dorian. Just hours before the Pence-Zelensky meeting, I contacted Mr. Danylyuk to let him know that the delay of U.S. assistance was an all-or-nothing proposition, in the sense that if the White House did not lift the hold prior to the end of the fiscal year, September 30th, the funds would expire and Ukraine would receive nothing.
[01:13:03.840 - 01:13:41.800]

I was hopeful that at the bilateral meeting or shortly thereafter the White House would lift the hold, but this was not to be. On the evening of September 1st, I received a readout of the Pence-Zelensky meeting over the phone from Mr. Morrison, during which he told me that President Zelensky had opened the meeting by immediately asking the Vice President about the security cooperation.
[01:13:41.800 - 01:14:04.720]

The Vice President did not respond substantively but said that he would talk to President Trump that night. The Vice President did say that President Trump wanted the Europeans to do more to support Ukraine and that he wanted the Ukrainians to do more to fight corruption. During the same phone call with Mr. Morrison, he described a conversation Ambassador Sondland had with Mr. Yermak in Warsaw.
[01:14:04.720 - 01:14:29.600]

Ambassador Sondland told Mr. Yermak that the security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation. I was alarmed by what Mr. Morrison told me about the Sondland-Yermak conversation. I understand that Mr. Morrison testified at his deposition that Ambassador Sondland proposed it might be sufficient for the Ukrainian Prosecutor General to commit to pursue the investigations, as opposed to President Zelensky.
[01:14:29.600 - 01:14:59.440]

But this was the first time that I had heard that the security assistance, not just the White House meeting, was conditioned on the investigations. Very concerned, on that same day, September 1st, I sent Ambassador Sondland a text message asking if we are now saying that the security assistance and a White House meeting are conditioned on investigations.
[01:14:59.440 - 01:15:22.680]

Ambassador Sondland responded, asking me to call him, which I did. During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling Ukrainian officials that only a White House meeting with President Zelensky was dependent on a public announcement of the investigations.
[01:15:22.680 - 01:15:58.280]

In fact, Ambassador Sondland said, everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky in a public box, by making a public statement about ordering such investigations. In the same September 1st call, I told Ambassador Sondland that President Trump should have more respect for another head of State and that what he described was not in the interest of either President Trump or President Zelensky.
[01:15:58.280 - 01:16:29.240]

At that point, I asked Ambassador Sondland to push back on President Trump's demand. Ambassador Sondland pledged to try. I suggested the possibility that the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, rather than President Zelensky, would make a statement about the investigations, potentially in coordination with Attorney General Barr's probe into the investigation of interference in the 2016 elections.
[01:16:29.240 - 01:16:53.000]

The next day, September 2nd, Mr. Morrison called to inform me that Mr. Danylyuk had asked him to come to his hotel in Warsaw. Mr. Danylyuk expressed President Zelensky's concern about the possible loss of U.S. support for Ukraine. In particular, Mr. Morrison relayed to me that the inability of any U.S. officials to respond to the Ukrainians' explicit questions about security assistance was troubling them.
[01:16:53.000 - 01:17:21.040]

I was experiencing the same tension in my dealings with the Ukrainians, including a meeting I had had with the Defense Minister that day. On September 5th, I accompanied Senators Johnson and Murphy during their visit to Kyiv. When we met with President Zelensky, his first question to the Senators was about the withheld security assistance.
[01:17:21.040 - 01:17:43.040]

My recollection of the meeting is that both Senators stressed that bipartisan support for Ukraine in Washington was Ukraine's most important strategic asset and that President Zelensky should not jeopardize that bipartisan support by getting drawn in to U.S. domestic politics. I had been making and continue to make this point to all of my official Ukrainian contacts.
[01:17:43.040 - 01:18:09.840]

But the odd push to make President Zelensky publicly commit to investigations of Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Mr. Giuliani. Two days later, September 7th, I had a conversation with Mr. Morrison in which he described a phone conversation earlier that day between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump.
[01:18:09.840 - 01:18:38.840]

Mr. Morrison said that he had a sinking feeling after learning about this conversation from Ambassador Sondland. According to Mr. Morrison, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland he was not asking for a quid pro quo, but President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself.
[01:18:38.840 - 01:19:08.520]

Mr. Morrison said that he told Ambassador Bolton and the NSC lawyers of this phone call between President Trump and Ambassador Sondland. The following day, on September 8th, Ambassador Sondland and I spoke on the phone. He confirmed that he had talked to President Trump, as I had suggested a week earlier, but that President Trump was adamant that President Zelensky himself had to clear things up and do it in public.
[01:19:08.520 - 01:19:34.560]

President Trump said it was not a quid pro quo. I believe this was the same conversation between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump that Mr. Morrison had described to me on September 7th. Ambassador Sondland also said that he had talked to President Zelensky and Mr. Yermak and had told them that, although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate.
[01:19:34.560 - 01:20:04.920]

I understood a "stalemate" to mean that Ukraine would not receive the much-needed military assistance. Ambassador Sondland said that this conversation concluded with President Zelensky agreeing to make a public statement in an interview on CNN. Shortly after that call with Ambassador Sondland, I expressed my strong reservations in a text message to Ambassador Sondland, stating that my nightmare is that they, the Ukrainians, give the interview and don't get the security assistance.
[01:20:04.920 - 01:20:34.280]

The Russians love it. (And I quit.) And I was serious. The next day, September 9th, I said to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker that the message to the Ukrainians and the Russians we send with the decision on security assistance is key. With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us. I also said, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.
[01:20:34.280 - 01:20:59.560]

Ambassador Sondland responded about 5 hours later that I was incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been crystal-clear: No quid pro quos of any kind. During our meeting -- during our call on September 8th, Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman.
[01:20:59.560 - 01:21:21.920]

When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check. Ambassador Volker used the same language several days later while we were together at the Yalta European Strategy Conference. I argued to both that the explanation made no sense.
[01:21:21.920 - 01:21:41.920]

The Ukrainians did not owe President Trump anything. And holding up security assistance for domestic political gain was crazy, as I had said in my text message to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker on September 9th. Finally, on September 11th, I learned that the hold had been lifted and security assistance would be provided.
[01:21:41.920 - 01:22:00.600]

I was not told the reason why the hold had been lifted. The next day, I personally conveyed the news to President Zelensky and the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, and I again reminded Mr. Yermak of the high strategic value of bipartisan support for Ukraine and the importance of not getting involved in other countries' elections.
[01:22:00.600 - 01:22:20.320]

My fear at the time was that, since Ambassador Sondland had told me President Zelensky had already agreed to do a CNN interview, President Zelensky would make a statement regarding investigations that would've played into domestic U.S. politics. I sought to confirm through Mr. Danylyuk that President Zelensky was not planning to give such an interview to the media.
[01:22:20.320 - 01:22:42.680]

While Mr. Danylyuk initially confirmed that on September 12th, I noticed during a meeting on the morning of September 13th at President Zelensky's office that Mr. Yermak looked uncomfortable in response to the question. Again, I asked Mr. Danylyuk to confirm that there would be no CNN interview, which he did.
[01:22:42.680 - 01:23:06.080]

On September 25th, at the U.N. General Assembly session in New York City, President Trump met President Zelensky face-to-face. He also released the transcript of the July 25th call. The United States gave the Ukrainians virtually no notice of the release, and they were livid. Although this was the first time I had seen the details of President Trump's July 25th call with President Zelensky in which he mentioned Vice President Biden, I had come to understand well before then that "investigations" was a term Ambassadors Volker and Sondland used to mean matters related to the 2016 elections and to investigations of Burisma and the Bidens.
[01:23:06.080 - 01:24:06.600]

Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26th. While Ambassador Volker and I visited the front, a member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland. Ambassador Sondland met with Mr. Yermak. Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv.
[01:24:06.600 - 01:24:30.280]

The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine.
[01:24:30.280 - 01:24:52.960]

Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden which Giuliani was pressing for. At the time I gave my deposition on October 22nd, I was not aware of this information. I am including it here for completeness. As the committee knows, I reported this information, through counsel, to the State Department's Legal Advisor as well as to counsel for both the majority and the minority of this committee.
[01:24:52.960 - 01:25:24.440]

It is my understanding that the committee is following up on this matter. Mr. Chairman, I recognize that this is a rather lengthy recitation of the events of the past few months, told from my vantage point in Kyiv. But I also recognize the importance of the matters your committee is investigating, and I hope that this chronology will provide some framework for your questions.
[01:25:24.440 - 01:25:43.760]

As I mentioned in my October 22nd deposition, the information in quotes in my testimony are based on my best recollection as well as a review of my personal notes. Let me return to the points I made at the outset. Ukraine is important to the security of the United States. The largest country in Europe by land mass, Ukraine is a young democracy struggling to join Europe and ally itself with the United States.
[01:25:43.760 - 01:26:04.880]

It has been violently attacked by Russia, which continues its armed aggression against Ukraine to this day. If we believe in the principle of the sovereignty of nations, on which our security and the security of our friends and allies depends -- if we believe that nations get to decide on their own economic, political, and security alliances, we must support Ukraine in its fight against its bullying neighbor.
[01:26:04.880 - 01:26:27.720]

Russian aggression cannot stand. Republican and Democratic administrations over three decades have been generous with assistance, funding both civilian and military and political support. With overwhelming bipartisan majorities, Congress has imposed harsh sanctions on Russia for invading and occupying Ukraine.
[01:26:27.720 - 01:26:51.600]

Mr. Chairman, there are two Ukraine stories today. The first is the one we are discussing this morning that you've been hearing about for the past 2 weeks. It's a rancorous story about whistleblowers, Mr. Giuliani, side channels, quid pro quos, corruption, and interference in elections. In this story, Ukraine is merely an object.
[01:26:51.600 - 01:27:12.000]

But there's another story -- a positive, bipartisan one. In this second story, Ukraine is the subject. This one is about young people in a young nation struggling to break free of its past, hopeful that their new government will finally usher in a new Ukraine, proud of its independence from Russia, eager to join Western institutions and enjoy a more secure and prosperous life.
[01:27:12.000 - 01:27:33.440]

This story describes a nation developing an inclusive, democratic nationalism not unlike what we in America, in our best moments, feel about our diverse country -- less concerned about what language we speak, what religion, if any, we practice, where our parents and grandparents came from, more concerned about building a new country.
[01:27:33.440 - 01:27:54.320]

And I'm now looking forward to your questions.
[01:27:54.320 - 01:27:57.400]
Adam B. Schiff
I thank you both for your testimony. And I now recognize myself and majority counsel for 45 minutes of questions.
[01:27:57.400 - 01:28:05.400]
K. Michael Conaway
Mr. Chairman, I --
[01:28:05.400 - 01:28:07.640]
Adam B. Schiff
Ambassador Taylor, I'd like to begin by following up on something that you have disclosed today and you disclosed earlier to both majority and minority but it is some new information for the committee. You said in your testimony that one of your staff was present with Ambassador Sondland on the day after the July 25th phone call.
[01:28:07.640 - 01:28:28.560]

Is that right?
[01:28:28.560 - 01:28:29.200]
William Taylor
That's correct, Mr. Chairman.
[01:28:29.200 - 01:28:32.800]
Adam B. Schiff
And as your staff related the event to you, your staff member could overhear Mr. Sondland on the phone -- could overhear the President on the phone with Mr. Sondland. Is that right?
[01:28:32.800 - 01:28:44.560]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[01:28:44.560 - 01:28:45.760]
Adam B. Schiff
So the President must have been speaking loud enough on the phone -- this was a cell phone, I take it?
[01:28:45.760 - 01:28:50.440]
William Taylor
It was a cell phone.
[01:28:50.440 - 01:28:51.480]
Adam B. Schiff
The President must have been speaking loud enough for your staff member to be able to overhear this?
[01:28:51.480 - 01:28:58.120]
William Taylor
It was.
[01:28:58.120 - 01:28:59.840]
Adam B. Schiff
And what your staff member could overhear was President Trump asking Ambassador Sondland about, quote, "the investigations." Is that right?
[01:28:59.840 - 01:29:09.400]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[01:29:09.400 - 01:29:10.440]
Adam B. Schiff
Now, I think you testified also that you had come to understand that the term "investigations" was a term that Ambassador Sondland, as well as Volker, used to mean matters related to the 2016 elections and to the investigations of Burisma and the Bidens. Is that correct?
[01:29:10.440 - 01:29:31.000]
William Taylor
That is correct, Mr. Chairman.
[01:29:31.000 - 01:29:33.560]
Adam B. Schiff
So your staff member overhears the President asking about the investigations, meaning Burisma and the Bidens and 2016. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward?
[01:29:33.560 - 01:29:49.840]
William Taylor
He did.
[01:29:49.840 - 01:29:49.920]
Adam B. Schiff
And I think you said that, after the call, when your staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought of Ukraine, his response was that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden. Is that right?
[01:29:49.920 - 01:30:05.960]
William Taylor
And Burisma. Yes, sir.
[01:30:05.960 - 01:30:07.920]
Adam B. Schiff
And, I take it, the import of that is he cares more about that than he does about Ukraine?
[01:30:07.920 - 01:30:18.400]
William Taylor
Yes, sir.
[01:30:18.400 - 01:30:20.200]
Adam B. Schiff
During your testimony, Ambassador Taylor, you also said that more Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without U.S. assistance. Why is that?
[01:30:20.200 - 01:30:25.080]
William Taylor
Mr. Chairman, the security assistance that we provide takes many forms. One of the components of that assistance is counter-battery radar. Another component are sniper weapons. These weapons and this assistance allows the Ukrainian military to deter further incursions by the Russians against Ukrainian territory.
[01:30:25.080 - 01:31:00.040]

If that further incursion, further aggression, were to take place, more Ukrainians would die. So it is a deterrent effect that these weapons provide. It's also the ability -- it gives the Ukrainians the ability to negotiate from a position of a little more strength when they negotiate an end to the war in Donbas, negotiating with the Russians.
[01:31:00.040 - 01:31:29.560]

This also is a way that would reduce the number of Ukrainians who would die.
[01:31:29.560 - 01:31:35.360]
Adam B. Schiff
I take it, if the provision of the U.S. military assistance would save Ukrainian lives, that any delay in that assistance may also cost Ukrainian lives. Is that true?
[01:31:35.360 - 01:31:46.640]
William Taylor
Chairman, of course it's hard to draw any direct lines between any particular element of security assistance and any particular death on the battlefield. But it is certainly true that that assistance had enabled Ukrainian Armed Forces to be effective and deter and to be able to take countermeasures to the attacks that the Russians had --
[01:31:46.640 - 01:32:12.040]
Adam B. Schiff
I think you said that a Ukrainian soldier lost their life while you were visiting Donbas.
[01:32:12.040 - 01:32:17.400]
William Taylor
We keep very careful track of the casualties. And I noticed, on the next day, the information that we got, that one was killed, four soldiers were wounded on that day.
[01:32:17.400 - 01:32:30.080]
Adam B. Schiff
And, indeed, Ukrainians lose their lives every week.
[01:32:30.080 - 01:32:33.960]
William Taylor
Every week.
[01:32:33.960 - 01:32:34.600]
Adam B. Schiff
I think you also testified that Russia was watching closely to gauge the level of American support for the Ukrainian Government. Why is that significant?
[01:32:34.600 - 01:32:47.080]
William Taylor
This is significant, Mr. Chairman, because the Ukrainians, in particular under this new administration, are eager to end this war, and they are eager to end it in a way that the Russians leave their territory. These negotiations, like all negotiations, are difficult. Ukrainians would like to be able to negotiate from a position of strength or at least more strength than they now have.
[01:32:47.080 - 01:33:18.440]

Part of that strength, part of the ability of the Ukrainians to negotiate against the Russians with the Russians for an end to the war in Donbas, depends on United States and other international support. If we withdraw or suspend or threaten to withdraw our security assistance, that's a message to the Ukrainians, but it's at least as important, as your question indicates, Mr. Chairman, to the Russians, who are looking for any sign of weakness or any sign that we are withdrawing our support for Ukraine.
[01:33:18.440 - 01:33:52.440]
Adam B. Schiff
And so, when the Ukrainians learned of the suspension of the military aid, either privately or when others learned publicly, the Russians would be learning also, and they would take that as a lack of robust U.S. support for Ukraine. Is that right?
[01:33:52.440 - 01:34:11.360]
William Taylor
That's correct, sir.
[01:34:11.360 - 01:34:12.200]
Adam B. Schiff
And that would weaken Ukraine in negotiating an end to the war in Donbas.
[01:34:12.200 - 01:34:17.480]
William Taylor
It would.
[01:34:17.480 - 01:34:18.560]
Adam B. Schiff
People watching, I'm sure, are interested in how military assistance and diplomatic support for Ukraine affects Ukraine but, even more so, interested in how does this affect our national security. Now, I think you said that, if we believe in the principle of sovereignty of nations, where countries get to determine their own economic, political, and security alliances, we have to support Ukraine in its fight, that the kind of aggression we see by Russia can't stand.
[01:34:18.560 - 01:34:54.360]

How is it important to American national security that we provide for a robust defense of Ukraine's sovereignty?
[01:34:54.360 - 01:35:02.520]
William Taylor
Mr. Chairman, as my colleague, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, described, we have a national security policy, a national defense policy that identifies Russia and China as adversaries. The Russians are violating all of the rules, treaties, understandings that they committed to that actually kept the peace in Europe for nearly 70 years.
[01:35:02.520 - 01:35:35.680]

Until they invaded Ukraine in 2014, they had abided by sovereignty of nations, of inviolability of borders. That rule of law, that order that kept the peace in Europe and allowed for prosperity as well as peace in Europe was violated by the Russians. And if we don't push back on that, on those violations, then that will continue.
[01:35:35.680 - 01:36:07.680]

And that, Mr. Chairman, affects us. It affects the world that we live in, that our children will grow up in, and our grandchildren. This affects the kind of world that we want to see abroad. So that affects our national interest very directly. Ukraine is on the front line of that conflict.
[01:36:07.680 - 01:36:29.280]
Adam B. Schiff
I want to thank you both for your decades of service to the country. And I'll now recognize Mr. Goldman for questioning.
[01:36:29.280 - 01:36:35.560]
Dan Goldman
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ambassador Taylor, on the heels of your discussing the importance of the security assistance to Ukraine, I want to go to the end of the timeline, where you learned that that security assistance was conditioned on Ukraine announcing the investigations that the President wanted. And, in particular, on September 9th of this year, you texted Ambassadors Sondland and Volker.
[01:36:35.560 - 01:37:04.880]

And the text message should be on the screen in front of you. And if you could read what you wrote.
[01:37:04.880 - 01:37:10.720]
William Taylor
As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.
[01:37:10.720 - 01:37:21.720]
Dan Goldman
What did you mean when you said you thought it was crazy?
[01:37:21.720 - 01:37:25.000]
William Taylor
Mr. Goldman, I meant that the importance -- because of the importance of security assistance that we had just described and had a conversation with the chairman, because that was so important, that security assistance was so important for Ukraine as well as our own national interests, to withhold that assistance for no good reason other than help with a political campaign made no sense.
[01:37:25.000 - 01:37:57.080]

It was counterproductive to all of what we had been trying to do. It was illogical. It could not be explained. It was crazy.
[01:37:57.080 - 01:38:06.880]
Dan Goldman
And when you say "all of what we were trying to do," what do you mean by "we"?
[01:38:06.880 - 01:38:11.320]
William Taylor
I mean that the United States was trying to support Ukraine as a frontline state against Russian attack. And, again, the whole notion of a rules-based order was being threatened by the Russians in Ukraine. So our security assistance was designed to support Ukraine. And it was not just the United States; it was all of our allies.
[01:38:11.320 - 01:38:35.680]
Dan Goldman
When you referenced "help with a political campaign" in this text message, what did you mean?
[01:38:35.680 - 01:38:41.000]
William Taylor
I meant that the investigation of Burisma and the Bidens was clearly identified by Mr. Giuliani in public for months as a way to get information on the two Bidens.
[01:38:41.000 - 01:39:02.600]
Dan Goldman
And that investigation, at the very least, was mentioned by President Trump in the July 25th phone call with President Zelensky. Is that right?
[01:39:02.600 - 01:39:12.240]
William Taylor
As we now know, yes. I -- yes. On September 25th, that transcript was released.
[01:39:12.240 - 01:39:18.320]
Dan Goldman
Ambassador Taylor, in your decades of military service and diplomatic service representing the United States around the world, have you ever seen another example of foreign aid conditioned on the personal or political interests of the President of the United States?
[01:39:18.320 - 01:39:35.800]
William Taylor
No, Mr. Goldman, I have not.
[01:39:35.800 - 01:39:38.360]
Dan Goldman
Mr. Kent, that vital military assistance, that was not the only thing that President Trump was withholding from Ukraine. What else was contingent on Ukraine initiating these investigations?
[01:39:38.360 - 01:39:54.000]
George Kent
Well, as we've talked earlier today, the possibility of a White House meeting was being held contingent to an announcement.
[01:39:54.000 - 01:40:03.320]
Dan Goldman
How important to President Zelensky was a White House meeting?
[01:40:03.320 - 01:40:07.680]
George Kent
New leaders, particularly countries that are trying to have good footing in the international arena, see a meeting with the U.S. President in the Oval Office at the White House as the ultimate sign of endorsement and support from the United States.
[01:40:07.680 - 01:40:26.920]
Dan Goldman
And President Zelensky was a relatively new President. Is that right?
[01:40:26.920 - 01:40:31.720]
George Kent
That's correct. He was elected on April 21st, and his government was formed after parliamentary elections in July.
[01:40:31.720 - 01:40:39.000]
Dan Goldman
Would a White House meeting for President Zelensky boost his legitimacy as a new President in Ukraine?
[01:40:39.000 - 01:40:44.640]
George Kent
It would primarily boost his leverage to negotiate with Vladimir Putin about the Russian occupation of 7 percent of Ukrainian territory.
[01:40:44.640 - 01:40:52.840]
Dan Goldman
Mr. Kent, is pressuring Ukraine to conduct what I believe you have called "political investigations" a part of U.S. foreign policy to promote the rule of law in Ukraine and around the world?
[01:40:52.840 - 01:41:07.080]
George Kent
It is not.
[01:41:07.080 - 01:41:08.000]
Dan Goldman
Is it in the national interests of the United States?
[01:41:08.000 - 01:41:12.320]
George Kent
In my opinion, it is not.
[01:41:12.320 - 01:41:14.320]
Dan Goldman
Why not?
[01:41:14.320 - 01:41:15.080]
George Kent
Because our policies, particularly in promoting the rule of law, are designed to help countries. And in Eastern Europe and Central Europe, that is overcoming the legacy of communism. In the communist system in particular, the Prosecutor General Office was used to suppress and persecute citizens, not promote the rule of law.
[01:41:15.080 - 01:41:37.080]

So, in helping these countries reach their own aspirations to join the Western community of nations and live lives of dignity, helping them have the rule of law, with strong institutions, is the purpose of our policy.
[01:41:37.080 - 01:41:51.080]
Dan Goldman
So, in other words, it is a purpose of our foreign policy to encourage foreign nations to refrain from conducting political investigations. Is that right?
[01:41:51.080 - 01:42:02.240]
George Kent
Correct. And, in fact, as a matter of policy, not of programming, we oftentimes raise our concerns, usually in private, with countries that we feel are engaged in selective, political prosecution and persecution of their opponents.
[01:42:02.240 - 01:42:16.640]
Dan Goldman
Ambassador Taylor, now that we've established that you ultimately did understand that President Trump was withholding the security assistance and a White House meeting from Ukraine until they announced these investigations to benefit his reelection campaign, let's go back a little bit in time to when you first learned about this conditionality.
[01:42:16.640 - 01:42:40.200]

And on September 1st, so a little more than a week before that text we just read, you sent another text to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker, which should also be on the screen in front of you, and if you could read what you wrote to them.
[01:42:40.200 - 01:42:55.080]
William Taylor
Are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are conditioned on investigations?
[01:42:55.080 - 01:43:05.080]
Dan Goldman
And Ambassador Sondland responded, "Call me."
[01:43:05.080 - 01:43:08.400]
William Taylor
He did.
[01:43:08.400 - 01:43:09.080]
Dan Goldman
Now, what information had you learned that prompted you to write this text message?
[01:43:09.080 - 01:43:15.200]
William Taylor
I had learned that, in Warsaw, after the meeting Vice President Pence had with President Zelensky, Ambassador Sondland had had meetings there and had described to Mr. Yermak, the assistant to President Zelensky, that the security assistance was also held, pending announcement by President Zelensky in public of these investigations.
[01:43:15.200 - 01:44:00.080]

Before that, I had only understood from Ambassador Sondland that the White House meeting was conditioned. And at this time, after I heard of this conversation, it struck me -- it was clear to me that security assistance was also being held.
[01:44:00.080 - 01:44:22.560]
Dan Goldman
You said previously that you were alarmed to learn this. Why were you alarmed?
[01:44:22.560 - 01:44:28.360]
William Taylor
It's one thing to try to leverage a meeting in the White House. It's another thing, I thought, to leverage security assistance -- security assistance to a country at war, dependent on both the security assistance and the demonstration of support. It was much more alarming. The White House meeting was one thing; security assistance was much more alarming.
[01:44:28.360 - 01:45:02.240]
Dan Goldman
Now, Ambassador Taylor, in your opening statement, you outlined a very detailed timeline. And, in fact, we have a written copy here, and you included some phrases and words in quotations. Did you take notes of this conversation on September 1st with Ambassador Sondland?
[01:45:02.240 - 01:45:20.360]
William Taylor
I did.
[01:45:20.360 - 01:45:21.120]
Dan Goldman
And did you take notes related to most of the conversations, if not all of them, that you recited in your opening statement?
[01:45:21.120 - 01:45:30.400]
William Taylor
All of them, Mr. Goldman.
[01:45:30.400 - 01:45:31.080]
Dan Goldman
And what do those quotations that you include in your opening statement reflect?
[01:45:31.080 - 01:45:37.680]
William Taylor
They reflect my notes on the exact words that I heard on that call. So it was -- if I put those in quotes, that meant that those were the words used on that phone call or in that conversation.
[01:45:37.680 - 01:45:50.400]
Dan Goldman
And did you review those notes before you drafted your opening statement and came here to testify?
[01:45:50.400 - 01:45:55.560]
William Taylor
I did.
[01:45:55.560 - 01:45:55.600]
Dan Goldman
Now, is that how, for example, you remember that Ambassador Sondland was on a train from Paris to London during a call in July?
[01:45:55.600 - 01:46:03.240]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[01:46:03.240 - 01:46:03.680]
Dan Goldman
And you are aware, I presume, that the State Department has not provided those notes to the committee. Is that right?
[01:46:03.680 - 01:46:11.080]
William Taylor
I am aware.
[01:46:11.080 - 01:46:11.720]
Dan Goldman
So we don't have the benefit of reviewing them to ask you these questions.
[01:46:11.720 - 01:46:16.040]
William Taylor
Correct. I understand that they may be coming, sooner or later.
[01:46:16.040 - 01:46:20.200]
Dan Goldman
Well, we would welcome that. You also testified earlier, Ambassador Sondland -- or Ambassador Taylor, that President Trump had delegated some matters overseeing Ukraine policy to Ambassador Sondland, who was a big inaugural supporter of President Trump, even though Ukraine is not in his domain of the European Union.
[01:46:20.200 - 01:46:36.720]

Is that right?
[01:46:36.720 - 01:46:37.800]
William Taylor
Several members -- several participants in the meeting in the Oval Office with President Trump with the delegation to the inauguration of President Zelensky told me of that conversation. And it was at that meeting, as I understand it from several participants, that President Trump asked the participants to work with Mr. Giuliani on Ukraine policy.
[01:46:37.800 - 01:46:53.280]
Dan Goldman
Did you come to understand that Ambassador Sondland had a direct line of communication into President Trump?
[01:46:53.280 - 01:47:02.760]
William Taylor
I did.
[01:47:02.760 - 01:47:03.640]
Dan Goldman
And you testified -- or, rather, in that text message, Ambassador Sondland says to call him after you wrote that. Did you, in fact, call him?
[01:47:03.640 - 01:47:13.680]
William Taylor
I did.
[01:47:13.680 - 01:47:14.960]
Dan Goldman
And what did he say to you?
[01:47:14.960 - 01:47:16.160]
William Taylor
He said that I had -- I was wrong about President Trump's intent, that there was no quid pro quo.
[01:47:16.160 - 01:47:26.800]
Dan Goldman
And -- but did he say anything after that? Did he describe to you -- I believe you said -- I'll refresh your memory.
[01:47:26.800 - 01:47:33.560]
William Taylor
Thank you.
[01:47:33.560 - 01:47:34.640]
Dan Goldman
You mentioned something in your opening statement. You said that he said that everything -- and you had that in quotes -- was actually contingent on the initiation of these investigations. What did he mean by "everything"?
[01:47:34.640 - 01:47:48.720]
William Taylor
Mr. Goldman, what he meant by "everything" was the security assistance and the White House meeting.
[01:47:48.720 - 01:47:55.080]
Dan Goldman
And I believe you also testified that he said he had made a mistake in relaying a message to the Ukrainians. What was that mistake?
[01:47:55.080 - 01:48:05.760]
William Taylor
The mistake he told me was, earlier, he had told presumably President Zelensky and Mr. Yermak that what was necessary for the White House meeting was the pursuit of these investigations. And he said he recognized that that was a mistake. It was not just the White House meeting that was dependent on the investigations; he said it was now everything.
[01:48:05.760 - 01:48:24.240]

It included the security assistance.
[01:48:24.240 - 01:48:25.000]
Dan Goldman
So it was not just the White House meeting; it was also the security assistance.
[01:48:25.000 - 01:48:29.280]
William Taylor
Yes, sir.
[01:48:29.280 - 01:48:30.000]
Dan Goldman
And so, even though President Trump was saying repeatedly that there is no quid pro quo, Ambassador Sondland relayed to you that the facts of the matter were that the White House meeting and the security assistance were conditioned on the announcement of these investigations. Is that your understanding?
[01:48:30.000 - 01:48:47.960]
William Taylor
That's my understanding.
[01:48:47.960 - 01:48:49.320]
Dan Goldman
Now, you referenced a television interview and a desire for President Trump to put Zelensky in a public box, which you also have in quotes. Was that in your notes?
[01:48:49.320 - 01:48:57.520]
William Taylor
It was in my notes.
[01:48:57.520 - 01:49:00.360]
Dan Goldman
And what did you understand that to mean, to put Zelensky in a public box?
[01:49:00.360 - 01:49:07.640]
William Taylor
I understood that to mean that President Trump, through Ambassador Sondland, was asking for President Zelensky to very publicly commit to these investigations, that it was not sufficient to do this in private, that this needed to be a very public statement.
[01:49:07.640 - 01:49:22.320]
Dan Goldman
And did you understand why it needed to be in public as opposed to a private confirmation?
[01:49:22.320 - 01:49:28.480]
William Taylor
No further information on that.
[01:49:28.480 - 01:49:30.240]
Dan Goldman
Now, during this time period in early September, did you come to understand that, from your conversations with the Ukrainians or other individuals, that Ukraine felt pressure to initiate these investigations because of the conditionality of the White House meeting and the security assistance?
[01:49:30.240 - 01:49:48.760]
William Taylor
Mr. Goldman, here's what I know. I got several questions -- other officials got several questions as well -- from Ukrainians asking about the security assistance. So what I know is the security assistance was very important to the Ukrainians. They had begun to hear from Ambassador Sondland that the security assistance was not going to come until the investigations were pursued.
[01:49:48.760 - 01:50:16.480]

What I heard from the Defense Minister, what the Senators -- what Senator Johnson and Senator Murphy heard in their conversation with President Zelensky was the clear concern, the urgent concern, that Ukrainians had about the security assistance.
[01:50:16.480 - 01:50:33.960]
Dan Goldman
Now, you also described a conversation that you had with Ambassador Sondland a week later, on September 8th. And in that conversation, in your opening statement, you described how Ambassador Sondland used the term "stalemate." What did you understand the concern about a stalemate to be?
[01:50:33.960 - 01:50:53.040]
William Taylor
Ambassador Sondland said that if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public we would be at a stalemate. He began that, again, by repeating, this is not a quid pro quo, but if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate. And what I understood for, in that meeting, the meaning of "stalemate" was the security assistance would not come.
[01:50:53.040 - 01:51:15.120]
Dan Goldman
So, even though he said the words, there was no quid pro quo, he then went on to say, but the security assistance will not come unless these investigations are done. Is that what you're saying?
[01:51:15.120 - 01:51:28.160]
William Taylor
My understanding, that's what was meant by "stalemate."
[01:51:28.160 - 01:51:32.240]
Dan Goldman
You also described in your opening statement a discussion you had about President Trump being a businessman who wanted to have people pay up before signing the check. And what did you understand that to mean?
[01:51:32.240 - 01:51:45.680]
William Taylor
This was an explanation that Ambassador Sondland gave me about his understanding of President Trump's thought process. Ambassador Sondland is a businessman. President Trump's a businessman. He was explaining to me the relationship, the understanding that a businessman would have when he was about to sign a check.
[01:51:45.680 - 01:52:02.400]

And by that, he clearly meant that President Trump was thinking about or had in front of him the possibility of providing security assistance to Ukraine. It was similar to writing a check to someone who you're about to send. He used that analogy very clearly to indicate that this would be -- this will require something.
[01:52:02.400 - 01:52:28.920]

If that person owed him something, before he signed the check, he wanted to get whatever he was owed paid back to him. And Ambassador Volker used very similar language about a week later, which indicates to me that they had that conversation as well.
[01:52:28.920 - 01:52:44.880]
Dan Goldman
Did you Ukraine owe anything to the United States?
[01:52:44.880 - 01:52:46.720]
William Taylor
Mr. Goldman, they didn't. They owed appreciation for the support. And they were getting support, and they appreciated that. But there was not -- there was nothing owed to President Trump on that.
[01:52:46.720 - 01:52:59.920]
Dan Goldman
But you understood the upshot of this comment made by both Ambassador Sondland and Ambassador Volker to be that President Trump believed that Ukraine owed him something personally. Is that accurate?
[01:52:59.920 - 01:53:10.720]
William Taylor
It's hard to understand, but there was a feeling by President Trump that he -- and this came out in the transcript -- I'm sorry, this came out in the discussion with the inaugural delegation when they came back to have a conversation with President Trump on May 23rd -- that he had a feeling of having been wronged by the Ukrainians.
[01:53:10.720 - 01:53:34.160]

And so this was something that he thought they owed him to fix that wrong.
[01:53:34.160 - 01:53:39.080]
Dan Goldman
Right. But what he was talking about, as you understood it -- because in the context of the conversation is that what he owed him were these investigations that he wanted. Is that right?
[01:53:39.080 - 01:53:49.720]
William Taylor
That would've been to fix the wrong, exactly.
[01:53:49.720 - 01:53:53.280]
Dan Goldman
And those investigations into the 2016 election and Biden and Burisma.
[01:53:53.280 - 01:53:59.920]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[01:53:59.920 - 01:54:01.560]
Dan Goldman
Now, during this early period in September, we've talked a little bit about the fact that you continually heard that the President was repeatedly saying that there was no quid pro quo. Is that right?
[01:54:01.560 - 01:54:15.240]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[01:54:15.240 - 01:54:18.280]
Dan Goldman
And he still says that repeatedly today. But regardless of what you call it, whether it's a quid pro quo, bribery, extortion, abuse of power of the Office of the Presidency, the fact of the matter, as you understood it, is that security assistance and the White House meeting were not going to be provided unless Ukraine initiated these two investigations that would benefit Donald Trump's reelection.
[01:54:18.280 - 01:54:48.520]

Is that what you understood the facts to be?
[01:54:48.520 - 01:54:50.880]
William Taylor
Mr. Goldman, what I can do here for you today is tell you what I heard from people. And in this case, it was what I heard from Ambassador Sondland. He described the conditions for the security assistance and the White House meeting in those terms, that is, that it was dependent upon, conditioned on pursuing these investigations.
[01:54:50.880 - 01:55:11.800]
Dan Goldman
And you heard that from Ambassador Sondland himself, correct?
[01:55:11.800 - 01:55:15.440]
William Taylor
Correct.
[01:55:15.440 - 01:55:17.640]
Dan Goldman
And you also heard a similar story from Mr. Morrison as well. Is that right?
[01:55:17.640 - 01:55:21.920]
William Taylor
Who also talked to Ambassador Sondland about the conversations that he had had in Warsaw with Ukrainians.
[01:55:21.920 - 01:55:31.760]
Dan Goldman
And what Mr. Morrison recounted to you was substantially similar to what Mr. Sondland recounted to you, right?
[01:55:31.760 - 01:55:37.800]
William Taylor
Yes.
[01:55:37.800 - 01:55:38.400]
Dan Goldman
So, regardless of what Ukrainians may say now, now that everything is out in the public and we are here in this public hearing, that they felt no pressure from President Trump, it was your clear understanding, was it not, that, in early September, when the pressure campaign was still secret, that the Ukrainians believed that they needed to announce these public investigations?
[01:55:38.400 - 01:56:00.640]

Is that right?
[01:56:00.640 - 01:56:01.760]
William Taylor
Mr. Goldman, I know that the Ukrainians were very concerned about the security assistance, and I know that they were prepared or preparing to make a public statement, that is, with a CNN interview, that that was being planned. Those are the two pieces that I know.
[01:56:01.760 - 01:56:17.880]
Dan Goldman
And that CNN interview was to announce these investigations as you understood it, right?
[01:56:17.880 - 01:56:22.640]
William Taylor
That was the implication. That was certainly the implication.
[01:56:22.640 - 01:56:25.640]
Dan Goldman
We've been focused a lot on this September timeframe. But I want to go back 2 months to July, before the July 25th call. And you testified, Ambassador Taylor, in your opening statement, that it was in the middle of July when you understood that the White House meeting was first a condition on these investigations.
[01:56:25.640 - 01:56:46.920]

Is that accurate?
[01:56:46.920 - 01:56:47.800]
William Taylor
Yes. We were preparing -- and I agreed that the White House meeting was going to be an important step in U.S./Ukrainian relations. So, in June and in early July, attempts to work out a way to get that meeting included a phone call. And so there were several conversations about how to have this phone call that eventually happened on July 25th.
[01:56:47.800 - 01:57:14.120]
Dan Goldman
And you described in your opening statement a July 10th White House meeting with a number of officials where Ambassador Bolton used the term that something was a drug deal. What did you understand him to mean in hearing that he said that -- used this term "drug deal"?
[01:57:14.120 - 01:57:25.640]
William Taylor
Mr. Goldman, I don't know. I don't know what Ambassador Bolton had in mind.
[01:57:25.640 - 01:57:29.200]
Dan Goldman
And was that in reference to a discussion in that meeting related to the White House meeting that President Zelensky wanted in connection to the investigations?
[01:57:29.200 - 01:57:40.360]
William Taylor
The context of that comment was the discussion that Mr. Danylyuk, who was Mr. Bolton's counterpart, Ukrainian counterpart, the National Security Advisor, had had with Mr. Bolton. And that conversation was very substantive up until the point where the White House meeting was raised, and Mr. -- Ambassador Sondland intervened to talk about the investigations.
[01:57:40.360 - 01:58:03.600]

It was at that point that Ambassador Bolton ceased the meeting, closed the meeting, finished the meeting, and told his staff to report this meeting to the lawyers. And he also later, then, indicated to Fiona Hill, who was also a participant, on NSC staff, that he, Ambassador Bolton, didn't want to be associated with this drug deal.
[01:58:03.600 - 01:58:29.040]

So it was -- the implication was, it was the domestic politics that was being cooked up.
[01:58:29.040 - 01:58:37.760]
Dan Goldman
And did Ambassador Sondland say this in front of the Ukrainian officials, to your understanding?
[01:58:37.760 - 01:58:42.600]
William Taylor
Ambassador Sondland, in the meeting where Ambassador Bolton was having a conversation with his counterpart, raised the issue of investigations being important to come before the White House meeting that had just been raised.
[01:58:42.600 - 01:58:56.960]
Dan Goldman
And Ukrainian officials were there?
[01:58:56.960 - 01:58:58.600]
William Taylor
And Ukrainian officials were in that meeting, yes, sir.
[01:58:58.600 - 01:59:03.120]
Dan Goldman
Now, around this same time, in mid-July, did you have any discussions with Ukrainian officials about these investigations?
[01:59:03.120 - 01:59:09.320]
William Taylor
I don't recall.
[01:59:09.320 - 01:59:10.160]
Dan Goldman
Well, let me show you a text message that you wrote on July 21st, where you wrote it again to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker. And if you could just read what you wrote here on July 21st.
[01:59:10.160 - 01:59:28.600]
William Taylor
Gordon, one thing Kurt and I talked about yesterday about Sasha Danylyuk's point that President Zelensky is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic reelection politics.
[01:59:28.600 - 01:59:46.480]
Dan Goldman
And Sasha Danylyuk, I think you just said, is Ambassador Bolton's counterpart, right?
[01:59:46.480 - 01:59:52.200]
William Taylor
Is the National Security Advisor to the -- was. He is no longer, but was at the time.
[01:59:52.200 - 02:00:00.080]
Dan Goldman
What did you understand it to mean when -- that Zelensky had concerns about being an instrument in Washington domestic reelection politics?
[02:00:00.080 - 02:00:07.600]
William Taylor
Mr. Danylyuk understood that these investigations were pursuant to Mr. Giuliani's request to develop information, to find information about Burisma and the Bidens. This was very well known in public. Mr. Giuliani had made this point clear in several instances in the beginning -- in the springtime. And Mr. Danylyuk was aware that that was a problem.
[02:00:07.600 - 02:00:31.960]
Dan Goldman
And would you agree that, because President Zelensky is worried about this, they understood, at least, that there was some pressure for them to pursue these investigations? Is that fair?
[02:00:31.960 - 02:00:44.200]
William Taylor
Mr. Danylyuk indicated that President Zelensky certainly understood it, that he did not want to get involved in these type of activities.
[02:00:44.200 - 02:00:54.080]
Dan Goldman
Now, I'm going to move ahead now to July 25th, which is when President Trump and President Zelensky had the phone call. But before we get to the phone call, I want to show both of you a text message, neither of which -- neither of you is on this text message. It is between Ambassador Volker and Andriy Yermak, a top aide to President Zelensky.
[02:00:54.080 - 02:01:21.080]

I will read it, because neither of you is on it. Ambassador Volker says: Good lunch, thanks. Heard from White House. Assuming President Z convinces Trump he will investigate/get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck. See you tomorrow. Kurt. And this was a half hour -- less than a half hour before the call actually occurred.
[02:01:21.080 - 02:01:46.600]

Now, Ambassador Taylor, was Ambassador Volker with you in Ukraine at this time?
[02:01:46.600 - 02:01:51.800]
William Taylor
He was.
[02:01:51.800 - 02:01:52.080]
Dan Goldman
Did you know that he was prepping President Zelensky for this phone call with President Trump in this way?
[02:01:52.080 - 02:01:58.280]
William Taylor
Not in this way, Mr. Goldman, but I knew that Ambassador Volker was prepping Ukrainians for the phone call earlier on; that is, at a meeting in Toronto on July 2nd, Mr. -- Ambassador Volker had a conversation with President Zelensky and had indicated in a phone call that he, at that time, was going to talk Mr. Zelensky, President Zelensky, through the steps that needed to be taken in order to get to the phone call.
[02:01:58.280 - 02:02:28.720]
Dan Goldman
Understood. And you testified earlier that the security assistance had already been frozen, to your knowledge, at least by July 18th. Is that right?
[02:02:28.720 - 02:02:38.640]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[02:02:38.640 - 02:02:39.280]
Dan Goldman
So that was just a week earlier than this?
[02:02:39.280 - 02:02:41.160]
William Taylor
That's correct?
[02:02:41.160 - 02:02:41.880]
Dan Goldman
Just so we're clear, Ambassador Taylor, before this July 25th call, President Trump had frozen the security assistance that Ukraine needed and that the White House meeting was conditioned on Ukraine initiating this investigation, and that had been relayed to the Ukrainians. Is that an accurate state of play at this time?
[02:02:41.880 - 02:02:58.400]
William Taylor
That's an accurate state of play. I at that point had no indication that any discussion of the security assistance being subject to, conditioned on investigations had taken place.
[02:02:58.400 - 02:03:16.280]
Dan Goldman
Right. But you understood that the White House meeting --
[02:03:16.280 - 02:03:21.000]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[02:03:21.000 - 02:03:22.320]
Dan Goldman
All right. Let's move ahead to this July 25th call and -- between the Presidents. Now, am I correct that neither of you were on this call. Is that right, Mr. Kent?
[02:03:22.320 - 02:03:37.400]
George Kent
That's correct.
[02:03:37.400 - 02:03:38.040]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[02:03:38.040 - 02:03:38.480]
Dan Goldman
And you weren't neither as well?
[02:03:38.480 - 02:03:39.840]
William Taylor
That's right.
[02:03:39.840 - 02:03:41.600]
Dan Goldman
And you both read it after it was released publicly at the end of September?
[02:03:41.600 - 02:03:45.280]
William Taylor
Yes.
[02:03:45.280 - 02:03:45.960]
George Kent
Yes.
[02:03:45.960 - 02:03:47.680]
Dan Goldman
I want to spend just a little time reading the transcript, as we've been encouraged to do. And I want to particularly note four excerpts of the transcript: one that relates to the security assistance we've been talking about; another that discusses a favor that President Trump asked of President Zelensky; a third where President Trump asks the Ukrainian President to investigate his political opponent, former Vice President Biden; and then a final one where the Ukrainian President directly links the desired White House visit to the political investigations that President Trump wanted.
[02:03:47.680 - 02:04:24.600]

So let's look at the first excerpt, which is near the beginning of the call when President Zelensky discusses the military aid that the U.S. provides to Ukraine. He says: I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps.
[02:04:24.600 - 02:04:41.240]

Specifically, we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes. Now, at the time of this phone call, Ambassador Taylor and Mr. Kent, you both knew that the aid had been frozen; is that right?
[02:04:41.240 - 02:04:55.400]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[02:04:55.400 - 02:04:56.040]
George Kent
Yes.
[02:04:56.040 - 02:04:56.400]
Dan Goldman
And, Ambassador Taylor, you testified that President Trump obviously also knew that the aid had been frozen as well, since he was responsible for doing that. Is that correct?
[02:04:56.400 - 02:05:08.760]
William Taylor
That's what I had been told. That's what we heard on that conference call, yes.
[02:05:08.760 - 02:05:14.040]
Dan Goldman
But to neither of your knowledge, the Ukrainians were not aware of that at that point?
[02:05:14.040 - 02:05:20.960]
William Taylor
Not to my knowledge.
[02:05:20.960 - 02:05:22.920]
George Kent
Not to my knowledge.
[02:05:22.920 - 02:05:24.240]
Dan Goldman
But right after President Zelensky thanks President Trump for his great support in the area of defense, President Trump then says, and we'll go to the next excerpt: I want 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.
[02:05:24.240 - 02:05:47.840]

They say CrowdStrike. I guess you have one of your wealthy people, the server, they say Ukraine has it. And at the end of the paragraph, he says: Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it if that's possible. Now, Mr. Kent, you've testified a little bit about how this important this White House meeting was to President Zelensky.
[02:05:47.840 - 02:06:06.320]

How would you expect a new Ukrainian President to interpret a request for a favor from the President of the United States?
[02:06:06.320 - 02:06:11.240]
George Kent
I cannot interpret the mind of President Zelensky, other than to say that it was very clear that what they were hoping to get out of this meeting was a date and a confirmation that he could come to Washington.
[02:06:11.240 - 02:06:25.760]
Dan Goldman
Obviously, you can't put yourself in the mind. But if the Ukrainian President, for a country that's so dependent on the United States for all things, including military assistance, is requested to do a favor, how do you think the Ukrainians would interpret that?
[02:06:25.760 - 02:06:40.320]
George Kent
Well, if you go further into the call record as part of this -- and we don't have it on screen -- but to the best of my recollection, reading it after it was released on September 25th, President Zelensky went into having: Whatever your problems were, that was the old team. I've got a new team, and we will do whatever's appropriate and be transparent and honest about it. I don't remember the exact words, but he was trying to be, in his own words, in response, be responsive, to conduct the business of the Ukrainian Government in a transparent and honest manner.
[02:06:40.320 - 02:07:09.520]
Dan Goldman
Now, when he talks about this CrowdStrike and the server, what do you understand this to be a reference to?
[02:07:09.520 - 02:07:15.160]
George Kent
To be honest, I had not heard of CrowdStrike until I read this transcript on September 25th.
[02:07:15.160 - 02:07:20.520]
Dan Goldman
Do you now understand what it relates to?
[02:07:20.520 - 02:07:23.080]
George Kent
I understand it has to do with the story that there's a server with missing emails. I also understand that one of the owners of CrowdStrike is a Russian-American. I'm not aware of any Ukrainian connection to the company.
[02:07:23.080 - 02:07:32.720]
Dan Goldman
Now, are you aware that this is all part of a larger allegation that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election?
[02:07:32.720 - 02:07:37.160]
George Kent
Yes, that is my understanding.
[02:07:37.160 - 02:07:38.480]
Dan Goldman
And to your knowledge, is there any factual basis to support the allegation that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election?
[02:07:38.480 - 02:07:44.120]
George Kent
To my knowledge, there's no factual basis, no.
[02:07:44.120 - 02:07:45.960]
Dan Goldman
And, in fact, who did interfere in the 2016 election?
[02:07:45.960 - 02:07:50.480]
George Kent
I think it's amply clear that Russian interference was at the heart of the interference in the 2016 election cycle.
[02:07:50.480 - 02:07:57.600]
Dan Goldman
Let's move to the third excerpt that I mentioned related to Vice President Biden. And it says: The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son -- this is President Trump speaking -- 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.
[02:07:57.600 - 02:08:16.640]

Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it. It sounds horrible. Now, at the time of this call, Vice President Biden was the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 election. Mr. Kent, are you familiar, as you indicate in your opening statement, about these allegations related to Vice President Biden?
[02:08:16.640 - 02:08:41.280]
George Kent
I am.
[02:08:41.280 - 02:08:41.640]
Dan Goldman
And to your knowledge, is there any factual basis to support those allegations?
[02:08:41.640 - 02:08:44.040]
George Kent
None whatsoever.
[02:08:44.040 - 02:08:45.560]
Dan Goldman
When Vice President Biden acted in Ukraine, did he act in accordance with official U.S. policy?
[02:08:45.560 - 02:08:50.120]
George Kent
He did.
[02:08:50.120 - 02:08:50.960]
Dan Goldman
Now, let's go to, then, the last excerpts that I wanted to highlight, which is President Zelensky speaking. And he says, I also wanted to thank you for your invitation to visit the United States, specifically Washington, D.C. On the other hand, I also want to ensure you that we will be very serious about the case, and we will work on the investigation.
[02:08:50.960 - 02:09:11.280]

Now, Ambassador Taylor, right after President Zelensky mentions his much-desired Washington visit, he says "on the other hand" and then says that Ukraine will be very serious about the investigation. Is this the same link between the White House visit and the investigations that Ambassador Volker had texted to Andriy Yermak just a few minutes before this conversation?
[02:09:11.280 - 02:09:39.640]
William Taylor
That's my assumption.
[02:09:39.640 - 02:09:40.320]
Dan Goldman
Now, just to summarize what we've just read in this July 25th call between the Presidents, the Ukrainian President thanked President Trump for security assistance that President Trump had just frozen, to which President Trump responded that he wanted President Zelensky to do him a favor, though, by investigating the 2016 U.S. election and the Bidens.
[02:09:40.320 - 02:10:03.400]

And then President Zelensky says that he will pursue these investigations right after he mentions the White House visit. Is that your understanding, Ambassador Taylor, of what we just read?
[02:10:03.400 - 02:10:13.480]
William Taylor
Yes.
[02:10:13.480 - 02:10:14.040]
Dan Goldman
And, Mr. Kent, is that yours?
[02:10:14.040 - 02:10:16.480]
George Kent
Yes.
[02:10:16.480 - 02:10:16.760]
Dan Goldman
I yield back.
[02:10:16.760 - 02:10:17.600]
Adam B. Schiff
The majority time has expired. Would you gentlemen like a brief recess? Let's take a 5-minute recess, and then we'll resume with minority questioning.
[02:10:17.600 - 02:10:27.080]
Note
[A recess is called.]
[02:10:27.080 - 02:10:29.520]
Adam B. Schiff
The committee will come back to order. The chair now recognizes the ranking member and minority counsel for minutes.
[02:10:29.520 - 02:10:35.040]
Devin Nunes
Thank you. The call summary for which the Democrats want to impeach President Trump is dramatically different from their nefarious depiction of it. What it actually shows is a pleasant exchange between two leaders who discuss mutual cooperation over a range of issues. The Democrats claim this call demonstrates extortion, bribery, and a host of other monstrous crimes being committed against President Zelensky.
[02:10:35.040 - 02:11:05.280]

Yet President Zelensky himself insists there was nothing improper whatsoever about the conversation. Indeed, the routine nature of the call helps to explain why, in this committee's last public hearing, Democrats recited a fictitious version of the call, instead of reading the actual transcript. The Democrats depicted the President saying, quote: I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand?
[02:11:05.280 - 02:11:27.800]

Lots of it on this and on that, unquote. The transcript did not show President Trump saying anything remotely like that. The President did not ask Ukraine to make up dirt on anyone. But the Democrats are not trying to discover facts; they're trying to invent a narrative. And if the facts they need do not exist, then they'll just make it up. Not only does President Zelensky deny the Democrats' characterization of the call, but as Ambassador Taylor testified to this committee, the Ukrainians did not even know at the time of the call that a temporary delay was put on the security assistance for them.
[02:11:27.800 - 02:12:02.880]

Furthermore, as the Ambassador testified, these holds occur from time-to-time. Both he and Ambassador Volker were confident the delay would be lifted. And, in fact, military aid to Ukraine has actually substantially improved since President Trump took office. Ambassador Taylor testified that President Trump was the first President to see that Ukraine was afforded Javelin antitank weapons.
[02:12:02.880 - 02:12:34.320]

This was a very strong message that Americans are willing to provide more than blankets. This was the Obama administration's approach. Note this important fact: the security assistant was provided to Ukraine without the Ukrainians having done any of the things they were supposedly being blackmailed to do. So we're supposed to believe that President Trump committed a terrible crime that never actually occurred and which the supposed victim denies ever happened.
[02:12:34.320 - 02:13:00.840]

I'd like to briefly speak about the core mistruth at the heart of the Democrats' impeachment drive. They claim the President tried to get the Ukrainians to, quote, manufacture dirt against his political rivals. This is supported by precisely zero evidence. Once again, the Democrats simply made it up. But let's consider the broader question about why President Trump may have wanted answers to questions about Ukraine meddling in 2016. The Democrats downplay, ignore, outright deny the many indications that Ukrainians actually did meddle in the election, a shocking about-face for people who for 3 years argued that foreign election meddling was an intolerable crime that threatened the heart of our democracy.
[02:13:00.840 - 02:13:36.640]

While the brazen suddenness of this U-turn is jarring, this denial is a necessary part of their argument. After all, if there actually were indications of Ukrainian election meddling and if foreign election meddling is a dire threat, then President Trump would have a perfectly good reason for wanting to find out what happened.
[02:13:36.640 - 02:13:52.400]

And since the meddling was aimed against his campaign, he'd have good reason for sending his personal attorney to make inquiries about it. What's strange is that some of the witnesses at these hearings and previous depositions who express alarm about these inquiries were remarkably uninformed about these indications of Ukrainian election meddling and why the President may have been concerned by them.
[02:13:52.400 - 02:14:58.560]

For example, I noted previously, Alexandra Chalupa, a former staffer for the Democratic National Committee, admitted to Politico that she worked with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., to dig up dirt on the Trump campaign, which she passed on to the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
[02:14:58.560 - 02:15:23.400]

Chalupa revealed that Ukrainian Embassy officials themselves were also working directly with reporters to trade information and leads about the Trump campaign. Ambassador Kent, you didn't seem to be too concerned about it in the last round of questioning, so I'll just skip you because we know that wasn't a concern.
[02:15:23.400 - 02:15:42.400]

But, Ambassador Taylor, you testified to this committee that you only recently became aware of reports of this cooperation between Ukrainian Embassy officials and Chalupa to undermine the Trump campaign from your last deposition. Is that correct?
[02:15:42.400 - 02:15:56.080]
William Taylor
Mr. Nunes, it is correct that I had not known about this before.
[02:15:56.080 - 02:16:00.000]
Devin Nunes
That's -- I'm just going over your last deposition, Ambassador.
[02:16:00.000 - 02:16:05.680]
William Taylor
Yeah.
[02:16:05.680 - 02:16:06.560]
Devin Nunes
The Politico article cites three named Ukrainian officials asserting that the Ukrainian Embassy supported the Hillary Clinton campaign. It quotes Ukrainian Parliamentarian Andriy Artemenko saying, quote: It was clear they were supporting Hillary Clinton's candidacy. They did everything from organizing meetings with the Clinton team to publicly supporting her, to criticizing Trump.
[02:16:06.560 - 02:16:29.560]

I think that they simply didn't meet with the Trump campaign because they thought Hillary would win, unquote. Ambassador Taylor, you testified you were unfamiliar with that statement. Is that correct?
[02:16:29.560 - 02:16:40.120]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[02:16:40.120 - 02:16:41.280]
Devin Nunes
You also said you were unaware that then Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Valeriy Chaly wrote an op-ed in The Hill during the 2016 Presidential campaign criticizing then candidate Trump. Is that correct?
[02:16:41.280 - 02:16:54.800]
William Taylor
That is correct.
[02:16:54.800 - 02:16:55.440]
Devin Nunes
You said you did not know that Serhiy Leshchenko, then a Ukrainian parliamentarian, had admitted that part of his motivation in spreading information about the so-called black ledger, a disputed document purporting of reveal corruption by a former Trump campaign official, was to undermine the Trump's candidacy.
[02:16:55.440 - 02:17:13.640]

This was in your deposition. Is that still correct?
[02:17:13.640 - 02:17:16.720]
William Taylor
That is still correct, sir.
[02:17:16.720 - 02:17:19.080]
Devin Nunes
Thank you, Mr. Taylor. Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr testified to Congress that Leshchenko was a source for Fusion GPS' operation to dirty up the Trump campaign, including the compilation of the Steele dossier on behalf of the DNC and the Clinton campaign. You testified you were unaware that Leshchenko served as a source for that project.
[02:17:19.080 - 02:17:44.200]

Ambassador Taylor, is this still correct?
[02:17:44.200 - 02:17:48.560]
William Taylor
It is, sir.
[02:17:48.560 - 02:17:49.520]
Devin Nunes
You said you did not know that Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister, Arsen Avakov, mocked and disparaged then candidate Trump on Facebook and Twitter. Is that still correct?
[02:17:49.520 - 02:18:00.920]
William Taylor
That is correct.
[02:18:00.920 - 02:18:01.600]
Devin Nunes
Ambassador Taylor, in your testimony to this committee, you said you were never briefed on these reports and statements, that you did not do due diligence before taking your post to discover that President -- the President's and Mayor Giuliani's concerns may have been -- what they may have been and that you did not discuss them with Ambassador Yovanovitch.
[02:18:01.600 - 02:18:21.440]

Is that still correct?
[02:18:21.440 - 02:18:22.520]
William Taylor
Yes, sir.
[02:18:22.520 - 02:18:23.240]
Devin Nunes
Furthermore, you said it upset you to hear about the many indications of Ukrainian election meddling. Your precise words were -- I'm going to read them back to you: Based on this Politico article, which again surprises me, disappoints me, because I think it's a mistake for any diplomat or government official in one country to interfere in the political life of another.
[02:18:23.240 - 02:18:50.120]

That's disappointing, unquote. Ambassador Taylor, is that still your testimony?
[02:18:50.120 - 02:18:58.280]
William Taylor
Mr. Nunes, it is. Subsequent to that, I looked into the circumstances for several of the things that you just mentioned. In 2016, candidate Trump had made a statement saying that it was possible that he would allow Crimea to go back to Russia. He expressed the sentiment, or the opinion, that it's possible that Crimea wanted to go back to Russia.
[02:18:58.280 - 02:19:25.880]

What I can tell you, Mr. Nunes, is that those -- that sentiment is amazingly inflammatory to all Ukrainians, so --
[02:19:25.880 - 02:19:35.000]
Devin Nunes
So I think -- so I can understand that. Are you aware during the -- I believe it was the 2012 election, when, at the time, President Obama leaned over on a hot mike to the then Russian president and said that he'd have to wait until after the election? Was that inflammatory to the Ukrainians also?
[02:19:35.000 - 02:19:55.280]
William Taylor
I don't know, sir.
[02:19:55.280 - 02:19:56.440]
Devin Nunes
I just want to be clear that some government officials oppose President Trump's approach to Ukraine, but many had no idea what concerned him. In this case, it was numerous indications of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election to oppose his campaign and support Hillary Clinton. Once you know that, it's easy to understand the President's desire to get to the bottom of this corruption and to discover exactly what happened in the 2016 election.
[02:19:56.440 - 02:20:25.920]

And with that, I'll turn to Mr. Castor.
[02:20:25.920 - 02:20:28.640]
Steve Castor
Ambassador Taylor, Mr. Kent, President Trump's concerns about Ukraine's role in the 2016 election, you believe he genuinely believed they were working against him, right? Ambassador Taylor?
[02:20:28.640 - 02:20:40.280]
William Taylor
Mr. Castor, I don't know what or President or candidate Trump was thinking about the Ukrainians.
[02:20:40.280 - 02:20:49.160]
Steve Castor
I mean, didn't he, in his Oval Office meeting, on May 23rd, after the Zelensky inauguration, didn't he lament that the Ukrainians were out to get him?
[02:20:49.160 - 02:21:01.960]
William Taylor
I heard that his response to the suggestion that Mr. Zelensky visit Mr. Trump, President Trump, in the Oval Office, was not well received and that he had concerns about Ukrainians, yes.
[02:21:01.960 - 02:21:13.320]
Steve Castor
But from the President's perspective, if the Ambassador -- Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, one of the most influential diplomats, is penning an op-ed, certainly with the okay of President Poroshenko, the DNC consultants are conferring with Ukrainian officials at the Embassy, Former Prime Minister Yatsenyuk is saying things on social media, Interior Minister Avakov, who has spanned both the Poroshenko and Zelensky realm, is also saying some very unkind things on social media about the President, you certainly can appreciate that President Trump was very concerned that some elements of the Ukrainian establishment were not in favor of him, did not support him, and were out to get him.
[02:21:13.320 - 02:21:57.320]
Adam B. Schiff
And I'll allow the question, but are you asking --
[02:21:57.320 - 02:21:59.680]
Devin Nunes
Parliamentary inquiry. Are you seriously interrupting our time?
[02:21:59.680 - 02:22:04.000]
Adam B. Schiff
I will allow the question. I won't dock this from the time. I just want to be clear, Ambassador, if you're able to verify the things that counsel has asked you in the prerequisite of the question, that's fine. Otherwise, in questions from the majority or the minority that may assume facts not in evidence before you, you should be cautioned about that.
[02:22:04.000 - 02:22:30.880]
John Ratcliffe
Mr. Chairman, point of order.
[02:22:30.880 - 02:22:34.400]
Adam B. Schiff
The time is with Mr. -- with minority counsel. Mr. Nunes.
[02:22:34.400 - 02:22:39.360]
Devin Nunes
John Ratcliffe.
[02:22:39.360 - 02:22:40.600]
John Ratcliffe
Chairman, I sat here through the first 45 minutes and literally had an objection to almost the foundation of every question that Mr. Goldman asked regarding facts not in evidence, leading. But House Resolution 660 does not say that we are under the Federal Rules of Evidence. If it is your position that I should be asserting objections to questions that violate the Federal Rules of Evidence, let me know now because this hearing is going to change significantly.
[02:22:40.600 - 02:23:09.120]
Adam B. Schiff
As I said, Mr. Ratcliffe, I will allow the question.
[02:23:09.120 - 02:23:12.680]
Devin Nunes
I think the gentleman has a different question about the rules. So what are the rules that are going to govern this?
[02:23:12.680 - 02:23:17.200]
Adam B. Schiff
Does the ranking member seek recognition?
[02:23:17.200 - 02:23:19.560]
Devin Nunes
I'm asking -- I'm yielding you to the question I just asked you.
[02:23:19.560 - 02:23:23.240]
Adam B. Schiff
For what purpose do you seek recognition.
[02:23:23.240 - 02:23:26.400]
Devin Nunes
To answer Mr. Ratcliffe's question.
[02:23:26.400 - 02:23:31.560]
Adam B. Schiff
I have answered it. You may resume your questioning.
[02:23:31.560 - 02:23:35.000]
John Ratcliffe
Respectfully, Mr. Chairman, you haven't answered my question whether or not I should be asserting assumes facts not in evidence or leading objections to questions that are posed from this point forward. That's my question.
[02:23:35.000 - 02:23:52.920]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Ratcliffe, I'll say once again, I'm not objecting to the question, but I am instructing the witness that they should not presume questions from the majority or the minority that may represent facts not in evidence are correct. This is -- I have answered the question. We will resume the questioning and resume the clock.
[02:23:52.920 - 02:24:17.760]
Steve Castor
So you certainly can appreciate President Trump's concerns?
[02:24:17.760 - 02:24:22.360]
William Taylor
Mr. Castor, I don't know the exact nature of President Trump's concerns. In my deposition, I recall you handed me the Politico article, which listed at least three of the elements that you have described earlier. And you recognize and I have confirmed with the ranking minority member that I -- this is the first I had heard of those and was surprised by those.
[02:24:22.360 - 02:24:51.040]

I don't know President Trump's reaction to those.
[02:24:51.040 - 02:24:55.680]
Steve Castor
In the information published by Serhiy Leshchenko, a former Ukrainian investigative journalist, and then he was a member of the parliament, about the Manafort black ledgers, in August of 2016, I mean the very day that was published, Mr. Manafort resigned from the campaign, correct?
[02:24:55.680 - 02:25:20.400]
William Taylor
I don't know, Mr. Castor.
[02:25:20.400 - 02:25:23.600]
Steve Castor
But certainly that gives rise to some concern that there are elements of the Ukrainian establishment that were out to get the President. That's a very reasonable belief of his, correct?
[02:25:23.600 - 02:25:29.960]
William Taylor
I don't know.
[02:25:29.960 - 02:25:31.040]
Steve Castor
In the runup to the 2016 election, there were many facts that remain unresolved, agreed?
[02:25:31.040 - 02:25:35.680]
William Taylor
I'm sorry. What's the question?
[02:25:35.680 - 02:25:41.760]
Steve Castor
There are many facts relating to the runup of the 2016 election that remain unresolved.
[02:25:41.760 - 02:25:47.760]
William Taylor
Any further --
[02:25:47.760 - 02:25:48.520]
Steve Castor
Well, Attorney General Barr, in May of 2019, tasked the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, John Durham, to broadly examine the government's collection of intelligence involving the President's campaign. That effort initially was an administrative review, has turned into a criminal probe. And U.S. Attorney Durham is casting a wide net and is following the facts where they may lead.
[02:25:48.520 - 02:26:20.520]

Are you aware of that?
[02:26:20.520 - 02:26:21.800]
William Taylor
I'm aware that there is an investigation. That's as much as I'm aware.
[02:26:21.800 - 02:26:27.080]
Steve Castor
And so, to the extent any information resides in Ukraine, it's perfectly appropriate for the Ukrainians to try to get to the bottom of that, for the Ukrainians to cooperate with the United States through official channels to share that information, correct?
[02:26:27.080 - 02:26:45.600]
William Taylor
Mr. Castor, can you say that one again? I would appreciate it if you would restate the question.
[02:26:45.600 - 02:26:54.960]
Steve Castor
To the extent Ukraine has facts related to the runup of the 2016 election that are under the U.S. Attorney Durham's probe, Ukraine should cooperate with the United States, and to the extent there are Ukrainians doing improper things, the Ukrainians ought to investigate that themselves, correct?
[02:26:54.960 - 02:27:16.720]
William Taylor
Mr. Castor, the Ukrainian-American relations are very supportive. The Ukrainians will certainly be responsive to requests.
[02:27:16.720 - 02:27:23.240]
Steve Castor
So, when the President on the call transcript of July 25th raises this with President Zelensky and he urges that there be a connection between the Ukrainian Government and the Justice Department officially, I mean, that's the appropriate way to raise an issue with the Ukrainian President, correct?
[02:27:23.240 - 02:27:48.200]
William Taylor
It's appropriate for the Justice Department and the Prosecutor General to cooperate and to exchange information, yes.
[02:27:48.200 - 02:28:03.720]
Steve Castor
But to the extent that the President has concerns and to the extent the Attorney General is having the U.S. Attorney Durham look into it, isn't it entirely appropriate for the President to flag this for President Zelensky and say that you should be in touch with our official channels?
[02:28:03.720 - 02:28:21.920]
William Taylor
Mr. Castor, I don't know the precise appropriateness of these kinds of relations.
[02:28:21.920 - 02:28:27.760]
Steve Castor
Now, were you involved -- either of you -- involved in the preparation for the 7/25 call?
[02:28:27.760 - 02:28:33.560]
William Taylor
I was not.
[02:28:33.560 - 02:28:34.280]
George Kent
I was not.
[02:28:34.280 - 02:28:34.840]
Steve Castor
And how do you account for that? I mean, you're the -- you are two of the key officials with responsibility for Ukrainian policy. I mean, if the President of the United States is going to have a call with the leader of the Ukraine, why wouldn't you ordinarily be involved with the preparation?
[02:28:34.840 - 02:28:47.120]
George Kent
Sir, we work for the Department of State in an embassy overseas. And in preparation for a Presidential phone call, that responsibility lies within the staff of the National Security Council. Normally, if there is enough sufficient time, national security staff can solicit information, usually from the State Department, and we can draw on the Embassy, but that's only background information.
[02:28:47.120 - 02:29:16.360]

And my understanding, having never worked at the National Security Council, is that national security staff write a memo to the President, and none of us see that outside of the national security staff.
[02:29:16.360 - 02:29:27.400]
Steve Castor
Okay. So the charge or the U.S. Ambassador to the country wouldn't ordinarily be on a call with a foreign leader?
[02:29:27.400 - 02:29:35.720]
William Taylor
That's correct. Would not.
[02:29:35.720 - 02:29:37.000]
Steve Castor
And did Colonel Vindman, or anyone at the National Security Council staff, reach out to you, Mr. Kent, in preparation for the call?
[02:29:37.000 - 02:29:52.720]
George Kent
I was given notification the day before, on July 24th. And to the extent I had any role that was to reach out to the Embassy, give them the heads up, and ask them to ensure that the secure communications link in the Office of the President of Ukraine was functional so the call could be patched through from the White House situation room.
[02:29:52.720 - 02:30:15.600]
Steve Castor
Did you provide any substantive advice to Colonel Vindman about the call and what ought to be the -- the official position?
[02:30:15.600 - 02:30:24.840]
George Kent
I was not asked and I did not provide.
[02:30:24.840 - 02:30:27.160]
Steve Castor
Okay. Same with you, Ambassador?
[02:30:27.160 - 02:30:29.280]
William Taylor
The same.
[02:30:29.280 - 02:30:29.760]
Steve Castor
And the call was scheduled -- you know, you testified earlier that the call was on again/off again. And after the July 10th meeting with Ambassador Bolton, the consensus was the call was not going to happen. Is that correct?
[02:30:29.760 - 02:30:42.640]
George Kent
I would not say that was a consensus. The State Department's position was that a call between the two Presidents would be useful. And once Zelensky's party won the first ever absolute majority in parliamentary elections on July 21st, the idea of congratulatory call made imminent sense, from our perspective.
[02:30:42.640 - 02:31:09.640]
Steve Castor
Okay. And the call was scheduled. And did you get a readout, Ambassador Taylor, initially from the call?
[02:31:09.640 - 02:31:17.480]
William Taylor
I didn't, Mr. Castor. I read the -- we all read the statement that the Ukrainians put out. I got a readout several days later from Mr. Morrison, National Security Council.
[02:31:17.480 - 02:31:31.120]
Steve Castor
Okay. And how about you, Mr. Kent?
[02:31:31.120 - 02:31:34.880]
George Kent
I likewise first saw the Ukrainian statement, and I believe the next day, July 26th, which would have been a Friday, I did get a partial readout from Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, yes.
[02:31:34.880 - 02:31:45.880]
Steve Castor
Ambassador Taylor, you said that the Ukrainian readout was cryptic. Is that just because it's initially written in Ukrainian and translated to the U.S.?
[02:31:45.880 - 02:31:55.520]
William Taylor
No. It's -- as a general rule, both the United States and other countries, including Ukraine, will put out very short summaries that kind of hit the highlights of the discussion --
[02:31:55.520 - 02:32:03.840]
Steve Castor
Okay.
[02:32:03.840 - 02:32:06.240]
William Taylor
-- but without going into detail.
[02:32:06.240 - 02:32:07.600]
Steve Castor
Okay. And you mentioned it was cryptic. Why did you think it was cryptic?
[02:32:07.600 - 02:32:11.560]
William Taylor
Knowing now what -- having read the transcript and looking back at their summary --
[02:32:11.560 - 02:32:17.240]
Steve Castor
Uh-huh.
[02:32:17.240 - 02:32:17.520]
William Taylor
-- as I recall -- I don't recall the exact words -- but they said that there were issues to be pursued in order to improve relations between the two countries, or something like that.
[02:32:17.520 - 02:32:28.080]
Steve Castor
That seems pretty ordinary.
[02:32:28.080 - 02:32:31.160]
William Taylor
It seems pretty ordinary.
[02:32:31.160 - 02:32:34.960]
Steve Castor
You were with President Zelensky the very next day?
[02:32:34.960 - 02:32:40.400]
William Taylor
We were. We had a meeting with him the very next day.
[02:32:40.400 - 02:32:42.720]
Steve Castor
And did President Zelensky raise any concerns about his views of the call?
[02:32:42.720 - 02:32:48.600]
William Taylor
He said -- so, right. So I, Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland were in his office, and we asked him, I think, how the call -- he said: The call was fine. I was happy with the call.
[02:32:48.600 - 02:33:00.480]
Steve Castor
Okay. And did you get any additional readout subsequently about the call? Like when did you first learn that the call contained things that concerned you? Was that not until September 25th?
[02:33:00.480 - 02:33:08.920]
William Taylor
Mr. Morrison, as I say, briefed me several days later, before the end of July, and I think this is where I said in my testimony that he said it could have gone better, and he said it -- that the call mentioned Mr. Giuliani. He also said that the call mentioned the former Ambassador. Both of those were concerning.
[02:33:08.920 - 02:33:29.480]
Steve Castor
Giuliani was first raised on the call by President Zelensky, correct?
[02:33:29.480 - 02:33:34.880]
William Taylor
I don't recall. It could have been. Well, I have it here, if you would like.
[02:33:34.880 - 02:33:43.200]
Steve Castor
Yeah. It's on page -- page 3. The first mention of Giuliani is from President Zelensky. It's on page 3. And President Zelensky says: I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently, and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine.
[02:33:43.200 - 02:34:11.640]

Did that surprise you?
[02:34:11.640 - 02:34:12.960]
William Taylor
Again, I didn't have the transcript at the time. All I heard was that Giuliani was mentioned. Mr. Morrison said that Giuliani was mentioned in the call.
[02:34:12.960 - 02:34:22.680]
Steve Castor
But the way Zelensky states it here, it sounds like he is very much looking forward to speaking with America's mayor.
[02:34:22.680 - 02:34:26.360]
William Taylor
That's what I found out when I read the transcript on the th of September or so.
[02:34:26.360 - 02:34:33.480]
Steve Castor
Okay. Now, Mr. Kent, corruption in Ukraine is endemic, correct?
[02:34:33.480 - 02:34:40.480]
George Kent
That's correct.
[02:34:40.480 - 02:34:41.560]
Steve Castor
And it affects the courts, the prosecutors, and there have historically been problems with all of the prosecutors in Ukraine, correct?
[02:34:41.560 - 02:34:50.520]
George Kent
I would say up until the new set of prosecutors appointed by President Zelensky in the last two months, correct.
[02:34:50.520 - 02:34:56.280]
Steve Castor
Okay. And so the U.S. Government, the consensus hope at the State Department and the National Security Council and the White House is that Zelensky's the real deal, he is a real reformer, he is genuinely interested in rooting out corruption, prosecuting the bad guys, correct?
[02:34:56.280 - 02:35:11.320]
George Kent
I would say we are cautiously optimistic, and we will work wherever there is the political will to do the right thing and put forward genuine reform.
[02:35:11.320 - 02:35:22.720]
Steve Castor
And at the heart of the corruption is this oligarchical system, correct, where the oligarchs take control, often by a virtual theft of, you know, for example, the right to certain energy licenses, correct?
[02:35:22.720 - 02:35:35.400]
George Kent
That is one element, yes, sir.
[02:35:35.400 - 02:35:39.440]
Steve Castor
And the company Burisma, its leader, Zlochevsky, he has a little bit of a storied history of corruption, doesn't he?
[02:35:39.440 - 02:35:46.120]
George Kent
Mr. Zlochevsky was Minister of Energy from 2010 to 2012 under the pro-Russian Government, and he used his regulatory authority to award gas exploration licenses to companies that he himself controlled. That would be considered an act of corruption in my view, yes.
[02:35:46.120 - 02:36:07.600]
Steve Castor
Certainly self-dealing.
[02:36:07.600 - 02:36:09.920]
George Kent
Certainly self-dealing and self-enriching.
[02:36:09.920 - 02:36:13.320]
Steve Castor
And how did the Ukrainian Government ultimately pursue that?
[02:36:13.320 - 02:36:16.360]
George Kent
In the spring of 2014, the Ukrainian Government, the new government, after the Revolution of Dignity, turned to partners, particularly the U.S. and the U.K., to try to recover tens of billions of dollars of stolen assets. The first case that we tried to recover that money came from Mr. Zlochevsky. The Serious Crimes Office in the U.K. had already opened up an investigation.
[02:36:16.360 - 02:36:39.920]

They worked with us and the Ukrainian authorities to develop more information. The $23 million was frozen until somebody in the general prosecutor's office of Ukraine shut the case, issued a letter to his lawyer, and that money went poof.
[02:36:39.920 - 02:36:56.960]
Steve Castor
So essentially paid a bribe to make the case go away?
[02:36:56.960 - 02:37:00.760]
George Kent
That is our strong assumption, yes, sir.
[02:37:00.760 - 02:37:05.320]
Steve Castor
Okay. Now, at any point in time, has anyone in the Ukrainian Government tried to reinvestigate that, or did that -- did those crimes just go unpunished and was he free to go?
[02:37:05.320 - 02:37:21.320]
George Kent
Mr. Zlochevsky spent time, as far as I understand, in Moscow and Monaco, after he fled Ukraine. We continued to raise, as a point of order, that because U.S. taxpayer dollars had been used to try to recover frozen assets, that we have a fiduciary responsibility. And we have continued to press Ukrainian officials to answer for why alleged corrupt prosecutors had closed a case, and we have till now not gotten a satisfactory answer.
[02:37:21.320 - 02:37:53.000]

So, to summarize, we thought that Mykola Zlochevsky had stolen money; we thought a prosecutor had taken a bribe to shut the case; and those were our main concerns.
[02:37:53.000 - 02:38:06.920]
Steve Castor
And are you in favor of that matter being fully investigated and prosecuted?
[02:38:06.920 - 02:38:13.040]
George Kent
I think, since U.S. taxpayer dollars were wasted, I would love to see the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office find who the corrupt prosecutor was that took the bribe and how much it was paid. And that's what I said to the deputy prosecutor general on February 3, 2015.
[02:38:13.040 - 02:38:37.080]
Steve Castor
But in addition to prosecuting the person that took the bribes, shouldn't the organization or individual that sponsored the bribes be prosecuted?
[02:38:37.080 - 02:38:47.040]
George Kent
I would agree that the Ukrainian law authority should uphold the rule of law and hold the people account for breaking Ukrainian law.
[02:38:47.040 - 02:38:53.240]
Steve Castor
So this company Burisma is involved in lots of criminal activity, correct?
[02:38:53.240 - 02:39:03.640]
George Kent
I do not know that.
[02:39:03.640 - 02:39:05.160]
Steve Castor
But over the years, it's been involved in a number of questionable dealings, correct?
[02:39:05.160 - 02:39:09.240]
George Kent
I would say that it's the largest private gas producer in the country, and its business reputation is mixed.
[02:39:09.240 - 02:39:14.280]
Steve Castor
So, to the extent a new regime is coming in under President Zelensky, it certainly would be fair for the new prosecutor, a genuine prosecutor, to reexamine old crimes that hadn't sufficiently been brought to justice, right?
[02:39:14.280 - 02:39:28.320]
George Kent
I believe that the new prosecutor general, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, made a statement to that and that they would be reviewing past cases. But keep in mind, this is a country where those that commit crimes generally never get held to account, so there is a lot to review.
[02:39:28.320 - 02:39:45.920]
Steve Castor
Okay. Now, the bribe was paid in what year?
[02:39:45.920 - 02:39:50.760]
George Kent
To the best of my knowledge, the case against Zlochevsky, the former minister, was shut down December of 2014.
[02:39:50.760 - 02:39:59.600]
Steve Castor
Okay. And right around that time, Burisma starts adding officials to its board. Is that correct?
[02:39:59.600 - 02:40:05.160]
George Kent
My understanding is, yes, that Zlochevsky invited a series of new individuals to join the board in 2014.
[02:40:05.160 - 02:40:11.160]
Steve Castor
And do you know what his strategy was in adding officials to his board?
[02:40:11.160 - 02:40:14.280]
George Kent
I have never met Mr. Zlochevsky.
[02:40:14.280 - 02:40:16.160]
Steve Castor
And who are some of the folks he added to the board?
[02:40:16.160 - 02:40:18.120]
George Kent
The most prominent person he added to the board was the former president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski.
[02:40:18.120 - 02:40:23.640]
Steve Castor
And anyone else?
[02:40:23.640 - 02:40:24.200]
George Kent
There were a number of others, including some Americans, and the most prominent one in this context is Hunter Biden.
[02:40:24.200 - 02:40:30.640]
Steve Castor
Okay. So Hunter Biden is added to the board of Burisma. Now do you think that creates a problem that Burisma may be adding people to its board for protection purposes?
[02:40:30.640 - 02:40:41.080]
George Kent
Sir, I work for the government. I don't work in the cooperate sector, and so I believe that companies build their boards with a variety of reasons, not only to promote their business plans.
[02:40:41.080 - 02:40:52.320]
Steve Castor
Was Hunter Biden a corporate governance expert?
[02:40:52.320 - 02:40:54.600]
George Kent
I have no idea what Hunter Biden studied at university or what his CV says.
[02:40:54.600 - 02:40:57.880]
Steve Castor
Like is he the Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of the Ukraine?
[02:40:57.880 - 02:41:00.400]
George Kent
I have no awareness or knowledge of what his background was and what he may have done on the board of Burisma.
[02:41:00.400 - 02:41:07.040]
Steve Castor
So you don't know whether he has any business experience in Ukraine prior to joining Burisma's board?
[02:41:07.040 - 02:41:10.840]
George Kent
I've heard nothing about prior experience, no.
[02:41:10.840 - 02:41:13.800]
Steve Castor
Okay. Do you know if he speaks Ukrainian?
[02:41:13.800 - 02:41:14.200]
George Kent
I do not.
[02:41:14.200 - 02:41:14.560]
Steve Castor
Do you know if he possesses any other element, other than the fact that he is the son of, at the time, the sitting Vice President?
[02:41:14.560 - 02:41:19.280]
George Kent
I do not.
[02:41:19.280 - 02:41:19.720]
Steve Castor
Ambassador Taylor, do you know whether Hunter Biden offers anything other than the fact that his dad is the former Vice President?
[02:41:19.720 - 02:41:24.240]
William Taylor
I don't.
[02:41:24.240 - 02:41:24.480]
Steve Castor
Or at the time was the Vice President?
[02:41:24.480 - 02:41:25.960]
William Taylor
I have no knowledge of Hunter Biden.
[02:41:25.960 - 02:41:27.760]
Steve Castor
But you would agree it raises questions, right? He was getting paid, I think, $50,000 a month to sit on the board? Do you know if he relocated to Ukraine?
[02:41:27.760 - 02:41:38.440]
William Taylor
Counsel, say again?
[02:41:38.440 - 02:41:39.400]
Steve Castor
Do you know if Hunter Biden relocated to Ukraine?
[02:41:39.400 - 02:41:42.080]
William Taylor
No knowledge.
[02:41:42.080 - 02:41:42.320]
Steve Castor
Do you, Mr. Kent?
[02:41:42.320 - 02:41:43.040]
George Kent
Again, no knowledge.
[02:41:43.040 - 02:41:44.040]
Steve Castor
Okay. So he is getting paid $50,000 a month, but we don't know whether he had any experience, he had any -- spoke the language, or whether he moved to Ukraine, correct?
[02:41:44.040 - 02:41:52.600]
George Kent
Correct.
[02:41:52.600 - 02:41:52.600]
Steve Castor
Now, at this time, Vice President Biden was taking a specific interest in Ukraine, wasn't he?
[02:41:52.600 - 02:41:57.960]
George Kent
He was.
[02:41:57.960 - 02:41:59.120]
Steve Castor
And could you tell us about that?
[02:41:59.120 - 02:42:01.200]
George Kent
I believe that, while he was Vice President, he made had a total of six visits to Ukraine. One may have been during the old regime, Yanukovych, and that would make five visits after the Revolution of Dignity, which started February of 2014.
[02:42:01.200 - 02:42:18.240]
Steve Castor
Okay. And you are the DCM, the deputy chief of mission, at the time, correct?
[02:42:18.240 - 02:42:23.760]
George Kent
Starting in 2015, yes.
[02:42:23.760 - 02:42:27.120]
Steve Castor
Okay. And did Vice President Biden come when you were at post?
[02:42:27.120 - 02:42:31.680]
George Kent
He did not. I came back for Ukrainian language training, and so I missed several visits.
[02:42:31.680 - 02:42:36.520]
Steve Castor
Okay. Now, you have seen Vice President Biden's -- he has sort of given a speech, and he's, you know, a little folksy about how he went into Ukraine and he told the Ukrainians that, if they don't fire the prosecutor, they're going to lose their $1 billion in loan guarantees. You have seen that, correct?
[02:42:36.520 - 02:42:53.600]
George Kent
I have. I think it was a speech at the Council of Foreign Relations in January of 2018.
[02:42:53.600 - 02:42:59.000]
Steve Castor
Right. And he also said that he has been there, you know, to Ukraine, 13 times. Do you know if that's accurate?
[02:42:59.000 - 02:43:08.400]
George Kent
To the best of my knowledge, when he was Vice President, he made six visits.
[02:43:08.400 - 02:43:13.960]
Steve Castor
And did the State Department ever express any concerns to the Vice President's Office that the Vice President's role at the time in engaging on Ukraine presented any issues?
[02:43:13.960 - 02:43:23.000]
George Kent
No. The Vice President's role was critically important. It was top cover to help us pursue our policy agenda.
[02:43:23.000 - 02:43:30.920]
Steve Castor
Okay. But given Hunter Biden's role on Burisma's board of directors, at some point, you testified in your deposition that you expressed some concern to the Vice President's office. Is that correct?
[02:43:30.920 - 02:43:47.200]
George Kent
That is correct.
[02:43:47.200 - 02:43:49.040]
Steve Castor
And what did they do about that concern that you expressed?
[02:43:49.040 - 02:43:52.800]
George Kent
I have no idea. I reported my concern to the Office of the Vice President.
[02:43:52.800 - 02:43:57.240]
Steve Castor
Okay. That was the end of it? Nobody --
[02:43:57.240 - 02:43:59.160]
George Kent
Sir, you would have to ask people who worked in the Office of the Vice President during 2015.
[02:43:59.160 - 02:44:03.840]
Steve Castor
But after you expressed a concern of a perceived conflict of interest, at the least, the Vice President's engagement in the Ukraine didn't decrease, did it?
[02:44:03.840 - 02:44:16.040]
George Kent
Correct, because the Vice President was promoting U.S. policy objectives in Ukraine.
[02:44:16.040 - 02:44:22.440]
Steve Castor
And Hunter Biden's role on the board of Burisma didn't cease, did it?
[02:44:22.440 - 02:44:27.600]
George Kent
To the best of my knowledge, it didn't. And my concern was that there was the possibility of a perception of a conflict of interest.
[02:44:27.600 - 02:44:34.960]
Steve Castor
Now, Ambassador Taylor, I want to turn to the discussion of the irregular channel you described. And, in fairness, this irregular channel of diplomacy, it's not as outlandish as it could be. Is that correct?
[02:44:34.960 - 02:44:48.000]
William Taylor
It's not as outlandish as it could be, yeah, I agree, Mr. Castor.
[02:44:48.000 - 02:44:52.840]
Steve Castor
Okay. We have Ambassador Volker, who is a former Senate-confirmed Ambassador to NATO, longtime State Department diplomat, and you've known Ambassador Volker for years, correct?
[02:44:52.840 - 02:45:04.320]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[02:45:04.320 - 02:45:05.240]
Steve Castor
A man of unquestioned integrity, correct?
[02:45:05.240 - 02:45:08.880]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[02:45:08.880 - 02:45:09.520]
Steve Castor
And somebody with incredible knowledge of the region?
[02:45:09.520 - 02:45:09.920]
William Taylor
With very good knowledge of the region, yes, sir.
[02:45:09.920 - 02:45:13.000]
Steve Castor
And the best interest of the United States?
[02:45:13.000 - 02:45:16.320]
William Taylor
I'm sure that's right.
[02:45:16.320 - 02:45:17.080]
Steve Castor
And the best interest of Ukraine?
[02:45:17.080 - 02:45:18.560]
William Taylor
His first priority is clearly the United States.
[02:45:18.560 - 02:45:22.840]
Steve Castor
Okay.
[02:45:22.840 - 02:45:23.720]
William Taylor
And to the extent that Ukraine has an implication for that, yes, Ukraine as well.
[02:45:23.720 - 02:45:29.560]
Steve Castor
Okay. And the second member of the irregular channel is Ambassador Sondland, who is Senate-confirmed, Ambassador to the EU. So his involvement here, while, you know, not necessarily part of his official duties as the Ambassador to the EU, it is certainly not outlandish for him to be interested and engaged pursuant to the President or Secretary Pompeo's direction, correct?
[02:45:29.560 - 02:45:50.120]
William Taylor
It's a little unusual for the U.S. Ambassador to the EU to play a role in Ukraine policy.
[02:45:50.120 - 02:45:52.880]
Steve Castor
Okay. And, you know, might be irregular, but it's certainly not outlandish? And then Secretary Perry is the third member of the irregular channel, certainly a, you know, Senate-confirmed official, somebody with deep experience in energy markets, and he was pursuing some liquefied natural gas projects in Ukraine?
[02:45:52.880 - 02:46:09.440]
William Taylor
That's correct, Mr. Castor.
[02:46:09.440 - 02:46:12.120]
Steve Castor
So his involvement, Secretary Perry's involvement, is perfectly acceptable?
[02:46:12.120 - 02:46:17.280]
William Taylor
It is.
[02:46:17.280 - 02:46:18.080]
Steve Castor
Okay. Now, this irregular channel, as it developed, when did you determine that it became problematic? I mean, you, in your opening statement, identified yourself appropriately as the leader of the regular channel.
[02:46:18.080 - 02:46:35.120]
William Taylor
At least a participant. Here's another leader of the regular channel.
[02:46:35.120 - 02:46:38.960]
Steve Castor
So when did you first develop concerns that the irregular channel was being problematic?
[02:46:38.960 - 02:46:47.800]
William Taylor
So I arrived in Kyiv in mid-September. By late September, a couple of phone calls with --
[02:46:47.800 - 02:46:53.240]
Steve Castor
You arrive in Kyiv in June, right?
[02:46:53.240 - 02:46:56.840]
William Taylor
June, right. Sorry.
[02:46:56.840 - 02:46:58.080]
Steve Castor
The 17th?
[02:46:58.080 - 02:46:59.880]
William Taylor
Mid-June. June 17th. Thank you. And so by the end of June, I had begun to hear references to investigations --
[02:46:59.880 - 02:47:08.360]
Steve Castor
Uh-huh.
[02:47:08.360 - 02:47:09.000]
William Taylor
-- as something that would have to happen prior to the meeting that President Trump had offered to President Zelensky. That began to raise questions for me.
[02:47:09.000 - 02:47:17.000]
Steve Castor
Okay. Now, you have known Ambassador Volker and you certainly have a reason to know Ambassador Sondland. What did you do at this point, or did you ever try to wrest control of the irregular channel?
[02:47:17.000 - 02:47:28.640]
William Taylor
I didn't try to wrest control of the irregular channel, do that. At the time, when I --
[02:47:28.640 - 02:47:32.640]
Steve Castor
Why not, though, if you had these concerns?
[02:47:32.640 - 02:47:36.080]
William Taylor
Because, Mr. Castor, at the time, as Ambassador Kent -- no -- Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent testified, both channels, both of those -- both channels were interested in having a meeting between President Zelensky and President Trump. So there's no reason to kind of wrest control if we're going in the same direction.
[02:47:36.080 - 02:47:54.680]
Steve Castor
But at some point, you developed concerns. I mean, your opening statement is here. I mean, you're the impeachment witness No. 1 -- and you're No. 2, Mr. Kent -- you know, for the case, impeaching the President of the United States because of the concerns you have testified about the irregular channel, correct?
[02:47:54.680 - 02:48:14.520]
William Taylor
I was concerned when the irregular channel appeared to be going against the overall -- the irregular channel was going against the overall direction of and purpose of the regular channels, yes.
[02:48:14.520 - 02:48:21.680]
Steve Castor
And as I understand the record, however, you -- when you arrived in Ukraine, you had the support of the Secretary and the Secretary's top advisor, Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl, correct?
[02:48:21.680 - 02:48:33.160]
William Taylor
That is correct.
[02:48:33.160 - 02:48:34.600]
Steve Castor
And they assured you that if you had any concerns, you would be able to contact them and they would have your back?
[02:48:34.600 - 02:48:42.040]
William Taylor
That is correct.
[02:48:42.040 - 02:48:44.880]
Steve Castor
And you knew going in that the Rudy Giuliani element presented some complexities, correct?
[02:48:44.880 - 02:48:52.320]
William Taylor
I was concerned about Rudy Giuliani's statements and involvement in the Ukraine policy, yes.
[02:48:52.320 - 02:48:58.960]
Steve Castor
Okay. So, when it genuinely became, you know, a concern for you, what did you do to either engage Sondland and Volker and Perry -- by the way, have you ever met Rudy Giuliani during these times relevant?
[02:48:58.960 - 02:49:09.240]
William Taylor
Not during the times relevant. He visited -- Mr. Giuliani visited Ukraine one time when I was there, I think in 2007 or 2008.
[02:49:09.240 - 02:49:22.840]
Steve Castor
Okay.
[02:49:22.840 - 02:49:23.080]
William Taylor
That's the only time I've met him.
[02:49:23.080 - 02:49:26.640]
Steve Castor
Okay. So you've never had any communications with Rudy Giuliani as part of these irregular channel business --
[02:49:26.640 - 02:49:33.920]
William Taylor
That's correct. That's correct.
[02:49:33.920 - 02:49:35.680]
Steve Castor
Okay. And anyway, getting back to my question, did you try to engage Brechbuhl or the Secretary, you know, during this time period? I know you said that you had, I believe, an August 21st or 22nd telephone call with Brechbuhl; you had a July 10th telephone call with Brechbuhl; and then you sent a first person cable to the Secretary on 29th.
[02:49:35.680 - 02:50:02.320]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[02:50:02.320 - 02:50:02.960]
Steve Castor
Is that sort of the universe of initiatives you took inside the State Department to raise your concerns about the irregular channel?
[02:50:02.960 - 02:50:13.400]
William Taylor
I also raised my concerns with Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent. In particular, early on, when there -- I think I have mentioned this phone call that was odd in that it did not include the normal staff -- indeed, Ambassador Sondland's staff -- and that struck me as unusual. I consulted with Mr. Kent and, at his suggestion, made a note of this and also had -- I think at that point I had a conversation with Mr. Brechbuhl.
[02:50:13.400 - 02:50:45.280]
Steve Castor
And that was a June 28th call, I believe?
[02:50:45.280 - 02:50:49.360]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[02:50:49.360 - 02:50:50.080]
Steve Castor
And, in your opening statement, you expressed some concerns about what Ambassador Sondland had said. But then, once Zelensky got on the phone, it proceeded in a very regular-channel way, correct?
[02:50:50.080 - 02:51:02.160]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[02:51:02.160 - 02:51:02.800]
Steve Castor
Okay. So the June 28th call, at least, in and of itself, didn't ultimately, as it played out, present any problems for you.
[02:51:02.800 - 02:51:12.000]
William Taylor
The call with President Zelensky did not. The preparation for that call -- the preparation included maybe 15 minutes of just the Americans that would stay on the call.
[02:51:12.000 - 02:51:31.520]
Steve Castor
Right.
[02:51:31.520 - 02:51:32.200]
William Taylor
And that -- again, that was a little irregular in that it didn't have the staff. It was also in that pre-call, in that 15 minutes before President Zelensky got on the phone, where Ambassador Volker told the rest of the participants that he was planning to have a conversation with President Zelensky in Toronto in 3 days, 4 days, where he would outline for President Zelensky the important components of the phone call that we were trying to establish.
[02:51:32.200 - 02:52:10.880]
Steve Castor
Okay. And you didn't have any issue with that, did you?
[02:52:10.880 - 02:52:14.920]
William Taylor
The only issue I had with that, Mr. Castor, was, there was reference to "investigations" in -- I believe this is -- I'll have to check my notes on that.
[02:52:14.920 - 02:52:27.320]
Steve Castor
Okay.
[02:52:27.320 - 02:52:28.240]
William Taylor
But there was -- it raised issues for me, that I didn't understand what Ambassador Volker had in mind that he was specifically going to raise --
[02:52:28.240 - 02:52:34.320]
Steve Castor
Okay.
[02:52:34.320 - 02:52:34.720]
William Taylor
-- with Mr. Zelensky. That was a little bit of a concern.
[02:52:34.720 - 02:52:38.800]
Steve Castor
Okay. I mean, the President's expressed his, you know, interest in certain investigations, certainly relating to the 2016 election and relating to, you know, this corrupt Burisma outfit. So that wasn't inconsistent with the President's message, right?
[02:52:38.800 - 02:52:57.920]
William Taylor
I'm not sure, Mr. Castor. Maybe -- can I ask you to repeat the question?
[02:52:57.920 - 02:53:02.760]
Steve Castor
The President's concerns about the 2016 election and that you needed to get to the bottom of it and the President's concerns as is ultimately related to the Burisma company, I mean, if Ambassador Volker is raising that with Zelensky, that's consistent with the direction of the President, correct?
[02:53:02.760 - 02:53:27.160]
William Taylor
The President's interest -- or, I would say, Mr. Giuliani's interests, because that's what we were -- that's what was very clear at the time --
[02:53:27.160 - 02:53:37.880]
Steve Castor
Right.
[02:53:37.880 - 02:53:38.240]
William Taylor
-- Mr. Giuliani's interest in pursuing these investigations was of concern, but --
[02:53:38.240 - 02:53:44.080]
Steve Castor
By the way, do you know how many times Volker met with Giuliani?
[02:53:44.080 - 02:53:48.080]
William Taylor
I don't.
[02:53:48.080 - 02:53:49.080]
Steve Castor
How many would you guess? Like, was he talking to him all the time or meeting with him all the time?
[02:53:49.080 - 02:53:57.520]
William Taylor
Mr. Castor, I don't know.
[02:53:57.520 - 02:53:59.280]
Steve Castor
Okay. From his -- you know, at his deposition, he told us just once. And, you know, he texted back and forth with the mayor and had a call or two, but it wasn't a pervasive engagement for Ambassador Volker. Were you aware of that?
[02:53:59.280 - 02:54:19.120]
William Taylor
I was not aware. I was aware of one breakfast, I think, but that's the only one that I was aware of.
[02:54:19.120 - 02:54:25.120]
Steve Castor
And, Mr. Kent, before my time expires, I want to circle back to the company of Burisma. And you testified at your deposition that there was an instance where USAID had engaged with Burisma in possibly sponsoring a program and you took issue with that and recommended to the USAID to pull back from that. Could you tell us about that?
[02:54:25.120 - 02:54:45.720]
George Kent
So I became aware in the summer, I believe, of 2016 that, as a part of what I recall was a clean-energy awareness campaign, that part of the USAID mission that worked on economics and governance, including energy, had sponsored some sort of contest for young Ukrainians to come up with a theme. And there was a prize; I believe it may have been a camera.
[02:54:45.720 - 02:55:12.440]

And they had cosponsored, with "public-private partnership" being a buzzword, having a cosponsorship with Burisma. Given the past history of our interest in recovering stolen assets from Zlochevsky, it was my view that it was inappropriate for the Embassy to be cosponsoring a contest with Burisma. I raised that with the mission director at the Embassy.
[02:55:12.440 - 02:55:33.400]

She agreed. And the USAID mission kept the contest but dropped the public-private partnership sponsorship.
[02:55:33.400 - 02:55:44.320]
Adam B. Schiff
The time of the gentleman has expired. We'll now move to 5-minute member rounds. I recognize myself for 5 minutes. Mr. Kent, I want to follow up on my colleague's questions regarding Burisma. You testified about a time when an oligarch named Zlochevsky, I think it was, was self-dealing, awarding himself contracts.
[02:55:44.320 - 02:56:00.800]

When was that?
[02:56:00.800 - 02:56:01.560]
George Kent
To the best of my knowledge, he was Minister of Energy -- sorry -- Minister of Ecology under President Yanukovych from 2010 to 2012. And, at the time, licenses to have substrata exploration of gas were awarded by a subdivision of the Ministry of Ecology.
[02:56:01.560 - 02:56:18.080]
Adam B. Schiff
So this corrupt self-dealing, then, was approximately 7 years, at least 7 years, before the events that bring us here today, the phone call on the 25th and the events around it?
[02:56:18.080 - 02:56:30.560]
George Kent
Correct. His time as Minister was 2010 to 2012. Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma in 2014.
[02:56:30.560 - 02:56:39.520]
Adam B. Schiff
And you've read the call transcript, have you not?
[02:56:39.520 - 02:56:43.280]
George Kent
I have, and I have it in front of me, but I haven't read it for about a month.
[02:56:43.280 - 02:56:49.200]
Adam B. Schiff
Is there any mention in the discussion with President Trump and President Zelensky of this oligarch, Zlochevsky, who 7 years earlier had been self-dealing?
[02:56:49.200 - 02:56:58.800]
George Kent
To the best of my knowledge, no.
[02:56:58.800 - 02:57:00.320]
Adam B. Schiff
Is there a discussion of awarding contracts to oneself or the corrupt acts in the 2012-to-2014 timeframe?
[02:57:00.320 - 02:57:14.560]
George Kent
To the best of my knowledge, no.
[02:57:14.560 - 02:57:16.400]
Adam B. Schiff
Now, what the President brings up is CrowdStrike, the server, and the Bidens. Am I right?
[02:57:16.400 - 02:57:25.920]
George Kent
That's -- I see that here. Yes.
[02:57:25.920 - 02:57:28.680]
Adam B. Schiff
There was no discussion on that call of setting up an anticorruption court or looking into corruption among oligarchs or companies in general. The President's comments were focused on two things: 2016 and the Bidens. Am I right?
[02:57:28.680 - 02:57:44.720]
George Kent
I believe so, yes.
[02:57:44.720 - 02:57:46.080]
Adam B. Schiff
Now, you testified in your opening statement, "I do not believe the United States should ask other countries to engage in selective, politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power because such selective actions undermine the rule of law regardless of the country." The "selective, politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power," are you referring to the Bidens there?
[02:57:46.080 - 02:58:24.120]
George Kent
I am referring as a general principle about the promotion of the rule of law.
[02:58:24.120 - 02:58:27.160]
Adam B. Schiff
But that would apply to the President of the United States seeking an investigation of his political opponent, would it not?
[02:58:27.160 - 02:58:34.320]
George Kent
It could be interpreted that way, yes, sir.
[02:58:34.320 - 02:58:36.920]
Adam B. Schiff
And, I take it, in your discussions, Ambassador Taylor, with Ambassador Sondland or others, what was communicated to you was that the President wanted investigations into 2016 and the Bidens, not into an oligarch named Zlochevsky or self-dealing, but 2016 and the Bidens. Was that your understanding?
[02:58:36.920 - 02:58:57.040]
William Taylor
That was my understanding.
[02:58:57.040 - 02:59:04.480]
Adam B. Schiff
And, in fact, when you said your staff overheard this call between Ambassador Sondland and the President, in that call, the President brings up investigation, does he not?
[02:59:04.480 - 02:59:18.480]
William Taylor
He did.
[02:59:18.480 - 02:59:19.240]
Adam B. Schiff
And immediately after the President gets off the phone with Sondland, Sondland is asked by your staff, what does the President think about Ukraine, and his answer is, he's just interested in the Bidens. Am I right?
[02:59:19.240 - 02:59:38.080]
William Taylor
He said he was more interested in the Bidens.
[02:59:38.080 - 02:59:42.360]
Adam B. Schiff
More interested in the Bidens. No discussion of Zlochevsky or Chalupa or things that happened 7 years ago. He was interested in the Bidens.
[02:59:42.360 - 02:59:55.920]
William Taylor
Yes, sir.
[02:59:55.920 - 02:59:57.720]
Adam B. Schiff
Now, I think you also testified that Ambassador Sondland told you that President Zelensky wanted Zelensky in a public box. Is that right?
[02:59:57.720 - 03:00:06.160]
William Taylor
Yes, sir.
[03:00:06.160 - 03:00:07.760]
Adam B. Schiff
And by "public box," did that mean that private statements, private promises to do this investigation of 2016 or the Bidens were not enough? He had to go on TV, he had to go public in some way, because the President wanted him in that box. Is that your understanding?
[03:00:07.760 - 03:00:27.560]
William Taylor
Mr. Chairman, I don't know exactly what he had in mind, and I'm not sure what Ambassador Sondland had in mind, who was the one who mentioned that to me. That's the implication. The implication was it needed to be public as opposed to being a private assurance.
[03:00:27.560 - 03:00:44.400]
Adam B. Schiff
And I think you said, in that same call, you asked Ambassador Sondland to push back on President Trump's demand. Is that right?
[03:00:44.400 - 03:00:54.480]
William Taylor
That's correct, sir.
[03:00:54.480 - 03:00:55.600]
Adam B. Schiff
So you understood, from your conversation with Sondland, this was the President's demand, not Sondland's demand, the President's demand. And you wanted Sondland to push back. Am I right?
[03:00:55.600 - 03:01:04.920]
William Taylor
What I wanted -- so Ambassador Sondland was clearly able to have conversations with the President. And I thought that the pressure on another President, on President Zelensky, was not a good idea from either President's standpoint. So I suggested in that phone call with Ambassador Sondland that he, since he regularly -- or frequently had conversations with the President, could make that point.
[03:01:04.920 - 03:01:29.360]
Adam B. Schiff
And I think the way you expressed yourself is you wanted Sondland to push back on President Trump's demand, right?
[03:01:29.360 - 03:01:35.360]
William Taylor
Yes, sir.
[03:01:35.360 - 03:01:35.920]
Adam B. Schiff
So it was your understanding from talking to Sondland, this is what the President wanted him to do, and you wanted Sondland to push back.
[03:01:35.920 - 03:01:45.800]
William Taylor
I asked Ambassador Sondland to push back. That's correct.
[03:01:45.800 - 03:01:51.680]
Adam B. Schiff
And, in fact, even after the aid was ultimately released, even after the White House learns of the whistleblower complaint and the congressional investigation, the aid is released, even after those events, you were still worried that Zelensky was going to feel it necessary to go on CNN and announce these investigations, were you not?
[03:01:51.680 - 03:02:13.560]
William Taylor
Mr. Chairman, I was still worried that he might do that. So, yes, I thought that would be a bad idea. And so, when there was some indication that there might still be a plan for the CNN interview in New York, which was upcoming at the United Nations General Assembly meeting, I was worried -- I wanted to be sure that that didn't happen, so I addressed it with Zelensky's staff.
[03:02:13.560 - 03:02:32.480]
Adam B. Schiff
And I think you said earlier that Danylyuk, the national security advisor then for Zelensky, was concerned Zelensky didn't want to be used as some tool in American politics. Is that right?
[03:02:32.480 - 03:02:44.440]
William Taylor
That's correct, sir.
[03:02:44.440 - 03:02:46.120]
Adam B. Schiff
So Zelensky didn't want to go on TV to announce political investigations that he thought would mire him in U.S. politics, right?
[03:02:46.120 - 03:02:54.560]
William Taylor
He knew that -- he and his advisors knew that it's a bad idea to interject, to interfere in other nations' elections, yes, sir.
[03:02:54.560 - 03:03:04.640]
Adam B. Schiff
But, nonetheless, it appeared, until the aid was lifted, the hold was lifted, that he felt compelled to do it.
[03:03:04.640 - 03:03:12.440]
William Taylor
He was making plans -- his staff was making plans to have him make some kind of announcement -- I don't know what it would have been -- on CNN in public.
[03:03:12.440 - 03:03:25.920]
Adam B. Schiff
Even though he didn't want to be mired in U.S. politics.
[03:03:25.920 - 03:03:31.200]
William Taylor
Even though he knew it was a bad idea to interfere in other people's elections.
[03:03:31.200 - 03:03:37.440]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Nunes, you are recognized for 7 minutes and 10 seconds.
[03:03:37.440 - 03:03:42.080]
Devin Nunes
I thank the gentleman for that. Ambassador Taylor, you said in your deposition that the first time you heard about this issue with Rudy Giuliani -- and I'm paraphrasing, but you read it in The New York Times. Is that correct?
[03:03:42.080 - 03:03:56.440]
William Taylor
I do remember that first -- I do remember noticing about Mr. Giuliani being involved in this in that article, yes, sir.
[03:03:56.440 - 03:04:02.520]
Devin Nunes
Okay. I think one of the mothers of all conspiracy theories is that somehow the President of the United States would want a country that he doesn't even like, he doesn't want to give foreign aid to, to have the Ukrainians start an investigation into Bidens. With that, I yield to Mr. Jordan.
[03:04:02.520 - 03:04:20.680]
Jim Jordan
I thank the gentleman for yielding. Ambassador Taylor, thank you for being here. Aid's held up on July 18th. Is that right?
[03:04:20.680 - 03:04:29.000]
William Taylor
That's what I first heard about it, Mr. Jordan.
[03:04:29.000 - 03:04:35.640]
Jim Jordan
And then it's released, Ambassador Taylor, on September 11th. And we know that, from your deposition, in those 55 days that aid is delayed, you met with President Zelensky three times. The first one was July 26th, the day after the famous call, now, between President Trump and President Zelensky. President Zelensky meets with you, Ambassador Volker, and Ambassador Sondland.
[03:04:35.640 - 03:05:08.760]

And, again, according to your deposition, your testimony, there was no linkage of security assistance dollars to investigating Burisma or the Bidens. The second meeting's August 27th. Again, in this 55-day timeframe, second meeting is August 27th. President Zelensky meets with you and Ambassador Bolton and others.
[03:05:08.760 - 03:05:38.560]

And, again, there's no linkage of dollars, security assistance dollars, to an investigation of the Bidens. And then, of course, the third meeting is September 5th. President Zelensky meets with you and Senators Johnson and Murphy. And, once again, there was no linkage of security assistance dollars to an investigation of Burisma or the Bidens.
[03:05:38.560 - 03:06:06.840]

Three meetings with the President of Ukraine, the new President, and no linkage. That's accurate?
[03:06:06.840 - 03:06:12.640]
William Taylor
Mr. Jordan, it's certainly accurate on the first two, first two meetings, because, to my knowledge, the Ukrainians were not aware of the hold on assistance until -- until the 29th of August.
[03:06:12.640 - 03:06:29.600]
Jim Jordan
Until the Politico article.
[03:06:29.600 - 03:06:35.160]
William Taylor
The Politico article. The third meeting that you mentioned with the Senators, Senator Murphy and Senator Johnson, there was discussion of the security assistance but --
[03:06:35.160 - 03:06:47.480]
Jim Jordan
No linkage.
[03:06:47.480 - 03:06:48.520]
William Taylor
-- there was not discussion of linkage.
[03:06:48.520 - 03:06:49.840]
Jim Jordan
Three meetings face-to-face with President Zelensky, no linkage. Yet, in your deposition, you said this, and you said it again the first hour of the majority: My clear understanding was security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the investigation. My clear understanding was they weren't going to get the money until President Zelensky committed to pursue the investigations.
[03:06:49.840 - 03:07:17.880]

Now, with all due respect, Ambassador, your clear understanding was obviously wrong, because it didn't happen. President Zelensky didn't announce he was going to investigate Burisma or the Bidens. He didn't do a press conference and say, "I'm going to investigate the Bidens. We're going to investigate Burisma." He didn't tweet about it. And you just told the ranking member he didn't do the CNN interview and announce he's going to investigate Burisma or the Bidens.
[03:07:17.880 - 03:07:57.760]

So three face-to-face meetings, it doesn't come up. No linkage whatsoever. President Zelensky doesn't announce it before the aid is released on the 11th. And yet you said you have a clear understanding that those two things were going to happen: The money was going to get released but not until there was an investigation.
[03:07:57.760 - 03:08:16.880]

And that, in fact, didn't happen. So what I'm wondering is, where did you get this clear understanding?
[03:08:16.880 - 03:08:27.480]
William Taylor
As I testified, Mr. Jordan, this came from Ambassador Sondland --
[03:08:27.480 - 03:08:33.480]
Jim Jordan
Well, can you hold 1 second, Ambassador? I'm going to bring you a piece of paper from Ambassador Sondland's statement.
[03:08:33.480 - 03:08:40.960]
William Taylor
Very good.
[03:08:40.960 - 03:08:42.120]
Jim Jordan
And you can take a look at this. Go ahead, though. I want to let you finish.
[03:08:42.120 - 03:08:48.320]
William Taylor
So, Mr. Jordan, shall I read this or --
[03:08:48.320 - 03:08:52.200]
Jim Jordan
No, no.
[03:08:52.200 - 03:08:52.920]
William Taylor
No.
[03:08:52.920 - 03:08:53.600]
Jim Jordan
I just want you to it have because I'm going read it.
[03:08:53.600 - 03:08:56.080]
William Taylor
Oh, very good, very good, very good.
[03:08:56.080 - 03:08:59.680]
Jim Jordan
Yeah, but I wanted you to go ahead and finish. You said you got this from Ambassador Sondland.
[03:08:59.680 - 03:09:09.680]
William Taylor
That is correct. Ambassador Sondland also said he had talked to President Zelensky and Mr. Yermak and had told them that, although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate. That was the -- that was one point. It was also the case --
[03:09:09.680 - 03:09:27.720]
Jim Jordan
Mr. Morrison talked to you, right?
[03:09:27.720 - 03:09:32.240]
William Taylor
No. What I was going to say is Ambassador Sondland also told me that he recognized that it was a mistake to have told the Ukrainians that only the meeting with the President in the Oval Office was held up in order to get these investigations. No, it was not just the meeting; it was also the security assistance.
[03:09:32.240 - 03:09:56.960]

That is, everything was. So those two --
[03:09:56.960 - 03:09:58.440]
Jim Jordan
Okay.
[03:09:58.440 - 03:09:58.920]
William Taylor
-- those two discussions --
[03:09:58.920 - 03:10:00.600]
Jim Jordan
No, I understand.
[03:10:00.600 - 03:10:01.880]
William Taylor
Okay.
[03:10:01.880 - 03:10:02.240]
Jim Jordan
All right. So, again, just to recap, you had three meetings with President Zelensky; no linkage in those three meetings came up. Ambassador Zelenksy didn't announce that he was going do any investigation of the Bidens or Burisma before the aid was released. He didn't --
[03:10:02.240 - 03:10:21.000]
William Taylor
That was President --
[03:10:21.000 - 03:10:22.560]
Jim Jordan
-- do a tweet, didn't do anything on CNN, didn't do any of that. President Zelensky. Excuse me.
[03:10:22.560 - 03:10:28.200]
William Taylor
Yeah. Right.
[03:10:28.200 - 03:10:29.480]
Jim Jordan
And then what you have in front of you is an addendum that Mr. Sondland made to his testimony that we got a couple weeks ago. It says, "Declaration of Ambassador Gordon Sondland. I, Gordon Sondland, do hereby swear and affirm as follows." I want to you look at point number two, bullet point number two, second sentence.
[03:10:29.480 - 03:10:50.600]

Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I conveyed this message to Mr. Yermak on September 1st, 2019, in connection with Vice President Pence's visit to Warsaw and a meeting with President Zelensky. Now, this is his clarification. Let me read it one more time.
[03:10:50.600 - 03:11:09.640]

Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I had conveyed this message to Mr. Yermak on September 1st, 2019, in connection with Vice President Pence's visit to Warsaw and a meeting with President Zelensky. We've got six people having four conversations in one sentence, and you just told me this is where you got your clear understanding, which -- I mean, even though you had three opportunities with President Zelensky for him to tell you, "You know what?
[03:11:09.640 - 03:11:42.680]

We're going to do these investigations to get the aid," he didn't tell you, three different times. Never makes an announcement, never tweets about it, never does the CNN interview. Ambassador, you weren't on the call, were you? The President -- you didn't listen in on President Trump's call and President Zelensky's call?
[03:11:42.680 - 03:12:06.760]
William Taylor
I did not.
[03:12:06.760 - 03:12:07.120]
Jim Jordan
You never talked with Chief of Staff Mulvaney.
[03:12:07.120 - 03:12:09.120]
William Taylor
I never did.
[03:12:09.120 - 03:12:11.200]
Jim Jordan
You never met the President.
[03:12:11.200 - 03:12:12.800]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[03:12:12.800 - 03:12:13.680]
Jim Jordan
You had three meetings again with Zelensky and it didn't come up.
[03:12:13.680 - 03:12:19.040]
William Taylor
And two of those, they had never heard about it, as far as I know, so there was no reason for it to come up.
[03:12:19.040 - 03:12:25.840]
Jim Jordan
And President Zelensky never made an announcement. This is what I can't believe. And you're their star witness. You're their first witness.
[03:12:25.840 - 03:12:34.080]
William Taylor
Mr. Jordan --
[03:12:34.080 - 03:12:34.800]
Jim Jordan
You're the guy. You're the guy based on this, based on -- I mean, I've seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this. "Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told" -- now, again, this is "I hereby swear and affirm" from Gordon Sondland. "Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I conveyed this message to Mr. Yermak on September 1st" -- this all happens, by the way -- this all happens, by the way, in Warsaw --
[03:12:34.800 - 03:13:09.280]
Adam B. Schiff
Time of the gentleman has expired.
[03:13:09.280 - 03:13:12.880]
Jim Jordan
-- where Vice President Pence meets with President Zelenksy, and guess what?
[03:13:12.880 - 03:13:17.840]
Adam B. Schiff
Ambassador Taylor --
[03:13:17.840 - 03:13:19.560]
Jim Jordan
They didn't talk about any linkage either.
[03:13:19.560 - 03:13:22.280]
Adam B. Schiff
The time of the gentleman has expired. Ambassador Taylor, would you like to respond?
[03:13:22.280 - 03:13:28.520]
William Taylor
The only response -- I have two responses, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. And, Mr. Jordan, glad to take those questions. Let me just say that I don't consider myself a star witness for anything.
[03:13:28.520 - 03:13:50.240]
Jim Jordan
They do. You don't, but they do.
[03:13:50.240 - 03:13:54.040]
William Taylor
No, I don't. I'm just --
[03:13:54.040 - 03:13:56.800]
Jim Jordan
They do.
[03:13:56.800 - 03:13:57.440]
William Taylor
I'm responding to your questions.
[03:13:57.440 - 03:14:00.600]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Jordan, please don't interrupt the witness.
[03:14:00.600 - 03:14:03.640]
William Taylor
As I think I was clear about, I'm not here to take one side or the other or to advocate any particular outcome. So let me just restate that. The second thing is that my understanding is only coming from people that I talked to. And I --
[03:14:03.640 - 03:14:21.640]
Jim Jordan
We got that.
[03:14:21.640 - 03:14:22.960]
William Taylor
We got that. And I think this clarification from Ambassador Sondland was because he said he didn't remember this in his first deposition, so he wanted to kind of clarify. But I think, Mr. Jordan, the way I read this, he remembers it the same way I do.
[03:14:22.960 - 03:14:42.480]
Jim Jordan
Yeah. And it's real clear, right?
[03:14:42.480 - 03:14:46.760]
William Taylor
It's very clear to me.
[03:14:46.760 - 03:14:48.440]
Adam B. Schiff
Thank you, Ambassador Taylor. Mr. Himes, you're recognized for 5 minutes.
[03:14:48.440 - 03:14:52.880]
James A. Himes
Gentlemen, thank you for your testimony today. One of the things I find startling about these proceedings is that, faced with very serious allegations of Presidential misconduct, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle don't engage or defend that conduct. Rather, they spin theories about black ledgers and Steele dossiers and the startling revelation that Ukrainians might have been upset when a Presidential candidate suggested that perhaps he would let the Russians keep Crimea.
[03:14:52.880 - 03:15:24.160]

Or, of course, we get the attacks, so epitomized by Mr. Nunes's opening statement when he attacked Democrats, he attacked the media, and, most disgustingly, attacked the extraordinary men and women of the State Department and the FBI. When a defense does emerge, it looks a little like this: Ukraine is a corrupt country, and the President was just acting in a long line, a long tradition of actually trying to address corruption in Ukraine.
[03:15:24.160 - 03:15:54.040]

Mr. Kent, you've worked on anticorruption and rule of law for much of your -year career. Is that correct?
[03:15:54.040 - 03:16:01.600]
George Kent
I have specialized in anticorruption and rule-of-law issues since 2012, correct.
[03:16:01.600 - 03:16:06.880]
James A. Himes
So, like most of us up here, I don't have a good sense of what a real anticorruption effort that we must engage in all over the world all the time, what that looks like. So let me ask you to just take a minute and just characterize for us what a real initiative, what a real program of anticorruption might look like.
[03:16:06.880 - 03:16:29.920]
George Kent
If we're doing a systemic, holistic program, you need institutions with integrity. That starts with investigators. It goes to prosecutors, it goes to courts, and eventually it goes the corrections system. In countries like Ukraine, we generally start with law enforcement, and that's what we did in 2014-'15 with the new patrol police.
[03:16:29.920 - 03:16:53.040]

There also is oftentimes needed a specialized anticorruption agency. In Ukraine, that was called the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, or NABU. There was a different body that reviewed asset declarations for unusual wealth called the National Anti-Corruption Prevention Council. And eventually we got to helping them establish a special anticorruption prosecutor and eventually a high court on anticorruption.
[03:16:53.040 - 03:17:18.720]

And that was to try to create investigators, prosecutors, and courts with integrity, that couldn't be bought, and would be focused on high-level corruption.
[03:17:18.720 - 03:17:29.480]
James A. Himes
So what I'm hearing there, Mr. Kent, is a very comprehensive effort. So let me read you President Trump's own words to the Ukrainian President in a July 25th phone call. And I quote: "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.
[03:17:29.480 - 03:17:51.800]

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." Mr. Kent, when you hear those words, do you hear the President participating in or requesting a thoughtful and well-calibrated anticorruption program?
[03:17:51.800 - 03:18:08.280]
George Kent
I do not.
[03:18:08.280 - 03:18:09.360]
James A. Himes
And, Mr. Kent and Mr. Taylor, the defenders of the President's behavior have made a big deal out of the fact that Vice President Biden encouraged the Ukrainians to remove a corrupt former Ukrainian prosecutor, 2016, Mr. Shokin. And, in fact, Senator Rand Paul on Sunday said, and I quote him, "They're impeaching President Trump for exactly the same thing that Joe Biden did." Is that correct?
[03:18:09.360 - 03:18:38.640]

Is what the President did in his phone call and what Joe Biden did in terms of Mr. Shokin, are those exactly the same things? And, if not, how are they different?
[03:18:38.640 - 03:18:48.840]
George Kent
I do not think they are the same things. What former Vice President Biden requested of former President of Ukraine Poroshenko was the removal of a corrupt prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, who had undermined a program of assistance that we had spent, again, U.S. taxpayer money to try to build an independent investigator unit to go after corrupt prosecutors.
[03:18:48.840 - 03:19:09.880]

And there was a case called the diamond prosecutor case in which Shokin destroyed the entire ecosystem that we were trying to help create -- the investigators, the judges who issued the warrants, the law enforcement that had warrants to do the wiretapping, everybody -- to protect his former driver, who he'd made a prosecutor.
[03:19:09.880 - 03:19:32.840]

That's what Joe Biden was asking. Remove the corrupt prosecutor --
[03:19:32.840 - 03:19:36.120]
James A. Himes
So Joe Biden was participating in an open effort -- established, whole-of-government effort to address corruption in Ukraine.
[03:19:36.120 - 03:19:41.160]
George Kent
That is correct.
[03:19:41.160 - 03:19:42.440]
James A. Himes
Great. So, Mr. Kent, as you look at this whole mess -- Rudy Giuliani, President Trump -- in your opinion, was this a comprehensive and whole-of-government effort to end corruption in Ukraine?
[03:19:42.440 - 03:19:54.440]
George Kent
You're referring to the request in July?
[03:19:54.440 - 03:19:57.320]
James A. Himes
Exactly.
[03:19:57.320 - 03:19:57.920]
George Kent
I would not say so. No, sir.
[03:19:57.920 - 03:20:00.360]
James A. Himes
Yeah, I don't. I don't think President Trump was trying to end corruption in Ukraine. I think he was trying to aim corruption in Ukraine at Vice President Biden and at the 2020 election. And I yield back the balance of my time.
[03:20:00.360 - 03:20:15.120]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Conaway is recognized for 5 minutes.
[03:20:15.120 - 03:20:16.880]
K. Michael Conaway
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield my time to the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Ratcliffe.
[03:20:16.880 - 03:20:20.240]
John Ratcliffe
I thank the gentleman. And I thank you both for being here. It's obvious from your testimony today that you both care a great deal about U.S.-Ukraine relations. It's also very clear that you're optimistic about President Zelensky. Ambassador Taylor, you related that one of his first acts in office was to remove immunity from deputies, which had long been a source of corruption.
[03:20:20.240 - 03:20:41.600]

I know you had a number of personal dealings with him. Has he given you any reason to question his honesty or his integrity?
[03:20:41.600 - 03:20:48.360]
William Taylor
No, sir.
[03:20:48.360 - 03:20:49.000]
John Ratcliffe
In your prior deposition, I asked you -- and I'll read it directly. "If nobody in the Ukrainian Government was aware of a military hold at the time of the Trump-Zelensky call, then, as a matter of law and as a matter of fact, there can be no quid pro quo based on military aid. And, to your knowledge, nobody in the Ukrainian Government was aware of the hold." And your answer was, "That is correct." Is that still your testimony?
[03:20:49.000 - 03:21:15.160]
William Taylor
Mr. Ratcliffe, at some point in September --
[03:21:15.160 - 03:21:18.880]
John Ratcliffe
I'm talking about on July 25th.
[03:21:18.880 - 03:21:22.480]
William Taylor
Ah, July 25th. Sorry. Yes, that's correct. That's correct. They did not know this.
[03:21:22.480 - 03:21:29.840]
John Ratcliffe
All right. And, as it turns out, President Zelensky agreed with you. On October 10th, President Zelensky held a press marathon with over 300 reporters, where he said repeatedly and consistently over hours and hours that he was not aware of a military hold during the July 25th call. In fact, in his official press release from the Ukrainian Government, available on his website, that I'll be introducing into the record, he said: "Our phone conversation bears no relations to arms.
[03:21:29.840 - 03:22:04.760]

They blocked the provision of military assistance prior to our telephone conversation, but the issue had not been discussed during our conversation. I mean, I didn't even know."
[03:22:04.760 - 03:22:14.040]

So, now, in addition to confirming that, because he had no knowledge of it, there was no quid pro quo involving military aid during that call, President Zelensky went on to confirm a number of things: that there was no pressure, that there were no conditions, that there were no threats on military aid, there were no conditions or pressure to investigate Burisma or the 2016 election, that there was no blackmail, that there was no corruption of any kind during the July 25th call.
[03:22:14.040 - 03:22:45.880]

Again, from his official press release: "Therefore, there was no blackmail, because it was not the subject of our conversation with the President of the United States. There were no conditions on the investigation either because of arms or the situation around Burisma company." He told Reuters, "There was no blackmail." He told the L.A. Times, "There was no pressure or blackmail from the United States." He told Japan's Kyoto News, "I was never pressured, and there were no conditions being imposed." He told ABC News and the BBC, "I'm against corruption.
[03:22:45.880 - 03:23:23.800]

This is not corruption. It was just a call." The Ukrainian President stood in front of the world press and repeatedly, consistently, over and over again, interview after interview, said he had no knowledge of military aid being withheld, meaning no quid pro quo, no pressure, no demands, no threats, no blackmail, nothing corrupt.
[03:23:23.800 - 03:23:48.480]

And unlike the first 45 minutes that we heard from the Democrats today, that's not secondhand information. It's not hearsay. It's not what someone overheard Ambassador Sondland say. That was his direct testimony. Ambassador Taylor, do you have any evidence to assert that President Zelensky was lying to the world press when he said those things?
[03:23:48.480 - 03:24:12.800]

Yes or no?
[03:24:12.800 - 03:24:14.480]
William Taylor
Mr. Ratcliffe, if I can respond --
[03:24:14.480 - 03:24:16.400]
John Ratcliffe
My time is short. Yes or no?
[03:24:16.400 - 03:24:18.880]
William Taylor
I have no reason to doubt what the President said in his press --
[03:24:18.880 - 03:24:22.280]
John Ratcliffe
Okay. Very good. So, in this impeachment hearing today, where we impeach Presidents for treason or bribery or other high crimes, where is the impeachable offense in that call? Are either of you here today to assert there was an impeachable offense in that call? Shout it out. Anyone?
[03:24:22.280 - 03:24:45.880]
William Taylor
Mr. Ratcliffe, if I can just respond, let me just reiterate that I --
[03:24:45.880 - 03:24:51.840]
John Ratcliffe
I've got 1 minute left.
[03:24:51.840 - 03:24:53.640]
William Taylor
I know you do.
[03:24:53.640 - 03:24:54.440]
John Ratcliffe
Let me --
[03:24:54.440 - 03:24:55.320]
William Taylor
I know you've only got a minute left.
[03:24:55.320 - 03:24:58.160]
John Ratcliffe
Let me just make this point.
[03:24:58.160 - 03:25:00.320]
William Taylor
I've just got 30 --
[03:25:00.320 - 03:25:01.640]
John Ratcliffe
I --
[03:25:01.640 - 03:25:02.200]
Adam B. Schiff
Please allow the witness -- you asked the witness a question.
[03:25:02.200 - 03:25:05.280]
John Ratcliffe
I'll withdraw the question. Let me just make this point.
[03:25:05.280 - 03:25:10.320]
William Taylor
And I'm not here to take one side or the other. This is your decision.
[03:25:10.320 - 03:25:13.960]
John Ratcliffe
Ambassador, let me answer this -- let me ask you this question.
[03:25:13.960 - 03:25:17.240]
Adam B. Schiff
The gentleman will suspend.
[03:25:17.240 - 03:25:18.520]
John Ratcliffe
Suspend the time, please.
[03:25:18.520 - 03:25:19.680]
Adam B. Schiff
Ambassador Taylor --
[03:25:19.680 - 03:25:21.720]
John Ratcliffe
Suspend the time, please.
[03:25:21.720 - 03:25:24.480]
Adam B. Schiff
-- would you like to answer the question?
[03:25:24.480 - 03:25:27.880]
John Ratcliffe
Suspend the time, please. I withdrew the question.
[03:25:27.880 - 03:25:30.840]
Adam B. Schiff
The gentleman will suspend. We will suspend the clock.
[03:25:30.840 - 03:25:33.920]
John Ratcliffe
Suspend the clock --
[03:25:33.920 - 03:25:35.200]
Adam B. Schiff
Suspend the clock.
[03:25:35.200 - 03:25:36.080]
John Ratcliffe
-- at 1 minute, please.
[03:25:36.080 - 03:25:39.880]
Adam B. Schiff
Ambassador Taylor, would you like to respond to the question?
[03:25:39.880 - 03:25:42.600]
William Taylor
Mr. Ratcliffe, I would just like to say that I am not here to do anything having to do with -- to decide about impeachment. That is not what either of us are here to do. This is your job.
[03:25:42.600 - 03:25:55.880]
John Ratcliffe
Will you restore --
[03:25:55.880 - 03:25:56.520]
William Taylor
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[03:25:56.520 - 03:25:58.080]
John Ratcliffe
-- time to the clock to 1 minute?
[03:25:58.080 - 03:26:00.240]
Adam B. Schiff
No, but you may continue. You have 22 seconds.
[03:26:00.240 - 03:26:04.760]
John Ratcliffe
Fine. Mr. Ambassador, I think everyone knows that House Democrats have made up their mind to impeach one President. The question that we've just learned is whether or not they're prepared to impeach two. Because, to be clear, if House Democrats impeach President Trump for a quid pro quo involving military aid, they have to call President Zelensky a liar.
[03:26:04.760 - 03:26:34.240]

If they impeach him for abusing his power or pressuring or making threats or demands, they have to call President Zelensky a liar to do it. If they impeach President Trump for blackmail or extortion or making threats or demands, they have to call President Trump a liar to do it. I yield back.
[03:26:34.240 - 03:27:02.000]
Adam B. Schiff
The chair recognizes Representative Sewell.
[03:27:02.000 - 03:27:06.240]
Terri A. Sewell
I yield a few minutes to my esteemed chairman.
[03:27:06.240 - 03:27:07.720]
Adam B. Schiff
Thank you. Ambassador Taylor, I don't know if you've had a chance to read some of the transcripts that have been released. Are you aware that other witnesses have testified that Ukraine, in fact, found out the aid was being withheld before it became public knowledge?
[03:27:07.720 - 03:27:28.440]
William Taylor
Mr. Chairman, I have read that. I think there's still some question about when they may have heard.
[03:27:28.440 - 03:27:35.640]
Adam B. Schiff
And, ultimately, they did find out when the Politico story came out, to your knowledge -- but others have said even sooner -- but they did find out, right, Ambassador?
[03:27:35.640 - 03:27:46.960]
William Taylor
They did, Mr. Chairman.
[03:27:46.960 - 03:27:48.600]
Adam B. Schiff
And at the time they found out, they knew what President Trump wanted from them, that he wanted these investigations, correct?
[03:27:48.600 - 03:27:56.440]
William Taylor
Ambassador Sondland informed President Zelensky's staff -- that is, Mr. Yermak -- of what was required, yes.
[03:27:56.440 - 03:28:04.120]
Adam B. Schiff
So Ukraine finds out about the hold. You're not able to give them a reason for the hold; no one is able to give them a reason for the hold. They know the President wants these investigations. And then they're told in Warsaw by Ambassador Sondland, essentially, you're not getting the aid unless you do these investigations, correct?
[03:28:04.120 - 03:28:27.880]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[03:28:27.880 - 03:28:28.760]
Adam B. Schiff
So, you know, you've been asked how could there be conditioning if the Ukrainians didn't know, but the Ukrainians were told by Ambassador Sondland, were they not?
[03:28:28.760 - 03:28:39.560]
William Taylor
They were. They were. They didn't know, as near as I can tell, the Ukrainians did not know about the hold on the phone call on July 25th. That's true. But they were told, as you said, Mr. Chairman, on the 1st of September.
[03:28:39.560 - 03:29:05.880]
Adam B. Schiff
And, in fact, while they may not have known during the time of the call, they would find out. And when they did find out, they would know what the President wanted, correct?
[03:29:05.880 - 03:29:23.320]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[03:29:23.320 - 03:29:25.120]
Adam B. Schiff
Representative Sewell.
[03:29:25.120 - 03:29:26.160]
Terri A. Sewell
So, Mr. Kent, I'd like to refer you to the discussion of the May 23rd meeting in the Oval Office when the President met with those who had gone to the Ukraine for the inauguration. You briefly testified that you helped propose names for individuals to go to that inauguration. Was Ambassador Sondland, who was the Ambassador to the European Union, one of the names that you submitted?
[03:29:26.160 - 03:29:57.120]
George Kent
No, it was not.
[03:29:57.120 - 03:29:59.280]
Terri A. Sewell
But he ultimately attended that inauguration; is that not right?
[03:29:59.280 - 03:30:04.840]
George Kent
That is correct.
[03:30:04.840 - 03:30:05.160]
Terri A. Sewell
And do you know how he ended up as a part of that official delegation?
[03:30:05.160 - 03:30:07.520]
George Kent
I do not know for sure, but my understanding is, once the list left the NSC staff, it went through a review through the part of the White House that determines Presidential delegations.
[03:30:07.520 - 03:30:23.080]
Terri A. Sewell
You also testify that, upon returning, Ambassador Sondland used his, quote, "connections with Mulvaney," end quote, in order to secure this meeting in the Oval Office. Is that correct?
[03:30:23.080 - 03:30:39.800]
George Kent
That is my understanding, yes.
[03:30:39.800 - 03:30:41.960]
Terri A. Sewell
It seems that this Oval Office meeting was a pivotal turning point in the Ukraine policy. Coming out of that meeting, who was given responsibility -- to your recollection, who was given responsibility for the Ukraine policy?
[03:30:41.960 - 03:31:00.840]
George Kent
I never saw any document that changed the nature of policy determination. In the U.S. Government, under the Trump administration, there's the national security Presidential memorandum --
[03:31:00.840 - 03:31:14.840]
Terri A. Sewell
But didn't you also say -- I'm --
[03:31:14.840 - 03:31:17.320]
George Kent
Please.
[03:31:17.320 - 03:31:18.200]
Terri A. Sewell
I have little time. You did say in your testimony that you felt that -- you testified that Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland, and Ambassador Volker, quote, "felt that they had a mandate to take the lead," end quote, on Ukraine policy, did you not?
[03:31:18.200 - 03:31:37.800]
George Kent
That was an accurate statement. Their feeling doesn't mean that they actually got delegated responsibility.
[03:31:37.800 - 03:31:44.840]
Terri A. Sewell
Have you ever heard the term "three amigos"?
[03:31:44.840 - 03:31:47.760]
George Kent
I referenced that after watching Gordon Sondland say that on Ukrainian TV on July 26th.
[03:31:47.760 - 03:31:54.080]
Terri A. Sewell
And what do you come to mean by "three amigos"?
[03:31:54.080 - 03:31:57.080]
George Kent
My understanding of Ambassador Sondland's use of that term is that the three people that were in charge of Ukraine policy during the summer were he, Gordon Sondland, Ambassador Volker, and Secretary Perry.
[03:31:57.080 - 03:32:10.120]
Terri A. Sewell
When did you come to learn about Mr. Giuliani's role? And what do you consider his role to have been?
[03:32:10.120 - 03:32:13.560]
George Kent
I first heard about former Mayor Giuliani's interest in Ukraine in January of this year. That was a different phase than what happened during the summertime.
[03:32:13.560 - 03:32:21.680]
Terri A. Sewell
Was it normal to have a person who is a private citizen take an active role in foreign diplomacy?
[03:32:21.680 - 03:32:29.720]
George Kent
I did not find his particular engagement normal, no.
[03:32:29.720 - 03:32:34.880]
Terri A. Sewell
Now, Ambassador Taylor, you testified that there are two channels, regular and irregular. What did you see as Rudy Giuliani's role in Ukraine policy?
[03:32:34.880 - 03:32:44.160]
William Taylor
Congresswoman, I came to see that Mr. Giuliani had a large influence on the irregular channel.
[03:32:44.160 - 03:32:49.680]
Terri A. Sewell
And was that normal? Is that normal, to have a private citizen of the United States take an active role in diplomacy?
[03:32:49.680 - 03:32:57.560]
William Taylor
It is not normal. It is not unusual to ask for people outside the government to give opinions to help form the policies of the U.S. Government. It is unusual to have a person put input into the channel that goes contrary to U.S. policy.
[03:32:57.560 - 03:33:18.560]
Terri A. Sewell
Thank you. I yield back.
[03:33:18.560 - 03:33:22.440]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Turner, you are recognized for 5 minutes.
[03:33:22.440 - 03:33:26.160]
Michael R. Turner
Thank you. Mr. Kent, Ambassador Taylor, thank you for your service. I have a great deal of appreciation for your profession. You have very little direct contact with decision-makers, a tremendous amount of responsibility, and not a lot of authority to affect U.S. policy, bilateral engagements or multilateral engagements.
[03:33:26.160 - 03:33:49.360]

You're trying to shepherd through issues with our allies. One example of that, Ambassador Taylor, is that you testified in your prior testimony that you have not had any contact with the President of the United States. Is that correct?
[03:33:49.360 - 03:34:04.280]
William Taylor
That's correct, sir.
[03:34:04.280 - 03:34:06.160]
Michael R. Turner
Mr. Kent, have you had any contact with the President of the United States?
[03:34:06.160 - 03:34:11.880]
George Kent
I have not.
[03:34:11.880 - 03:34:12.400]
Michael R. Turner
So not only no conversations with the President of the United States about Ukraine, you've not had any contact with the President of the United States, correct?
[03:34:12.400 - 03:34:25.200]
William Taylor
That's correct.
[03:34:25.200 - 03:34:31.120]
Michael R. Turner
Okay. So you both know that this impeachment inquiry is about the President of the United States, don't you? I mean, the man that neither one of you have had any contact with -- you're the first-up witnesses. I just find that a little amazing, that the first up would be two people who've never had any contact with the President himself.
[03:34:31.120 - 03:34:55.960]

Now, Kurt Volker did have contact with the President and contact with the President on Ukraine. Ambassador Taylor, you said that he is a man of highest integrity. Well, I know Kurt Volker, and I know -- you know, he served as the NATO Ambassador. He served as the director of the McCain Institute. He has the highest professional ethics.
[03:34:55.960 - 03:35:18.680]

He's one of the most knowledgeable people about Europe. He's absolutely a truthful man. Mr. Kent, would you agree with Ambassador Taylor that he is of the highest integrity?
[03:35:18.680 - 03:35:28.920]
George Kent
I believe Kurt Volker has served the U.S. as a public servant very well.
[03:35:28.920 - 03:35:34.640]
Michael R. Turner
Do either of you have any evidence that Mr. Volker committed perjury or lied to this committee in his testimony to this committee? Do either of you have any evidence that Kurt Volker perjured himself or lied to this committee in his testimony? Ambassador Taylor, any evidence?
[03:35:34.640 - 03:35:49.640]
William Taylor
Mr. Turner, I have no evidence.
[03:35:49.640 - 03:35:52.080]
Michael R. Turner
Mr. Kent?
[03:35:52.080 - 03:35:52.680]
George Kent
I believe Ambassador Volker's deposition was over 400 pages, and I don't have it in front of me, so I can't make a judgment --
[03:35:52.680 - 03:36:01.840]
Michael R. Turner
But you have no evidence that he lied or perjured himself, right, Mr. Kent?
[03:36:01.840 - 03:36:10.080]
George Kent
I have no basis to make that judgment, no, sir.
[03:36:10.080 - 03:36:13.400]
Michael R. Turner
Great. Well, we're not in a court, gentlemen. And if we were, the Sixth Amendment would apply, and so would rules on hearsay and opinion, and most of your two testimonies would not be admissible whatsoever. But I understand in your profession you deal in words of understanding, words of beliefs and feelings, because in your profession that's what you work with to try to pull together policy and to go in and out of meetings to try to formulate opinions that affect other people's decision-making.
[03:36:13.400 - 03:36:46.120]

Ambassador Taylor, have you ever prepared for a meeting with a President or a Prime Minister of a country where you were told one thing before you went into the meeting as to what it was to be about and the meeting would be about another thing or you get in there and the beliefs or opinions of the President or the Prime Minister were other than you believed?
[03:36:46.120 - 03:37:01.640]
William Taylor
Mr. Turner, you're asking if I ever learned something new in a meeting?
[03:37:01.640 - 03:37:04.720]
Michael R. Turner
Have you ever walked in with a belief that you thought about the country that you were serving in and find out that they were wrong?
[03:37:04.720 - 03:37:12.280]
William Taylor
I learn something in every meeting, Mr. Turner, but I, you know --
[03:37:12.280 - 03:37:17.240]
Michael R. Turner
Ambassador Taylor, the reason why the Sixth Amendment doesn't allow hearsay is it's unreliable. It's unreliable because, frequently, it's untruthful. It is not factual. It might be beliefs or understandings. Ambassador, you testified about a number of things that you heard. Isn't it possible that the things that you heard were not true; that some of the beliefs and understandings that you had are not accurate; that, in fact, you're mistaken about some of the things that you testified today on a factual basis versus a professional assessment?
[03:37:17.240 - 03:37:56.400]
William Taylor
Mr. Turner, I am here to tell you what I know. I'm not going to tell you anything I don't know. I'm going to tell you everything that I do know. And that's --
[03:37:56.400 - 03:38:07.240]
Michael R. Turner
But since you learned it from others, you could be --
[03:38:07.240 - 03:38:09.360]
William Taylor
That's exactly --
[03:38:09.360 - 03:38:11.600]
Michael R. Turner
-- you could be right -- you could be wrong --
[03:38:11.600 - 03:38:15.000]
William Taylor
That's exactly --
[03:38:15.000 - 03:38:17.280]
Michael R. Turner
-- right, Mr. Taylor?
[03:38:17.280 - 03:38:18.920]
William Taylor
That's exactly why I am here.
[03:38:18.920 - 03:38:21.200]
Michael R. Turner
But since you learned it from others, could you be wrong, correct?
[03:38:21.200 - 03:38:25.240]
William Taylor
I am telling you what I heard them tell me, Mr. Turner.
[03:38:25.240 - 03:38:28.040]
Michael R. Turner
And they could be wrong, or they could be mistaken, or they could've heard it incorrectly, right, Ambassador Taylor?
[03:38:28.040 - 03:38:33.560]
William Taylor
People make mistakes.
[03:38:33.560 - 03:38:36.520]
Michael R. Turner
Right. So you could be wrong. I yield the rest of my time to Mr. Jordan.
[03:38:36.520 - 03:38:39.600]
Jim Jordan
Thank you. I thank the gentleman for yielding. Ambassador Taylor, the gentleman asked if you could be wrong. Were you wrong when you said you had a clear understanding that President Zelensky had to commit to an investigation of Bidens before the aid got released, and the aid got released and he didn't commit to an investigation?
[03:38:39.600 - 03:38:58.760]
William Taylor
Mr. Jordan, I was not wrong about what I told you, which is what I heard. That's all I've said. I've told you what I heard.
[03:38:58.760 - 03:39:05.880]
Jim Jordan
And that's the point. What you heard did not happen. It didn't happen. You had three meetings with the guy; he could've told you. He didn't announce he was going to do an investigation before the aid happened. It's not just, could it have been wrong? The fact is, it was wrong, because it didn't happen. The whole point was, you had a clear understanding that aid will not get released unless there's a commitment.
[03:39:05.880 - 03:39:29.600]

Not maybe, not I think the aid might happen, it's my hunch it's going to get released. You used clear language, clear understanding and commitment. And those two things didn't happen. So you had to be wrong.