The Thing About a Really Stupid Argument

fish

Some Republicans are trying to argue that Trump only had a generic interest in Ukrainian corruption, not the Bidens or the mythical Hidden Democratic Server.

Some Republicans are trying to argue that the Three Amigos somehow made a huge mistake about what The Donald wanted them to do.

Some Republicans are arguing that bribery means offering an official act in exchange for a personal payoff, but bribery is OK if the bribe is never paid because you get caught.

The Thing About a Really Stupid Argument

The thing about a really stupid argument it that it’s like yesterday’s fish. It may not be too bad on the second day, but the more it’s exposed to air and sunshine, the worse it’s going to smell.

The National Review Would Like You to Know that “The Longer the President Defends a Lie, the More Americans Will Resent Being Lied To”

sorry

There is mucho commentary in the last few days dissecting Trump’s non-defense of his actions. Here is Jonah Goldberg, writing in the National Review:

The longer the president defends a lie, the more Americans will resent being lied to.

In l’affaire Ukraine, the president is guilty as charged. And the best strategy for him to avoid impeachment by the House and perhaps even removal by the Senate is to admit it, apologize, and let voters make their own judgment. It’s also the best way to fend off a disaster for Senate Republicans.

The president is accused — politically, not criminally — of trying to force the Ukrainian president to tar former vice president Joe Biden with an investigation into his alleged “corruption” in exchange for the release of military aid and a meeting in the Oval Office. I believe a plain reading of the rough transcript of a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky supports the charge. So does testimony from the top American diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, as well as several other Trump appointees and aides, including Tuesday’s testimony from Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council staffer who listened to the phone call. There’s still due diligence to be done, but it seems implausible they’re all lying.

Common sense also works against the president. If Trump were sincerely concerned about Ukrainian corruption, why has he never expressed similar concerns about corruption anywhere else? And, why, if the issue is Ukrainian corruption generally, did the Trump administration focus on the alleged corruption of a single Ukrainian firm, Burisma, where Biden’s son sat on the board?

The most plausible explanation is twofold. First, the corruption issue was a pretext; under the law, corruption concerns are the only justification for blocking congressionally approved aid. Second, Trump’s real goal was to bruise Biden. Indeed, according to Taylor, the White House said it would settle for a mere statement about Biden’s potential corruption — meaning Trump cared more about political gain than about an actual investigation.

Trump and his defenders are still pounding on outdated, unpersuasive, or irrelevant talking points. They rail about the identity and motives of the whistleblower who first aired these allegations, even though the whistleblower’s report has been largely corroborated by others. They claim that the process of the Democratic inquiry in the House is unconstitutional, which is ridiculous. They insist that hearings where Republicans can cross-examine witnesses are a “star chamber” or reminiscent of secret Soviet trials. Also ridiculous.

Republican complaints about the heavy-handed tactics of the Democrats have some merit, but they’ll be rendered moot when the Democrats move to public hearings or to a Senate trial. And when that happens, claims that the call was “perfect” and that there was no quid pro quo will evaporate in the face of the facts.

This is why the smartest Trump defenders are counseling the president to simply admit the obvious: There was a quid pro quo, and the president’s phone call fell short of perfection, but nothing he did is an impeachable offense. …

I’d go one step further. Rather than take the Mick Mulvaney line and shout “get over it” — now a Trump-campaign T-shirt — the president should apologize. Trump’s refusal to admit any wrongdoing imperils GOP senators who are already reluctant to defend him on the merits. Once the process complaints expire, they’ll be left with no defense at all.  …

I disagree with those who say that the allegations against Trump are not impeachable. But, politically, apologizing could forestall impeachment by giving politicians and voters a safe harbor: “It was wrong, but he said he’s sorry. Move on.” The longer the president defends a lie, the more Americans will resent being lied to.

Of course, contrition doesn’t come easy for Trump and would be embarrassing for him and his media cheerleaders. But it would also give Republican candidates a rationale for opposing impeachment that they could sell.

Trump is fond of demanding ever more loyalty from Republicans. But loyalty is a two-way street. If he thinks they should defend him, he should give them something defensible to work with.

Statement by William B. Taylor, United States Chargé D’affaires for Ukraine, October 22, 2019

smoking gun

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to appear today to provide my perspective on the events that are the subject of the Committees’ inquiry. My sole purpose is to provide the Committees with my views about the strategic importanceofUkrainetotheUnitedStatesaswellasadditionalinformationabout the incidents inquestion.

I have dedicated my life to serving U.S. interests at home and abroad in both military and civilian roles. My background and experience are nonpartisan andI have been honored to serve under every administration, Republican and Democratic, since 1985.

For 50 years, I have served the country, starting as a cadet at West Point, then as an infantry officer for six years, including with  the 101st  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; and more recently,  as Executive  Vice President  of the nonpartisan United States Institute ofPeace.

WhileIhaveservedinmanyplacesandindifferentcapacities,Ihaveaparticular interest in and respect for the importance of our country’s relationship with Ukraine. Our national security demands that this relationship remainstrong.

However,inAugustandSeptemberofthisyear,Ibecameincreasinglyconcerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular,informalchannelofU.S.policy-makingandbythewithholdingofvital security assistance for domestic political reasons. I hope my remarks today will help the Committees understand why I believed that to be thecase.

At the outset, I would like to convey several key points. First, Ukraine is a strategic partner of the United States, important for the security of our country as well as Europe. Second, Ukraine is, right at this moment-while we sit in this room-and for the last five years, under armed attack from Russia. Third, the security assistance we provide is crucial to Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression, and, more importantly, sends a signal to Ukrainians-and Russians­ that we are Ukraine’s reliable strategic partner. And finally, as the Committees are now aware, I said on September 9 in a message to Ambassador Gordon Sondland that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be “crazy.” I believed that then, and I still believethat.

Let me now provide the Committees a chronology of the events that led to my concern.

On May 28 of this year, I met with Secretary Mike Pompeo who asked me to return to Kyiv to lead our embassy in Ukraine. It was-and is-a critical time in U.S.-Ukrainerelations:VolodymyrZelenskyyhadjustbeenelectedpresidentand Ukraine remained at war with Russia. As the summer approached, a new Ukrainian government would be seated, parliamentary elections were imminent, andtheUkrainianpoliticaltrajectorywouldbesetforthenextseveralyears.

I had served as Ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, having been nominated by George W. Bush, and, in the intervening 10 years, I have stayed engaged with Ukraine, visiting frequently since 2013 as a board member of a small Ukrainian non-governmental organization supporting  good governance  and reform. Across the responsibilities I have had in public service, Ukraine is special for me, and Secretary Pompeo ‘s offer to return as Chief of Mission was compelling. I am convinced of the profound importance of Ukraine to the security of the United States and Europe for two relatedreasons:

First, if Ukraine succeeds in breaking free of Russian influence, it is possible for Europe to be whole, free, democratic, and at peace. In contrast, if Russia dominates Ukraine, Russia will again become an empire, oppressing its people, and threatening its neighbors and the rest of the world.

Second, with the annexation of the Crimea in 2014 and the continued aggression in Donbas, Russia violated countless treaties, ignored  all  commitments, and dismissed all the principles that have kept the peace  and contributed  to prosperity in Europe since World War II. To restore Ukraine’s independence, Russia  must leave Ukraine. This has been and should continue to be a bipartisan U.S. foreign policygoal.

When I was serving outside of government during the Obama administration and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, I joined two other former ambassadors to Ukraine in urging 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. I also supported much stronger sanctions againstRussia.

 

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. The former Ambassador, Masha Yovanovitch,

hadbeentreatedpoorly,caughtinawebofpoliticalmachinationsbothinKyivand in Washington. I feared that those problems were still present. When I talked to heraboutacceptingtheoffer,however,sheurgedmetogo,bothforpolicyreasons and for the morale of theembassy.

Before answering the Secretary, I consulted both my wife and a respected former senior Republican official who has been a mentor to me. I will tell you that my wife, in no uncertain terms, strongly opposed the idea. The mentor counseled: if your country asks you to do something, you do it-if you can beeffective.

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. I worried about what I had heard concerning the role of Rudolph Giuliani, who had made several high-profile statements about Ukraine

and U.S. policy toward the country. So during my meeting with Secretary Pompeo on May 28, I made clear to him and the others present that if U.S. policy toward Ukraine changed, he would not want me posted there and I could not stay. 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 Iwas appointed by the Secretary but not reconfirmed by the Senate, my official position was Charge d’ Affaires ad interim.

*       *       *       *       *

I returned to Kyiv on June 17, carrying the original copy of a letter President Trump signed the day after I met with the Secretary. In that letter, President TrumpcongratulatedPresidentZelenskyyonhiselectionvictoryandinvitedhim to a meeting in the Oval Office. I also brought with me a framed copy of the Secretary’s declaration that the United States would never recognize the illegal Russian annexation ofCrimea.

ButonceIarrivedinKyiv,Idiscoveredaweirdcombinationofencouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarmingcircumstances.

 

 

First, the encouraging: President Zelenskyy was taking over Ukraine in a hurry. He had appointed reformist ministers and supported long-stalled anti-corruption legislation. He took quick executive action, including opening Ukraine’s High Anti-Corruption Court, which was established under the previous presidential administration but never allowed to operate. He called snap parliamentary elections-his party was so new  it had no representation in the Rada-and  later won an overwhelming mandate, controlling 60 percent of the seats. With his new parliamentarymajority,PresidentZelenskyychangedtheUkrainianconstitutionto remove absolute immunity from Rada deputies, which had been the source of raw corruption for two decades. There was much excitement in Kyiv that this time things could be different-a new Ukraine might finally be breaking from its corrupt, post-Sovietpast.

And yet, I found a confusing and unusual arrangement for making U.S. policy towards Ukraine. There appeared to be two channels of U.S. policy-making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular. As the Chief of Mission, I had authority over the regular, formal diplomatic processes, including the bulk of theU.S.efforttosupportUkraineagainsttheRussianinvasionandtohelpitdefeat corruption. This regular channel of U.S. policy-making has consistently had strong, bipartisan support both in Congress and in all administrations since Ukraine’s independence from Russia in1991.

At the same time, however, there was an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making with respect to Ukraine, one which included then-Special Envoy Kurt Volker, Ambassador Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and as I subsequentlylearned,Mr.Giuliani.Iwasclearlyintheregularchannel,butIwas also in the irregular one to the extent that Ambassadors Volker and Sondland included me in certain conversations. Although this irregular channel was well­ connected in Washington, it operated mostly outside of official State Department channels. This irregular channel began when Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland,SecretaryPerry,andSenatorRonJohnsonbriefedPresidentTrumpon

May 23 upon their return from President Zelenskyy’s inauguration. The delegation returned to Washington enthusiastic 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, President Trump did not share their enthusiasm for a meeting with Mr. Zelenskyy.

When I first arrived in Kyiv, in June and July, the actions of both the regular and the irregular channels of foreign policy served the same goal-a strongU.S.-

 

Ukraine partnership-but it became clear to me by August that the channels had diverged in their objectives. As this occurred, I became increasinglyconcerned.

In late June, one the goals of both channels was to facilitate a visit by President Zelenskyy to the White House for a meeting  with President  Trump, which President Trump had promised in his congratulatory letter of May 29. The Ukrainians were clearly eager for the meeting to happen. During a conference call with Ambassador Volker, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Phil Reeker, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland, and Counselor of the U.S. Department of State Ulrich Brechbuhl  on June 18, it was clear that a meeting between the two presidents was an agreed-upongoal.

But during my subsequent communications with Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, they relayed to me that the President “wanted to hear from Zelenskyy” before scheduling the meeting in the Oval Office. It was not clear to me what this meant.

On June 27, Ambassador Sondland told me during a phone conversation that President Zelenskyy needed to make clear to President Trump that he, President Zelenskyy, was not standing in the way of “investigations.”

I sensed something odd when Ambassador  Sondland told me on June  28 that  he did not wish to include most of the regular  interagency  participants in a call planned with President Zelenskyy later that day. Ambassador  Sondland, Ambassador Volker, Secretary Perry, and I were on this call, dialing in from  different locations. However, Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted  to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelenskyy  to the call. Also, before President Zelenskyy joined the call, Ambassador Volker separately told the U.S. participants that he, Ambassador Volker, planned to be explicit with President Zelenskyy in a one-on-one meeting in Toronto  on July 2 about what President Zelenskyy should do to get the White House meeting.  Again, it was not clear to me on that call what this meant, but Ambassador Volker noted  that 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 Zelenskyy  joined  the call, the conversation  was  focused on energy policy and  the Stanytsia-Luhanska bridge. President  Zelenskyy  also said he looked forward to the White House visit President Trump had offered in his May 29letter.

 

I reported on this call to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, who had responsibility for Ukraine, and I wrote a memo for the record dated June 30 that summarized our conversation with President Zelenskyy.

By mid-July it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelenskyy wanted was conditioned on the investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. It was also clear that this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel I had come to understand was guided by Mr. Giuliani.

On July 10, Ukrainian officials Alexander Danyliuk,  the Ukrainian national security advisor, and Andriy Yermak, an assistant to President Zelenskyy, and Secretary Perry, then-National Security Advisor John Bolton, Ambassador Volker, and Ambassador Sondland met at the White House. I did not participate in the meeting  and did not receive a readout  of it until speaking with the National Security Council’s (NSC’s) then-Senior Director  for European  and  Russian Affairs,  Fiona Hill, and the NSC’s  Director of European  Affairs, Alex Vindman, on July19.

On July 10 in Kyiv, I met with President  Zelenskyy’s chief  of staff, Andrei Bohdan, and then-foreign policy advisor to the president and now Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, who told me that they had heard from Mr. Giuliani  that the phone call between the two presidents was unlikely to happen and that they were alarmed and disappointed. I relayed their concerns to CounselorBrechbuhl.

In a regular NSC secure video-conference call on July 18, I heard a staff person from the Office of Management and Budget (0MB) say that there was a hold on security assistance to Ukraine but could not say why. Toward the end of an otherwise normal meeting, a voice on the call-the person was off-screen-said that she was from 0MB and that her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending of security assistance for Ukraine until further notice. I and others sat in astonishment-the Ukrainians were fighting the Russians andcounted on not only the training and weapons, but also the assurance of U.S. support. All thatthe0MBstaffpersonsaidwasthatthedirectivehadcomefromthePresident totheChiefofStaffto0MB.Inaninstant,Irealizedthatoneofthekeypillarsof our strong support for Ukraine was threatened. The irregular policy channel was running contrary to the goals of longstanding U.S.policy.

There followed a series ofNSC-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. 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.

The next day on the phone, Dr. Hill and Mr. Vindman tried to reassure me that they were not aware of any official change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine, OMB’s announcement notwithstanding. They did confirm that the hold on security assistanceforUkrainecamefromChiefofStaffMickMulvaneyandthattheChief of Staff maintained a skeptical view ofUkraine.

In the same July 19 phone call, they gave me an account of the July 10 meeting with the Ukrainian officials at the White House. Specifically, they told me that AmbassadorSondlandhadconnected”investigations”withanOvalOfficemeeting for President Zelenskyy, which so irritated Ambassador Bolton that he abruptly endedthemeeting,tellingDr.HillandMr.Vindmanthattheyshouldhavenothing to do with domestic politics. He also directed Dr. Hill to “brief the lawyers.” Dr. Hill said that Ambassador Bolton referred to this as a “drug deal” after the July 10 meeting. Ambassador Bolton opposed a call between President Zelenskyy and President Trump out of concern that it “would be adisaster.”

Needless to say, the Ukrainians in the meetings were confused. Ambassador Bolton,intheregularUkrainepolicydecision-makingchannel,wantedtotalk aboutsecurity,energy,andreform;AmbassadorSondland,aparticipantinthe irregularchannel,wantedtotalkabouttheconnection betweenaWhiteHouse meeting and Ukrainianinvestigations.

AlsoduringourJuly19call,Dr.HillinformedmethatAmbassadorVolkerhad metwithMr.GiulianitodiscussUkraine.Thiscaughtmebysurprise.Thenext dayIaskedAmbassadorVolkeraboutthatmeeting,butreceivednoresponse.I begantosensethatthetwodecisionmakingchannels-theregularandirregular­ were separate and atodds.

LateronJuly19andintheearlymorningofJuly20(Kyivtime),Ireceivedtext messagesonathree-wayWhatsApptextconversationwithAmbassadorsVolker andSondland,arecordofwhichIunderstandhasalreadybeenprovidedtothe

 

Committees by Ambassador Volker. Ambassador Sondland said that a call between President Trump and President Zelenskyy would take place soon. AmbassadorVolkersaidthatwhatwas”[mJostimptisforZelenskytosaythathe will help investigation-and address any specific personnel issues-if there are any.”

LateronJuly20,IhadaphoneconversationwithAmbassadorSondlandwhilehe was on a train from Paris to London. Ambassador Sondland told me that he had recommendedtoPresidentZelenskyythatheusethephrase,”I willleavenostone unturned” with regard to “investigations” when President Zelenskyy spoke with PresidentTrump.

AlsoonJuly20,IhadaphoneconversationwithMr.Danyliuk, duringwhichhe conveyedtomethatPresidentZelenskyydidnotwanttobeusedasapawnina

U.S. re-election campaign. The next day I texted both Ambassadors Volkerand Sondland about President Zelenskyy’s concern.

OnJuly25,PresidentTrumpandPresidentZelenskyyhadthelong-awaitedphone conversation.Strangely,eventhoughIwasChiefofMissionandwasscheduledto meetwithPresidentZelenskyyalongwithAmbassadorVolkerthefollowingday,I received no readout of the call from the White House. The Ukrainian government issued a short, crypticsummary.

During a previously planned July 26 meeting, President Zelenskyy told AmbassadorVolkerandmethathewashappywiththecallbutdidnotelaborate. PresidentZelenskyythenaskedabouttheface-to-facemeetingintheOvalOffice as promised in the May 29 letter from PresidentTrump.

AfterourmeetingwithPresidentZelenskyy,AmbassadorVolkerandItraveledto the front line in northern Donbas to receive a briefing from the commander of the forcesonthelineofcontact.Arrivingforthebriefinginthemilitaryheadquarters, the commander thanked us for security assistance, but I was aware that this assistance was on hold, which made meuncomfortable.

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. Over 13,000 Ukrainianshadbeenkilledinthewar,oneortwoaweek.MoreUkrainianswould undoubtedly die without the U.S.assistance.

 

Although I spent the morning of July 26 with President Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials, the first summary of the Trump-Zelenskyy 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 28. Mr. Morrison told me that the call “could have been better” and that President Trump had suggested that President Zelenskyy or his staff meet with Mr. Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr. I did not see any official readout of the call until it was publicly released on September 25.

On August 16, I exchanged text messages with Ambassador Volker in which I learnedthatMr.YermakhadaskedthattheUnitedStatessubmitanofficialrequest for an investigation into Burisma’s alleged violations of Ukrainian law, if that is whattheUnitedStatesdesired.AformalU.S.requesttotheUkrainianstoconduct an investigation based on violations of their own law struck me as improper, and I recommended to Ambassador Volker that we “stay clear.” To find out the legal aspects of the question, however, I gave him the name of a Deputy Assistant AttorneyGeneralwhomIthoughtwouldbetheproperpointofcontactforseeking a U.S. referral for a foreigninvestigation.

Bymid-August,becausethesecurityassistance hadbeenheldforoveramonthfor no reason that I could discern, I was beginning to fear that the longstanding U.S. policyofstrongsupportforUkrainewasshifting.  I called Counselor Brechbuhlto discuss this on August 21. He said that he was not aware of a change of U.S. policy but would check on the status of the security assistance. My concerns deepened the next day, on August 22, during a phone conversation withMr.

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 policyofstrongsupportforUkraineweretochange,Iwouldhavetoresign.Based on my call with Mr. Morrison, I was preparing to doso.

Justdayslater,onAugust27,AmbassadorBoltonarrivedinKyivandmetwith President Zelenskyy. During their meeting, security assistance was not

discussed-amazingly, news of the hold did not leak out until August 29. I, on the other hand, was all too aware of and still troubled by the hold. 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 aggress10n. Ambassador Bolton recommended that I send a first-person cable to

 

Secretary Pompeo directly, relaying my concerns. I wrote and transmitted such a cable on August 29, 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. 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 forUkraine.

The same day that I sent my cable to the Secretary, August 29, Mr. Yermak contacted me and was very concerned, asking  about the withheld  security assistance.  The hold that the White House had placed on the 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 waswithheld.

It had still not occurred to me that the hold on security assistance could be related to the “investigations.” That, however, would soonchange.

On September 1, just three days after my cable to Secretary Pompeo, President Zelenskyy met Vice President Pence at a bilateral meeting in Warsaw. President Trump had planned to travel to Warsaw  but at the last minute had cancelled  because of Hurricane Dorian. Just hours before the Pence-Zelenskyy meeting, I contacted Mr. Danyliuk to let him know that the delay of U.S. security 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 30), the funds would expire and Ukraine would receive nothing. I was hopeful that at the bilateral meeting or shortly thereafter, the White House would lift the hold, but this was notto be.

Indeed, I received a readout of the Pence-Zelenskyy meeting over the phone from Mr. Morrison, during which he told me President Zelenskyy had opened the meeting by asking the Vice President about security cooperation. 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 fightcorruption.

During this same phone call I had with Mr. Morrison, he went on to describe a conversation Ambassador Sondland had with Mr. Yermak at Warsaw.

Ambassador Sondland  told Mr. Yermak that the security assistance money would not come until President Zelenskyy committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.  I was alarmed by what Mr. Morrison told me about theSondland-Yermak

 

conversation. This was the first time I had heard that the security assistance-not just the White House meeting-was conditioned on the investigations.

Very concerned, on that same day I sent Ambassador Sondland a text message asking if “we [are] now saying that security assistance and [a] WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Ambassador Sondland responded asking me to callhim,whichIdid.Duringthatphonecall,AmbassadorSondlandtoldmethat PresidentTrumphadtoldhimthathewantsPresidentZelenskyytostatepublicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S.election.

Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White HousemeetingwithPresidentZelenskyywasdependentonapublicannouncement of investigations-in fact, Ambassador Sondland said, “everything” was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. He said that President TrumpwantedPresidentZelenskyy”inapublicbox”bymakingapublicstatement about ordering suchinvestigations.

In the same September 1 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 Zelenskyy.At that point I asked Ambassador Sondland to push back on President Trump’s demand.

Ambassador Sondland pledged to try. We also discussed the possibility that the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, rather than President Zelenskyy, would make a statementaboutinvestigations,potentiallyincoordinationwithAttorneyGeneral Barr’s probe into the investigation of interference in the 2016elections.

The next day, September 2, Mr. Morrison called to inform me that Mr. Danyliuk had asked him to come to his hotel room in Warsaw, where Mr. Danyliuk expressed 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. I was experiencing the same tension in my dealings with the Ukrainians,includingduringameetingIhadhadwithUkrainianDefenseMinister Andriy Zagordnyuk thatday.

DuringmycallwithMr.MorrisononSeptember 2,IalsobriefedMr.Morrisonon what Ambassador Sondland had told me during our call the dayprior.

 

On September 5, I hosted Senators Johnson and Murphy for a visit to Kyiv. During their visit, we met with President Zelenskyy. His first question to the senators was about the withheld security assistance. 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 ZelenskyyshouldnotjeopardizethatbipartisansupportbygettingdrawnintoU.S. domesticpolitics.

Ihadbeenmaking(andcontinuetomake)thispointtoallofmyUkrainianofficial contacts. But the push to make President Zelenskyy 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.

Twodayslater,onSeptember7,IhadaconversationwithMr.Morrisoninwhich hedescribedaphoneconversationearlierthatdaybetweenAmbassadorSondland and President Trump. Mr. Morrison said that he had a “sinking feeling” after learning about this conversation from Ambassador Sondland. According toMr.

Morrison,PresidentTrumptoldAmbassadorSondlandthathewasnotaskingfora “quid pro quo.” But President Trump did insist that President Zelenskyy go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelenskyy should want to do this himself.Mr.

MorrisonsaidthathetoldAmbassadorBoltonandtheNSClawyersofthisphone call between President Trump and AmbassadorSondland.

The following day, on September 8, Ambassador Sondland and I spoke on the phone. He said he had talked to President Trump as I had suggested a week earlier,butthatPresidentTrumpwasadamantthatPresidentZelenskyy,himself, had to “clear things up and do it in public.” President Trump said it was not a “quid pro quo.” Ambassador Sondland said that he had talked to President Zelenskyy and Mr. Yermak and told them that, although this was not a quid pro quo,ifPresidentZelenskyydidnot”clearthingsup”inpublic,wewouldbeata “stalemate.” 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 Zelenskyy agreeing to make a public statement in an interview withCNN.

AfterthecallwithAmbassadorSondlandonSeptember8,Iexpressedmystrong reservations in a text message to Ambassador Sondland, stating thatmy

 

“nightmare is they [the Ukrainians] give the interview and don’t get the security assistance. The Russians love it. (And I quit.).” I was serious.

The next day, I said to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker that “[t]he message  to the Ukrainians (and 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 politicalcampaign.”

Ambassador SondlandrespondedaboutfivehourslaterthatIwas”incorrectabout President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of anykind.”

Beforethesetextmessages,duringourcallonSeptember8,AmbassadorSondland triedtoexplaintomethatPresidentTrumpisabusinessman.Whenabusinessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check. Ambassador Volker used the same terms several days later while we were together at the Yalta European Strategy Conference. I argued to both that the explanation made no sense: the Ukrainians did not “owe” President Trump anything, and holding up securityassistancefordomestic political gainwas”crazy,”asIhadsaidinmytext message to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker on September9.

Finally,Ilearned onSeptember11thattheholdhadbeenliftedandthatthe security assistance would beprovided.

After I learned that the security assistance was released on September 11, I personally conveyed the news to President Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Prystaiko. 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. My fear at the time was that since Ambassador Sondland had told me President Zelenskyy already agreed to do a CNN interview, President Zelenskyy would make a statement regarding “investigations” that would have played into domestic U.S. politics. I sought to confirm through Mr. Danyliuk that President Zelenskyy was not planning to give such an interview to the media.

While Mr. Danyliuk initially confirmed that on September 12, I noticed during a meeting on the morning of September 13 at President Zelenskyy’s office that Mr. Yermak looked uncomfortable in response to the question. Again, I asked Mr.

Danyliuk to confirm that there would be no CNN interview, which he did.

 

On September 25 at the UN General Assembly session in New York City, President Trump met President Zelenskyy face-to-face. He also released the transcript of the July 25 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 25 call with President Zelenskyy, in which he mentioned Vice President Biden, I had come to understand well before thenthat”investigations”wasatermthatAmbassadorsVolkerandSondlandused tomeanmattersrelatedtothe2016elections,andtoinvestigationsofBurismaand theBidens.

*       *       *       *       *

I recognize that this is a rather lengthy recitation of the events of the past few monthstoldfrommyvantagepointinKyiv.ButIalsorecognizetheimportance ofthemattersyourCommitteesareinvestigating,andIhopethatthischronology will provide some framework for yourquestions.

I wish to conclude by returning to the points I made at the outset. Ukraine is important to the security of the United States. It has been attacked by Russia, which continues its aggression against Ukraine. If we believe in the principle of sovereignty of nations on which our security and the security of our friends and alliesdepends,wemustsupportUkraineinitsfightagainstitsbullyingneighbor. Russian aggression cannotstand.

There are two Ukraine stories today. The first is the one we are discussing this morning and that you have been hearing for the past two weeks. It is a rancorous story about whistleblowers, Mr. Giuliani, side channels, quid pro quos, corruption, and interference in elections. In this story Ukraine is an object.

But there is another Ukraine 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. 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.

 

Because of the strategic importance of Ukraine in our effort to create a whole, free Europe, we, through Republican and Democratic  administrations over three decades, have supported Ukraine. Congress has been generous over the years with assistance funding,both civilian and military, and political support. With overwhelming bipartisan majorities, Congress has supported Ukraine with harsh sanctions on Russia for invading and occupying Ukraine. We can be proud of that support and that we have stood up to a dictator’s aggression against a democratic neighbor.

It is this second story that I would like to leave you with today. And I am glad to answer yourquestions.

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to appear today to provide my perspective on the events that are the subject of the Committees’ inquiry. My sole purpose is to provide the Committees with my views about the strategic importanceofUkrainetotheUnitedStatesaswellasadditionalinformationabout the incidents inquestion.

I have dedicated my life to serving U.S. interests at home and abroad in both military and civilian roles. My background and experience are nonpartisan andI have been honored to serve under every administration, Republican and Democratic, since 1985.

For 50 years, I have served the country, starting as a cadet at West Point, then as an infantry officer for six years, including with  the 101st  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; and more recently,  as Executive  Vice President  of the nonpartisan United States Institute ofPeace.

WhileIhaveservedinmanyplacesandindifferentcapacities,Ihaveaparticular interest in and respect for the importance of our country’s relationship with Ukraine. Our national security demands that this relationship remainstrong.

However,inAugustandSeptemberofthisyear,Ibecameincreasinglyconcerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular,informalchannelofU.S.policy-makingandbythewithholdingofvital security assistance for domestic political reasons. I hope my remarks today will help the Committees understand why I believed that to be thecase.

At the outset, I would like to convey several key points. First, Ukraine is a strategic partner of the United States, important for the security of our country as well as Europe. Second, Ukraine is, right at this moment-while we sit in this room-and for the last five years, under armed attack from Russia. Third, the security assistance we provide is crucial to Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression, and, more importantly, sends a signal to Ukrainians-and Russians­ that we are Ukraine’s reliable strategic partner. And finally, as the Committees are now aware, I said on September 9 in a message to Ambassador Gordon Sondland that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be “crazy.” I believed that then, and I still believethat.

Let me now provide the Committees a chronology of the events that led to my concern.

On May 28 of this year, I met with Secretary Mike Pompeo who asked me to return to Kyiv to lead our embassy in Ukraine. It was-and is-a critical time in U.S.-Ukrainerelations:VolodymyrZelenskyyhadjustbeenelectedpresidentand Ukraine remained at war with Russia. As the summer approached, a new Ukrainian government would be seated, parliamentary elections were imminent, andtheUkrainianpoliticaltrajectorywouldbesetforthenextseveralyears.

I had served as Ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, having been nominated by George W. Bush, and, in the intervening 10 years, I have stayed engaged with Ukraine, visiting frequently since 2013 as a board member of a small Ukrainian non-governmental organization supporting  good governance  and reform. Across the responsibilities I have had in public service, Ukraine is special for me, and Secretary Pompeo ‘s offer to return as Chief of Mission was compelling. I am convinced of the profound importance of Ukraine to the security of the United States and Europe for two relatedreasons:

First, if Ukraine succeeds in breaking free of Russian influence, it is possible for Europe to be whole, free, democratic, and at peace. In contrast, if Russia dominates Ukraine, Russia will again become an empire, oppressing its people, and threatening its neighbors and the rest of the world.

Second, with the annexation of the Crimea in 2014 and the continued aggression in Donbas, Russia violated countless treaties, ignored  all  commitments, and dismissed all the principles that have kept the peace  and contributed  to prosperity in Europe since World War II. To restore Ukraine’s independence, Russia  must leave Ukraine. This has been and should continue to be a bipartisan U.S. foreign policygoal.

When I was serving outside of government during the Obama administration and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, I joined two other former ambassadors to Ukraine in urging 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. I also supported much stronger sanctions againstRussia.

 

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. The former Ambassador, Masha Yovanovitch,

hadbeentreatedpoorly,caughtinawebofpoliticalmachinationsbothinKyivand in Washington. I feared that those problems were still present. When I talked to heraboutacceptingtheoffer,however,sheurgedmetogo,bothforpolicyreasons and for the morale of theembassy.

Before answering the Secretary, I consulted both my wife and a respected former senior Republican official who has been a mentor to me. I will tell you that my wife, in no uncertain terms, strongly opposed the idea. The mentor counseled: if your country asks you to do something, you do it-if you can beeffective.

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. I worried about what I had heard concerning the role of Rudolph Giuliani, who had made several high-profile statements about Ukraine

and U.S. policy toward the country. So during my meeting with Secretary Pompeo on May 28, I made clear to him and the others present that if U.S. policy toward Ukraine changed, he would not want me posted there and I could not stay. 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 Iwas appointed by the Secretary but not reconfirmed by the Senate, my official position was Charge d’ Affaires ad interim.

*       *       *       *       *

I returned to Kyiv on June 17, carrying the original copy of a letter President Trump signed the day after I met with the Secretary. In that letter, President TrumpcongratulatedPresidentZelenskyyonhiselectionvictoryandinvitedhim to a meeting in the Oval Office. I also brought with me a framed copy of the Secretary’s declaration that the United States would never recognize the illegal Russian annexation ofCrimea.

ButonceIarrivedinKyiv,Idiscoveredaweirdcombinationofencouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarmingcircumstances. 

First, the encouraging: President Zelenskyy was taking over Ukraine in a hurry. He had appointed reformist ministers and supported long-stalled anti-corruption legislation. He took quick executive action, including opening Ukraine’s High Anti-Corruption Court, which was established under the previous presidential administration but never allowed to operate. He called snap parliamentary elections-his party was so new  it had no representation in the Rada-and  later won an overwhelming mandate, controlling 60 percent of the seats. With his new parliamentarymajority,PresidentZelenskyychangedtheUkrainianconstitutionto remove absolute immunity from Rada deputies, which had been the source of raw corruption for two decades. There was much excitement in Kyiv that this time things could be different-a new Ukraine might finally be breaking from its corrupt, post-Sovietpast.

And yet, I found a confusing and unusual arrangement for making U.S. policy towards Ukraine. There appeared to be two channels of U.S. policy-making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular. As the Chief of Mission, I had authority over the regular, formal diplomatic processes, including the bulk of theU.S.efforttosupportUkraineagainsttheRussianinvasionandtohelpitdefeat corruption. This regular channel of U.S. policy-making has consistently had strong, bipartisan support both in Congress and in all administrations since Ukraine’s independence from Russia in1991.

At the same time, however, there was an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making with respect to Ukraine, one which included then-Special Envoy Kurt Volker, Ambassador Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and as I subsequentlylearned,Mr.Giuliani.Iwasclearlyintheregularchannel,butIwas also in the irregular one to the extent that Ambassadors Volker and Sondland included me in certain conversations. Although this irregular channel was well­ connected in Washington, it operated mostly outside of official State Department channels. This irregular channel began when Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland,SecretaryPerry,andSenatorRonJohnsonbriefedPresidentTrumpon

May 23 upon their return from President Zelenskyy’s inauguration. The delegation returned to Washington enthusiastic 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, President Trump did not share their enthusiasm for a meeting with Mr. Zelenskyy.

When I first arrived in Kyiv, in June and July, the actions of both the regular and the irregular channels of foreign policy served the same goal-a strongU.S.-Ukraine partnership-but it became clear to me by August that the channels had diverged in their objectives. As this occurred, I became increasinglyconcerned.

In late June, one the goals of both channels was to facilitate a visit by President Zelenskyy to the White House for a meeting  with President  Trump, which President Trump had promised in his congratulatory letter of May 29. The Ukrainians were clearly eager for the meeting to happen. During a conference call with Ambassador Volker, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Phil Reeker, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland, and Counselor of the U.S. Department of State Ulrich Brechbuhl  on June 18, it was clear that a meeting between the two presidents was an agreed-upongoal.

But during my subsequent communications with Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, they relayed to me that the President “wanted to hear from Zelenskyy” before scheduling the meeting in the Oval Office. It was not clear to me what this meant.

On June 27, Ambassador Sondland told me during a phone conversation that President Zelenskyy needed to make clear to President Trump that he, President Zelenskyy, was not standing in the way of “investigations.”

I sensed something odd when Ambassador  Sondland told me on June  28 that  he did not wish to include most of the regular  interagency  participants in a call planned with President Zelenskyy later that day. Ambassador  Sondland, Ambassador Volker, Secretary Perry, and I were on this call, dialing in from  different locations. However, Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted  to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelenskyy  to the call. Also, before President Zelenskyy joined the call, Ambassador Volker separately told the U.S. participants that he, Ambassador Volker, planned to be explicit with President Zelenskyy in a one-on-one meeting in Toronto  on July 2 about what President Zelenskyy should do to get the White House meeting.  Again, it was not clear to me on that call what this meant, but Ambassador Volker noted  that 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 Zelenskyy  joined  the call, the conversation  was  focused on energy policy and  the Stanytsia-Luhanska bridge. President  Zelenskyy  also said he looked forward to the White House visit President Trump had offered in his May 29letter.

I reported on this call to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, who had responsibility for Ukraine, and I wrote a memo for the record dated June 30 that summarized our conversation with President Zelenskyy.

By mid-July it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelenskyy wanted was conditioned on the investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. It was also clear that this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel I had come to understand was guided by Mr. Giuliani.

On July 10, Ukrainian officials Alexander Danyliuk,  the Ukrainian national security advisor, and Andriy Yermak, an assistant to President Zelenskyy, and Secretary Perry, then-National Security Advisor John Bolton, Ambassador Volker, and Ambassador Sondland met at the White House. I did not participate in the meeting  and did not receive a readout  of it until speaking with the National Security Council’s (NSC’s) then-Senior Director  for European  and  Russian Affairs,  Fiona Hill, and the NSC’s  Director of European  Affairs, Alex Vindman, on July19.

On July 10 in Kyiv, I met with President  Zelenskyy’s chief  of staff, Andrei Bohdan, and then-foreign policy advisor to the president and now Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, who told me that they had heard from Mr. Giuliani  that the phone call between the two presidents was unlikely to happen and that they were alarmed and disappointed. I relayed their concerns to CounselorBrechbuhl.

In a regular NSC secure video-conference call on July 18, I heard a staff person from the Office of Management and Budget (0MB) say that there was a hold on security assistance to Ukraine but could not say why. Toward the end of an otherwise normal meeting, a voice on the call-the person was off-screen-said that she was from 0MB and that her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending of security assistance for Ukraine until further notice. I and others sat in astonishment-the Ukrainians were fighting the Russians andcounted on not only the training and weapons, but also the assurance of U.S. support. All thatthe0MBstaffpersonsaidwasthatthedirectivehadcomefromthePresident totheChiefofStaffto0MB.Inaninstant,Irealizedthatoneofthekeypillarsof our strong support for Ukraine was threatened. The irregular policy channel was running contrary to the goals of longstanding U.S.policy.

There followed a series ofNSC-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. 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.

The next day on the phone, Dr. Hill and Mr. Vindman tried to reassure me that they were not aware of any official change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine, OMB’s announcement notwithstanding. They did confirm that the hold on security assistanceforUkrainecamefromChiefofStaffMickMulvaneyandthattheChief of Staff maintained a skeptical view ofUkraine.

In the same July 19 phone call, they gave me an account of the July 10 meeting with the Ukrainian officials at the White House. Specifically, they told me that AmbassadorSondlandhadconnected”investigations”withanOvalOfficemeeting for President Zelenskyy, which so irritated Ambassador Bolton that he abruptly endedthemeeting,tellingDr.HillandMr.Vindmanthattheyshouldhavenothing to do with domestic politics. He also directed Dr. Hill to “brief the lawyers.” Dr. Hill said that Ambassador Bolton referred to this as a “drug deal” after the July 10 meeting. Ambassador Bolton opposed a call between President Zelenskyy and President Trump out of concern that it “would be adisaster.”

Needless to say, the Ukrainians in the meetings were confused. Ambassador Bolton,intheregularUkrainepolicydecision-makingchannel,wantedtotalk aboutsecurity,energy,andreform;AmbassadorSondland,aparticipantinthe irregularchannel,wantedtotalkabouttheconnection betweenaWhiteHouse meeting and Ukrainianinvestigations.

AlsoduringourJuly19call,Dr.HillinformedmethatAmbassadorVolkerhad metwithMr.GiulianitodiscussUkraine.Thiscaughtmebysurprise.Thenext dayIaskedAmbassadorVolkeraboutthatmeeting,butreceivednoresponse.I begantosensethatthetwodecisionmakingchannels-theregularandirregular­ were separate and atodds.

LateronJuly19andintheearlymorningofJuly20(Kyivtime),Ireceivedtext messagesonathree-wayWhatsApptextconversationwithAmbassadorsVolker andSondland,arecordofwhichIunderstandhasalreadybeenprovidedtothe

 

Committees by Ambassador Volker. Ambassador Sondland said that a call between President Trump and President Zelenskyy would take place soon. AmbassadorVolkersaidthatwhatwas”[mJostimptisforZelenskytosaythathe will help investigation-and address any specific personnel issues-if there are any.”

LateronJuly20,IhadaphoneconversationwithAmbassadorSondlandwhilehe was on a train from Paris to London. Ambassador Sondland told me that he had recommendedtoPresidentZelenskyythatheusethephrase,”I willleavenostone unturned” with regard to “investigations” when President Zelenskyy spoke with PresidentTrump.

AlsoonJuly20,IhadaphoneconversationwithMr.Danyliuk, duringwhichhe conveyedtomethatPresidentZelenskyydidnotwanttobeusedasapawnina

U.S. re-election campaign. The next day I texted both Ambassadors Volkerand Sondland about President Zelenskyy’s concern.

OnJuly25,PresidentTrumpandPresidentZelenskyyhadthelong-awaitedphone conversation.Strangely,eventhoughIwasChiefofMissionandwasscheduledto meetwithPresidentZelenskyyalongwithAmbassadorVolkerthefollowingday,I received no readout of the call from the White House. The Ukrainian government issued a short, crypticsummary.

During a previously planned July 26 meeting, President Zelenskyy told AmbassadorVolkerandmethathewashappywiththecallbutdidnotelaborate. PresidentZelenskyythenaskedabouttheface-to-facemeetingintheOvalOffice as promised in the May 29 letter from PresidentTrump.

AfterourmeetingwithPresidentZelenskyy,AmbassadorVolkerandItraveledto the front line in northern Donbas to receive a briefing from the commander of the forcesonthelineofcontact.Arrivingforthebriefinginthemilitaryheadquarters, the commander thanked us for security assistance, but I was aware that this assistance was on hold, which made meuncomfortable.

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. Over 13,000 Ukrainianshadbeenkilledinthewar,oneortwoaweek.MoreUkrainianswould undoubtedly die without the U.S.assistance.

Although I spent the morning of July 26 with President Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials, the first summary of the Trump-Zelenskyy 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 28. Mr. Morrison told me that the call “could have been better” and that President Trump had suggested that President Zelenskyy or his staff meet with Mr. Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr. I did not see any official readout of the call until it was publicly released on September 25.

On August 16, I exchanged text messages with Ambassador Volker in which I learnedthatMr.YermakhadaskedthattheUnitedStatessubmitanofficialrequest for an investigation into Burisma’s alleged violations of Ukrainian law, if that is whattheUnitedStatesdesired.AformalU.S.requesttotheUkrainianstoconduct an investigation based on violations of their own law struck me as improper, and I recommended to Ambassador Volker that we “stay clear.” To find out the legal aspects of the question, however, I gave him the name of a Deputy Assistant AttorneyGeneralwhomIthoughtwouldbetheproperpointofcontactforseeking a U.S. referral for a foreigninvestigation.

Bymid-August,becausethesecurityassistance hadbeenheldforoveramonthfor no reason that I could discern, I was beginning to fear that the longstanding U.S. policyofstrongsupportforUkrainewasshifting.  I called Counselor Brechbuhlto discuss this on August 21. He said that he was not aware of a change of U.S. policy but would check on the status of the security assistance. My concerns deepened the next day, on August 22, during a phone conversation withMr.

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 policyofstrongsupportforUkraineweretochange,Iwouldhavetoresign.Based on my call with Mr. Morrison, I was preparing to doso.

Justdayslater,onAugust27,AmbassadorBoltonarrivedinKyivandmetwith President Zelenskyy. During their meeting, security assistance was not

discussed-amazingly, news of the hold did not leak out until August 29. I, on the other hand, was all too aware of and still troubled by the hold. 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 aggress10n. Ambassador Bolton recommended that I send a first-person cable to Secretary Pompeo directly, relaying my concerns. I wrote and transmitted such a cable on August 29, 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. 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 forUkraine.

The same day that I sent my cable to the Secretary, August 29, Mr. Yermak contacted me and was very concerned, asking  about the withheld  security assistance.  The hold that the White House had placed on the 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 waswithheld.

It had still not occurred to me that the hold on security assistance could be related to the “investigations.” That, however, would soonchange.

On September 1, just three days after my cable to Secretary Pompeo, President Zelenskyy met Vice President Pence at a bilateral meeting in Warsaw. President Trump had planned to travel to Warsaw  but at the last minute had cancelled  because of Hurricane Dorian. Just hours before the Pence-Zelenskyy meeting, I contacted Mr. Danyliuk to let him know that the delay of U.S. security 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 30), the funds would expire and Ukraine would receive nothing. I was hopeful that at the bilateral meeting or shortly thereafter, the White House would lift the hold, but this was notto be.

Indeed, I received a readout of the Pence-Zelenskyy meeting over the phone from Mr. Morrison, during which he told me President Zelenskyy had opened the meeting by asking the Vice President about security cooperation. 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 fightcorruption.

During this same phone call I had with Mr. Morrison, he went on to describe a conversation Ambassador Sondland had with Mr. Yermak at Warsaw.

Ambassador Sondland  told Mr. Yermak that the security assistance money would not come until President Zelenskyy committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.  I was alarmed by what Mr. Morrison told me about theSondland-Yermak conversation. This was the first time I had heard that the security assistance-not just the White House meeting-was conditioned on the investigations.

Very concerned, on that same day I sent Ambassador Sondland a text message asking if “we [are] now saying that security assistance and [a] WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Ambassador Sondland responded asking me to callhim,whichIdid.Duringthatphonecall,AmbassadorSondlandtoldmethat PresidentTrumphadtoldhimthathewantsPresidentZelenskyytostatepublicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S.election.

Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White HousemeetingwithPresidentZelenskyywasdependentonapublicannouncement of investigations-in fact, Ambassador Sondland said, “everything” was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. He said that President TrumpwantedPresidentZelenskyy”inapublicbox”bymakingapublicstatement about ordering suchinvestigations.

In the same September 1 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 Zelenskyy.At that point I asked Ambassador Sondland to push back on President Trump’s demand.

Ambassador Sondland pledged to try. We also discussed the possibility that the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, rather than President Zelenskyy, would make a statementaboutinvestigations,potentiallyincoordinationwithAttorneyGeneral Barr’s probe into the investigation of interference in the 2016elections.

The next day, September 2, Mr. Morrison called to inform me that Mr. Danyliuk had asked him to come to his hotel room in Warsaw, where Mr. Danyliuk expressed 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. I was experiencing the same tension in my dealings with the Ukrainians,includingduringameetingIhadhadwithUkrainianDefenseMinister Andriy Zagordnyuk thatday.

DuringmycallwithMr.MorrisononSeptember 2,IalsobriefedMr.Morrisonon what Ambassador Sondland had told me during our call the dayprior.

On September 5, I hosted Senators Johnson and Murphy for a visit to Kyiv. During their visit, we met with President Zelenskyy. His first question to the senators was about the withheld security assistance. 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 ZelenskyyshouldnotjeopardizethatbipartisansupportbygettingdrawnintoU.S. domesticpolitics.

Ihadbeenmaking(andcontinuetomake)thispointtoallofmyUkrainianofficial contacts. But the push to make President Zelenskyy 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.

Twodayslater,onSeptember7,IhadaconversationwithMr.Morrisoninwhich hedescribedaphoneconversationearlierthatdaybetweenAmbassadorSondland and President Trump. Mr. Morrison said that he had a “sinking feeling” after learning about this conversation from Ambassador Sondland. According toMr.

Morrison,PresidentTrumptoldAmbassadorSondlandthathewasnotaskingfora “quid pro quo.” But President Trump did insist that President Zelenskyy go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelenskyy should want to do this himself.Mr.

MorrisonsaidthathetoldAmbassadorBoltonandtheNSClawyersofthisphone call between President Trump and AmbassadorSondland.

The following day, on September 8, Ambassador Sondland and I spoke on the phone. He said he had talked to President Trump as I had suggested a week earlier,butthatPresidentTrumpwasadamantthatPresidentZelenskyy,himself, had to “clear things up and do it in public.” President Trump said it was not a “quid pro quo.” Ambassador Sondland said that he had talked to President Zelenskyy and Mr. Yermak and told them that, although this was not a quid pro quo,ifPresidentZelenskyydidnot”clearthingsup”inpublic,wewouldbeata “stalemate.” 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 Zelenskyy agreeing to make a public statement in an interview withCNN.

AfterthecallwithAmbassadorSondlandonSeptember8,Iexpressedmystrong reservations in a text message to Ambassador Sondland, stating thatmy “nightmare is they [the Ukrainians] give the interview and don’t get the security assistance. The Russians love it. (And I quit.).” I was serious.

The next day, I said to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker that “[t]he message  to the Ukrainians (and 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 politicalcampaign.”

Ambassador SondlandrespondedaboutfivehourslaterthatIwas”incorrectabout President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of anykind.”

Beforethesetextmessages,duringourcallonSeptember8,AmbassadorSondland triedtoexplaintomethatPresidentTrumpisabusinessman.Whenabusinessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check. Ambassador Volker used the same terms several days later while we were together at the Yalta European Strategy Conference. I argued to both that the explanation made no sense: the Ukrainians did not “owe” President Trump anything, and holding up securityassistancefordomestic political gainwas”crazy,”asIhadsaidinmytext message to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker on September9.

Finally,Ilearned onSeptember11thattheholdhadbeenliftedandthatthe security assistance would beprovided.

After I learned that the security assistance was released on September 11, I personally conveyed the news to President Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Prystaiko. 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. My fear at the time was that since Ambassador Sondland had told me President Zelenskyy already agreed to do a CNN interview, President Zelenskyy would make a statement regarding “investigations” that would have played into domestic U.S. politics. I sought to confirm through Mr. Danyliuk that President Zelenskyy was not planning to give such an interview to the media.

While Mr. Danyliuk initially confirmed that on September 12, I noticed during a meeting on the morning of September 13 at President Zelenskyy’s office that Mr. Yermak looked uncomfortable in response to the question. Again, I asked Mr.

Danyliuk to confirm that there would be no CNN interview, which he did.

On September 25 at the UN General Assembly session in New York City, President Trump met President Zelenskyy face-to-face. He also released the transcript of the July 25 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 25 call with President Zelenskyy, in which he mentioned Vice President Biden, I had come to understand well before thenthat”investigations”wasatermthatAmbassadorsVolkerandSondlandused tomeanmattersrelatedtothe2016elections,andtoinvestigationsofBurismaand theBidens.

*       *       *       *       *

I recognize that this is a rather lengthy recitation of the events of the past few monthstoldfrommyvantagepointinKyiv.ButIalsorecognizetheimportance ofthemattersyourCommitteesareinvestigating,andIhopethatthischronology will provide some framework for yourquestions.

I wish to conclude by returning to the points I made at the outset. Ukraine is important to the security of the United States. It has been attacked by Russia, which continues its aggression against Ukraine. If we believe in the principle of sovereignty of nations on which our security and the security of our friends and alliesdepends,wemustsupportUkraineinitsfightagainstitsbullyingneighbor. Russian aggression cannotstand.

There are two Ukraine stories today. The first is the one we are discussing this morning and that you have been hearing for the past two weeks. It is a rancorous story about whistleblowers, Mr. Giuliani, side channels, quid pro quos, corruption, and interference in elections. In this story Ukraine is an object.

But there is another Ukraine 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. 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.

Because of the strategic importance of Ukraine in our effort to create a whole, free Europe, we, through Republican and Democratic  administrations over three decades, have supported Ukraine. Congress has been generous over the years with assistance funding,both civilian and military, and political support. With overwhelming bipartisan majorities, Congress has supported Ukraine with harsh sanctions on Russia for invading and occupying Ukraine. We can be proud of that support and that we have stood up to a dictator’s aggression against a democratic neighbor.

It is this second story that I would like to leave you with today. And I am glad to answer yourquestions.

Were You Lying Then or Are You Lying Now?

witness

The question often arises. But it’s less often that you get to ask, “Where you lying this afternoon or are you lying this evening?”

Mulvaney This Afternoon

ABC REPORTER: Let’s be clear. What you just described is a quid pro quo. Funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.

MULVANEY: We do that all the time with foreign policy. … I have news for everybody. Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy. Elections have consequences.

Mulvaney This Evening

Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election.  The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server. The only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption. … There never was any condition on the flow of the aid related to the matter of the DNC server.

 

Every Day, It’s A-Getting Closer, Going Faster Than a Roller Coaster

THE COVERUP COMPLETELY UNRAVELS.

OF COURSE THERE WAS A QUID PRO QUO. GET OVER IT, ASSHOLES.

Washington Post, Live updates: Mulvaney confirms Ukraine aid was withheld in part over request to investigate Democrats, despite Trump’s denial of a quid pro quo

I knew they would get there, because they had to get there, and there was absolutely nowhere else for them to go: Withholding military aid to a country under invasion until they did up dirt on your political opponents.

Happens all the time. Perfectly normal. Nothing to see here. So …

IMPEACH ME IF YOU DARE!