tv The Bottom Line 2019 Ep 5 Al Jazeera November 20, 2019 5:32pm-6:02pm +03
points before witnesses sworn 1st that witness depositions as part of this inquiry were in an classified were unclassified in nature and all open hearings will also be held at the unclassified level and the information that may touch on classified information will be addressed separately 2nd congress will not tolerate any reprisal threat of reprisal or attempt to retaliate against any u.s. government official or testifying before congress including you or any of your colleagues if you would please rise and raise your right hand i will begin by swearing un 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 let the record show the witness has answered in the affirmative thank you and please be seated the microphone is sensitive so please speak directly into it without objection your written statement will be made part of the record and with that investor sunland
you are now recognized for your opening statement thank you mr chairman and thank you ranking member newness i have appreciate the opportunity to speak again to the members of this committee. first let me offer my thanks to the men and women of the u.s. department of state who have committed their professional lives to support the foreign policy work of the united states in particular i want to thank my staff at the u.s. mission to the european union your integrity dedication and hard work often performed without public acclaim or recognition serve as a shining example of true public service and i am personally grateful to work beside you each and every day it is my honor to serve as the u.s. ambassador to the european union the u.s. mission to the e.u.
is the direct link between the united states and the european union and its members . america's longest standing allies and one of the largest economic blocs in the world every day i work to support a strong united and peaceful europe strengthening our ties with europe serves both american and european goals as we together promote political stability and economic prosperity around the world i expect that few americans have heard my name before these events so before i begin my substantive testimony please let me share some of my personal background my parents fled europe during the holocaust escaping the atrocities of that time my parents left germany for a why and then in 1953 emigrated to seattle washington where i was born and
raised like so many immigrants my family was eager for freedom and hungry for opportunity they raised my sister and me to be humble hardworking and patriotic and i am forever grateful for the sacrifices they made on our behalf public service has always been important to me as a lifelong republican i have contributed to initiatives of both republican and democratic administrations in 2003 i served as a member of the transition team for oregon democratic governor ted kulongoski governor cool and gal ski also appointed me to serve on various statewide boards in 2007 president george w. bush appointed me as a member of the commission on white house fellows i worked with president bush on charitable events for his foundation's military service initiative. and i also
worked briefly with former vice president joe biden's office in connection with the vice president's nationwide and anti-cancer initiative at a local northwest hospital and of course the highest honor in my public life came when president trump asked me to serve as the united states ambassador to the european union the senate confirmed me as an ambassador on a bipartisan voice vote and i assume the role in brussels on july 9th 2018 although today is my 1st public testimony on the ukraine matters this is not my 1st time cooperating with this committee as you know i've already provided 10 hours of deposition testimony and i did so despite directives from the white house and the state department that i refused to appear
as many others have done i agreed to testify because i respect the gravity of the moment and i believe i have an obligation to account fully for my role in these events but i also must acknowledge that this process has been challenging and in many respects less than fair i have not had access to all of my phone records state department e-mails and many many other state department documents and i was told i could not work with my e.u. staff to pull together the relevant files and information having access to the state department materials would have been very helpful to me and trying to reconstruct with whom i spoke and met and when and what was said as ambassador i've had hundreds of meetings and calls with individuals but i'm not
a note taker or a memo writer never have been. my job requires that i speak with heads of state senior government officials members of the cabinet the president almost each and every day talking with foreign leaders might be memorable to some people but this is my job i do it all the time my lawyers and i have made multiple requests to the state department and the white house for these materials yet these materials were not provided to me and they have also refused to share these materials with this committee because documents are not classified and in fairness and in fairness should have been made available in the absence of these materials my memory admittedly has not been perfect and i have no doubt that a more fair open and orderly process of allowing me to read the state department
records and other materials would have made this process far more transparent i don't intend to repeat my prior opening statement or attempt to summarize 10 hours of previous deposition testimony however a few critical points have been obscured by noise over the last few days and weeks and i'm worried that the bigger picture is being ignored so let me make a few key points 1st secretary perry ambassador volcker and i worked with mr rudy giuliani on ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the united states we did not want to work with mr giuliani simply put we were playing the hand we were dealt. we all understood that if we refused to work with mr giuliani
we would lose a very important opportunity to cement relations between the united states and ukraine so we followed the president's orders 2nd although we disagreed with the need to involve mr giuliani at the time we did not believe that his role was improper as i previously testified if i had known of all of mr giuliani's dealings or his associations with individuals some of whom are now under criminal indictment i personally would not have acquiesced to his participation still given what we knew at the time what we were asked to do did not appear to be wrong 3rd let me say precisely because we did not think that we were in gauging in improper behavior
we made every effort to ensure that the relevant decision makers at the national security council and the state department knew the important details of our efforts the suggestion that we were engaged in some irregular or rogue diplomacy is absolutely false i have now identified certain state department e-mails and messages that provide contemporaneous support for my view these e-mails show that the leadership of the state department the national security council and the white house were all informed about the ukraine efforts from may 23rd 2019 until the security aid was released on september 11th 2019 i will quote from some of those messages with you
shortly. 4th as i testified previously as i testified previously mr giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a white house visit for president selenski mr giuliani demanded that ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election d.n.c. server and barry sma mr giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the united states and we knew these investigations were important to the president 5th in july and august of 2019 we learned that the white house had also suspended security aid to ukraine i was adamantly opposed to
any suspension of aid i was adamantly supposed adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid as the ukrainians needed those funds to fight against russian aggression i tried diligently to ask why the aid was suspended but i never received a clear answer still haven't to this day in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid i later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 elections and very recently as mr giuliani demanded i shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aide with senator ron johnson and i also shared my concerns with the ukrainians
finally at all times i was acting in good faith i was acting in good faith as a presidential appointee i followed the directions of the president. we worked with mr giuliani because the president directed us to do so we had no desire to set any conditions we had no desire to set any conditions on the ukrainians indeed my own personal view which i shared repeatedly with others was that the white house and security security assistance should have preceded without preconditions of any kind we were working to overcome the problems given the facts as they existed our only interest and my only interest was to advance longstanding u.s. policy and to support ukraine's fragile democracy
now let me provide additional details specifically about ukraine and my involvement 1st my very 1st days as embassador to the e.u. which was starting back in july of 2018 ukraine has featured prominently in my broader portfolio ukraine's political and economic development are critical to the long standing and long lasting stability of europe moreover the conflict in eastern ukraine and crimea remains one of the most significant security crisis for europe and the united states our efforts to counterbalance an aggressive russia depend in substantial part on a strong ukraine on april 21st 2019 vladimir is
a lensky was elected president of ukraine and in an historic election with the expressed support of secretary pompei oh i attended president selenski inauguration on may 20th as part of the u.s. delegation which was led by energy secretary rick perry. the u.s. delegation also included senator johnson ukraine special envoy volker and lieutenant colonel alex been in the national security council my attendance of president selenski inauguration was not my 1st involvement with ukraine as i testified previously just 4 days after assuming my post as embassador in july of 2018 i received an official delegation from the government of then ukraine president petro poroshenko the meeting took place at the u.s. mission in brussels and was pre-arranged by my career e.u.
mission staff and i have had several meetings since then in brussels later in february of 2019 i worked well with u.s. ambassador maria vonn of it and making my 1st official visit to ukraine for a u.s. navy visit to the strategic black sea port of odessa and the reason i raise these prior ukraine activities the meetings in brussels my visit to odessa is to emphasize that ukraine has been a part of my portfolio from my very 1st days as the u.s. ambassador and he claimed that i somehow muscled my way into the ukraine relationship is simply false during those alleged ski inauguration on may 20th the u.s. delegation developed a very positive view of the ukraine government we were impressed by president
selenski his desire to promote a stronger relationship with the united states we had mired his commitment to reform and we were excited about the possibility of ukraine making the changes necessary to support a greater western economic investment. and we were excited that ukraine might after years and years of lip service finally get serious about addressing its own well known corruption problems with that enthusiasm we returned to the white house on may 23rd to brief president trump we had advised the president of the strategic importance of ukraine and the value of strengthening the relationship with president selenski to support this reformer we asked the white house for 2 things 1st a working phone call between presidents trump and selenski and 2nd
a working oval office visit in our view both were vital to cementing the u.s. ukraine relationship demonstrating support for ukraine in the face of russian aggression and advancing broader u.s. foreign policy interests unfortunately president trump was skeptical he expressed concerns that the ukrainian government was not serious about reform and he even mentioned that ukraine tried to take him down in the last election in response to our persistent efforts in that meeting to change his views president trump directed us to quote talk with rudi we understood that talk with rudi meant talk with mr rudy giuliani the president's personal lawyer let me say again we weren't happy with the president's directive to talk with rudy
we did not want to involve mr giuliani i believed then as i do now that the men and women of the state department not the president's personal lawyer should take responsibility for ukraine matters. nonetheless based on the president's direction we were faced with a choice we could a band of the efforts to schedule the white house phone call on a white house visit between presidents trump and selenski which was unquestionably in our foreign policy interest or we could do as president trump had directed and talk with rudy we chose the latter course not because we liked it but because it was the only constructive path open to us over the course of the next several months secretary perry embassador volcker and i were in communication with mr
giuliani secretary perry volunteered to make the initial calls with mr giuliani given their prior relationship ambassador volcker made several of the early calls and generally informed us of what was discussed i 1st communicated with mr giuliani in early august several months later mr giuliani emphasized that the president wanted a public statement from president selenski committing ukraine to look into the corruption issues mr giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election including the d.n.c. server and barry smug as to topics of importance to the president we kept the leadership of the state department and the n.s.c. informed of our activities and that included communications with secretary of state
pompei o as councilor bull his executive secretary lisa khanna and also communications with ambassador bolton dr hill mr morrison and their staff at the n.s.c. they knew what we were doing and why. on july 10th 2019 senior ukrainian national security officials met with ambassador bolton ambassador volker dr hill secretary perry myself and several others in washington d.c. during that meeting we all discussed the importance of the 2 action items i identified earlier one it working phone call and 2 it white house meeting between presidents trump and selenski from my perspective the july 10th
meeting was a positive step toward accomplishing our shared goals while i am now aware of accounts of the meeting from dr hill and lieutenant colonel van men their recollections of those events simply don't square with my own or with those of them bassett or volker or secretary perry i recall mentioning the prerequisite of investigations before any white house call or meeting but i do not recall any yelling or screaming or abrupt terminations as as others have said instead after the meeting ambassador bolton walked outside with our group and we all took some great pictures together outside on the white house lawn more important those recollections of protests do not square with the documentary record of our interactions with the n.s.c. in the days and weeks that followed we kept the n.s.c.
apprised of our efforts including specifically our efforts to secure a public statement from the ukrainians that would satisfy president trumps concerns for example on july 13th and this is 3 days after that july 10th meeting. i emailed tim morrison he had just taken over dr hill's post as the n.s.c. you're asia director and i met him that day for the 1st time i wrote to mr morrison with these words the call between selenski and poetess president of the united states should happen before 721 which is the parliamentary elections in ukraine sole purpose is for the lens ski to give potest assurances of new sheriff in town corruption anding unbundling moving
forward and i emphasize any hampered investigations will be allowed to move forward transparently goal is for potest to invite him to oval volcker perry bolton and i strongly recommend mr morrison acknowledged and said thank you and specifically noted that he was tracking these issues. again there was no secret regarding moving forward and the discussion of investigations moreover i have reviewed other state department documents some of which are not currently in the public domain detailing mr giuliani's efforts for example on july 10th the very same day that ambassador volcker secretary perry and i were meeting with the ukraine officials in washington ambassador taylor received a communication that mr giuliani was still talking with ukrainian prosecutor
yuri let sankoh in whatsapp messages with ambassador volker and i am bassett or taylor wrote to us as follows i just had a meeting with andre n.v. diem referring to ukraine foreign minister of a diem pre-strike 0. taylor said the ukrainians were quote very concerned about what lute sankoh told them that according to our g meaning rudy giuliani there's a lenski potest meeting will not happen volcker responded good grief please tell the d.m. to let the official u.s. government representatives speak for the us sankoh has his own self interest here taylor confirmed that he had communicated that message to the ukrainians and he added i briefed alric this afternoon on this referring to state department
councilor rick direct will again everyone's in the loop 3 things are critical about this whatsapp exchange 1st while the ukrainians were in washington at the white house mr giuliani was communicating with the ukrainians without our knowledge embassador taylor ambassador volker and i were all surprised by this 2nd mr giuliani was communicating with the reportedly corrupt ukrainian prosecutor let sankoh and discussing whether as a lenski trump meeting was going to happen again without our knowledge and 3rd with this alarming news ambassador taylor briefed all rick bragg well who is the counsellor to secretary of state pompei o. and even as late as september 24th of this year secretary pompei o was directing kurt volker to speak with mr giuliani in
a whatsapp message kurt volker told me in part spoke with rudy per guidance from s s is the state department's official designator for the secretary spoke with rudi per guidance from s. look we tried our best to fix the problem. while keeping the state department and the n.s.c. closely apprised of the challenges we faced on july 25th presidents trump and selenski had their official call i was not on the call and i don't think i was invited to be on the call in fact i 1st read the transcript on september 25th the day it was publicly released all i had heard at that time was that the college gone well looking back i find it very odd very odd that
neither i nor ambassador taylor nor ambassador volker ever received a detailed readout of that call with the biden references now there are people who say they had concerns about the call but no one shared any concerns about the call with me at the time which frankly would have been very helpful to know on july 26th ambassador taylor ambassador volker and i were all in kiev to meet with president selenski the timing of that trip immediately after the call between presidents trump and selenski was entirely and tiredly coincidental the key of meetings had been scheduled well before the date that the white house finally fixed the call during our key of meeting i do not recall president selenski discussing the substance of his july 25th call with president trump nor did he discuss
any requests to investigate vice president biden which we all later learned was discussed on the joint 25th call and this is consistent with the reported comments from ambassadors volcker and taylor after this alleged scheme meeting i also met with selenski senior aide andre your mac. i don't recall the specifics of our conversation but i believe the issue of investigations was probably a part of that agenda our meeting also on july 26th shortly after our kiev meetings i spoke by phone with president trump the white house which has finally finally shared certain call dates and times with my attorneys confirms this the call lasted 5 minutes i remember i was at a restaurant in kiev and i have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations again given mr giuliani's demand that president
selenski make a public statement about investigations i knew that investigations were important to president trump we did not discuss any classified information other witnesses have recently shared their recollection of overhearing this call for the most part i have no reason to doubt their accounts it's true that the president speaks loudly at times and it's also true i think we primarily discussed asap rocky it's true that the president likes to use colorful language anyone who has met with him it for any reasonable amount of time knows this well i cannot remember the precise details again the white house has not allowed me to see any readouts of that call and the july 26th call did not strike me as significant at the time actually actually i would have been more surprised.