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tv   The Stream 2019 Ep 186  Al Jazeera  November 21, 2019 5:33pm-6:01pm +03

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and i served on the national security council staff as director for of afghanistan and as a special assistant to the undersecretary of state my prior overseas assignments include new delhi india kabul afghanistan bogota colombia and pristina kosovo as the political counselor at the u.s. embassies embassy in kiev i lead the political section covering ukraine's internal politics foreign relations and security policies and i serve as the senior policy and political embassador to the about advisor to the ambassador the job of an embassy political counselor is to gather information about the host country's political landscape to report back to washington to represent u.s. policies to foreign contacts and to advise the ambassador on policy development and implementation in this role i'm a senior member of the embassies country team and continually involved in addressing issues as they arise i'm also often called upon to take notes in meetings involving ambassador or visiting senior u.s.
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officials with ukrainian counterparts for this reason i've been present in many of the meetings with presidents alinsky and his administration some of which may be germane to this inquiry while i'm a political counselor at the embassy it is important to know that i am not a political appointee or engage in u.s. politics in any way it is not my job to cover or advise on u.s. politics on the contrary i'm in a political foreign policy professional and my job my job is to focus on the politics of the country in which i serve so that we can better understand the local landscape and better advance u.s. national interests there in fact during the period that will cover today my colleagues and i follow direct guidance for a mastery of on of it and ambassador taylor to focus on doing our jobs as foreign policy professionals and to stay clear of washington politics. i arrived in kiev to take up my assignment as political counsellor in august 2017
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a year after ambassador you want to receive her appointment from august 27th scene until a removal from post in may 2019 i was in battery of on of it as chief policy adviser and developed a deep respect for her dedication determination decency and professionalism during this time we worked together closely speaking multiple times per day and i company embassador of on of it's to many of her meetings with senior ukrainian counterparts our work in ukraine focused on 3 policy priorities peace and security economic growth and reform and anti-corruption and rule of law these policies match the 3 consistent priorities of the ukrainian people since 2014 as measured in public opinion polling namely an end to the conflict with russia that restores national unity and territorial integrity responsible economic policies that deliver european standards of growth and opportunity and effective and impartial rule of law institutions that deliver justice in cases of high level
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official corruption our efforts on this 3rd policy priority merits special mention because it was during a bastard of one of his tenure that we achieved the hard fought passage of a law establishing an independent court to try corruption cases these efforts strained and bastard of one of its relationship with former president poroshenko and some of his allies including prosecutor general yury sankoh who resisted fully empowering truly and truly independent anti-corruption institutions that would help ensure that no ukrainians however powerful were above the law despite this resistance the ambassador in the embassy kept pushing anti-corruption and other priorities of our policy towards ukraine beginning in march $21000.00 the situation at the embassy and in ukraine changed dramatically. specifically the 3 priorities of security economy and justice and our support for ukrainian democratic resistance
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to russian aggression became overshadowed by a political agenda promoted by former new york new york city mayor rudy giuliani and a qadri of officials operating with a direct channel to the white house that change began with the emergence of press reports critical of the mastery of on image and machinations by then prosecutor general lute sango and others to discredit her in mid march 29 an embassy colleague learned from a ukrainian contact that mr lu sankoh had complained that ambassador yavanna village had quote destroyed him with her refusal to support him until he followed through with his reform commitments and ceased using his his position for personal gain in retaliation mr lutes sankoh made a series of unsupported allegations against a battery a lot of edge mostly suggesting that ambassador avantage improperly used the embassy to advance the political interests of the democratic party among mr hussain those allegations were that the embassy had ordered the investigation of
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a former ukrainian official solely because that former official was allegedly the main ukrainian contact of the republican party and of president trump personally and that the embassy had allegedly pressured thinkers predecessor to close a case against a different former ukrainian official solely because of an alleged connection between that official's company the reason and former vice president biden's son mr wood sankoh also claimed that he had never received 4400000 dollars in u.s. funds intended for his office and that there was a tape of a ukrainian official saying that he was trying to help hillary clinton win the 2016 election finally mr lutes saying so publicly clinton publicly claimed that ambassador avantage had given him a do not prosecute list containing the names of her supposed allies an allegation the state department called an outright fabrication and that mr lloyd sankoh later attractive. mr lloyd sankoh said that as a result of these allegations and battery avantage would face serious problems in
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the united states public opinion polls indicated that ukrainians generally did not believe mr woods and those allegations and in march on march 22nd president poroshenko issued a statement in support of a battery a lot of following mr losing those allegations mr giuliani and others made a number of public statements critical of mastery of on a bitch questioning her integrity and calling for her removal from office mr giuliani was also making frequent public statements pushing for ukraine to investigate interference in the 2016 election and issues related to barry's money and the bidens for example on may 1st 2019 the new york times reported that mr giuliani had quote discussed the breeze my investigation and its intersection with the bidens with the ousted ukrainian prosecutor general and the current prosecutor on may 9th the new york times reported that mr giuliani said he planned to travel to ukraine to pursue investigations into the 26 you know lection interference and
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into the involvement of former vice president biden's son in a ukrainian gas company over the next few months mr giuliani also issued a series of tweets asking quote why biden should be investigated attacking quote the new president of ukraine zelinsky for being silent on the $26000.00 election and by investigations and complaining about the new york times attacking him for quote exposing the biden family history of making millions for ukrainian criminals around this time ukrainian presidential election was approaching and political newcomer an entertainer of a load a mere zelinsky who had played a president on television was surging in the polls ahead of mr loosing his political ally president poroshenko on april 20th i was president i was present for a battery of one of its just 3rd and final meeting with then candidate zelinsky ahead of his landslide victory in the runoff election the next day. as in her 2 prior meetings that i also attended they had an entirely cordial pleasant
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conversation and signaled their mutual desire to work together however the negative narratives about ambassador avantage again currency and certain segments of the united states press on april 26th ambassador vonnegut's departed from washington d.c. where she learned that she would be recalled early the barrage of allegations directed at ambassador vonnegut's career bassett or is unlike anything i have seen in my professional career following president elect as alinsky victory our attention in the embassy focused on getting to know the incoming zelinsky administration preparations for the now gratian scheduled for may 20th the same day that ambassador vonnegut's departed post permanently it was it quickly became clear that the white house was not prepared to show the level of support for the selenski administration that we had originally anticipated in early may mr giuliani publicly alleged that mr selenski was quote surrounded by enemies of the us president and
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canceled a visit to ukraine shortly thereafter we learned that vice president pence no longer plan to lead the presidential delegation to the niger age the white house then whittled down an initial proposal list for the official presidential delegation to the not duration from over a dozen individuals to just 5 secretary perry as it's had a special representative for ukraine negotiations kurt volker representing the state department national security council director alex of indian representing the white house temporary acting chargé d'affaires joseph pennington representing the embassy and ambassador to the european union gordon song well ambassador song is mandate as a bass as the accredited ambassador to the european union did not cover individual member states let alone non member countries like ukraine he made clear that he had direct and frequent access to president trump and chief of staff mick mulvaney and portrayed himself as the conduit to the president and mr cheney for this group.
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secretary perry investor son lennon about a revolver later styled themselves the 3 amigos and made clear they would take the lead on coordinating our policy and engagement with his alinsky administration around the same time i became aware that mr giuliani a private lawyer was taking a direct role and ukrainian diplomacy on april 25th yvonne who is mr selenski is childhood friend and campaign chair and was ultimately appointed to the head of the security services if you krane indicated to me privately that he had been contacted by quote someone named giuliani who said he was an advisor to the vice president i reported mr mcconnell as message to deputy assistant secretary of state george kant over the following months it became apparent that mr giuliani was having a direct influence on the foreign policy agenda that the 3 amigos were executing on the ground in ukraine in fact at one point during a preliminary meeting of the inaugural delegation someone wondered aloud why mr giuliani was so active in the media with respect to ukraine my recollection is that
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ambassador sohn stated quote damn it rudy every time rudy gets involved he goes and after everything up the inauguration took place on may 20th and i took notes in the delegations meeting with presidents on ski during the meetings secretary perry past presidents alinsky a list that perry described as quote people he trusts secretary perry told presidents alinsky that he could seek advice from the people on this list on issues of energy sector reform which was the topic of subsequent meetings between secretary perry and key ukrainian energy sector contacts embassy personnel were excluded from some of these later meetings by secretary perry staff. i'm a 23rd investor volcker master sunland secretary perry and senator ron johnson who had also attended the united nation though not on the official delegation returned to united states and briefed president trump on may 29th president trump signed a can graduate congratulatory letter to president selenski which included an
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invitation to visit the white house at an unspecified date is important to understand that a white house visit was critical to president selenski presence alinsky needed to show u.s. support at the highest levels in order to demonstrate to russian president putin that he had u.s. backing as well as to advance his ambitious anti-corruption reform agenda at home present selenski team immediately began pressing to set a date for that visit president selenski and senior members of his team made clear that they wanted president selenski 1st overseas trip to be to washington to send a strong signal of american support and requested a call with president trump as soon as possible we at the embassy also believe that a meeting was critical to the success of president selenski administration and its reform agenda and we worked hard to get it arrange when presidents he's team did not receive a confirmed date for
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a white house visit they made alternative plans for president selenski his 1st overseas trip to be to brussels instead in part to attend an american independence day event and bass or stalin hosted on june 4th ambassador silent hosted a dinner in presence once he's on her following the reception which included president selenski jared cushion or secretary pompei as counselor all right brett buell senior european union officials and comedian jay leno among others ambassador bill taylor arrived and he started affairs on june 17th for the next month the focus of our activities along with those of the 3 amigos was to coordinate a white house visit. to that end we were working with ukrainians to deliver things that we thought president trump might care about such as commercial deals would benefit the united states which might convince president trump to agree to a meeting with presidents alinsky ukrainian policy community was unanimous and its
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recommendation in a wreck and recognizing the importance of securing the meeting and president trump support basser taylor reported that secretary pump aoe had told him prior to his arrival in kieve quote we need to work on turning the president around on ukraine basser volcker told us the 1st that the next 5 years should hang on what to be accomplished in the next 3 months i took that to mean that if we did not earn president trump support the next 3 months we could lose the opportunity to make progress during president selenski 5 year term within a week or 2 it became apparent that the energy sector reforms the commercial deals and the anti-corruption efforts m which we were making progress were not making a dent in terms of persuading the white house to schedule a meeting between the presidents on june 27th master stalin told about for taylor in a phone conversation the gist of which ambassador taylor shared with me at the time the present selenski need to make clear to president trump that presents a lens he was not standing in the way of quote investigations i understood that
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that this meant the bite in the breeze my investigations that mr giuliani and his associates have been speaking about in the media since march while ambassador taylor did not brief me on every detail of his communications with the 3 amigos he did tell me that on a june 28th call with president selenski basser taylor and the 3 amigos it was made clear that some action on varies by an investigation was a precondition for an oval office visit also on june 28th while president trump was still not moving forward on a meeting with president selenski we met with he met with russian president putin at the g 20 summit in osaka japan sending a further signal of lack of support to ukraine. we became concerned that even if a meeting be between presidents trump and zelinsky could occur it would not go well and i discussed with embassy colleagues whether we should stop seeking a meeting all together all the white house visit was critical to his alinsky
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administration a visit that failed to send a clear and strong signal of support likely would be worse for president selenski than no visit at all congress has appropriated 1500000000 dollars in security assistance for ukraine since 2014 this is system its has provided crucial material and moral support to ukraine and its defensive war with russia as help ukraine build its armed forces virtually from scratch into arguably the most capable and battle hardened land force in europe i've had the honor of visiting the main training facility in western ukraine with members of congress and members of his very committee mr phonic where we witnessed firsthand u.s. national guard troops along with allies conducting training for you ukrainian soldiers since 2014 national guard units from california oklahoma new york
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tennessee and wisconsin have trained shoulder to shoulder with ukrainian counterparts given the history of u.s. security assistance to ukraine and the bipartisan record bipartisan recognition of its importance i was shot when on july 18th an office of management and budget staff members surprisingly announced the hold on ukraine security assistance you know has been came toward the end of a nearly 2 hour national security council secure video conference call which i participated in from the embassy conference room if this will said that the order had come from the president and have been conveyed to o.m.b. by mr mulvaney with no further explanation this began a week or so of efforts by various agencies to identify the rationale for the freeze to conduct a review of the assistance and to reaffirm the unanimous view of ukraine policy community of its importance. and se counterparts confirmed that there had been no change in our ukraine policy but could not determine the cause of the hold or how
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to lift it on july 25th president trump made a congratulatory phone phone call to president selenski after his party won a commanding majority in ukraine's parliamentary election contrary to standard procedure the embassy received no readout of that call and i was unaware of what was discussed till the transcript was released on september 25th upon reading the transcript i was deeply disappointed to see that the president raised none of what i understood to be our interagency agreed upon foreign policy priorities in ukraine and instead raise the investigation and referred to the theory about crowd strike and its supposed connection to ukraine in the 2016 election the next day 262019 i attended meetings of the presidential administration building in chief with the bastard taylor the baster volcker ambassador sana and i took notes during those meetings our 1st meeting was with president selenski staff it was brief as you've
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already been summoned by president selenski to prepare for a subsequent broader meeting but he did say the president trump had expressed interest during the previous day's phone call and present the lindsays personnel decisions related to the prosecutor general's office the delegation then met with president selenski and several other senior officials during the meeting president selenski stated that during the july 25th call president trump had quote 3 times raised some very sensitive issues and that he would have to follow up easily as he would have to follow up on those issues when he and president trump met in person not having received a readout of the july 25th call i did not know at the time what those sensitive issues were. after the meeting with president selenski ambassador volker and vaster taylor quickly left the presidential administration building for a trip to the frontlines. basser son one who was to fly out that afternoon stayed behind to have a meeting with andre your mach
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a top aide to president selenski as i was leaving the meeting with president selenski i was told to join the meeting with ambassador sunland mr yarmuk to take notes i had not expected to join that meeting and was a flight of stairs behind a master some one as he headed to meet with mr yarmuk when i reached mr you're much office. ambassador son had already gone into the meeting and i explained mr your knocks assistant that i was supposed to join the meeting as the embassy representative and strongly urged her to let me in but she told me that ambassador son linda mr your mark had insisted that the meeting be one on one with no no taker and then waited in the ante room until the meeting ended along with a member of a master silence staff and a member of the u.s. embassy staff when the meeting ended the 2 staffers and i accompanied ambassador song led out of the presidential ministration building master stalin that it said that he want to go to lunch and i told him besser song that i'd be happy to join him and the 2 staffers for lunch if he wanted to brief me out on his meeting with mr your macro or discuss other issues investor stalin said that i should join the 4
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of us went to a nearby restaurant and sat on an outdoor terrace i sat directly across from a master sauna and the 2 staffers sat off to our sides at 1st a lunch was largely social ambassador song and selected a bottle of wine that he shared among the 4 of us and we discussed topics such as marketing strategies for his hotel business during the lunch investor silence said he was going to call president trump to give an update master stalin placed a call on his mobile phone i heard of announce himself several times along the lines of courting song and holding for the president it appeared that he was being transferred through several layers of switchboards in assistance and i then noticed a master song his demeanor changed and understood that he had been connected to present trouble. well master silence phone was not on speaker phone i could hear the president's voice through the earpiece of the phone the president's voice was loud and recognizable and a baster song and held the phone away from his ear for
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a period of time presumably because of the loud volume i heard a bass or stalin greet the president and explain he was calling from steve i heard president trump and clarify that ambassador song was in ukraine vasser stalin replied yes he was in ukraine and went on to state president selenski quote loves your ass i then heard president trump ask so he's going to do the investigation basser song replied that he's going to do it adding that president selenski will do anything you ask him to do even though i did not take notes of these statements i have a clear recollection that these statements were made i believe that my colleagues who were sitting at the table also knew that ambassador song was speaking with the president the conversation then shifted to ambassador songlines efforts on behalf of the president to assist a rapper who was jailed in sweden and i can only hear a master song one side of the conversation or stalin told the president that the rapper was quote kind of f.
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there and should have pled guilty he recommended that the president's quote wait until after the sentencing or will he make it worse and he added to the president should let him get sentenced play the racism card give him a ticker tape when he comes home vassar saw him further told the president that sweden quote should have released him on your word but it you can tell the kurdish instructor after the call ended ambassador song remarks that the president was in a bad mood as ambassador song stated was often the case early in the morning i then took the opportunity to ask about your song and for his candid impression of the president's views on ukraine in particular i asked about your song one if it was true that the president did not give a expletive about ukraine. basser song agreed that the president did not give an expletive about ukraine i asked why not about her song as stated to the president only cares about big stuff i noted there was big stuff going on in ukraine like
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a war with russia and about her song and replied that he meant big stuff that benefits the president like the biden investigation mr giuliani was pushing the conversation and moved on to other topics upon return to the embassy i immediately briefed my direct supervisor the deputy chief of mission about ambassador songlines call with president trump and my subsequent conversation with the master saddam i told others at the embassy about the call as well i also e-mailed an embassy official in sweden regarding the issue with us rapper that was discussed on the call july 26th was my last day in the office and head of a long planned vacation that ended on august 6th after returning to the embassy i told him master taylor about the july 26th call i also repeated repeatedly referred to the call in the conversation with ambassador saw and in meetings and conversations where the issue of the president's interest in ukraine was potentially relevant at that time and vaster song and statement of the president
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statement of the president's lack of interest in ukraine was of particular focus we understood that in order to secure a meeting between president trump and president selenski it would have to work hard to find a way to explain ukraine's importance to president trump terms that he found compelling over the ensuing weeks we continue to try to identify ways to frame the importance of ukraine in ways that would appeal to the president to determine how to lift the hold on security assistance and to move forward on the scheduling of a white house visit by president selenski ukrainian ukrainian independence day august 24th present another good opportunity to show support for ukraine secretary pompei i considered attending as national security adviser bolton had attended in 20 teen and defense secretary matters had attended in 2017 but in the end nobody senior to master volcker tent. shortly thereafter on august 27th ambassador volker ambassador bolton visited ukraine and brought welcome news that president trump had
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agreed to meet president selenski on september 1st in warsaw ambassador bolton further indicated that the hold on security assistance would not be lifted prior to the warsaw meeting where it would hang on whether president selenski was able to quote favorably impressed president trump i took notes in a baster bolton's meetings that day with present selenski and his chief of staff besser bolton told zelinsky chief of staff that the meeting between the presidents in warsaw would be quote crucial to cementing their relationship over president trump ultimately pulled out of the warsaw trip so the hold remained in place with no clear means to get it lifted between the meetings on an august 27th i heard ambassador bolton express to master taylor and national security council senior director jim morrison his frustration about mr giuliani's influence with the president making clear there was nothing you could do about it you recommended that mr sankoh his replacement is prosecutor general open a channel with his counterpart attorney general barr in place of the informal
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channel between mr you're mocking mr giuliani ambassador bolton also expressed frustration about about her silence expansive interpretation of his mandate after president from canceled his visit to warsaw we continued to try to appeal to the president in foreign policy and national security terms to that end and master taylor told me that ambassador bolton recommended that he ambassador taylor send a 1st person cable to secretary peo articulating the importance of the security assistance at a baster taylor's direction i drafted and transmitted the cable on an on about retailer's behalf on august 29th which further attempted to explain the importance of ukraine and the security assistance to us national security by this point however my clear impression was that this a curate assistance hole that was likely intended by the president either as an expression of dissatisfaction with ukrainians who are not yet agreed to the breeze made by envy.


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