tv CNN Right Now With Brianna Keilar CNN November 13, 2019 10:00am-11:00am PST
mean, that's the appropriate way to raise an issue with the ukrainian president, correct? >> it's appropriate for the justice department and the prosecutor general to cooperate and to exchange information, yes. >> to the extent the president has concerns and to the extent the attorney general is having u.s. attorney durham look into it, isn't it entirely appropriate for the president to flag this for president zelensky and say youn touch with our official channels? >> mr. castor, i don't know the precise appropriateness of these kinds of relations. >> now, were either of you involved with the preparation for the 7/25 call? >> i was not. >> i was not. >> how do you account for that? i mean, you were two of the key officials with responsibility for ukrainian policy. if the president of the united states is going to have a call with the leader of ukraine, why
wouldn't you ordinarily be involved with the preparation? >> sir, we work for the department of state in an embassy overseas. preparation for a presidential phone call, that responsibility lies with the staff of the national security council. normally if there is enough sufficient time, national security staff can solicit information, usually from the state department and we can draw on the embassy. but that's only background information. my understanding having never worked at the national security council is that national security staff write a memo to the president and none of us see that outside of the national security staff. >> okay. so the u.s. ambassador to the country wouldn't ordinarily be on a call with a foreign leader? >> that is correct, would not. >> and did colonel vindman or anyone at the national security council staff reach out to you, mr. kent, in preparation for the call? >> i was given notification the day before on july 24th.
and to the extent i had any role, it was to reach out to the embassy, give them the heads-up and ask them to ensure that the secure communications link in the office of the ukraine was functional so the call could be patched through to the white house situation room. >> did you provide any substantive advice to colonel vindman about the call and what ought to be the official position? >> i was not asked and i did not provide. >> okay. same with you, ambassador? >> the same. >> the call was scheduled -- you know, you testified earlier that the call was on again/off again and after the july 10th meeting with ambassador bolton the consensus was the call was not going to happen, was that correct? >> i would not say that was the consensus. the state department's position was that a call between the two presidents would be useful. and once zelensky's party won the majority on july 21st, the
idea of a congratulatory call made eminent sense from our perspective. >> did you get a read-out, ambassador taylor, from the call? >> i didn't, mr. castor. i read the -- we all read the statement that the ukrainians put out. i got a readout several days later from mr. morrison, national security council. >> okay. how about you, mr. kent? >> i likewise first saw the ukrainian statement and i believe the next day july 26th, which would have been a friday, i did get a partial readout from lieutenant colonel vindman, yes. >> you said that the ukrainian readout was cryptic. is that just because it's initially written in ukrainian and translated to the u.s.? >> no. it's -- as a general rule, both the united states and other countries including ukraine will
put out very short summaries that kind of hit the highlights of the discussion, but without going into detail. >> okay. and you mention eed it was cryptic. why did you think it was cryptic? >> knowing now -- having read the transcript and looking back at their summary, as i recall, and i don't recall the exact words, but they said that there were issues to be pursued in order to improve relations between the two countries or something like that. >> that seems pretty ordinary. >> it seems pretty ordinary. >> you were with president zelensky the very next day? >> we were. we had a meeting with him the very next day. >> did president zelensky raise any concerns about his views of the call? >> he said -- right.
so i, ambassador volker, ambassador sondland were in his office and we asked him how, i think, was the call. he said, the call was fine, i was happy with the call. >> did you get any additional readout subsequently about the call? like when did you first learn that the call contained things that concerned you? was that not until september 25th? >> mr. morrison, as i say, briefed me several days later before the end of july and i think this is where i said in my testimony that he said it could have gone better and he said that the call mentioned mr. giuliani. he also said that the call mentioned the former ambassador. both of those were concerning. >> giuliani was first raised on the call by president zelensky,
correct? >> i don't recall. it could have been. i have it here if you'd like. >> yeah. it's on is from president zelensky. it's on page 3. president zelensky says i will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with mr. juligiuliani just recently and are hoping very much that giuliani will be able to travel to ukraine and we will meet once he comes to ukraine. did that surprise you? >> i didn't have the transcript at the time. all i heard is giuliani was mentioned. mr. morrison said giuliani was mentioned in the call. >> the way zelensky states it here, it sounds like he is very much looki ing forward to speakg with america's mayor. >> that's what i found out when i read the transcript on the 25th of september or so. >> okay. now, mr. kent, corruption in
ukrainian is endemic, correct? >> that is correct. >> and it affects the courts, the prosecutors and there have historically been problems with all the prosecutors in ukraine, correct? >> i would say up until the new set of prosecutors appointed by president zelensky in the last two months, correct. >> okay. so the u.s. government, the real deal, he's a real reformer, he's genuinely interested in rooting out corruption, prosecutoring t prosecuting the bad guys, correct? >> i would say we are cautiously optimistic and we will work whether there's the political will to do the right thing and put forward genuine reform. >> at the heart of the corruption is this oligarchical system, correct, where the oligarchs take control often by
virtual theft of, you know, for example, the right to certain energy licenses, correct? >> that is one element, yes, sir. >> and the company burisma, its leader has a little bit of a storied history of corruption, doesn't he? >> he was minister of energy from 2010-2012 under the pro russian government and he used his regulatory authority to award gas exploration licenses to companies that he himself controlled. that would be considered an act of corruption in my view, yes. >> certainly self-dealing. >> certainly self-dealing and self-enriching. >> how did the ukrainian government ultimately pursue that? >> in the spring of 2014, the ukrainian government, the new government after the revolution of dignity turned to partners particularly the u.s. and the u.k. to try to recover tens of billions of dollars of stolen
assets. the first case that we tried to recover that money the serious crimes unit in the u.k. had opened an investigation. they worked with us to develop more information. the $23 million was frozen until somebody in the general prosecutor's office of ukraine shut the case, issued a letter to his lawyer and that money went poof. >> essentially paid a bribe to make the case go away. >> that is our strong assumption, yes, sir. >> at any point in time has anyone in the ukrainian government tried to reinvestigate that, or did those crimes just go unpunished and was he free to go? >> he spent time as far as i understand in moscow and monaco after he fled ukraine. we continued to raise as a point of order that because u.s. taxpayer dollars had been used to try to recover frozen assets that we have a fiduciary responsibility and we've
couldn continued to press ukrainian officials for why alleged prosecutors have closed a case and we have until now not gotten a satisfactory answer. to summarize, we thought that he had stolen money. we thought a prosecutor had taken a bribe to shut the case and those were our main concerns. >> are you in favor of that matter being fully investigated and prosecuted? >> i think since u.s. taxpayer dollars were wasted, i would love to see the ukrainian prosecutor general's office who the corrupt prosecutor was who took the bribe and how much was paid. that's what i said to the deputy prosecutor general on february 3rd, 2015. >> in addition to prosecuting the person that took the bribes, shouldn't the organization or individual that sponsored the bribes be prosecuted? >> i would agree that the ukrainian authority should uphold the rule of law and hold people account for breaking ukrainian law. >> so is this company burisma
involved in lots of criminal activity, correct? >> i do not know that. >> over the years it's been involved in a number of questionable dealings, correct? >> i would say that it's the largest private gas producer in the country and its business reputation is mixed. >> so to the extent a new regime is coming in under president zelensky, it certainly would be fair for the new prosecutor, a genuine prosecutor to reexamine old crimes that hadn't sufficiently been brought to justice, right? >> i believe that the new prosecutor general made a statement to that and that they would be reviewing past cases. keep in mind this is a country where those that commit crimes generally never get held to account. so there's a lot to review. >> the bribe was paid in what year? >> to the best of my knowledge, the case against the former minister was shut down december of 2014. >> okay. right around that time, burisma
starts adding officials to its board, is that correct? >> my understanding is, yes, that a series of new individuals was invited to join the board in 2014. >> do you know what his strategy was in adding officials to his board. >> i have never met him. >> who are some of the folks he added to the board? >> the most prominent person he added to the board was the former president of poland. >> anyone else? >> hunter biden. >> hunter biden is added to the board of burisma. do you think that creates a problem that burisma may be adding people to its board for protection purposes. >> sir, i work for the government. i don't work in the corporate sector. so i believe that companies build their boards with a variety of reasons not only to promote their business plans. >> was hunter biden a corporate
governance expert? >> i have no idea what hunter biden studied at university or what his cv says. i have no awareness or knowledge of what his background was. >> you don't know whether he has any business experience in ukrainian prior to joining burisma's board? >> i've heard nothing about prior experience. >> do you know if he speaks ukrainian? >> i do not. >> do you know if he possesses any other element other than the fact that he is the son of at the time the sitting vice president? >> i do not. >> ambassador taylor, do you know whether hunter biden offers anything other than the fact that his dad's the former vice president? >> i don't. >> or at the time was the vice president? >> i have no knowledge of hunter biden. >> you would agree it raises questions, right? he was getting paid i think $50,000 a month to sit on the board. do you know if he relocated to
ukraine? >> say it again. >> do you know if hunter biden relocated to ukraine? >> no knowledge. >> do you know, mr. kent? >> again, no knowledge. >> he's getting paid $50,000 a month but we don't know whether he had any experience, he had any -- he spoke the language or whether he moved to ukraine, correct? >> correct. >> at this time vice president biden was daycataking a specifi interest in ukraine, wasn't he? >> he was. >> could you tell us about that? >> i believe while he was vice president he made a total of six visits to ukraine. one may have been during the old regime. >> you were the dcn at the time, correct? >> starting in 2015, yes. >> did vice president biden come when you were at post? >> he did not. i came back for ukrainian language training so i missed several visits. >> you've seen vice president
biden's -- he's sort of given a spee speech. he's a little folksy about how he went into ukraine and told the ukrainians if they don't fire the prosecutor, they're going to lose their $1 billion in loan guarantees. have you seen that? >> i have. >> he also said he's been to the ukraine 13 times. do you know if that's accurate? >> to the best of my knowledge while he was vice president, he made six visits. >> did the state department never express my concern to the vice president's office that the vice president's role at the time engaging on ukraine presented any issues? >> no. the vice president's role was critically important. it was top cover to help us pursue our policy agenda. >> but given hunter biden's role in burisma's board of directors, at some point you testified in your deposition that you
expressed some concern to the vice president's office is that correct? >> that is correct. >> what did they do about the concern you expressed? >> i have no idea. i reported my concern to the office of the vice president. >> that was it? >> sir, you'd have to ask people who worked in the office of the vice president during 2015. >> but after you expressed the concern of a perceived conflict of interest at the least, the vice president's engagement in ukrainian didn't decrease, did it? >> correct, because the vice president was promoting u.s. policy objectives in ukraine. >> and hunter biden's role on the board of burisma didn't cease, did it? >> to the best of my knowledge, it didn't. my concern was that there was a possibility of a perception of a conflict of interest. >> now, ambassador taylor, i want to turn to the discussion of the irregular channel you described. in fairness, this irregular channel of diplomacy, it's not
as outlandish as it could be, is that correct? >> it's not as outlandish as it could be. >> we have ambassador volker, a long time state department diplomat. you've known ambassador volker for years, correct? >> that is correct. >> a man of unquestioned integrity. >> that is correct. >> and somebody with incredible knowledge of the region? >> very good knowledge of the region. >> and the best interest of the united states? >> i'm sure that's right. >> and the best interests of ukraine? >> his first priority is clearly the united states. and to the extent that ukraine has an implication for that, yes. >> and the second member of the irregular channel is ambassador sondland, who is senate confirmed ambassador to the eu. so his involvement here, while
not necessarily part of his official duties as ambassador to the eu, it's certainly not outlandish for him to be interested and engaged pursuant to the president or secretary pompeo's direction, correct? >> it's a little unusual for the u.s. ambassador to the eu to play a role in ukraine policy. >> you know, it might be irregular, but it's certainly not outlandish. and then secretary perry is the third member of the irregular channel. certainly a senate confirmed official, somebody with deep experience in energy markets, and he was pursuing some liquified natural gas projects in ukraine. >> that is correct, mr. castor. >> secretary perry's involvement is perfectly acceptable? >> it is. >> this irregular channel as it
developed, when did you determine that it became problematic? in your opening statement you identified yourself appropriately as the leader of the regular channel. >> at least a participant. here's another leader of the regular channel. >> so when did you first develop concerns that the irregular channel was being problematic? >> so i arrived in kiev mid september. by late september a couple of phone calls -- >> you arrive in kiev in june, right? >> june. >> june 17th. >> mid june, june 17th. thank you. so by the end of june, i had begun to hear references to investigations as something that would have to happen prior to
the meeting that president trump had offered to president zelensky. that began to raise questions for me. >> okay. now, you've known ambassador volker and you've certainly have a reason to know ambassador sondland. what did you do at this point or did you ever try to wrest control of the irregular channel? >> i didn't try to wrest control of the irregular channel. at the time -- >> why not, though, if you had concerns? >> because, mr. castor, at the time as deputy assistant secretary kent testified, both channels, both of those channels were interested in having a meeting between president zelensky and president trump. so there's no reason to kind of wrest control if we're going in the same direction. >> but at some point you
developed concerns. i mean, your opening same is here. you're the impeachment witness number one and you're number two, mr. kent. for the case impeaching the president of the united states because of the concerns you've testified about the irregular channel, correct? >> i was concerned when the irregular channel appears to be going against the overall, the irregular channel going against the overall direction of and purpose of the regular channel, so yes. >> as i understand the record, however, when you arrived in ukraine, you had the support of the secretary and the secretary's top advisor, correct? >> that is correct. >> they assured you if you had any concerns, you would be able to contact them and they would have your back? >> that is correct. >> and you knew going in that the rudy giuliani element presented some complexities, correct? >> i was concerned about rudy
giuliani's statements and involvement in the ukraine policy, yes. >> okay. so when it genuinely became, you know, a concern for you, what did you do to either engage sondland and volker and perry, giuliani -- by the way, have you ever met rudy giuliani during these times relevant? >> not during the times relevant. mr. giuliani visited ukraine one time when i was there, i think in 2007 or 2008. that's the only time i've met him. >> so you've never had any communications with rudy giuliani as part of these irregular channel business -- >> that is correct. that is correct. >> okay. anyway, getting back to my question, did you try to engage brektbul or the secretary during this time period?
i know you said you had, i believe, an august 21 or 22nd phone call with brekt bul, you had a july 10th telephone call with brektbul, then you sent a first person cable on august 29th. >> that is correct. >> is that sort of the universe of initiatives you took inside the state department to raise your concerns about the irregular channel? >> i also raised my concerns with deputy secretary george kent, in particular early on when -- i think i may have mentioned this phone call that was odd in that it did not include the normal staff. indeed, ambassador sondland's staff. and that struck me as unusual. i consulted with mr. kent and at his suggestion made a note of this and also had -- i think at that point i had a conversation
with mr. brektbul. >> that was a june 28th call, i believe? >> that is correct. >> in your opening statement you expressed some concerns about what ambassador sondland had said. but then once zelensky got on the phone, it proceeded in a very regular channel way, correct? >> that is correct. >> so the june 28th call, at least in and of itself, didn't ultimately as it played out present any problems for you? >> the call with president zelensky did not. the preparation for that call, the preparation included maybe 15 minutes of just the americans that would stay on the call. again, that was a little irregular in that it didn't have the staff. it was always in that pre-call in that 15 minutes before president zelensky got on the phone where ambassador volker told the rest of the participants that he was
planning to have a conversation with president zelensky in toronto in three days, four days where he would outline for president zelensky the important components of the phone call that we were trying to establish. >> okay. you didn't have any issue with that, did you? >> the only think i had with that, mr. castor, was there was reference to investigations. i'll have to check my notes on that. it raised issues for me that i didn't understand what ambassador volker had in mind that he was specifically going to raise with mr. zelensky. there was a little bit of a concern. >> okay. i mean, the president's expre expressed his interest in certain investigations, certainly relating to the 2016 election and relating to this
corrupt burisma outfit. so that wasn't inconsistent with the president's message, right? >> i'm not sure, mr. castor. can i ask you to repeat the question? >> the president's concerns about the 2016 election and the need to get to the bottom of it and the president's concerns as it ultimately related to the burisma company -- i mean, if ambassador volker is raising that with zelensky, that's consistent with the direction of the president, correct? >> the president's interest org interest, because that's what was very clear at the time, mr. giuliani's interest in pursuing these investigations was of
concern. >> by the way, do you know how many times volker met with giuliani? >> i don't. >> how many would you guess? was he taking to him all the time or meeting with him all the time? >> mr. castor, i don't know. >> from his deposition, he told us just once. he texted back and forth with the mayor, had a call or two, but it wasn't a pervasive engagement for ambassador volker. were you aware of that? >> i was not aware i was aware of one breakfast, i think, but that's the only one i was aware of. >> mr. kent, before my time expires, i want to circle back to the company of burisma. you testified at your deposition that there was an instance where usaid had engaged with burisma in possibly sponsoring a program, and you took issue with that and recommended usaid to pull back from that. could you tell us about that?
>> i became aware i believe in the summer of 2016 that as part of what i recall was a clean energy awareness campaign, that part of the usaid emission that worked on economics and governance including energy had sponsored some sort of contest for young ukrainians to come up with a theme and there was a prize. i believe it may have been a camera. and they had cosponsored with public/private partnership being a buzzword, having a cosponsorship with burisma. given the past history of our interest in recovering stolen assets, it was my view that it was inappropriate for the embassy to be cosponsoring a contest with burisma. i raised that with the mission director at the embassy. she agreed. and the usaid mission kept the contest, but dropped the public/private partnership
sponsorship. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. we'll now move to 5-minute member rounds. i recognize myself for 5 minutes. mr. kent, i want to follow up on my colleagues' questions regarding burisma. you testified about a time when an oligarch was self-dealing awarding himself contracts. when was that? >> to the best of my knowledge, he was minister of energy -- sorry, minister of ecology from 2010-2012. at the time, licenses to have substrata exploration of gas for awarded by a subdivision of the ministry of ecology. >> so this corrupt self-dealing then was approximately seven years before the events that bring us here today, the phone call on the 25th and the events around it? >> correct. his time as minister was
2010-201 2010-201 2010-2012. hunter pa eer biden joined buri 2014. >> you've read the transcript of the call, haven't you? >> i have but i haven't read it for about a month. >> any discussion between president trump and president zelensky about this oligarch who had been self-dealing? >> to my knowledge, no. >> is there a discussion of awarding contracts to oneself in the time frame? >> to the best of my knowledge, no. >> the president brings up this crowd strike, the server and the bide bide bidens, am i right? >> i see this here, right. >> there was no mention of looking into oligarchs. the president's comments were
focused on two things, 2016 and the bidens, am i right? >> i believe so, yes. >> you testified in your opening statement i did not believe the united states should ask other countries to engage in selective politically associated investigations or prosecuticess against opponents of those in power because such selective actions undermine the rule of law regardless of the country. the selective politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power, are you referring to the bidens there? >> i'm referring as a general principle about the promotion of the rule of law. >> that would apply to the president of the united states seeking investigation of his political opponent, would it not? >> it can be interpreted that way, yes, sir. >> i take it in your discussions, ambassador taylor, with ambassador sondland or others, what was communicated to you was that the president wanted investigations into 2016 and the bidens not into an
oligarch or self-dealing but 2016 and the bidens, was that your understanding? >> that was my understanding. >> and in fact, when you said your staff overheard this call between ambassador sondland and the president, in that call the president brings up investigation, does he not? >> he did. >> and immediately after the president gets off the phone with sondland, sondland is asked by your staff what does the president think about ukraine and his also is he's just interested in the bidens, am i right? >> he said he was more interested in the bidens. >> more interested in the bidens. no discussion of things that happened seven years ago. he was interested in the bidens? >> yes, sir. >> now, i think you also testified that ambassador
sondland told you that president trump wanted zelensky in a public box, is that right? >> yes, sir. >> by public box, did that mean that private statements, private promises to do this investigation of 2016 and the bidens were not enough, he had to go on tv, he had to go public in some way because the president wanted him in that box, is that your understanding? >> mr. chairman, i don't know exactly what he had in mind and i'm not sure what ambassador sondland had in mind, who was the one that mentioned that to me. that was the implication. the itmplication was it needed o be public as opposed to being a private assurance. >> i think you said in that same call you asked ambassador sondland to push back on president trump's demand, is that right? >> that is correct, sir. >> so you understood from your conversation with sondland this was the president's demand, not
sondland's demand, the president's demand. and you wanted sondland to push b back, am i right? >> what i wanted -- so ambassador sondland was clearly able to have conversations with the president, and i thought that the pressure on another president, on president zelensky, was not a good idea from either presidents' standpoint. i suggested to ambassador sondland since he frequently had conversation with the president could make that point. >> i think the way you expressed yourself is you wanted sondland to push back on president trump's demand, is dthat right? >> yes, sir. >> this is what the president wanted him to do and you wanted sondland to push back? >> i asked ambassador sondland to push back, that is correct. >> in fact, even after the aid was ultimately released, even
after the white house learns of the whistleblower complaint and the congressional investigation, the aid is released even after those events. you were still worried that zelensky was going to feel it necessary to go on cnn and announce these investigations, were you not? >> yes, i thought that would be a bad idea and so when there was some indication that there might still be a plan for the cnn interview in new york, which was upcoming at the united nations general assembly meeting, i was worried. i wanted to be sure that didn't happen so i addressed it with zelensky's staff. >> i think you said earlier that danyluk, the national security advisor for zelensky, was concerned that zelensky didn't want to be used as some tool in american politics, is that correct? >> that is correct. >> so zelensky didn't want to go on tv and announce political investigations that he thought would mire him in u.s. politics,
right? >> he and his advisors knew that it's a bad idea to interject, to interfere in other nation's elections, yes, sir. >> nonetheless, it appeared until the aid was lifted, the hold was lifted, that he felt compelled to do it. >> he was making plans, his staff was making plans to have him make some kind of announcement, i don't know what it would have been, on cnn in public. >> even though he doesn't want to be mired in u.s. politics? >> even though he knew it was a bad idea to interfere in other people's elections. >> mr. nuance, you are recognized for 7 minutes and 10 seconds. >> thank the gentleman for that. ambassador taylor x y, you said your deposition that the first time you heard about this shiss with rudy giuliani, and i'm paraphrasing but you read it in the "new york times," correct? >> i do remember noticing about
mr. juligiuliani being involved this in that article, yes, sir. >> i think one of the mothers of all conspiracy theories is somehow the president of the united states would want a country that he doesn't even like, he doesn't want to give foreign aid to, to have the ukrainians start an investigation into bidens. with that, i yield to mr. jordan. >> thank the gentleman for yielding. ambassador taylor thank you for being here. aid's held up on july 18th, is that right? >> that's when i first heard about it. >> then it's released on september 11th. we know that from your deposition in those 55 days that aid is delayed you met with dlen three ti zelensky three times. again, according to your deposition and your testimony there was no linkage of security assistance dollars to investigating burisma or the bidens. second meeting is august 27th. again in this 55-daytime frame
second meeting is august 27th. zelensky meets with you and ambassador bolton and others and again there's no linkage of security assistance dallass oll investigate of the bidens. the third meeting zelensky meets with you and senators johnson and murphy and once again there was no linkage of security assistance dollars. three meetings with the president of ukraine and no linkage. that's accurate? >> mr. jordan, it's certainly accurate on the first two, first two meetings, because to my knowledge the ukrainians were not aware of the hold on assistance until the 29th of august. >> from the politico article. >> the politico article. the third meeting that you mexi mentioned with senators murphy
and senator johnson, there was discussion of the security assistance. >> no linkage? >> there was not discussion of linkage. >> three meetings face to face with president zelensky, no linkage. yet in your deposition you said this and you said it again the first hour of the majority. my clear understanding was security assistance money would not come until president zelensky committed to pursue the investigation. my clear understanding was they weren't going to get the money until president zelensky dm committed to pursue the investigations. with all due respect, your clear understanding was obviously wrong, because it didn't happen. president zelensky didn't announce he was going to investigate burisma or the bidens. he didn't do a press conference and say i'm going to investigate the bidens, we're going to investigate burisma. he didn't tweet about it. and you just told the ranking member he didn't do the cnn interview an announce he was
going to investigate burisma or the bidens. so three face to face meeting it doesn't come up, no linkage whatsoever. president zelensky doesn't announce it before the aid is released on the 11th. yet you said you have a clear understanding those two things were going to happen, the money was going to get released but not until there was an investigation and that in fact didn't happen. what i'm wondering is where did you get this clear understanding? >> as i testified, mr. jordan, this came from ambassador sondland. >> i'm going to bring you a piece of paper from ambassador sondland's statement. >> go ahead. >> i'm going to let you finish. >> shall i read this or no? >> i just want you to have it because i'm going to read it. >> very good. >> you said you got this from ambassador sondland? >> that is correct. that ambassador sondland also said he'd talked to president
zelensky and mr. yermak and told them although this was not a quid pro quo, if president zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate. that was one point. it was also the case -- >> mr. morrison talked to you, right? >> no. what i was going to say is ambassador sondland also told me that he reck erecognized that ia mistake to have told the ukrainians that only the meeting with the president in the oval office was held up in order to get these investigations. no, it was not just the meeting, it was also the security assistance. that is everything. those two discussions -- >> i understand. >> okay. >> just to recap, you had three meetings with president zelensky, no linkage in these three meetings came up. ambassador zelensky didn't announce he was going to do an investigation to have the bidens.
>> president. >> president zelensky, excuse me. and then what you have in front of you is an addendum that mr. son sondland made to his testimony. igor don so-- gordon sondland d hereby affirm. i told mr. morrison that i conveyed this message to mr. yermak in connection with vice president pence's -- ambassador taylor recalls that mr. morrison told ambassador taylor that i conveyed this message to mr. yermak in connection with vice president's meeting in warsaw. we've got six people having four conversations in one sentence and you told me this is where you got your clear understanding. even though you had three opportunities with president zelensky for him to tell you you
know what we're going to do these investigations to get the aid. never makes an announcement, mr. does a cnn interview. you weren't on the call, were you? >> i did not. >> you never talked with chief of staff mulvaney. >> i never did. >> you didn't meet the president. >> that is correct. >> two of those they had never heard about as far as i know. there was no reason for it to come up. >> president zelensky never made an announcement. this is what i can't believe. you're their star witness. they're their first witness. >> mr. jordan -- >> based on this i've seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than that. ambassador taylor recalls that mr. morrison -- this is i hereby swear and affirm from gordon sondland. this all happens, by the way, this all happens by the way in warsaw -- >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> they didn't talk about any
linkage either. >> time of the gentleman has expired. would you like to respond? >> two responses. thank you. glad to take those questions. let me just say that i don't consider myself a star witness for anything. >> they do. >> i don't. i'm responding to your question. >> please don't interrupt the witness. >> i think i was clear about i'm not here to take one side or the other or to advocate any particular outcome. let me restate that. second thing is that my understanding is only coming from people that i talked to. >> we got that. >> we got that. and i think this clarification from ambassador sondland was because he said he didn't remember this in his first deposition so he wanted to kind of clarify. i think mr. jordan, the way i read this, he remembers it the
sa same way i do. >> and it's real clear, right? >> it's clear to me. >> thank you for your testimony today. one of the things i find startling about these proceedings is that faced with very serious allegations of presidential misconduct, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle don't engage or defend that conduct. rather, they spin theories about black ledgers and steel dossiers and the startlie ining revelati that ukrainians might have been upset when a presidential candidate suggested that perhaps he would let the russians keep crimea. or of course we get the attacks, so epitomized by mr. nuancenes' opening statement when he attacksen and the fbi. when a defense does emerge, it looks a little like this. ukraine is a corrupt country and the president was just acting in
a long line, a long tradition of actually trying to address corruption in ukraine. mr. kent, you've worked on anti-corruption and rule of law for much of your 27-year career, is that correct? >> i have specialized in anti-corruption and rule of law issues since 2012, correct. >> so like most of us up here, i don't have a good sense of what a real anti-corruption effort that we must engage in all over the world all the time, what that looks like. let me ask you to just take a minute and just characterize for us what a real program of anti-corruption might look like? >> if we're doing a systemic wholistic program, you need institutions with integrity. that starts with investigators. it goes to prosecutors, the courts and eventually the correction system. in countries like ukraine we generally start with law enforcement. that's what we did in 2014-2015 with new patrol police. there also is oftentimes needed
a specialized anti-corruption agency in ukraine that was called the national anti-corruption bureau. there was a different body that reviewed asset declarations from unusual wealth called national anti-corruption prevention council. eventually we got to helping them establish a special anti-corruption prosecutor and eventually a high court on anti-corruption. that was to try to create vr investigators, prosecutors and courts that couldn't be bought. >> i'm hearing a very kple he e comprehensive effort. let me read you president's obama word own words. whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution. if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me.
when you hear those words, do you hear the president participating in a thoughtful and well calibrated anti-corruption program? >> i do not. >> and mr. kent and mr. taylor, the defenders of the president's behavior have made a big deal out of the fact that vice president biden encouraged the ukrainians to remove a corrupt former ukrainian prosecutor, 2016, mr. showkun. rand paul said, they're impeaching president trump for exactly the same thing that joe biden did. is that correct? is what the president did in his phone call and what joe biden did in terms of mr. showkun, were those exactly the same things and how are they different? >> i do not think they are the same things. what former vice president bind requested of the former president of ukraine poroshenko was the removal of a corrupt
prosecutor general who had undermined a program of assistance that we had spent, again, u.s. taxpayer money to try to build an independent investigator unit to go after corrupt prosecutors. there was a case called the diamond prosecutor case in which showkin destroyed the entire ecosystem we were trying to help create, the investigators, the judges who issued the warrants, the law enforcement who had warrants to do the wiretapping, everybody to protect his former driver who he'd made a prosecutor. that's what joe biden was asking remove the corrupt prosecutor. >> so joe biden was participating in an open effort to establish whole of government effort to address corruption in ukraine. >> that is correct. >> great. mr. kent, as you look at this whole mess, rudy giuliani, president trump, in your opinion was this a comprehensive and whol oring to the request in
july? >> exactly. >> i would not say so, no, sir. >> yeah, i don't think president trump was trying to end corruption in ukraine. i think he was trying to aim corruption in ukraine at vice president biden and at the 2020 election. i-year-old back the balance of my my time. >> i yield my time. >> gentlemen, thank you both for being here. it's obvious from your testimony today you both care a great deal about u.s./ukraine relations. it's also very clear you're optimistic about president zelensky. ambassador taylor, you related one of his first acts in office was remove immunity fri deputies long a source of corruption. you have a number of personal dealings. has he given any reason to question his honesty or integrity. >> no, sir nrchl. >> in your prior deposition i asked and i'll read it directly, if nobody in the ukrainian government is aware of a
military hold at the time of the trump/zelensky call there can be no quid pro quo based on military aid and to your knowledge nobody in the ukrainian government was aware of the hold. your answer was, that is correct. is that still your testimony? >> mr. ratcliffe, at some point in september -- >> i'm talking about on july 25th. >> ah. july 25th. sorry. yes, that's correct. that's correct. he did not know this. >> as it turns out president zelensky agreed with you. on october 10th, president zelensky held a press marathon with over 300 reporters where he said repeatedly and consistently over hours and hours that he was not aware of a military hold during the july 25th call. in fact, in his official press release from the ukrainian government available on his website that i'll be introducing into the record he said, our phone conversation bears no relations to arms. they blocked the provision of
military assistance prior to our telephone conversation, but the issue has not been discussed during our conversation, i mean i didn't even know. so now in addition to confirming because he had no knowledge of it, there was no quid pro quo involving military aid during that call, president zelensky went on to confirm a number of things. that there was no pressure, there were no conditions, no threats, on military aid, there were no conditions or pressure to investigate barisma or the 2016 election, there was no blackmail, no corruption of any kind during the july 25th call. again, from his official press release. therefore, there was no blackmail, because it was not the subject of our conversation with the president of the united states. there were no conditions on the investigation either because of arms or the situation around barisma company. he told reuters there was no
blackmail. he told the "l.a. times" there was no pressure or blackmail from the united states. he told japan's kyoto news, i was never pressured, and there were no conditions being imposed. he told abc news and the bbc, i'm against corruption. this is not corruption. it was just a call. the ukrainian president sitting in front of the world press and repeatedly, consistently ov lly and over again, no military aid being withheld, no knowledge, no quid pro quo, no pressure, no demands, no plethreats or corruption and unlike we've heard from the democrats today that's not secondhand information, not hearsay what someone overhear and sondland say, that was his direct testimony. ambassador, do you have any evidence to suggest president zelensky was lying to the world press when he said those things?
yes or no? >> mr. radcliffe, i can respond. >> my time is short. yes or no. >> i have no doubt to say what the president has said in his -- >> very good. in this impeachment hearing today where we impeach presidents for treason, bribery or other high crimes where is the impeachable offense in that call? are either of you here to say there was an impeachable offense in that call. shout it out. anyone? >> mr. radcliffe, if i may respond let me reiterate that i'm not here -- >> one minute left. >> you only got a minute left. i have 30 -- >> you asked the witness a question. >> i'll withdraw the question. ambassador -- >> the general will suspend. ambassador taylor would you like to answer the question. >> i withdrew the question. >> the general suspend. we will suspend the clock. >> in a one-minute, please.
>> ambassador taylor would you like to respond to the question? >> mr. chairman i would like to say i'm not here to do anything having to do with decide about impeachment. that is not what either of us are here for. this is your job. >> respore time on the clock for one minute but you may continue with 22 seconds. >> fine. mr. ambassador, i think everyone knows house democrats made up their mind to impeach one president. the question we've just learned is whether or not they're prepared to impeach two, because to be clear, if house democrats impeach president trump for a quid pro quo involving military aid in have to call president zelensky a liar, impeach for for abusing power, they have to call president zelensky a liar to do it. if they impeach president trump for blackmail or extortion or making threats or demands they have to call president trump a lier to do it.
i yield back. >> chairman recognizes representative sewell. >> i yield a few minutes to my esteemed chairman. >> thank you. ambassador taylor, i don't know if you'd had a chance to read transcripts released. are you aware that other witnesses have testified that ukraine in fact found out the aid was being withheld before it became public knowledge? >> mr. chairman, i have read that. i think there's still some question about when they may have heard. and ultimately they did find out. >> when the political story came out, to your knowledge, but others have said even sooner, but they did find out. right, ambassador? >> they did, mr. chairman. >> and at the time they found out they knew what president trump wanted from them, that he wanted these investigations. correct? >> ambassador sondland informed president zelensky's staff, that
is mr. yermak, of what was required. yes. >> so ukraine finds out about the hold. you're not able to give them a reason for the hold. no one is able to give them a reason for the hold. they know the president wants these investigations, and then they're told in warsaw by ambassador sondland essentially you're not getting the aid unless you do these investigations. correct? >> that's correct. >> so, you know, you've been asked how could there be conditioning if the ukrainians didn't know but the ukrainians were told by ambassador sondland, were they not? >> they were. they were. they didn't know near as i could tell, ukrainians did not know about the hold on the phone call on july 25th. that's true. but they were told as you said, mr. chairman on the 1st of september. >> and in fact, while they may not have known during the time of the call, they would find out, and when they did find out, they would know what the president wanted. correct? >> that's correct.
>> represent sewell. >> so mr. kent i'd like to refer you to the discussion of may 23rd meeting in the oval office. when the president met with those who had gone to the ukraine for the inauguration. you briefly testified that you helped propose nameses for individuals to go to that inauguration. was ambassador sondland who was ambassador to the european union one of the names you submitted? >> no, it was not. >> but he ultimately attended that inauguration. is that not right? >> that is correct. >> do you know how he ended up as a part of that official delegation? >> i do not know for sure but my understanding is once the list left the nsc staff it went through review through the part of the white house that determines presidential delegati delegations. >> you also testified upon returning ambassador sondland used his "connections with mulvaney" to order, in order to secure this meeting in the oval office.
is that correct? >> that is my understanding, yes. >> seems this oval office meeting was a pivotal turning point in the ukraine policy coming out of that meeting who was given responsibility to your recollection, who was given responsibility for the ukraine policy? >> i never saw any document that changed the nature of policy determination. u.s. government under the trump administration there's a national security -- >> didn't you also say -- >> yes, please. >> i have little time. you did say in your testimony you felt that -- that you testified that secretary perry, ambassador sondland and ambassador volker "felt they had a mandate to take the lead" on ukraine policy. did you not? >> that was an accurate statement. their feeling doesn't mean they actually got delegated responsibility. >> ever heard of the term three amigos? >> i referenced that after watching gordon sondland say that on ukraine tv on september
26. >> what did that come to mean? >> my understanding, ambassador sondland's use of that term was the three people in charge of ukraine policy during the summer where he, gordon sondland, ambassador volker and secretary perry. >> what did you come to, when did you come to learn about mr. giuliani's role and what do you consider his role to have been? >> i first heard about former mayor giuliani's interest in ukraine in january of this year, that was a different phase than what happened during the summertime. >> was it normal to have a person who is a privat citizen take an active role in foreign diplomacy? >> i did not find his particular engagement normal, no. >> now, ambassador taylor, you testified that there are two channels, a regular and irregular. what did you see as rudy giuliani's role in ukraine policy?
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