tv Impeachment Hearings CNN November 19, 2019 5:00am-8:00am PST
cnn's special coverage of the impeachment hearings continues right now. grood morning. we welcome our viewers. three days of critical hears kicking off on capitol hill. four key witnesses testifying today. two face questions, one hour from now, both of them were on that now infamous july 25th phone call between president trump and president zelensky of ukraine. and both have now been directly attacked by president trump and his allies. lieutenant colonel vindman is a decorated iraq war veteran and the top ukraine expert.
jennifer williams is a senior adviser to vice president mike pence. brace for fireworks as the gavel drops. both witnesses have faced attacks from the president and his allies and that is expected to continue from republicans today. let's begin on capitol hill, manu raju is of course on the scene for us. so set the scene, what can we expect in the coming hours? >> reporter: a revealing day of testimony as a number of these witnesses, three of these witnesses testifying today heard the president's own words on that july phone call with president zelensky in which president trump urged zelensky to investigate the by continide each had concerns different level of concerns, you will probably hear the most serious concerns this morning when alexander vindman testifies about the concerns he raised to the highest levels of national security council in the aftermath of the call. and also his concern was mainly that this would undercut national security and pull back
potentially on bipartisan support for ukraine. alexander vindman also expected to note concerns that he raised directly to the ambassador to the european union gordon sondland who was pushing for investigations, those political investigations and raised concerns that he essentially was pushing a quid pro quo, pushing the ukranians to move forward on those investigations before a key meeting was held with zelensky and president trump and aid also was released. also wait for jennifer williams this morning, she is of course the vice president mike pence's -- one of his advisers. she also raised concerns about that call. so this is a key moment this morning in just under an hour. >> walk us through the format for today's questioning once again. >> reporter: this is going to be similar to the last two public hearings. this will begin with the chairman of the house intelligence committee adam schiff who will make an opening statement, followed by devin
nun nunes. and then the witnesses themselves will give their own opening statements followed by a round of questioning. it will be led by schiff and his top attorney dan goldman who will engage in a 45 minute round of questioning. and that will republicwill foll republican line of questioning led by devin nunes and his top attorney stecastor. and watch them to request the aftermath of the july call. that was raced in the closed do -- raised in the closed door deposition. adam schiff blocked the line be of questioning because he was concerned that without the whistleblower and i'm told republicans are not ruling out going that line, they say shchif should not dictate their questioning. so expect fireworks as republicans press forward and
democrats could object. >> explosive and historic. skroers we'll g we'll get back to you for more on what we ccan expect today. and kylie atwood, this will be dramatic stuff that we're about to hear. >> because both of these officials that we're hearing from this morning work at the white house. they both raised concerns about this july 25th call which really launched in whole investigation. so first alexander vindman, he is a top nsc russia expert. he is a deck ratorated war vete. and he said that he doesn't think it was proper to ask a foreign government to investigate a u.s. citizen. obviously president trump asking for an investigation into the bidens. he was also worried about the wider implications there. and so specifically when he was speaking with lawmakers behind closed doors, he does talk about raising concerns about this july 25th call. and he said that his understanding was that the
ukranians understood asking a favor to be asking for investigations. the other thing that he told lawmakers is that mick mulvaney, the president's chief staff, is now implicated in this quid pro quo because he was in touch with gordon sondland. sondland being the u.s. ambassador to the eu who has talked about there being this tradeoff asking ukranians for this investigation in order for them to get the security assistance that was on hold. the other thing that he says about that july 25th call is that the omissions in that transcript were biden and burisma, things that weren't included in the transcript. and we will hear from him. and we'll also hear from jennifer williams. >> and tell us about williams, an aide detailed over to the white house to help the vice president. >> so jennifer williams works in the vice president's office. so she will be able to provide some detail in terms of what he heard, what vice president pence knew this phone cal.
she raised concerns in her closed door testimony that the call was unusual and inappropriate. she was concerned that president trump was pushing his own personal political agenda. over the weekend, we saw president trump come out with a tweet undermining her saying he never knew her and also having questions about her having to listen to both of the calls. his first call and his second call to vezelensky. but she will draw the story closer into the white house. >> thanks very much for that. we're also watching the white house obviously very closely this morning. will president trump continue to attack these witnesses? that is one of the concerns as the impeachment hearings prepare to get under way. two advisers say that they hope he does not tweet about lieutenant colonel vindman. his attacks on the iraq war hero and purple heart recipient fell flat earlier in the inquiry.
fingers crossed is what one campaign adviser is telling cnn. let's go to kaitlan collins. have officials over there said if the president is planning, a, to watch the hearings and, b, to start tweeting as they are going on? >> reporter: they haven't said yet, but he has nothing on his public schedule until a cabinet meeting at 11:30. and in the past when they said i wasn -- he wasn't watching, he later admitted that he was tuning in. and those advisers saying that they hope he doesn't attack these witnesses, but the president has already gone after both of them saying vindman is a never trumper saying that he would provide evidence for and never materialized. and last week the white house blamed vindman for the discrepancy between the first call trump had with the ukranian president and the readout that the white house initially published. they were very different there. for williams, he has gone after her calling her a never trumper though he hasn't givenful fulla
evidence. and she was a reluctant witness because no one even knew she was on that call until she had been named to house investigators by someone else. but we do know one interesting thing that will happen during the first hearing today and that is that alex vindman's identical twin brother who also works on the national security council as an attorney is expected to attend the hearing. >> you also have been doing some reporting that the president has considered actually dismissing these aides who have testified against him, including lieutenant colonel vindman. >> reporter: yeah, these two people still work here and they are not aides who were this ukraine or far away. they work right next door to the white house in the xwexecutive office building just fet away from the oval office. and we're told by sources that in recent days, the president has been asking people why these people work for him. and exploring ways to send them back to their home agencies.
because a lot of them are these detailees, meaning they work for the state department or the department of defense and they are detailed to the national security council. but of course both of them came into these jobs after trump was already in office. so they weren't here in the national security council when barack obama was in office. they came once donald trump was in office. but no one has been moved yet, no one has been fired yet, though it is certainly something that they have explored. of course the caution there, it could look like they were trying to get revenge against them for testifying. >> cat lykaitlan collins, thank very much. joining us now to discuss all of this, a democratic congressman from i wi of illinois. congressman, thanks for joining us. and you are about to question the first of two witnesses out of nine who will be testifying publicly before the cameras during the course of today, tomorrow and thursday. let's talk about loot core they
will vi will -- lieutenant colonel vindman and also jennifer williams. they are detailed to the white house. what do you expect them to outline today? >> well, as you know, lieutenant colonel wind man is a purple heart awardee, he was a participant in the call on july 25th. unlike some of the others whom my colleagues on the other side say did not participate, he was a first person witness to what the president said. not only that, but he was charged with actually helping to prepare the call summary. and so he is very intimately familiar with the details of the phone call and as well as the leadup to the phone call. jennifer williams as you know was an aide to the vice president and she also knew about the hold on the military aid that was placed later. the vice president's reaction. and generally what was happening in the white house at the time of the phone call. >> tim morrison who will also be
testifying later today, he is on the national security council, he said in his deposition that he had concerns about vindman's judgment and now republican senator ron johnson of wisconsin released a scathing letter going after vindman's conduct. he sent the letter to house republicans saying that vindman might fit the profile of bureaucrats trying to sabotage the president and remove him from office. what do you make of these attacks? >> i read that letter, i read the attack on vindman. i found that to be an appalling attack on vindman. you know, a lot of these folks are going after vindman merely because he disagrees with the president. he is a purple heart awardee, a veteran, he is an expert on ukraine. and he was appointed by the trump administration to his current post. the fact that he would come
forward to tell the truth really gets under the president's skin. that is why i think that he attacks him repeatedly. but i think the american people can judge for themselves his credibility. i found him to be compelling at his deposition and i expect that he will be again today. >> lieutenant colonel vindman and his twin brother by the way, only three years old when their parents soviet jews immigrated to the united states. he went to college, joined the u.s. military. wounded in iraq. when the news of vindman's concerns about the call first came out, there were some in the conservative media who actually suggested that vindman may be more sympathetic toward ukraine than say american policy. would you expect any of those kinds of ugly attacks to continue today? >> i hope not. and you are right, his loyalty was questioned to the united states. and i think part of it was
because of his immigrant heritage. as you know, immigrants within the trump era have felt generally pressure under this administration. the fact that lieutenant colonel vindman, a member of the national security council, would subject to the same types of attacks that others have been subject to just shows kinld of the lengths to which this white house will go in trying to discredit people who disagree with them. they will call them never trumpers, they will try to intimidate them before they testify, they will threaten retaliation if they do come forward and tell the truth. it is absolutely unacceptable. >> and in vindman's closed door deposition, chairman adam schiff stopped the line of questioning from republicans that he felt was designed to find about out the identity of the so-called whistleblower. do you expect republicans will try that same tactic before the cameras today? >> they might. and if they do, i think chairman schiff will be very strong in
basically trying to end that line of questioning. because at the end of the day, the whistleblower is entitled to anonymity. and in this proceeding what we've seen over and over again is the president wants to identify that whistleblower so he can retaliate against him or her. not only that, but the president appears to want to try to create a chilling effect on other people who would come forward with wrongdoing. that is absolutely unacceptable. we won't burn the whistleblower. >> and there we see lieutenant colonel vindman arriving up on capitol hill. he is dressed obviously in his military uniform. he will be testifying shortly. we'll watch that very closely. he is now walking in like everyone else who enters the house of representatives, one of the office buildings. he will go through security and then into a holding room and a wait the start of this hearing. i interrupted you.
but finish your thought. >> i just think that any attempt to try to out the whistleblower will meet with stiff resistance from the chairman who has been consistent and right in frying to end any kind of questioning to out the whistleblower. the american people created the whistleblower system so that rank and file members of the government can come forward with evidence of wrongdoing. but it relies on the system protecting those whistleblowers and if they with wish for anonymity to allow them that anonymity. in this case the whistleblower requested to continue to be anonymous even though he or she brought forward his or her complaint to the inspector general. and we have to respect their wishes. >> all right, congressman, thanks so much for joining us. we'll listen closely to not only your questioning but all of the questions and answers that are
coming up. apreciate it very much. >> thank you so much. so we're on top of august the major developments this morning as the key witnesses arrive up on capitol hill. also just into cnn, this is very significant, the president of ukraine, president zelensky, is now publicly reacting this morning to reports that he was about to open up investigations after his call with president trump. our special coverage will continue right after this. strong. brilliant. ♪ i am a diamond. get 25% off everything. including these one of a kind deals. at the early black friday vip event, now extended through november 19th. exclusively at zales, the diamond store.
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announce investigations following that july 25th phone call with president trump. let's go to kiev. fred pleitgen is on the scene for us. so i understand you just had a chance to speak with president zelensky. what did he tell you? >> reporter: yeah, he had a press conference together with the czech prime minister. and zelensky didn't want to take any questions after the press conference. he was already on the verge of walking out. when i asked him that very question, whether or not he was indeed ready to publicly announce an investigation into burisma, that is when he became quite emotional. here is what happened. president zelensky, is it true that you were ready to publicly announce an investigation into burisma after the phone call ye. >> i think everybody in ukraine is so tired about burisma. we have our country, we have our
independence, we have our problems and questions. that is it. >> reporter: doesn't mean we don't want to talk about it anymore. >> so wolf, i think that you can see the very difficult position that president zelensky of ukraine is in and has been put in after that phone call that he had with president trump. right now and over the past couple weeks, we've seen zelensky and other ukranian officials really trying to lay low on this matter and not comment too much because of course what they want to do is maintain bipartisan support for ukraine in washington, d.c. we've talked about it so much over the past that the ukranians obviously need that support from washington. they are still very much engulfed in a russian-fueled in-suin insurgency against them and need as much support from d.c. as they can get and of course commenting on this could put them in a very difficult position. >> they are under enormous pressure right now, not only political pressure, but also
there is a war going on with the russians and they desperately needed that nearly $400 billion in u.s. security assistance and the weapons that they need to resist the russian aggression. >> reporter: yeah, they certainly need that. and i think that there are several levels to that. when you speak to people here in kiev, it is something that you hear again and again and again. the kind of military aid that the ukranians get from the u.s. is mostly high tech stuff. we've talked about the javelin anti-tank missiles, but also things like night visionphistic. so it is the high tech military goods that the ukranians desperately need to try to stand up to the pro-russian forces. but the other thing that is so important to the ukranians is also the fact that it makes a statement from the united states when they get that military aid that the u.s. has their back and obviously over the past couple weeks since that phone call came to light between president trump and president zelensky, there
are people here in keein kiev w the u.s. unconditionally still stands behind ukraine. >> excellent reporting. we'll of course get back to you as well. thank you very much. once again, we're awaiting for arrival of more of the witnesses. lieutenant colonel vindman just arrived and jennifer williams will be joining him. much more right after this. for the diamond in your life there's only one diamond store. zales. the diamond store
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moments ago lieutenant colonel alexander vindman arriving up on capitol hill to begin preparing for his testimony. he is the top ukraine expert over at the national security council. and his testimony could potentially be very explosive this morning. we're still waiting the arrival of jennifer williams, also an official on the national kucounl working with the vice president, she was detailed over from the state department, also an expert on europe and that part of the wourl world. let me bring in our panel. jim, this is an amazing moment in american history. the president of the united states only the fourth time an american president is spacing an impeachment inquiry here in the united states and the charges are very significant. >> i think that we have to remember that because everything has been so lost and clouded by
politics as everything is today. but remember what is at core here. ukraine, a small country, fighting russia in an ongoing war dependent on u.s. aid. and this $400 million was one tenth of their entire military budget. in a war that it is losing. part of its country has been chopped off. everybody in government, republican and democrat, wants to support ukraine in this war. that is in agreement. and you have a president the allegation being that was willing to hold that over their head to get a political favor. that is essentially the core of this question. thousan now you will hear a lot about the credibility of witnesses. be prepared for attacks even on alexander vindman. but also trying to establish distance between the president and this policy. but the more we hear from the people involved, even the president's own appointees, it is getting closer to him, this being a personal decision by the president. and ultimately democrats and republicans and people at home have to decide if that is a
decision that they are comfortable with. >> and let's not forget shortly after that july 25th the phone call vindman who was listening in in the white house situation room on that call, he went to the top lawyer at the national security council and he raised concerns about this suggestion that u.s. aid was being withheld in exghink exchange for political favor. >> because he thought it was irregular. so republicans have been complaining about hearsay, et cetera. you have vindman who was on the call, williams who also listened in. and then you have mr. morrison also who lived in on the call. eventually you will hear from all three of them and they will have to tell you their versions of the call and what they got out of it. and, you know, in looking back and step back and looking at this whole story, i was thinking of the parraable i learned in school about the blind man and the elephant.
that each person is seeing a piece of the puzzle here but nobody really saw the entire thing. and so they have various degrees of knowledge about what was really going on and then it became clear to these people in various stages. and so holmes figured out he knew what was going on after he heard sondland on that phone call at lunch -- >> by the way, this is jennifer williams. she is arriving now up on capitol hill. she is a senior adviser to the vice president mike pence, a state department employee, as i said detailed over to the vice president's office. she is currently serving as the special adviser to the vice president for europe and russia. she was in the white house situation room together with alexander vindman. listening in on president trump's july 25th phone call with the ukranian president and zel zelensky in real time and she later testified under oath in that deposition that that conversation struck her as
unusual and inappropriate and shed light on possible other motivations for the decision to freeze the aid. she is going through security as everyone does once they come into the house of representatives, one of the officer buildings. and she will go into a holding room. she will join presumably lieutenant colonel vindman. and they will be testifying jointly, they will be sitting next to each other after they are sworn in, they will both make opening statements. >> right. and they were both listening in. they may have different interpretations of the call. she thought it was unusual but her hair wasn't on fire about it. she may have made notation about it, but she didn't take it to an ethics person, et cetera. so i think that people can listen in on a phone call and they can have different degrees of interpretation about it. so we'll hear that today and the republicans will clearly want to mine her more than vindman in that sense and try to figure out from vindman who he went to talk to because there may be a way of
outing the whistleblower. we'll see. >> two things stand out to me in this. one, we're really getting back to the original complaint by the whistleblower who said that there were others within the white house who had a real problem with the conduct of this call and what is clearly if you do this we'll do that. that is the quid pro quo. but also what we need watch for is how the president and those around him handled those complaints afterward. we'll find out in real time as we did with ambassador yovanovitch how the president tries to criticize people, intimidate them in real time. we'll see republicans do that with vindman. i think that you will hear the accusation that this was the politicalized bureaucracy trying to undermine the president. but what did they do when vindman complains about the call, they salt away that partial transcript into a different server. so i think that is a big part of the story too once the complaints are raised, how does the president and those around
him start responding. >> and in a letter to her democratic colleagues yesterday, nancy pelosi wrote this -- she obviously has a very strong view. the facts are uncontested she said that the president abused his power for his own personal preliminary benefit at the expense of our national security interests. that is a very serious charge. >> and she has also been getting away from the language of quid pro quo and into the language of bribery. only david gregory speaks latin most of the time. so bribe arry is specifically mentioned in the constitution as an impeachable offense. and the notion of we will give you your security money, your $390 million, if and only if you give me political benefits. that is at least on the surface a case of bribery. that is how the language she's using is consistent with that
and the question is, a majority of the house of representatives will agree with that likely yes. the question, is the rest of the country going to follow along and, you know, that beats the hell out of me. >> and andrew, you have a unique perspective as feerm dwrekormer of the fbi. but do you see bribery here in this so-called yquid pro quo, pressure on the ukranians to launch this investigation into the bidens and the 2016 election? >> the basics of any bribery relationship are clearly here in this scenario. as a federal criminal offense, bribery can be tough to prove. it has been made tougher by recent sfleupreme court decisio. but that is not the obligation of the senate democrats here. they are not trying to prove a federal crime are. they are simply trying to present the facts in a compelling way. and in order to do that, they
have to shed light on aech element each element of the story to make it a compelling tale that people can sink their teeth into and does whether or not they believe a bribery took place here. >> i think that the two elements of bribery no matter how you slice it that are going to be the issue here are, number one, was it like jeffrey said a political benefit or was it something else that was going on and represented to that, i think most important, what was the president's intent under any definition, you need corrupt intent. >> in a legal matter. but this is a political. >> even a political matter. you don't just punish things where somebody doesn't intend to do something wrong. and especially in the area of foreign policy where the president has vast authority, the question is going to be did the president intend for this to benefit him politically or personally or was his intention to actually look after the country. and was that what was going on.
was he actually trying to address corruption issues or was he trying to do this for a campaign. >> because at the time as we know, biden was then atop the democratic field. >> and this is where the difference between the different witnesses is going to come into play and the facts that they have. jennifer williams and loot core they will vi -- lieutenant colonel vindman can't speak to the president's intent. they were on the call, but they were not part of the actual conspiracy or activities that were going on. that is going to be more from the testimony of kurt volker later this afternoon and probably most substantially from ambassador sondland tomorrow because he was involved. >> but they have all claimed for example that they didn't know that burisma equaled biden. and so they claim that, you
know, they were sort of blind to this to a certain degree, that they thought investigating burisma, that is just another corrupt ukranian company, energy company. and so you where going to hear that side of the story too. so the question to your point is who knew everything. who knew everything about this scheme. and the answer is, what, rudy giuliani and the president? >> that very well may be. >> i think gordon sondland seems to have known a lot. i really think the facts that we've learned so far including his changed testimony and all of the information we're learning about different phone calls between him and the president directly and he will be under oath tomorrow in open session, other than rudy giuliani, he seems to be the closest. >> it is striking the extent to which the president of the united states' intent was driven by the fact that he was marinating in conspiracy theories that had been debunked. and there is an effort to legit
patriot m legitamize the anti-corruption fights when at its root were claims that were not backed by fact that the president was picking up -- >> the discredited conspiracy theory that that was you 00 crane, not russia, that was interfering in the election. hold your thoughts. the two key witnesses have arrived. we're only moments away from the start of the historic hearing. we'll be right back. you wouldn't do only half of your daily routine
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the first two key witnesses who will appear this morning before the house intelligence committee are both up on capitol hill right now. they both have arrived. lieutenant colonel alexander vindman and senior adviser to mike pence jennifer williams. both will make opening statements before the questioning actually begins. we're expecting all of that to begin within moments. as i like to say, this is history unfolding here in the nation's capital. jim sciutto, we were talking about hovering over this is this
sense from rudy giuliani and the president himself and their supporters that it was ukraine that was interfering in the 2016 election even though the intelligence community and all the president's appointed intelligence officials concluded that it was russia. and adam schiff said it is interesting in february of 2017, it was russia that first proposed this notion that ukraine was responsible for hacking into the dnc and saul of th all of that. and nobody has accepted that except maybe rudy giuliani and the president. >> we can call it more than a conspiracy theory. it is 100% false that ukraine stole the dnc server and not russia. we know that. and by the way republicans and democrats from the relevant committees have concluded that decisi decisively. so it is entirely false. and three years after russia
interfered in the election, political pearl harbor, whatever you want to call it, the sitting president still does not acknowledge that. and more importantly, i think for folks at home have to think then one year from the next election, is the commander in chief doing his duty to protect the country from another russian attack which by the way u.s. intelligence says with confidence russia will do again. and is already doing today amplifying conspiracy theories like this. a lot of this stuff comes from the dark recesses of the web, but it also comes from russia. and you have in effect then americans doing russia's dirty work for them which is remarkable. and the president and his personal lawyer steered the machinery of state to pursue this conspiracy theory beyond that being a waste of time. how does it affect america's security as we have another election coming. >> and don't forget the president's own homeland security adviser at the time tom bossert said i told the president this was a load of bunk and you shouldn't believe
it. so not only was he not listening to the intelligence community, he wasn't listening to his own appointee saying to him don't do this. and you also have to question rudy giuliani's motives here. was it just to please the president or does rudy giuliani have his own financial motive here in terms of dealing with ukraine. remember, paul manafort is in jail and, yeah, so the question is what was rudy giuliani thinking about when he was coverting with these people who are now under indictment and was he using his access to the president of the united states to stir the pot on some conspiracy theory for his own personal gain. >> i also think that there is a larger theme that will play out today which is this accusation that comes principally from the president and his allies that there is this vast bureaucracy in the united states government, be it at the fbi, in the intelligence community, or the
department of state that is actively working to undermine the president. it is not only baseless and dismissive, it is just flat wrong. yes, can there be a history where elements of the bureaucracy don't agree with a particular president's policies and is there leaking that goes on? yes, that has always happened. but you are seeing in front of us in real time professionals in the diplomatic corps who are dedicated to policy. and bill taylor said look, if there is guys who have a direct line to the president, fine, they can do that. irregular channels are okay. it is when we get really bad and sideways with our policy that is counterproductive for national security. >> and it is becoming, that is an important point, that because in this letter that ron johnson, the republican senator from wisconsin, chairman of the homeland security committee writes to jim jordan and to republican members of the panel that will be questioning the
witness, johnson qu writes this believe a significant number of bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch have never accepted president trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style and intrusion on to their, gquote, turf. they react by leaking to the press and participating in the efforts to sabotage his efforts and removal hifl frm from offic. it is entirely possible that vindman fits this profile. >> and director olympmccabe can answer this. the idea that the fbi is this nest of liberals and resistance members -- i had a different perspective as a lowly assistant attorney, but i worked with a bunch of fbi agents and that wasn't exactly my impression of how the fbi works. but i think that there is this
fantasy that there is this resistance within these organizations like the fbi and the cia -- >> and the state department. >> -- and the state department which in my experience are not exactly left wing outfits. >> and you are right about what the likely leanings are politically within the fbi. and of course i say likely because we don't know in the fbi. we don't ask each other our political beliefs, we don't talk about political issues. i think that there is of course no deep state. there is no resistance within the bureaucracy across government agencies pushing against this president. but what there is in that bureaucracy are thousands and thousands of men and women who are committed to the rule of law. and we now have an administration in a frequently finds itself bumping up against those laws that we rely on to govern this country. so wheel peopn people stand up those rules and point out those transgressions, we see how they are treated by this administration. they are attacked, vilified in
probably the same way you will see the witnesses referred to today. >> and worth remembering there was a policy, the president's policy, which was support the government of ukraine against the russian intervention. i mean, that was the policy. >> this was approved by congress. and the heroin wmoney was appro. >> and so the idea that trying to support the policy was some sort of anti-trufrnl beingmp ac because just wrong. >> but the smear against lieutenant colonel vindman is awful. stay with us, we're only minutes away from the start of this really important hearing. we'll be right back. the one for you when you know you just know love is her love is him love is us ♪ the vera wang love collection designed for zales, the diamond store. so why treat your mouth any differently? listerine® completes the job by preventing plaque,
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hearing room. we're watching all of this unfold very, very carefully. this is his tore unfotory unfol. manu raju is in the hearing room. give us is sense of what we're about to see. >> reporter: these two witnesses will come and sit down and answer questions from this committee and they will raise their serious concerns that they have with that july phone call, they were on that july phone call in which president trump urged president zelensky of ukraine to investigate his political rival joe biden. they will issue different levels of concern. vindman will make it clear that he raised concerns on multiple occasions to the highest levels of the national security council that this call was not appropriate, that it would undercut national security. and we expect to hear jennifer williams, adviser to mike pence, who raised concerns that this was a political call and that it was inappropriate, but she did not report those concerns, she did provide the transcript of the phone call to vice president mike pence.
she is not aware of what mike pence did with that transcript. so those will be questions that the members will have, how much did mike pence know about the push for the investigation into political rivals. but vindman also will describe potential quid pro quo, a push for investigations by the ukranians in exchange for a key meeting in washington and for releasing aid to the ukranians, something that was described to him by various conversations that he had with ambassador slond o gordon sondland. so right now they are filing in. they had a morning meeting to sharpen anywhere questio een th. pd a of course and of course the witnesses will walk in in a few minutes. >> and there you see daniel goldman, one of the staff attorneys on the democratic side. he will be doing 45 minutes of the questioning of these two witnesses.
you know, it is very disturbing. if you saw the "wall street journal" report that was just posted, as far as lieutenant colonel vindman, 20 year vet withdrawn of the u.s. army, a hero. it says this, the u.s. army is prepared to move are colonel vindman and his family on to a military base in the aer to ensure their security if it is determined that they are in physical danger according to u.s. officials. army security officials conducted a security assessment at vindman's request reviewing both his and his family's physical security. and their online security according to u.s. officials. one more sentence, army security officials have also been monday to youing your ne in -- monitoring him around the clock. >> and it is a sad fact that this is life in trump's world today. you because if you get on the wrong side of this president, he will talk you personally. and that generates a sort of
tribe that joins on to that attack and some people -- listen, we've all received some of this criticism in social media. but some of it is very real to the point where the military considers it a serious threat to him. and it is important to put it in the context of the broader trump/gop defense because it has yi involv g evolved over time. it started with the whistleblower complaint was hearsay, and then there is no quid pro quo, and then there may have been quid pro quo, but the ukranians weren't aware, now we know they were aware. and you are getting to the point now where it is a combination of attack those involved, question their integrity, and we'll see some of that today. and particularly when you hear it from someone like a ron johnson who has this letter, he is very close to the ukraine issue to the point where he himself raised questions about the delay in aid and called the president himself and is now joining into what is the sort of 7th or 8th line of attack from republicans to defend the president. >> and how about the recent context. you know, it wasn't that long ago when we saw a similar kind
of battle. you go back to the iraq war and bush administration and the outing of cia officerofficer va plain. there was a lot of disagreements and an investigation. never did you see this level of vitriol. and things got plenty hot within the bush white house. they were very angry about the level of the investigation. never have we seen it like this. and i think that it is worth pointing out those differences. >> and he is a very dangerous witness for the president. because not only was he on that phone call, but he also was debriefed by ambassador slond th sondland that made it clear that you have to do these investigations to release the aid. so he heard it from the trump whisperer ambassador sondland. so he has heard it device. and he is also registered
complaint about it. so this is somebody that, you know, unfortunately the republicans now are going to have to feel that if they are going to have to take him on and take his credibility on which i would argue is very, very -- >> especially because he is wearing a uniform. and you know, i was involved in the iran contra prosecutions. and there was a different lieutenant colonel assigned to the national security council named oliver north who testified and became a national hero for many people. now, he was a hero to the right. we'll see about vindman. he is someone democrats are more sympathetic towards today. but when you testify in front of congress, most americans i think believe that the congressmen are clowns and that they think that the witnesses are more sympathetic. and when you are wearing a uniform, it certainly helps. so i just think that that is
a -- >> and i want you to weigh in, but devin nunes is in his seat now. ranking republican. he will have an opening statement. he is joined there by steve coaco castor right next to him. jim jordan is always casual. but here is the chairman adam schiff walking in right now. he will open up the hearing, bring to a start. but go ahead, made your point. >> just a quick point to point out that these witnesses today are not leakers. and these allegations in ron johnson's letter that portrays them as people who are leaking and exposing things in this investigation, they are not leakers. everyone from lieutenant colonel vindman and i think that you will hear it in his testimony to jennifer williams to really all the other witnesses and going back to the whistleblowers, they all went through official channels and did not specifically go to the media and leak information in afternon yo
authorizbeen -- unauthorized way. >> but what adam schiff said, he believes that what the republicans will try to do is figure out who the whistleblower is by asking vindman with whom he spoke. and that they will try to do that in a kind of a scircuitous way. so he will be on the lookout to try to stop that before it really gets -- >> or adam schiff might be. and he's been very vigilant on that. >> anything specific, ross, that you will be looking for in the immediate minutes after this starts? >> i'll be very interested to see, you know, how heavily the republicans do go after vindman because i don't think that they need to challenge his credibility. i don't think that they need to go after him hard. i think the question could be whether he just simply had a disagreement with the president and a disagreement on this policy and ultimately at the end of the day the president's decision as long as it is lawful governs.
>> we're waiting for the two witnesses to walk into the room. lieutenant colonel vindman will be testifying. and we're also told that jennifer williams, her opening statement will go first and then vindman's opening statement. and then they begin the q and a. >> and the opening statements have been very detailed so far. and very comprehensive. which makes the questioning more of a challenge. because the narrative is already laid out there. >> here they come. >> and the witnesses really get to tell their own story which i think is actually a good thing. >> and there is lieutenant colonel alexander vindman, u.s. army. top ukraine expert on the national security council. he will be sworn in as will jennifer williams, she will walk in we're told momentarily as well. >> and, you know, check out the uniform. pretty impressive. >> also very hard i think to
delegitimize folks like this who have made such a commitment to the united states to serve the country, to serve in the mill tea or are as ambassador yovanovitch to serve overseas. this notion that they can be dismissed as deep state figures doesn't really wash. >> and on that point, i think to lieutenant colonel vindman and miss williams and all the others who served in anonymity, served without ever thinking that they would have this day being photographed, on television, testifying in front of congress -- >> and need security. >> and need security potentially the rest of their lives. this is the moment that they will look back upon that changed the course of their lives. i can tell you as someone who has been through a very similar experience, it is head-spinning, it is completely disorienting. but it is incredibly admirable that they continue to -- >> and after decades of public service. >> he was wounded in iraq. and now the u.s. military ble h
believes he needs protection here at home. >> and these are also individuals currently working for the government. they are middle of their career, really at the prime of their career. when you are a national security professional and you get assigned detailed as we say over to the national security council, that is really one of the most incredible high points of your professional career. and so these are people who were really on their way into leadership positions, they would have gone back to their agencies and been well regarded in terms of their expertise and now they are potentially not only looking at security or personal considerations, but also professional consequences of them coming to testify today. and i just think that they are so brave. >> and here comes jennifer williams as well. she will go first. she has been detailed from the state department to work with the vice president on national security specifically russia, ukraine, other eurasia issues.
once the photographers are escorted away from the tables over there, the chairman of the committee adam schiff will begin this process. >> and both of these people have worked for democrats and republicans. and jennifer williams has worked for two republicans and one democrat. she worked for michael chertoff at homeland security, a republican. these are people who are professionals no matter who is in the administration. they are there to carry out that administration's policies. and that is why they both had questions about this phone call. different agrees degrees of que but questions. >> you can only imagine the pressure they are under. >> good morning, everyone. this is the third in a series of public hearings the committee will be holding a part of the house of representatives impeachment inquiry. without objection the chair is authorized to declare a recess of the committee at anytime.
there is a quorum present. we will proceed in the same fashion as our first hearing. i'll make an opening statement and then ranking member nunes will have the opportunity to make a statement. and then we will turn to our witnesses for their opening statements and then to questions. for audience members, we respect your interests in being here. in turn we ask for your respect as we proceed with today's hearing. it is the intention of the committee to proceed without disruptions. i'll take all necessary and appropriate steps to maintain order. and ensure that the committee is run in accordance with house rules and house resolution 660. i now recognize missile to give -- myself to give an opening statement into the impeachment of donald trump. last week we heard from three experienced diplomats who testified about president trump's scheme to condition official acts, white house meeting an hundreds of millions of u.s. military aid to fight the russians on a deliverable by
the new ukranian president zelensky to politically motivated investigations that trump believed would help his campaign. one of those investigations involved the bidens and the other involved a discredited conspiracy theory that ukraine and not russia was responsible for interfering in our 2016 election. as ambassador sondland would letter telet letter later tell daivid holmes trump did not give about ukraine, he cared about big stuff like the bide investigation that giuliani was pushing. to press a foreign leader to announce an investigation into his political rival, president trump put his own personal and political interests above those of the nation. he undermined our military and diplomatic support for a key ally and undercut u.s. anti-corruption efforts in
ukraine. how could our diplomats urge ukraine to refrain from political investigations of its own citizens if the president of the united states was urging ukraine to engage in precisely the same kind of corrupt and political investigations of one of our own citizens. at the white house career professionals became concerned that president trump through an irregular channel that involved mick mulvaney, gordon sondland and rudy giuliani was pushing a policy towards ukraine at odds with the national interests. this morning we hear from two of the national security professionals who became aware of those efforts. lieutenant colonel alexander vindman, whose family fled oppression in the soviet union is a an iraq war veteran and expert in russia and ukraine who has worked at the highest levels of the pentagon.
in july 2018, he was detailed to the white house in part to coordinate policy on ukraine. jennifer williams is a career foreign service officer who is currently detailed to the office of the vice president and responsible for europe and eurasia represented issues. following his congratulatory phone call with president zelensky on april 21, president trump asked vice president pence to represent him at vels's zele upcoming inauguration. ms. williams was working on logistics for the trip. pence would be a coveted attendee second in significance only to the president and would have sent an important signal of support to the new ukranian president. in early may however, rudy giuliani had been planning to go to ukraine to pursue the president's interests in having the bidens investigated. but had to call off the trip after it became public. among others, giuliani blamed people around zelensky no having to cancel and claimed that they
were antagonistic to trump. three days later, the president called off the vice president's attendance at zelensky's inauguration. instead a lower level delegation was named, energy secretary rick perry, ambassadsondland and vol. the three amigos. after returning, several members of the delegation briefed president trump on their interactions with zelensky. they urnlgsed trump to meet with the ukranian president. but trump instead criticized ukraine and instructed them to work with rudy. a few weeks later, on july 10th, ambassador sondland met at the white house with a group of u.s. and ukranian officials including colonel vindman and informed the group that according to mulvaney, the white house meeting sought by the ukranian president what happenedif you
crane undertook certain investigations. bolton abruptly ended the meeting and said that he would not be part of whatever drug deal sondland and mulvaney can cooking up. undeterred, slond brougondland e delegation to the white house and said that they needed to investigation xwae burisma. vindman went to the top lawyer to report the matter. he was told to report in the future with any concerns. he would soon find the need to do so. a week later on july 18th, representative of the office of management and budget announced on a video conference call that mulvaney at trump's direction was freezing nearly $400 million in military assistance to ukraine which was appropriated by congress and enjoyed the support of the entirety of the u.s. national security establishment.
one week after that, trump would have the now infamous july 25th phone call with zelensky. during that call, trump complained that the u.s. relationship with ukraine had not been reciprocal. later zelensky thanks trump for his support in the area of defense and that ukraine was ready to purchase more javelins and anti-tank weapons. trump's immediate response, i would like you do us a favor though. trump then requested that zelensky investigate the discredited 2016 conspiracy theory and even more ominously look into the bidens. neither was part of the official preparatory material for the call, but they were in donald trump's personal interests and in the interests of his 2020 re-election campaign. and the ukranian president knew about both in advance because slo sondland and others had been pressing ukraine for weeks about investigations into the 2016
election, burisma and the bidens. both colonel vindman and ms. williams were on the july 25th call. vindman testified that due to the unequal bargaining position of the two leaders, and ukraine's dependency on the u.s., the favor trump asked of zelensky was really a demand. after the call, multiple individuals including vindman were concerned enough to report it to the national security council's top lawyer. it was the second time in two weeks that vindman had raised concerns with nsc lawyers. for her part, williams also believed that asking zelensky if undertake these political investigations was inappropriate and that it might explain something else that she had become aware of, the otherwise hold on military assistance to ukraine. both colonel vindman and ms. williams also took note of the explicit use of the word burisma by zelensky, a fact left out of the record of the call.
colonel vindman believed that zelensky must have been prepared to the call to be able to make the connection between burisma and biden a fact other witnesses have confirmed. in the weeks that for the the july 25th call, colonel vindman continued to push for a release of the military aid to ukraine and struggled to learn why it was being withheld. more disturbing word of the hold had reached ukranian officials prior to it becoming public. by mid august, deputy ambassdor asked why the united states was asking the hold. although vindman didn't have an answer, sondland made it explicit to ukranians at a meeting in warsaw, they needed to publicly commit to the two investigations if they hoped to get the aid. ms. williams, we all saw the president's tweet about you on sunday afternoon and the insults he hurled at ambassador yovanovitch last friday. you are here today and the american people are grateful. colonel vindman, we have seen
far more scurrilous facts on your character and watched as certain personalities on fox have questioned your loyalty. you have shed blood for america and we owe you an immense debt of gratitude. i hope no one on this committee will become part of those swr h vicious attacks. today's witnesses like those who testified last week are here because they were subpoenaed to appear. not because they are for or against impeachment. that question is for congress, not the fact witnesses. if the president abused his power, and invited foreign interference in our elections, if he sought to condition, coerce, extort an ally into conducting investigations and did so by withholding official acts, white house meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars of need he had aid. it will be up to us to decide whether those acts are compatible with the office of the presidency.
i now recognize ranking member nunes for any remarks he would like to made. >> thank you, gentleman. i'd like to address a few brief words to the american people watching at home. if you watched the impeachment hearings last week, you may have noticed a disconnect between what you saw and the mainstream media accounts describing it. when you saw flw three diplomato disliked president's ukraine policy discussing second hand and third hand conversations about their objections with the trump policy. meanwhile, they admitted that they had not talked to the president about these matters. and they were unable to identify any crime or impeachable offenses president committed. what you read in the press were accounts of shocking, damning and explosive testimony that fully supports the democrats' accusations. if these accounts have a familiar ring, it is because this is the same preposterous reporting that the media offer
230d three years on the russian hoax. on a nearly daily basis, they reported breathlessly on the new he issest bombshell revelations showing that president and everyone surrounding him were russian agents. and there really wasn't long ago that we were reading these headlines -- from cnn, congress investigating russian investments fund with ties to trump officials. this was false. "new york times," campaign aides had repeated contacts with russian intelligence. also fault. slate, was a trump server communicating with russia. this was false. new york magazine, will trump be meeting with his counterpart or his handler? this was false. guardian oig, manafort held secret talks with assange and ecuadorian embassy.
also false. buzzfe buzzfeed, president trump directed his attorney to lie to congress about the moscow tower project. all of these were false. there was no objectivity or fairness in the media's russia stories just as a rush to tarnish and refuse a president who refuses to pretend that the media are something different from what they really are. puppets of the democratic party. with their biased misreporting, the media lost the confidence of millions of americans and they have learned no lessons a simply expect americans will believe them as they try to stoke yet another partisan frenzy. in previous hearing, i've outlined flooe questiout lined three questions democrats and media don't want asked or answered. the media are trying to smother and dismiss them.
those questions start with, what is the full extent of the democrats' prior coordination with the whistleblower and who else did the whistleblower coordinate this effort with? the media have fully accepted the democrats' stunning reversal on the need for the whistleblower to testify to this committee. when the democrats were insisting on his testimony, the media wanted it too. but things have changed since it game clear that the whistleblower would have to answer problematic questions that include these -- what was the full extent of the whistleblower's prior coordination with chairman schiff, his staff and any other people he cooperated with while preparing the complaint. what are the whistleblower's political biases and connections to democratic politicians. how does the whistleblower explain the inaccuracies in the complaint. what contact did the whistleblower have with the media which appears to be
ongoing. what are the sources of the whistleblower's information, who else did he talk to, and was the whistleblower prohibited by law from accepting or conveying any of that information. the media have joined the democrats in dismissing the importance of cross-examining this crucial witness now that the whistleblower has success 234 fully kick started impeachment, he has disappeared from the story as if the democrats put the whistleblower in their own witness protection program. my second question -- what was the full extent of you ukraine's election meddling against the trump campaign. in these depositions and hearings, republicans have cited numerous kag indications of ukr meddling to opposes the trump campaign. many were reported including the posting of many primary source documents by veteran investigative journalist john
sole monda solomon. since they switched from russia to ukraine, solomon has reported on bur reese made, hunter biden and now it is in-vipt for the democratic narrative and so the media is furiously smearing and libelling solomon. in fact the publication "the hill" told its staff yesterday that it would conduct a review of solomon's ukraine reporting. and this is just three days after a democrat on this committee told a hill writer that she would stop speaking to "the hill" because it had run solomon's stories. and she urged the writer to relay her concerns to "the hill's" management. so now that solomon's reporting is a problem for the democrats, it is a problem for the media as well. i'd like to submit for the record john solomon's october 31 story entitled debunking some of
ukraine's scandal myths about biden and election interference. i encourage viewers today to read this story and draw your own conclusions about the evidence solomon has gathered. i ask unanimous consent that we put this into the record. >> without objection. >> the concerted campaign by the media to discredit and disown some of their own colleagues is shocking. and we see it again in the sudden denunciations of "new york times" reporter ken vogel as a conspiracy theorist after he covered similar issues including a 2017 politico piece entitled "ukraine in an efforts to sabotage trump backfire." my third question, why did bur ree burisma hire hunter biden and what did he do for them and did it affect any actions under the
obama administration. we have now heard testimony from the democrats' own witnesses that diplomats were concerned about a conflict of interest involving hunter biden. that is because he had secured a well paid position despite having no qualifications on the board of a corrupt ukranian company while his father was vice president charged with yoe overseeing ukranian issues. after trying out several different accusations against president trump, the democrats have recently settled on bribery. according to widespread reports, they replaced their quid pro quo allegation because it wasn't polling well. but if the democrats and media are suddenly on deeply concerned about bribery, be you would think that they would take some interest in burisma paying hunter biden $83,000 a month. and you would think that they would be interested in joe biden
threatening to withhold u.s. loan garn guarantees unless the ukranians fired a prosecutor who was investigating burisma. that would be a textbook example of bribery. the media of course are free to act as democrat puppets and they are flee to lurch from the russia hoax to the ukraine hoax at the direction of their puppet masters. but they cannot reasonably expect to do so without alienating half the country who voted for the president that they are trying to expel. americans have learned to recognize fake news when they see it and if the mainstream press won't give it to them straight, they will go elsewhere to find it. which is exactly what the american people are doing. with that i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. today we are joined by lieutenant colonel vindman and jennifer williams. lieutenant colonel alexander vindman is an active duty
military officer who joined the army after college and served multiple tours overseas. serving in south korea, germany and iraq. he was key employed to irplo dea time of heavy hurting and was awarded a purple heart. since 2008, he has served as foreign area officer specializing in you're raise i can't -- eurasia, serving both at home and in ukraine and russia. he has served as a military affairs officer for russia for the chairman joint chiefs of staff. he joined the trump administration in july 2018 when he was asked to serve on the national security council. jennifer williams began her career in 2005 shortly after graduating from college when she joined the department of homeland security as political appointee during the george w. bush administration and after working as a field representative on the 2004 bush/cheney presidential came pain.
she joined the foreign service the following year completing tours in jamaica, beirut and lebanon. prior to joining the office of the vice president, she served at the u.s. embassy in london as a public affairs officer. in april 2019, ms. williams was detailed to the office of the vice president mike pence where she serves as a special adviser on his foreign policy team covering europe and russia issues. in that capacity, she keeps the vice president aware of foreign policy issues in europe and russia and prepares him for foreign policy engagements and meetings with foreign leaders. two final points. first witness depositions were unclassified in nature and all open hearings will also be held at the unclassified level. any information that may touch on classified information will be addressed separately. second, congress will not tolerate any reprisal, threat of reprisal or attempt to retal yent against any u.s. government official for testifying before
congress. including you or any of your colleagues. if you would both please rise and raise your right hand, i will begin by swearing you in. do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? let the record show that the witnesses have answered in the affirmati affirmative. thank you and you may be seated. the microphones are sensitive, so please speak directly into them. without objection, your written statement will be made part of the record. with that, ms. williams, you are recognized for your opening statement and when are you concluded, lieutenant colonel, you are immediately recognized for your opening statement. ms. williams. >> thank you, chairman schiff, ranking member nunes, and other members of the committee for the opportunity to provide this statement. i'm here today pursuant to a subpoena and am prepared to answer your questions to the best of my abilities. i have had the privilege of working as a foreign service
officer for nearly 14 years working for three different presidential administrations. two republican, and one democratic. i joined the state department in 2006 after serving in the department of homeland security under secretary michael chertoff. it was with great pride and conviction that i swore an oath to up hold and defend the constitution, administered by a personal hero of mine, former secretary of state condoleezza rice. as a career officer, i am committed to serving the american people in advancing american interests abroad in support of the president's foreign policy objectives. i have been inspired and encouraged in that journey by the thousands of other dedicated public servants who i'm proud to call colleagues across the foreign service, civil service, military and federal law enforcement agencies. i have served overseas tours in kingston, jamaica, beirut, and london. i have worked to implement
humanitarian assistance programs to serve millions of victims of the syria conflict and served as an adviser on middle east issues to the deputy secretary of state. and this spring it was the greatest honor of my career to be asked to serve as a special adviser to the vice president for europe and russia. over the past eight months, i have been privileged to work with the dedicated and capable men and women of the office of the vice president. to advance the administration's agenda. i have also worked closely with talented and committed colleagues at the national security council, state department, department of defense and other agencies to advance and promote u.s. foreign policy objectives. in this capacity, i have advised and prepared the vice president for engagements related to ukraine. as you are aware, on november 7, i appeared before the committee for a closed door deposition pursuant to a subpoena. i would like to take this opportunity to briefly summarize
my recollection of some of the events that i expect the committee may ask me about. on april 21, volodymyr zelensky won the ukranian presidential election. on april 23, the vice president called to congratulate president-elect zelensky. during the call, which i participated in, the instead accepted an invitation to attend his upcoming inauguration proitd t provided the scheduling worked out. the vice president only had a narrow win deof availability and the ukranian parliament would not meet to set a date for the inauguration until after may 14. as a result, we did not expect to know whether the vice president would be able -- could attend until may 14th at the earliest and we made only preliminary trip preparations in early may. on may 13, an assistant to the vice president's chief of staff called and informed me that president trump had decided that the vice president would not attend the inauguration in ukraine. she did not provide any further
explanation. i relayed that instruction to others involved in planning the potential trip. i also informed the nsc that the vice president would not be attending so that it could identify a head of delegation to represent the united states at president-elect zelensky's inauguration. on july 3, i learned that the office of management and budget had placed a hold on a tranche of security assistance designated for ukraine. correspond to the information i received, ohb was reviewing whether the funding was aligned with the administration's priority. i susicious packa i attended meetings where the hold on the assistance was discussed. during those meetings, representatives advocated that the hold should be lifted and ohb representatives reported that the white house chief of staff had directed that it should remain in place. on september 11th, i learned that the hold on security
assistance for ukraine had been released. i have never learned what prompted that decision. on july 25th, along with several of my colleagues, i listened to a call between president trump and president zelensky. the content of which has since been publicly reported. prior to july 25th, i had participated in roughly a dozen other presidential phone calls. during my closed door deposition, members asked about my personal views and whether i had any concerns about the july 25th call. as i testified then, i found the july 25th phone call unusual because in contrast to other presidential calls i had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter. after the july 25th call, i provided an update in the vice president's daily briefing book indicating that president trump had a call that day with president zelensky. a hard copy of the memorandum transcribing the call was also included in the book.
i not know whether the vice president reviewed my update or the transcript. i did not discuss the july 25th call with the vice president or any of hiof my colleagues. on august 29th, i learned the vice president would be traveling to poland for meet with president zelensky. at the september 1th meeting which i attended, president zelensky asked the vice president about news articles reporting a hold on u.s. security assistance for ukraine. the vice president responded that ukraine had the united states unwavering support and promised to relay their conversation to president trump that night. during the september 1 meeting, neither the vice president nor president zelensky mentioned the specific investigations discussed during the july 25th phone call. thank you again for the opportunity to provide this statement. i'd be happy to answer any
questions. >> mr. chairman, ranking members, thank you for the opportunity to address the house permanent select committee on intelligence with respect to the activities relating to ukraine and my role in the events under investigation. i've dedicated my entire professional life to the united states of america. for more than two decades, it has been my honor to serve as an officer in the army, infantry officer with multiple overseas tours and i was deployed to w e for combat places. since 2008, i have been a foreign officer. i served in the united states embassy in kiev, and moscow. in washington, d.c., i was the political military affairs officer for russia, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff where i drafted the armed forces global campaign plan to counter russian aggression and made line influence. and in july 2019, i was asked to serve at the white house national security council.
at the nsc, i'm the principal adviser to the national security adviser on ukraine and other countries in my portfolio. my role at the nsc is to develop, coordinate and implement plans and policies to manage the full range of d diplomatic and economic national security issues. my core function is to coordinate policy with departments and agencies. the committee has heard from many of my colleagues about the extra teenstrategic importance ukraine. promoting ukranian prosperity and instructing a free and democratic ukraine as a counter to russia aggression has been a consistent bipartisan foreign policy objective and strategy across various administrations both democratic and republican. and that president zelensky's election in april 2019 created an unprecedented opportunity to
realize our strategic objectives. in the spring of 2019, i became aware of two disruptive actors primarily ukraine's then prosecutor lutsenko and former mayor rudy giuliani's promoting false narratives that undermined the united states' ukraine policy. the nsc and its partners including the state department grew concerned about the impact that such information was having on our country's ability to achieve our objectives. on april 21, volodymyr zelensky was elected president in a landslide victory on an anti corruption platform. president trump called president zelensky on april 21 to congratulate him on his victory. i was a staff officer who produced the call materials and was one of the staff officers who listened to the call. the call was positive and president trump expressed his desire to work with president zelensky and extended an
invitation to visit the white house. in may, i attended the inauguration of president zelensky as part of the presidential delegation led by secretary perry. following the visit, the members of the delegation provided president trump a debriefing offering a positive assessment of president zelensky and his team. after this debriefing, president trump signed a congratulatory letter to president zelensky and extended another invitation to visit the white house. on july 10, ukraine's national security adviser visited white house for a meeting with national security adviser bolton. ambassadors volker and sondland and secretary rick perry also attended the meeting i attended with dr. hill. we fully anticipated ukranians would raise the issue of a meeting between the presidents. ambassador bolton consult the meeting short when ambassador sondland started to speak about the requirement that ukraine deliver specific investigations
in order to secure the meeting with president trump. following this meeting, there was a short debriefing in which ambassador sondland emphasized the importance of the investigations into the 2016 elections, bidens and burisma. i stated that this was inappropriate and had nothing to do with national security. d we agreed to report the incident to nsc's lead counsel, mr. john eisenbe eisenberg. president zelensky won a parliament election and the nsc proposed president trump callcu. the call occurred july 25th and i listened in. what i heard was inappropriate and i reported my concerns to mr. eisenberg. it is improper for the president
of the united states to demand a foreign government investigate a u.s. citizen and a political opponent. i was also clear that if you crane pursued -- it was also clear that if they pursued the investigation into the 2016 elections, the bidens and burisma, it would be entinterprd as a partisan play and it would result in ukraine losing bipartisan support from the u.s. i want to emphasize to the committee that when i reported my concerns on july 10th relating to ambassador sondland, and then july 25th relating to the president, i did so out of a sense of duty. i privately reported my concerns in official channels to the proper authority in the chain of command. my intent was to wraz these conce raise these concern because they had still national security concerns. i never thought that i'd be sitting here testifying in front of this committee and the
american public about my actions. when i reported my concerns, my only thought was to act properly and to carry out my duty. following each much of my repor immediately returned to work to advance are our country's foreign policy objectives. i've focused on promoting america's national security interests. i want to take a moment to recognize the courage of high. >> caller: leagues who have appeared and are scheduled to appear before this committee. i want to say that the character ofwho have appeared and are scheduled to appear before this committee. i want to say that the character of attacks on these servants reprehensible. it is natural to engage in spirited debate. but we are better than personal attacks. the uniform i wear today is that of a united states army -- that of the united states army. the member of our all strovolun force are made up a patchwork of people from all ethnicities and
socioeconomic backgrounds who come together to protect and defense the constitution of america. we do not serve any political party, we serve the nation. i'm humbled to come before you today as one of many who serve in the most distinguished andable mianble military in the world. as a young man, i decided i wanted to spend my life searching this nation that gave my family refuge from authoritarian oppression. for the last 20 years, it has been an honor to represent and protect this great country. next month will mark 40 years since myy arrived in the united states as refugees. when my father was 47 years old, he left behind his entire life and the only home he had ever known to startoff over in the united states so his three sons could have better and safer lives. his courageous decision inspired a deep sense of gratitude in my brothers and myself and
instilled in us a sense of duty and service. all three 6 have served or have currently serve management milita -- serving in the military. our collective military service is a special part of our family's history. i also recognize that my simple act of appearing here today just like the courage of my colleagues who have also truthfully testified before this committee would not be tolerated in many places around the world. in russia, my act of expressing concern to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions and offer in public testimony involving the president would surely cost me my life. i'm grateful to my father for his brave act of hope 40 years ago and for the privilege of being an american citizen and public servant. where i can live free of fear for mine and my family's safety.
dad, i'm sitting here today in the u.s. capitol talking to our elected professionals, talking to our elected prove als, proof that you made the right decision to leave the soviet union and come here to the united states of america in search of a better life for our family. do not worry. i will be fine for telling the truth. thank you again for your consideration. i will be happy to answer your questions. >> thank you, colonel, ms. williams. colonel, your brother and family are more than welcome here. grateful to have them with us. we will proceed with the first round of questions. there will be 45 minutes of questions conducted by the chairman or majority counsel followed by 45 minutes for the ranking member or minority counsel. under house resolution 660, that time may not be delegated to other members. following that, unless i specify additional time for extends questioning, we will proceed under the five minute rule and every member will have a chance to ask questions.
i know recognize myself or majority counsel for the first 45 minutes. before we get in to the substance of your testimony, ms. williams, i want to ask you about a phone call between vice president pence and president zelensky of ukraine on september 18th. were you on that call? >> i was. >> and did you take notes of the call? >> yes, sir. >> is there something about that call that you think may be relevant to our investigation? >> as we previously discussed with the committee, the office of the vice president has taken the position that the september -- >> sir, could you move the microphone closer? >> as we previously discussed with both majority and minority staff of the committee, the office of the vice president has taken the position that the september 18th call is classified. as a result with respect for the call, i'd brefr trefer the commo the public record which includes
ms. williams november 7 testimony which has been publicly released as well as the public readout of that call which has previously been issued by the white house. beyond that, given the position of the vice president's office, on classification, i've individualed ms. wi advised miss williams not to answer further questions about that call in an unclassified setting. >> i'd also ask you in this setting whether you think there is something relevant to our inquiry in that call and whether if so you would be willing to make a classified submission to the committee. >> i would also refer for my testimony that i gave in the closed session and i'm very happy to appear for a classified setting discussion as well. >> it may not be necessary for you to appear if you would be willing to submit the information in writing to the committee. >> i'd be happy to do so. >> i thank you. colonel vindman, if i could turn your attention to the april 21st call, that is the first call
between president trump and president zelensky, did you prepare a talking points for the president to use during that call? >> yes, i did. >> and did those talking points include rooting out corruption in ukraine? >> yes. >> that was something that the president was supposed to raise in the conversation with president zelensky? >> those were the recommended talking points that were cleared through the nsc staff for the president, yes. >> did you listen in on that call? >> yes, i did. >> the white house has now released the record of that call. did president trump ever mention corruption in the april 21th call? >> to the best of my wreck electio recollection, he did not. >> and on the april 21st call, president trump told president zelensky that he would send a high level u.s. delegation to the inauguration. following that call, ms.
williams, was it your understanding that the president wanted the vice president to attend the inauguration? >> yes, that was my understanding. >> and did the president subsequently tell the vice president not to attend the inauguration? >> i was informed by our chief of staff's office, the have not's chief of staff's office, that the president had told the vice president not to attend. i did not witness that conversation. >> and am i correct that you learned this on may 13th, is is that right? >> that's right. >> am i also correct that the inauguration date had not been set by may 13 snth. >> that's correct. >> do you know what accounted for the president's decision to instruct the vice president not to attend? >> i do not. >> colonel vindman, you were a member of the u.s. delegation to the inauguration on may 20th. is that correct? >> yes, chairman. >> and during that trip, did you have an opportunity to offer any advice to president zelensky? >> yes, chairman.
>> what was the advice that you gave him? >> during a bilateral meeting in which the whole delegaion was meeting with president zelensky and his team, i offered two pieces of advice. to be particularly cautious with regards to ukraine, to be particularly cautious with regards to russia and its desire to provoke ukraine and the second one was to stay out of u.s. domestic policy. >> you mean politics? >> politics, correct. >> why did you feel it was necessary to advise president zelensky to stay away from u.s. domestic politics? >> chairman, in the march and april time frame, it became clear that there were actors in the u.s. -- public actors, non-governmental actors that were promoting the idea of
investigations and 2016 ukrainian interference and it was consistent with u.s. policy to advise any country, all the countries in my portfolio, any country in the world, to not participate in u.s. domestic politics. so i was passing the same advice, consistent with u.s. policy. >> i know mr. goldman will have more questions about that when i turn to him. but let me turn, if i can, to the hold on security assistance, which i think you both testified you learned about in early july. am i correct that neither of you were provided with a reason for why the president put a hold on security assistance to ukraine? >> my understanding was that omb was reviewing the assistance to ensure it was in line with administration priorities. but it was not made more specific than that. >> colonel vindman? >> that is consistent. the review was to ensure it
remained consistent with administration policies. >> and colonel vindman, you attended a meeting in john bolton's office on july 10th, where ambassador sondland interjected to respond to a question by a senior ukrainian officials about a white house visit. what did he say at that time? >> to the best of my recollection, ambassador sondland said that in order to get a white house meeting, the ukrainians would have to provide a deliverable, which is investigations, specific investigations. >> and what was ambassador bolton's response or reaction to that comment? >> we had not completed all of the agenda items and we still had time for the meeting and ambassador bolton abruptly ended the meeting. >> did you report this incident to the national security council lawyers? >> yes, i did. >> based on ambassador sondland's remark at the july 10th meeting, was it your clear understanding that the
ukrainia ukrainians understood that they had to commit to investigations president trump wanted in order to get the white house meeting? >> it may not have been entirely clear at that moment. certainly ambassador sondland was calling for these meetings and he had -- he had stated that his -- he had this -- this was developed per conversation with the chief of staff, mr. mick mulvaney, but the connection to the president wasn't clear at that point. >> but the import of what ambassador sondland said during that meeting was that there was an agreement with mick mulvaney that zelensky would get the meeting if they would undertake these investigations? >> that is correct. >> about two weeks after that july 10th meeting, president trump and president zelensky had their second call, the now-infamous july 25th call. colonel vindman, what was your
realtime reaction to hearing that call? >> chairman, without hesitation, i knew that i had to report this to the white house counsel. i had concerns and it was my duty to report my concerns to the proper people in the chain of command. >> and what was your concern? >> chairman, as i said in my statemen statement, it was inappropriate -- it was improper for the president to request -- to demand an investigation into a political opponent, especially a foreign power, where there's at best dubious belief that this would be a completely impartial investigation. and that this would have
significant implications if it became public knowledge and it would be perceived as a partisan play. it would undermine our ukraine policy. and it would undermine our national security. >> colonel, you've described this as a demand, this favor that the president asked. what is it about the relationship between the president of the united states and the president of ukraine that leads you to conclude that when the president of the united states asks a favor like this, it's really a demand? >> chairman, the culture i come from, the military culture, when a senior asks you to do something, even if it's polite and pleasant, it's not -- it's not to be taken as a request. it's to be taken as an order. in this case, the power disparity between the two leaders, my impression is that in order to get the white house meeting, president zelensky could have to deliver these
investigations. >> miss williams, i think you described your reaction in your deposition when you listened to the call as you found it unusual and inappropriate. but i was struck by something else you said in your deposition, you said, it shed some light on possible other motivations behind a security assistance hold. what did you mean by that? >> mr. chairman, i was asked during the closed-door testimony about how i felt about the call. and in reflecting on what i was thinking in that moment, it was the first time i had heard internally the president reference particular investigations that previously i had only heard about through mr. giuliani's press interviews, in press reporting. so in that moment, it was not clear whether there was a direct connection or linkage between the ongoing hold on security assistance and what the
president may be asking president zelensky to undertake in regard to investigations. so it was noteworthy in that regard. i did not have enough information to draw any firm conclusions. >> but it raised the question in your mind as to whether the two were related? >> it was the first i had heard of any requests of ukraine, which were that specific in nature. so it was noteworthy to me in that regard. >> both of you recall president zelensky in that conversation raising the issue or mentioning burisma, do you not? >> that's correct. >> correct. >> and yet the word "burisma" appears nowhere in the call record that's been released to the public. is that right? >> that's right. >> correct. >> do you know why that's the case? why that was left out? >> i do not. i was not involved in the production of that transcript.
>> i attribute that to the fact that this transcript that is being produced may have not caught the word "burisma" and it was in the transcript that was released, it was released as "the company," which is accurate. it's not a significant omission. >> but colonel, you pointed out the fact that that word was used, did you not? >> correct. >> and yet it was not included in the record released to the public. >> that's right. it's -- i would say it's informed speculation that the folks that produced these transcripts do the best they can and they just didn't catch the word. and that was my responsibility, to then make sure that the transcript was as accurate as possible and that's what i attempted to do by putting that word back in, because that was in my notes. >> i think, colonel, you testified in your deposition that you found it striking that zelensky would bring up burisma.
that it indicated to you that he had been prepped for the call, to expect this issue to come up. >> yeah. >> what led you to that conclusion? >> it seemed unlikely that he would be familiar with a single compa company in the context of a call that was on the broader bilateral relationship. and it seemed to me he was either tracking this issue because it was in the press or because he was otherwise prepped. >> mr. goldman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good morning to both of you. on july 25th, at approximately 9:00 a.m., you both were sitting in the situation room, probably not too much further away than you are right now. and you were preparing for a long-awaited phone call between president trump and president zelensky. now, colonel vindman, in advance
of this phone call, did you prepare talking points, as you did for the april 21st call? >> yes, i did. >> what were those talking points based upon? >> they were -- so this is not in the public record and i can't comment too deeply, but the areas that we've consistently talked to, talked about in public is cooperation on supporting a reform agenda, anticorruption efforts, and helping president zelensky implement his plans to end russia's war against ukraine. >> in other words, they're based on official u.s. policy. >> correct. >> and is there a process to determine official u.s. policy? >> yes. that is my job is to coordinate u.s. policy, so throughout the proceeding year that i have been on staff, i had undertaken an
effort to make sure we had a cohesive and coherent u.s. policy. >> and as you listened to the call, did you observe whether president trump was following the talking points based on the official u.s. policy? >> counsel, the president could choose to use the talking points or not. he's the president. but they were not consistent with what i provided, yes. >> let's take a look at a couple of excerpts from this call. right after president zelensky thanked president trump for the united states' support in the area of defense, president trump asks president zelensky for a favor. and then raises this theory of ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. he says in the highlighted portion, i would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and ukraine knows a lot about it. i would like you to find out
what happened with this whole situation with ukraine. they say crowdstrike. i guess you have one of your wealthy people, the server. they say ukraine has it. now, colonel vindman, was this statement based on the official talking points that you had prepared? >> no. and was this statement related to the 2016 ukraine interference in the 2016 election a part of the official u.s. policy? >> no, it was not. >> now, at the time of this july 25th call, colonel vindman, were you aware of a theory that ukraine had intervened or interfered in the 2016 u.s. election? >> i was. >> are you aware of any credible evidence to support this theory? >> i am not. >> are you also aware that vladimir putin had promoted this theory of ukrainian interference
in the 2016 election? >> i am well aware of that fact. >> and ultimately, which country did u.s. intelligence services determine to have interfered in the 2016 election? >> it is the consensus of the entire intelligence community that the russians interfered in the u.s. elections in 2016. >> let's go to another excerpt from this call, where president trump asks president zelensky to investigate his political opponent, vice president joe biden. here president trump says, the other thing, there's a lot of talk about biden's son that biden stopped the prosecution. and a lot of people want to find out about that. so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. biden went pander bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it. it sounds horrible to me, he said. again, colonel vindman, was this included in your talking points? >> it was not.
>> such a request to investigate a political opponent, official wi consistent with u.s. policy? >> it was not consistent with the policy as i understood it. >> now, are you aware of any credible allegations or evidence to support this notion that vice president biden did something wrong or against u.s. policy with regard to ukraine? >> i am not. >> miss williams, are you familiar with any credible evidence to support this theory against vice president biden? >> no, i'm not. >> now, miss williams, prior to the july 25th call, approximately how many calls between president of the united states and foreign leaders had you listened to? >> i would say roughly a dozen. >> had you ever heard a call like this? >> as i testified before, i believe what i found unusual or different about this call was the president's reference to
specific investigations and that struck me as different than other calls i had listened to. >> you testified that you thought it was political in nature. why did you think that? >> i thought that the references to specific individuals and investigations such as former vice president biden and his son, struck he as political in nature, given that the former vice president is a political opponent of the president. >> so you thought that it could potentially be designed to assist president trump's re-election effort? >> i can't speak to what the president's motivation was in referencing it, but i just noted that the reference to biden sounded political to me. >> colonel vindman, you've said in your deposition that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the political benefits of the president's demands. for those of us who are not rocket scientists, can you explain what you meant by that?
>> so my understanding is that the connection to investigate a political opponent was inappropriate and improper. i made that connection as soon as the president brought up the biden investigation. >> colonel vindman, you testified that the president -- president trump's request for a favor from president zelensky would be considered as a demand to president zelensky. after this call, did you ever hear from any ukrainians, either in the united states or ukraine, about any pressure that they felt to do these investigations that president trump demanded? >> not that i can recall. >> did you have any discussions with officials at the embassy here, the ukrainian embassy here in washington, d.c.? >> yes, i did. >> did you discuss at all the demand for investigations with
them? >> i did not. >> did you discuss at all, at any point, their concerns about the hold on security assistance? >> to the best of my recollection, in the august time frame, the ukrainian embassy started to become aware of the hold on security assistance and they were asking if i had any comment on that or if i could substantiate that. >> and that was before it went -- became public, that's right? >> yes. >> and what did you respond? >> i believe i said that i don't recall, frankly. i don't recall what i said, but i believe it may have been something along the lines of, i'm not aware of it. >> you testified that one of your concerns about the request
for investigations related to u.s. domestic politics was that ukraine may lose bipartisan support. why was that a concern of yours? >> ukraine is in a war with russia. and the security assistance that we provide ukraine is significant. absent that security assistance and maybe even more importantly the signal of support for ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, that would likely encourage russia to pursue -- to potentially escalate, to pursue further aggression, undermining -- further undermining ukrainian sovereignty, european security, and u.s. security. >> in other words, ukraine is heavily dependent on united states support, both diplomatically, financially, and also militarily? >> correct. >> colonel vindman, what languages do you speak?
>> i speak russian and ukrainian and a little bit of english. >> do you know what -- do you recall what language president zelensky spoke on this july 25th phone call? >> i know he made a valiant effort to speak english. he had been practicing up his english, but he also spoke ukrainian. >> i want to look at the third excerpt from the july 25th call. and chairman schiff addressed this with you in his questioning. and you see in the highlighted portion, it says, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue, is that the portion of the call record that colonel vindman, you thought president zelensky actually said "burisma." >> correct. >> and you testified earlier that his use or -- or his understanding that when president trump mentioned the
bidens, that that referred to the company burisma sounded to you like he was prepped or prepared for this call. is that right? >> that is correct. >> i want to go to the next slide, if we could, which is actually a text message that neither of you is on. but this is from ambassador kurt volcker to andray yermak. and who's andray yermak? >> he's a senior adviser within the presidential administration -- the ukrainian presidential administration. he's a senior adviser to president zelensky. >> now, this text message is less than a half hour before the call on july 25 president and since neither of you were on it, i'll read it. it says, from ambassador volcker, "good lunch, thanks. heard from white house. assuming president z. convinces trump he will investigate, quote, get to the bottom of what happened, unquote in 2016, we
will nail down date for visit to washington. good luck. see you tomorrow. kurt." is this the sort of thing you're referring to when you say it sounded like president zelensky was prepared for this call? >> this would be consistent, yes. >> now, turning to the fourth excerpt from the july 25th call, where ukraine's president zelensky links the white house meeting to the investigations that president trump requests. president zelensky says, i also wanted to thank you for your invitation to visit the united states, specifically washington, d.c. on the other hand, i also wanted to ensure you that we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation. colonel vindman, when president zelensky says, "on the other hand," would you agree that he's acknowledging a linkage between the white house visit that he
mentions in the first sentence and the investigations that he mentions in the second sentence? >> it could be taken that away. i'm not sure if i -- that seems like a reasonable conclusion. >> and if that is the case, that would be consistent with the text message that ambassador volcker sent to andray yermak right before the call, is that right? >> seemingly so. >> now, you've testified in more deposition that a white house visit, an oval office visit is very important to president zelensky. why is that? >> the show of support for president zelensky, still a brand-new president. frankly, a new politician on the ukrainian political scene,
looking to establish his bona fide s as a regional and maybe even a world leader, would want to have a meeting with the united states, the most powerful country in the world, and ukraine's most significant benefactor, in order to be able to implement his agenda. >> it would provide him with some additional legitimacy at home? >> yes. >> so just to summarize in this july 25th call between the presidents of the united states and ukraine, president trump demanded a favor of president zelensky to conduct investigations that both of you acknowledge were for president trump's political interest, not the national interest, and in return, for his promise of a much-desired white house meeting for president zelensky. colonel vindman, is that an accurate summary of the excerpts we just looked at? >> yes. >> miss williams? >> yes. >> colonel vindman, you immediately reported this call
to the nsc lawyers. why did you do that? >> so at this point, i had already been tracking this initially what i would describe as alternative narrative, false narrative, and i was certainly aware of the fact that it was starting to reverberate, gain traction. the fact that it and the july 10th call ended up being pronounced by a public official, ambassador sondland had me alerted to this and i was subsequent to that report, i was invited to follow up with any other concerns to mr. eisenberg. >> and we're going to discuss that july 10th meeting in a moment. but when you say "alternative false narratives," are you referring to the two investigations that president trump referenced in the call? >> yes. >> now, at some point, did you
also discuss how the written summary of the call record should be handled with the nsc lawyers? >> following the report, there was a discussion in the legal shop on the best way to manage the transcript, yes. >> what did you understand they concluded? >> my understanding is that this was viewed as a sensitive transcript and to avoid leaks and if i recall the term properly or something along the lines of, preserve the integrity of the transcript, it should be segregated to a smaller group of folks. >> so "preserve the integrity of the transcript," what does that mean? >> i'm not sure i -- it seems like a legal term. i'm not an attorney, but it was -- i didn't take it as anything nefarious. i just understood that they wanted to keep it in a smaller group. >> if there was real interest in preserving the integrity of the transcript, don't you think they would have accepted your
correction that "burisma" should have been included? >> not necessarily. the way these edits occur, they go through like everywhere else an approval process. i made my contribution. it was cleared by mr. morrison. then when i returned it, sometimes that doesn't happen. there are administrative errors. i think in this case, i didn't see -- when i first saw the transcript without the two substantiative items i had attempted to include, i didnt see that as nefarious, i just thought, okay, it might be meaningful, but no big deal. >> you said two substantiative issues. what was the other one? >> there as a reference in a secti section, um. one second. on page, the top paragraph.
let me find the right spot. you can look into it, ellipse, there are videos. or recordings. >> so instead of an ellipse, what you heard is, "there are recordings." >> correct. >> did you ultimately learn where the call record was put? >> i understood that it was being segregated into a separate system, a separate secure system. why would it be put on a separate secure system? >> this is definitely not unprecedented, but at times, if you want to limit access to a smaller group of folks, you put it on the secure system to ensure that a smaller group of people with access to the secure system had it. >> can't you also limit the number of people who can access it on the regular system?
>> you can do that, but to the best of my recollection, the decision was made frankly on the fly after my -- after i conveyed my concerns to mr. eisenberg, mr. ellis came in, he hadn't heard the entire conversation. and when it was mentioned that it was sensitive, it was an on the fly decision to segregate into this other system. >> mr. eisenberg and mr. ellis are the nsc lawyers? >> correct. >> but it was your understanding that it was not a mistake to put it on the highly classified system, is that right? >> i'm not sure inunderstan und. >> was it intended to be on the highly classified system by the lawyers or a mistake that it was put there? >> i think it was intended, but again, it was intended to prevent leaks and to limit access. >> now, you testified, both of you, about the april 21st call a little earlier. and colonel vindman, you indicated that you did include,
in your talking points the idea of ukraine rooting out corruption, but that president trump did not mention corruption. i want to go to the white house read out from the april 21st call and i'm not going to read the whole thing, but you see the highlighted portion where it says, root out corruption? >> yes. >> so in the end, this readout was false. is that right? >> that's -- that's -- maybe that's a bit of a -- it's not entirely accurate, but i'm not sure if i would describe it as false. it was consistent with u.s. policy and these items are used as messaging tools also. so a statement that goes out, in addition to you know reading out the meeting itself is also a messaging platform to indicate what is important with regards to u.s. policy. >> so it is a part of u.s. official policy that ukraine
should root out corruption, even if president trump did not mention it in that april 21st phone call. is that right? >> certainly. >> and he also did not mention it in the july 25th phone call, is that right? >> correct. >> so even though it was included in his talking points, for the april 21st call, and presumably even though you can't talk about it for the july 21st call, it was not included in either. is that right? >> for the april 21st call -- >> he did not mention it in either, rather? >> correct. >> so when the president says now that he held up security assistance because he was concerned about rooting out corruption in ukraine, that concern was not expressed in the two phone conversations that he had with president zelensky earlier this year. is that right? >> correct. >> now, miss williams, you testified that earlier, that after this april 21st call,
president trump asked vice president pence to attend vice president zelensky's inauguration. is that right? >> that's correct. >> and that on may 13th, you were just informed by the chief of staff's office that vice president pence should not, will not be going per request of the president. is that right? >> that's what i was informed, yes. >> and you didn't know what had changed from april 21st to may 13th. is that right? >> no, not in terms of that decision. >> well, colonel vindman, since you in particular are a little bit more been miss williams focusing on ukraine, i want to ask you if you were aware of the following things that happened from april 21st to may 13th. were you aware that ambassador yovanovitch was abruptly recalled from ukraine in that time? >> yes. >> were you aware that president trump -- >> i'm sorry, to correct it, so
she was recalled prior -- sorry, so the notification occurred towards the end of april and she was finally recalled in the may time frame, i think may 25th, if i recall correctly. >> so she learned it about after april 21st, on april 24th, is that right? >> correct. >> and are you aware that president trump had a phone call with president putin during this time frame in early may? >> i was. >> and are you aware that rudy giuliani had planned a trip to go to ukraine to pressure the ukrainians to initiate the two investigations that president trump mentioned on the july 25th call in this time period? >> i was aware that he was traveling there and that he had been promoting the idea of these investigations. >> i want to move now to that july 10th meeting that you referenced, colonel vindman. what exactly did ambassador sondland say when the ukrainian
officials raised this idea of a white house meeting? >> as i recall, he referred to specific investigations that ukrainians would have to deliver in order to get these meetings. >> and what happened -- >> the white house meeting. >> what happened to the broader meeting after he made that reference? >> ambassador bolton very abruptly ended the meeting. >> and did -- how -- did you have any conversations with ambassador bolton about this meeting? >> no, i did not. >> did you follow ambassador sondland and the others to the war room for a meeting follow-up? >> there was a photo opportunity that we leveraged in order to demonstrate u.s. support, so the white house visit demonstrating u.s. support for ukraine and the new national security adviser, who's a technocrat.
and after that, we went down to a short post-meeting huddle or debrief. >> were the investigations, the specific investigations that ambassador sondland referenced in the larger meeting also discussed in the war room meeting. >> they were. >> and what did ambassador sondland say? >> ambassador sondland referred to investigations into the bidens and burisma in 2016. >> how did you respond, if at all? >> i said that this request to conduct these meetings was inappropriate. these investigations was inappropriate and had nothing to do with national security policy. >> was ambassador volcker in this meeting, as well? >> i don't recall specifically. i believe he was there for at least a portion of the time. i don't recall if they was there for the whole meeting. >> was -- was this statement made in front of the ukrainian officials? >> i believe there was some
discussion prior to the ukrainians leaving, when it was apparent there was some discord between the senior folks, ambassador sondland, and other white house staff, myself, they were asked to step out, so i don't recall if they were there for the entire discussion. >> the senior white house staff that you're referring to, does that include fiona hill, your immediate supervisor at the time? >> correct. >> you said you also reported this incident to the nsc lawyers. is that correct? >> correct. >> and what was their response? >> john eisenberg said that he took notes while i was talking and he said that he would look into it. >> why did you report this meeting and this conversation to the nsc lawyers? >> because it was inappropriate and following the meeting, i had a short conversation, following the post-meeting meeting in the
war room, i had a short conversation with ambassador -- correction, dr. hill and we discussed the idea of needing to report this. >> so am i correct, colonel vindman, that at least no later than that july 10th meeting, the ukrainians had understood or at least heard that the oval office meeting that they so desperately wanted was conditioned on the specific investigations into burisma and the 2016 election? >> that was the first time i was aware of the ukrainians being approached directly by a government official. >> and directly linking the white house meeting to the investigations? >> correct. >> miss williams, you testified in your opening statement that you attended the september 1st meeting between vice president
pence and president zelensky in warsaw. is that right? >> that's correct. >> what was the first thing that president zelensky asked vice president pence about at that meeting? >> vice president pence asked president zelensky about the status of security for ukraine because he had seen the politico article and other news reporting that the security assistance was being held. >> and you testified in your deposition that in that conversation, president zelensky emphasized that the military assistance, the security assistance was not just important to assist ukraine in fighting a war against russia, but that it was also symbolic in nature. what did you understand him to mean by that? >> president zelensky explained that more than -- or just, equally with the financial and physical value of the assistance that it was the symbolic nature
of that assistance that really was the show of u.s. support for ukraine and for ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. and i think he was, he was stressing that to the vice president to really underscore the need for the security assistance to be released. >> and that if the united states was holding the security assistance, is it also true, then, that russia could see that as a sign of weakening u.s. support for ukraine and take advantage of that? >> i believe that's what the president -- president zelensky was indicating, that any signal or sign that u.s. support was wavering, would be construed by russia as potentially an opportunity for them to strengthen their own hand in ukraine. >> did vice president pence provide a reason for the hold on security assistance to the ukrainian president in that meeting? >> the vice president did not specifically discuss the reason behind the hold, but he did reassure president zelensky of
the strongest u.s. unwavering support for ukraine and they talked about the need for european countries to step up and provide more assistance to ukraine, as well. >> did vice president pence report back to president trump on that meeting, to your knowledge? >> the vice president conveyed to president zelensky that he would follow up with president trump that evening and conveyed to president trump what he had heard from president zelensky with regard to his efforts to implement reforms in ukraine. i am aware that the vice president spoke to vice president that evening, but i was not privy to the conversation. >> are you also aware, however, that the security assistance hold was not lifted for another ten days after this meeting? >> that's correct. >> and am i correct that you didn't learn the reason why the hold was lifted? >> that's correct. >> colonel vindman, you didn't
learn a reason why the hold was lifted either, is that right? >> correct. >> colonel vindman, are you aware the committees launched an investigation on july 9th, two days before the hold was lifted. >> i am aware. >> and on the 10th, they requested the whistle-blower complaint from the department of national intelligence. are you aware of that? >> i don't believe i was aware of that. >> are you aware that the white house was aware of this whistle-blower complaint prior to that date? >> the first i heard of the whistle-blower complaint is i believe when the news broke, i was only aware of the committees investigating the hold on security assistance. >> so is it accurate to say, colonel vindman, that whatever reason that was provided for the hold, including the administrative policies, which would -- well, which would
support the hold. i mean, would support the security stanassistance. is that right, to your understanding? >> i'm sorry, i didn't understand that. >> i was just asking that the administrative policies of president trump supported the security assistance. is that your understanding? >> so the interagency policy was to support security assistance for ukraine. >> thank you. i yield back. >> now recognize ranking member nunes or minority counsel for 45 minutes. >> thank you. miss williams, welcome. i want to just establish a few basic facts about your knowledge of ukraine, burisma, and the role of the bidens. >> yes, sir. >> you spend an extraordinary amount of your time on ukraine, correct? >> ukraine is one of the countries in my portfolio. i would not say an extraordinary amount of time, but certainly the vice president has engaged on ukraine policy quite a bit in my eight months. >> and it's in your portfolio?
>> that's correct. >> first off, were you aware in september of 2015, then u.s. ambassador to ukraine, jeffrey piat, publicly called for an investigation into the president of burisma, were you aware of these public statements? >> no, not at the time. >> you are today, though? >> i have since heard them, yes. >> did you know of anti-trump efforts by various ukrainian officials as well as alexander calupa? >> i was not aware. >> did you know about the secretary of state deputy kent's concern about concerns about hunter biden on the board of burisma? >> i did not work on ukraine policy in that time frame, so -- >> in the last year or so? >> i've become aware of it
through mr. kent's testimony, through this process. >> did you know that financial records show a financial natural gas company burisma routed more than $3 million to american accounts tide to hunter biden? >> no, i was not aware. >> until? >> until you prepared for this hearing? >> until others have been testifying in more detail on those issues, that's correct. >> and you've been following it more closely. >> correct. >> did you know that burisma's american legal representatives met with ukrainian officials just days after vice president biden forced the firing of the country's chief prosecutor? >> again, sir, i was not working on ukraine policy during that time. >> none of these are trick questions. >> i understand. >> did you know that burisma lawyers pressured the state department in february 2016 after the raid and month before the firing of shokin, and that they invoked hunter biden's name as a reason to intervene? >> i was
not aware. >> did you know that joe biden
called ukrainian president poroshenko at least three times in february 2016, after the president and owner of burisma's home was raided on february 2nd
by the state prospector's office? >> not at the time. again, i've become aware of that through this proceeding. >> thank you, miss williams. >> lieutenant colonel vindman, i'm going to ask you the same questions, just to establish some basic facts about your knowledge about ukraine, burisma and the role of the bidens. >> in september 2015, u.s. ambassador to ukraine, jeffrey piat publicly called for an investigation into sclechefski, the president of burisma. were you aware of these public statements? >> i wasn't aware of them at the time. >> when did you become aware of them? >> during the course of the testimony and the depositions after this impeachment inquiry began. >> did you know of anti-trump efforts by various ukrainian
government officials as well as alexander chalupa, a dnc consultant? >> i'm not aware of any of these interference efforts. >> did you know about deputy assistant secretary of state kent's concerns about potential conflict of interests with hunter biden sitting on the board of burisma? >> only -- the only thing i'm aware of is pertains to his deposition. >> did you know that financial records show a ukrainian natural gas company, burisma, routed more than $3 million to the american accounts tied to hunter biden? >> i'm not aware of this fact. >> until recently? >> i guess i didn't independently look into it. i'm just not aware of what kind of payments mr. biden may have received. this is not something i'm aware of. >> did you know that burisma's legal representatives met with ukrainian officials just days after vice president biden forced the firing of the country's chief prosecutor? >> i'm not aware of these
meetings. >> did you know that burisma lawyers pressured the state department in february of 2016 after the raid and a month before the firing of shokin and that they invoked hunter biden's name as a reason to intervene? >> i'm not aware of any of these facts. >> did you know that joe biden called ukrainian president poroshenko at least three times in february 2016 after the president and owner of burisma's home was raided on february 2nd by the state prosecutor's office. >> i'm aware of the fact that president biden -- or vice president biden was very engaged on ukraine and had numerous engagements. that's what i'm aware of. >> miss williams and lieutenant colonel vindman, as you may or may not know, this committee has spent nearly three years conducting various investigations, starting with the russia collusion hoax, fisa abuse, democratic hysteria over the lack of collusion in the mueller report, and now this
impeachment charade. one of the most concerning things regarding all of these investigations is the amount of classified or otherwise sensitive information i read in the press that derive either from this committee or sources in the administration. to be clear, i'm not accusing either one of you of leaking information. however, given that you are the first witnesses who actually have some firsthand knowledge of the president's call by listening in on july 25th, it's imperative to the american public's understanding of the events that we get a quick few matters out of the way, first. miss williams, let me just go to you first. for the purposes of the following questions, i'm only asking about the time period between -- from july 25th to september 25th. >> okay. >> did you discuss the july 25th phone call between president trump and president zelensky or
any matters associated with the phone call any members of the press? >> no. >> to be clear, you never discussed these matters with "the new york times," "the washington post," politico, cnn, or any other media outlet? >> no, i did not. >> did you ask or encourage any individual to share the substance of the july 25th phone call or any matter associated with the call with any member of the press? >> i did not. >> do you know of any individual who discussed the substance of the july 25th phone call or matter associated with the call with any member of the press? >> no, i do not. >> lieutenant colonel vindman, the same questions for you. did you discuss the july 25th phone call between president trump and president zelensky or any matter associated with the phone call with any member of the press? >> no, i did not. >> just to be clear, you did not discuss this with "the new york times," "the washington post,"
politico, cnn, or any other media outlet? >> i did not. >> did you ask or encourage any individual to share the substance of the july 25th phone call or any matter associated with the call with any member of the press? >> i did not. >> do you know of any individual who discussed the substance of the july 25th phone call or any matter associated with the call with any member of the press? >> we have an nsc press shop and they field any of these types of questions. i do not engage with the press at all. >> let me ask the question again, do you know of any individual who discussed the substance of the july 25th phone call or any matter associated with the call with any member of the press? >> we have an nsc press shop whose job is to engage on any of these types of questions. i am not aware, but it is possible and likely that the press shop would have had -- would field these types of questions.
>> the question is -- >> i'm sorry. >> the question is, do you know any individual -- do you personally know any individual who discussed the substance of the july 25th phone call or any matter associated with the call with any member of the press? >> thank you, ranking member for clarifying, i do not. >> thank you. >> miss williams, did you discuss the july 25th phone call with anyone outside the white house on july 25th or july 26th? and if so, with whom? >> i did not discuss the call with anyone outside or inside the white house. >> miss williams, during your time on the nsc, have you ever accessed a colleague's work computer without their prior authorization or approval? >> i have not. and just to clarify, i'm in the office of the vice president, so not on the nsc. >> right. but -- >> representing the vice president. >> no, i have not. no. >> thank you for that clarification. >> lieutenant colonel vindman, did you discuss the july 25th
phone call with anyone outside the white house on july 25th or the 26th? and if so, with whom? >> yes, i did. my core function is to coordinate u.s. government policy, interagency policy, and i spoke to two individuals with regards to providing a -- some sort of readout of the call. >> two individuals that were not in the white house? >> not in the white house, cleared u.s. government officials, with the appropriate need-to-know. >> and what agencies were these officials with? >> department of state, department of state assistant secretary george kent who is responsible for the portfolio eastern europe including ukraine and an individual from the office -- an individual in the intelligence community. >> what -- as you know, the intelligence community has 17 different agencies. what agency was this individual
from? >> if i could interject here, we don't want to use these proceedings -- >> it's our time. >> i know, but we need to protect the whistle-blower. >> please stop -- i want to make sure that there's no effort to out the whistle-blower through these proceedings. if the witness has a good faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistle-blower, that is not the purpose that we are here for and i want to advise the witness accordingly. >> mr. vindman, you testified in your deposition that you did not know the whistle-blower. >> ranking member, it's lieutenant colonel vindman, please. >> lieutenant colonel vindman, you testified in the deposition, that you did not know the who the whistle-blower was. >> i do not know who the whistle-blower is. that is correct. >> how is it possible for you to name these people and then out
the whistle-blower? >> per the advice of my counsel, i have advised not to answer specific questions about members of the intelligence community. >> this is -- are you aware that this is the intelligence committee that's conducting an impeachment hearing? >> of course, i am. >> wouldn't the appropriate place for you to come to testify would be the intelligence committee about someone within the intelligence community? >> ranking member, per the advice of my counsel and the instructions from the chairman, i have been advised not to provide any specifics on who i have spoken to with inside the intelligence community. what i can offer is that these were properly cleared individuals or was a properly cleared individual with a need-to-know. >> well, this is -- i mean, really, you can plead the fifth, but you're here to answer questions. and you're here under subpoena.
so you can either answer the question or you can plead the fifth. >> excuse me. on behalf of my client, we are following the rule of the committee, the rule of the chair, with regard to this issue and this does not call for an answer that is invoking the fifth or any theoretical issue like that. we're following the ruling of the chair. >> counselor, what ruling is that? >> if i could interject, counsel is correct. the whistle-blower has the right, the statutory right to anonymity. these proceedings will not be used to out the whistle-blower. >> and i have advised my client, accordingly, and he's going to follow the ruling of the chair. if there's an alternative or you want to work something out with the chair, that's up to you, mr. nunes. >> well, we've attempted to subpoena the whistle-blower, to sit for a deposition. the chair has tabled that motion and has been unwilling to
recognize those motions over the last few days of this impeachment inquisition process. with that, i'll go to mr. castor. >> thank you, ranking member nunes. >> the call transcript, as published, on september 25th, is complete and accurate. will both of you attest to that, miss williams? >> i didn't take a word-for-word accounting -- >> of course. >> when i first saw the publicly released version, it looked substantiately correct to me. >> colonel vindman? >> i certainly would describe it as substantively correct. >> i think in your testimony and your deposition, you said, very corre accurate? >> correct. >> you flagged a couple of dids, colonel vindman. i think you had "burisma" on page -- on page four. >> yeah. >> where president zelensky was talking about the company mentioned in the issue. >> i'm sorry, could you say -- >> i believe in your testimony, you explained that you offered an did that on page four of the
transcript that was ultimately published, you thought president zelensky mentioned the word "burisma." >> i had in my notes, i know that's what he said, yes. >> and miss williams -- >> that was on page four, correct? >> yes. >> miss williams, i believe after your deposition, you went back and checked your notes and you had president zelensky using the term "burisma," as well. is that correct? >> that's correct. >> but that came up on a different part of the transcript than what colonel vindman was relating to, correct? >> yes, i believe so. >> yours came up on page five. and it would have been in substitution for the word "case." >> that's right. that's where i have it in my notes. >> colonel vindman, we've had some discussion earlier today and also at your deposition about whether the president had a demand for president zelensky. and, you know, i suggested to you in the deposition that the president's words are, in fact, ambiguous. and he uses -- he uses some
phrases that certainly could be characterized as hedging. on page three, in the first photogra paragraph, he talks about, whatever you can do, he talks about, if that's possible. on page four, he mentions, if you could speak to him, he's talking about the attorney general or rudy giuliani. and then at the end of the first paragraph on page four, he says, whatever you can do. the president also says, "if you can look into it." and i asked you during your deposition whether you saw or acknowledged the fact that certain people could read that to be ambiguous. >> and i said correct, yes. >> and i believe you said, people want to hear what they have already preconceived. is that what you testified? >> actually, if i could ask for just a page cite. >> 256. >> 256. and a line? >> just a minute, please. just a minute, please.
okay, we got the page. >> then you went on to agree with me and said, yeah, i guess you could interpret it different ways. is that correct? >> yes. >> turning attention to the preparation of the transcript, that followed the ordinary process, correct? >> so i think it followed the appropriate process in terms of making sure that eventually it came around for clearances, for accuracy, but it was in a different system, so -- >> well, i'll get to that in a second. that relates to the storage of it. you had some concerns, mr. morrison articulated his concerns about if the transcript was leaked out. and i think both you and mr. morrison agreed that it needed to be protected? >> just a correction. i don't think it was mr. morrison. it was mr. eisenberg, right?
>> mr. morrison testified at his deposition -- >> okay, we don't have that in front och uf us. if you can give us that, we'll take a look. >> but can i say for myself, there were -- the concerns about leaks seemed valid and wasn't particularly critical. i thought, this was sensitive and i was not going to question the attorney's judgment on that. >> and even on the code word server, you had access to it? >> yes. >> so at no point in time during the course of your official duties were you denied access to this information. >> correct. >> is that correct? >> correct. >> miss williams, i want to turn to you for a moment. and you testified that you believe that the transcript is complete and accurate, other than the one issue you mentioned? >> substantively accurate, yes. >> now, did you express any
concerns to anyone in your office about what you heard on the call? >> my supervisor was listening on the call as well, so because he had heard the same information, i did not feel need to have further conversation with him about him. >> and you never had any concerns with anyone else in the vice president's office? >> i did not discuss the call further with anyone in the vice president's office. >> so you didn't flag it for the chief of staff or the vice president's counsel or anyone of that sort? >> again, my immediate supervisor, lieutenant general kellogg was in the room with me. >> and after the call, did you and general kellogg ever discuss the contents of the call? >> we did not. >> in the run-up to the meeting in warsaw, the vice president was meeting with the president zelensky in warsaw. did you flag for the vice president this parts of the call that had concerned you? >> no. we did not include the call transcript in the trip briefing book. we don't normally include previous calls in trip briefing
books. >> so just wondering if the concerns were so significant, how come nobody on the vice president's staff at least alerted him to the issue that president zelensky might be on edge about something that had been mentioned on the 7/25 call? >> again, my supervisor had been in the call with me, and i ensured that the vice president had access to the transcript, in the moment, on that day. as we were preparing for the september meeting with president zelensky, the more immediate issue at hand was two days prior, the news had broken about the hold on the security assistance. so we were much more focused on the discussion that was likely to occur about the hold on security assistance for that meeting. >> and to your recollection -- you were in the meeting with president zelensky and vice president pence? >> i was. >> and burisma didn't come up or the bidens or any of these investigations? >> no. no, it did not. >> colonel vindman, you testified that the president has well -- or long-standing
concerns about corruption in ukraine, correct? >> i don't recall, but there are concerns. there are broad concerns about corruption, yes. >> but you would agree that if the u.s. is giving, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars to a foreign nation, that has a corruption problem, that that's certainly something that the u.s. government officials and the president would want to be concerned about? >> yes. and if a foreign country has a problem with oligarchs taking money, taking u.s. taxpayer dollars, that's something that the president ought to be concerned about in advance of dispensing the aid? >> yes. >> and i believe you did testify that corruption is endemic in ukraine? >> correct. >> are you also aware of the president e president's skepticism of foreign aid generally? >> i am. >> and it's something he's made part of his priorities to make
sure that u.s. foreign aid is spent wisely? >> that is correct. >> and you're also aware the president has concerns about burden sharing among our allies? >> yes. >> and with rspect to ukraine, he was, he was very interested and engaged in seeing if there was a possibility for our european allies to step up and contribute more? >> yes, i think that would be in the context of a military assistance, in terms of burden sharing, the european union provides over $15 billion. >> okay. has provided since 2014. >> you are aware of the president's concern of burden sharing, right? >> yes, i am. >> turning our attention specifically to the issue of burisma, the co-founder och bf z burisma, is one of ukraine's largest natural gas producers, correct? >> that is my understanding, yes. >> and it's been subject to numerous investigations over the years. >> i am not aware of -- i guess
i couldn't point to a specific investigations, but there is a, what i would call a pattern of questionable dealings and questions about corruption. >> he had served as the minister of ecology during president yanukovych's tenure? >> i came to learn that is correct, yes. >> and are you aware -- and george kent testified a little bit about this last week, that under the obama administration, the u.s. government encouraged ukraine to investigate whether lochefski used his government position to grant himself or his business exploration licenses. are you aware of that? >> i would refer to george kent. he's a fount of knowledge on ukraine, much deeper knowledge than i have. and if he attested to that, i would take his word for it. >> and he testified that the u.s. along with the united kingdom was engaged in trying to recoup about $23 million in taxpayer dollars from zlochevsky
and the burisma entity? >> i understand he testified that. >> and mr. kent also testified that the investigation was moving along, and all of a sudden there was a bribe paid. and the investigation went away. did you hear him mention that? >> i heard him mention that. these are events that occurred before my time, so frankly, beyond what he said, i don't know much more. >> fair enough. >> right around the time the bribe was paid, the company sought to bolster their board. are you aware that they tapped some luminaries for their corporate board? >> certainly, i learned that at some point, yes. >> including the president of poland, i believe? >> yes. >> and hunter biden? >> yes, i came to learn that as well. >> are you aware of any specific experience hunter biden has in the ukrainian corporate government world? >> i don't know much about mr. hunter biden.
>> and we talked a little bit about, at your deposition, about whether mr. biden was qualified to serve on this board. and, you know, i believe you acknowledged that apparently he was not, in fact, qualified. >> as far as i can tell, he didn't seem to be, but like i said, i don't know his qualifications. >> and miss williams, i want to turn our attention to the inaugural trip. at one point, the vice president and the vice president's office was focusing on attending that, correct? >> that's right. >> and it's somewhat complicated, because as i understand it, the white house doesn't want the president and the vice president to be out of the country at the same time? >> yes, that's correct. >> and during that time frame, the president was in japan, i believe he was in japan may 24th to 28th. and then he returned to europe for the d-day ceremonies. june 2nd to 7th.
and i think you told us that there was a window you provided that four days at the end of may that if the vice president was going to attend the inauguration, it had to be the 29th, 30th, 31st, or 1st? >> our embassy in kyiv had been in discussions with the ukrainian -- with president zelensky's team. and as we had learned, obviously, the ukrainian parliament was not going to come into session until mid-may, so we wouldn't know formally what the date would be. but we understood that the initial thinking was that they were looking at dates at the end of may. so honing in on that time frame, we were aware of president trump's plan to travel on either end. and so that's why we advised the ukrainians that if vice president pence were to be able to participate, the only really available days would be may 30th, may 31st, or june 1st. >> okay. and before the vice president travels to a foreign nation, you have to send the secret service
to do advance work, book hotels, and it's a relatively involved preparation experience, right? >> that's correct. >> and do you know if the secret service ever deployed, booked hotels or anything of that sort? >> my understanding is that our advance team was looking into those preparations, including hotel availability, and we were trying to determine when it would be appropriate to send out secret service and other advanced personnel, in order to lay ground work for a trip. but because we weren't sure yet when the date would be, we hesitated to send those officials out. >> but ultimately, the secret service, as i understand, did not deploy? >> i don't believe they did, no. >> okay. and president zelensky's inauguration was may 20th, if i'm not mistaken? >> that's correct. >> and you had about four days' notice. >> in the end, the ukrainian parliament decided on may 16th to set the date for may 20th. that's correct. >> you would acknowledge that that made it quite difficult for the vice president and the whole operation to mobilize and get over to ukraine, correct? >> it would have been, but we had already stopped the trip
planning by that point. >> and when did that happen? >> stopping the trip planning? >> yeah. >> on may 13th. >> and how did you hear about that? >> i was called by a colleague in the -- in the vice president's chief of staff office and told to stop the trip planning. >> and as i understand it, it was the assistant to the chief of staff? >> that's correct mm. >> okay. so you didn't hear about it from general kellogg or the chief of staff or -- >> correct. >> or the president or the vice president. you heard about it from mr. schwartz' assistant? >> that's right. >> did you have any knowledge of the reasoning for stopping the trip? >> i asked my colleague why we should stop trip planning, why the vice president would not be attending and i was informed that the president had decided the vice president would not attend the inauguration. >> okay. but do you know why the president decided -- >> no, she did not have that information. >> okay. and ultimately, the vice president went to canada for a usmca