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tv   Americas Newsroom With Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith  FOX News  November 20, 2019 6:00am-9:00am PST

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card witness. has already revised his initial testimony in the president's dealings with ukraine. sondland has arrived and will be before the committee in a moment. late yesterday we had a hearing that lasted deep into the night. we'll see how far we go today. welcome back to continuing coverage on the fox news channel. i'm bill hemmer. >> good morning, bill. i'm sandra smith. lawmakers are expected to double down on a phone call with the president. >> team fox coverage back with us now. chris wallace, bret baier, martha maccallum and bret baier. we'll be with you guys throughout the entire day. ken, we have an oping statement from gordon sondland. there are a lot of skipped areas in 23 pages. opening statement will last at
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least 10 minutes. from what you've been able to glean off of this, in a quick speed read what do you see as critical for sondland? >> right. it looks as if there may be a bombshell or two in this. that's what we're looking for. let's see what he says. he could revise this up to the very moment. he said i have another take on this. but i doubt it. so we're looking to whether there is something that is a game changer. we need to listen to this very, very carefully. one thing he expresses frustration with he hasn't had access to his documents. that's hard on a witness, i have a lot of empathy for him in that situation. but is he going to say those words magic or otherwise that say this was the deal. the president said there is, in fact, however you describe it, a quid pro quo. now, let's assume the worst. let's assume that the testimony is quite unflattering and unfortunate to the president. we're still going to be left
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i'm going to jump ahead and say we'll still be left with a muddled record. a muddled record going into the deliberations of the judiciary committee and so forth. it certainly does help but butress appeal by adam schiff last evening. he knew the day had not gone well notwithstanding some of the strange media coverage that the day went very well for the democratic side. it did not. no witness was terrific against the president and i would say all of them pointed in favor of the president. is that going to dramatically change with gordon sondland's testimony? it could so that we have a muddled record going ahead. the real issue is the senators are watching. are senators going to now say in light of what we hear today, it's going to be a long day even with the ambassador alone. in light of what we have heard, we need to make a trip down to
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the white house. that historic example set during the nixon presidency. from what i've been able to glean i don't think that's going to happen. but obviously what happens today could -- has the potential to be a game changer. >> lawmakers are taking their seats there as we await. the beginning of this hearing this morning. a lengthy statement from gordon sondland. you've been able to dig through the pages. was there a quid pro quo? he goes on to answer that question in his opening statement. >> right. he essentially says with regards to tying tin vest gaitions with the requested white house call and white house meeting, the answer to was there a quid pro quo is yes. according to ambassador sondland. however, he goes on to say that he didn't know what happened with the security aid for ukraine and he says on page 16 in the absence of any credible explanation for the hold on the
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aid, i came to the conclusion that the aid, like the white house visit, was jeopardized. so that will be a big moment that democrats hop on. he also confirms that indeed there was a phone call with president trump on the next day, july 26th. he calls that insignificant and he says the president did use colorful language but doesn't remember the specifics of that call. that will be really honed into about what the president said directly to ambassador sondland. >> looking at page 6 chris wallace. at all times i was acting in good faith as a presidential appointee i followed the directions of the president. we worked with mr. giuliani because the president directed us to do so. over the past four days all the threads that have been hanging out there, gordon sondland is the man who can tie it all together quite likely today. >> yeah. having read through his opening statement he doesn't tie it
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together although he certainly one thinks he could. on page 5 he specifically and really talks about how unhappy they were. they didn't want to deal with rudy giuliani. they thought he was outside the regular channels but on page 5 he says, sondland in his opening statement. mr. giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a white house visit for president zelensky. he was expressing the desires of the president of the united states. that all sounds pretty damaging but here is where at least in his opening statement sondland doesn't do that much damage to the president. and that is that he does not take us inside the oval office. he doesn't talk as a lot of us had expected him to about what the president told him directly. as bret mentioned he comes to believe there is a link to military aid. he understands what giuliani is saying but he never recounts specific meetings with the president where the president said do this, tie this, and i
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suspect that means that there will be a lot of lawyering going on by both democrats and republicans to turn the phrase quid pro quo. how much does it mean with the specific direction you got from the president of the united states? he doesn't state that in his opening statement. >> page 12 i find it odd that neither i nor ambassador taylor or volker ever received a detailed read-out of the call with the biden references. let's see how many times the name of the bidens is invoked or whether or not he reverts back to 2016, the campaign the president mentioned on the phone call and the amount of corruption through burisma and the country and government of ukraine. >> a >> few seconds from the gavel dropping. sondland walked into the room smiling. >> he is the man who talked to trump and the prior guests we've seen testifying did not meet that criteria.
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it also raises a lot of questions about other people's involvement. what did the vp know. i mentioned to vice president pence before the meeting that i had concerns the delay to be attached to the issue of the investigations. also this story about mike pompeo and how closely informed he was in all of this. and how much he was aligned with this idea that these investigations had to be connected. one other thing with regard to rudy giuliani and the president. it looks like he ties them together fairly closely in the brief parts of the statement that i've been able to look at so far. there have been some suggestion by some that maybe there would be daylight between them and this might be a -- throw mr. giuliani under the bus moment. it seems like he is considering him a conduit to the president and that the president was on the same page at least in the early looks at what is about to be said by ambassador sondland,
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sandra. >> let's bring you in as well. what i find somewhat remarkable is how few times in this statement the name biden is mentioned. now, how do democrats draw that out of him? is it inferred that every time burisma comes up that you are referring to the bidens. is that something sondland would agree to, object to that? there is a clear absence of that in the opening statement. >> that would be a connection the democrats would naturally make. looking at the bottom of page 5 of his testimony he is consistent with what he said october 22 where he says i came to believe that the aid was conditioned on a statement of anti-corruption. the gop will drill down on that and a couple of email exchanges he had with the secretary of state. one which he said i would ask zelensky to look the president in the eye and tell him once ukraine's new justice folks are in place he should be able to
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move forward and the united states. pompeo replies yes. all good, you are doing good work. keep banging away. the first time really the secretary of state's name has been tied to all of this. >> thank you to all of you. stand by. we're gaveled to order. >> good morning, everyone. the fifth in a series of public hearings the committee will be holding as part of the house of representatives impeachment inquiry. without objection the chair is authorized to declare a recess at any time. there is a quorum present. i'll make an opening statement. ranking member nunes will have an opportunity to make a statement. we'll turn to our witness for an opening statement and then to questions. audience members we welcome you and respect your interest in being here. we ask for your respect as we proceed with today's hearing. the intention of the committee to proceed without disruptions. as chairman i'll make all necessary and appropriate steps
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to maintain order and to insure the committee is run in accordance with house rules and house resolution 660. with that i now recognize myself to give an opening statement in the impeachment inquiry into donald trump the 45th president of the united states. this morning we'll hear from gordon sondland, the american ambassador to the european union. we're here today as part of the house of representatives impeachment inquiry because president donald trump sought to condition military aid to ukraine in an oval office meeting with a new ukrainian president zelensky in exchange for politically motivated investigations that trump believed would help his reelection campaign. the first investigation was of a discredited conspiracy theory that ukraine, not russia, was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election. second investigation that trump demanded into -- was into a political rival he apparently
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feared most, joe biden. trump sought to weaken biden and refute the fact his own election campaign in 2016 had been helped with russian hacking and dumping operation and russia social media campaign directed by vp to help trump. trump's scheme undermined military and diplomatic support for an ally and undercut nefrts ukraine. tumble put his personal and political interests above those of the united states. as ambassador sondland would later tell career foreign service officer david holmes after speaking to the president, trump did not give a expletive about ukraine. he cares about big stuff that benefits him like the biden investigations that rudy giuliani was pushing. sondland was a skill deal maker but in trying to satisfy a directive from the president found himself increasingly embroiled to press the new ukraine president that deviated
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from the norm in both terms of policy and process. in february ambassador sondland traveled to ukraine on his first official trip to that country. while in kiev he met with then u.s. ambassador marie yovanovitch and found her to be an excellent diplomat with a deep command of ukraine dynamics. zelensky spoke to president trump and said he congratulateed him and pledged to send someone at a high level. by the time that of that call and inaugural may 20th trump's -- he ordered pence not to attend the inauguration but the three amigos, energy secretary rick perry, ambassador sondland and ambassador kurt volker.
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after returning from the inauguration they briefed president trump on their encouraging first interactions with the new ukrainian administration. they urged the president to meet with zelensky but the president's reaction was decidedly hostile. the president's order was clear, however. talk with rudy. during this meeting ambassador sondland first became aware of what giuliani and the president were really interested in, this whole thing was sort of a continuum he testified at his deposition starting the may 23 meeting and ending up at the end of the line when the transcript of the call came out. it was a continuum he would explain that became more insidious over time. the three amigos were disappointed vowed to press ahead. sondland testified we could abandon the goal of president
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zelensky that they deemed crucial or we could do as president trump directed and talk to mr. giuliani to address the president's concerns. we chose the latter path. in the coming weeks ambassador sondland got more involved in ukraine policy making starting with the june 4 u.s. mission to the e.u. independence day event in brussels one month early. secretary perry, and state department counselor met with president zelensky whom sondland invited personally on the margins of the event. on june 10, 2019 secretary perry organized a conference call with sondland, then national security advisor john bolton, volker and others. they reviewed ukraine strategy and decided perry, sondland and volker would assist taylor, the new acting ambassador in kiev on ukraine and discuss trump's desire for rudy giuliani to be
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somehow involved. at the end of the call we all felt very comfortable with the strategy moving forward according to sondland. two weeks later on june 27th he called taylor to say that quote zelensky needed to make clear to president trump that he was not standing in the way of investigations. on july 10th ambassador sondland and other u.s. officials met at the white house with a group of u.s. and ukrainian officials participants in the meeting have told us ambassador sondland invoked acting mick mulvaney and said the white house meeting sought by the ukrainian president with trump would happen only if ukraine undertook certain investigations. national security advisor bolton abruptly ended the meeting upon hearing that. sondland brought the ukraine delegation downstairs to another part of the white house and was more explicit. according to witnesses ukraine needed to investigate the bidens or burisma and the 2016 election interfere answer if they wanted to get a meeting at
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all. following this meeting in july, bolton said that he would not be part of whatever drug deal sondland and mulvaney are cooking up on this. sondland continued to press for a meeting but they were willing to settle for a phone call. on july 21 taylor texted sondland that president zelensky is sensitive about ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument of washington domestic reelection politics. sondland responded absolutely. but we need to get the conversation started and a relationship built irrespective of the pretext. so that zelensky and trump could meet and all of this will be fixed. on july 25th, the day of the trump/zelensky call, volker had lunch in kiev with a senior aide to ukrainian president zelensky and later texted a the aide to say he heard from the white house. get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail
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down date for visit to washington good luck. ambassador sondland spoke to president trump a few minutes before the call was placed but wasn't on the call. during that now infamous phone call trump responded to ukraine for defense support and request to buy more missiles by saying i would like you to do us a favor, though. trump asked zell to investigate the discredited 2016 conspiracy theory and more ominously look into the bidens. neither had been part of the official preparatory material material for the call but they were in donald trump's interest and his reelection campaign and the ukrainian president knew about both in advance in part because of ambassador volker and sondland's efforts to make him aware of what the president was demanding. around this time ambassador sondland became a ware of the suspension of security
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assistance to ukraine which had been announced on a secure interagency videoconference on july 18 telling uls it was extremely odd that nobody involved in making and implementing policy towards ukraine knew why the aid was put on old. during august sondland participated in calls with volker and giuliani the gist of every call what was going to go in the press statement. in august 9 text message with volker he stated i think potus wants the deliverable, which was according to sondland a deliverable public statement that president trump wanted to see or hear before a white house meeting could happen. on september 1 ambassador sondland participated in vice president penn's meeting with zelensky in warsaw. he raised the suspended security assistance. following that meeting sondland approached the senior ukraine official to tell him he believed what could help them move the aid was if ukrainian
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prosecutor general would go to the mic and announce he was opening the burisma investigation. sondland told taylor he had made a mistake by telling ukrainians that an oval office meeting was dependent on a public announcement of investigations. in fact, everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. but even the announcement by the prosecutor general would not satisfy the president. on september 7th, sondland spoke to the president and told morrison and taylor about the call shortly thereafter. the president said that although this was not a quid pro quo, if president zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate. an announcement by the prosecutor general wouldn't be enough. president zelensky must personally that he would open the investigations. sondland told taylor that president trump is a
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businessman. when a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check. the check referred to here was the u.s. military assistance to ukraine and ukraine had to pay up with investigations. throughout early september they sought to close the deal on an agreement zelensky would announce investigations. after taylor texted sondland i think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. 16 days later, the transcript of the july 25th call was made public and the american people learned the truth of how our president tried to take advantage of a vulnerable ally. now it is up to congress as the people's representatives to determine what response is appropriate. if the president abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections and sought to bribe an ally
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into conducting investigations to aid his reelection campaign and did so by withholding official acts, white house meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars of needed military aid it will be up to us to decide whether those acts are compatible with the office of the presidency. finally, i want to say a word about the president and secretary pompeo's obstruction of this investigation. we have not received a single document from the state department and as ambassador sondland's opening statement today will make clear, those documents bear directly on this investigation and this impeachment inquiry. i think we know now based on a sample of the documents attached to ambassador sondland's statement that the knowledge of this scheme was far and wide and included, among others, secretary pompeo as well as the vice president.
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we can see why secretary pompeo and president trump have made such a concerted and across the board effort to obstruct this investigation and this impeachment inquiry. and i will just say this, they do so at their own peril. i remind the president that article 3 of the impeachment articles drafted against president nixon was his refusal to obey the subpoenas of congress. and with that i recognize ranking member nunes for any remarks that he would wish to make. >> thank the gentleman as we learned last night, story time last night we get story time first thing this morning. ambassador sondland, welcome. glad you're here. i'm really not glad you're here but welcome to the fifth day of this circus. as i've noted before, the democrats on this committee
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spent three years accusing president trump of being a russian agent. in march 2018 after a year-long investigation intelligence committee republicans issued a 240 page report describing in detail how the russians meddled in the 2016 elections and making specific recommendations to improve our election security. announcing the report as a whitewash and accusing republicans of subverting the investigation, the democrats issued their own report focusing on their now debunked conspiracy theory that the trump campaign colluded with russia to hack the elections. notably the democrats vowed at the time to present a further quote comprehensive report, unquote. after they finished their investigation into trump's treasonous collusion with russia.
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for some completely inexplicable reason after the implosion of their russia hoax the democrats failed to issue that comprehensive report. we're still waiting. this episode shows how the democrats have exploited the intelligence committee for political purposes for three years culminating in these impeachment hearings and their mania to attack the president. no conspiracy theory is too outlandish for the democrats. time and time again they floated the possibility of some far-fetched mall fees answer, needed to investigate it. a sampling of their accusations and insinuations includes these: trump is a long-time russian agent as described in the steele dossier. the russians gave trump advance access to emails stolen by the
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dnc in the hillary clinton campaign. the trump campaign based some of its activities on these stolen documents. trump received nefarious materials from the russians through a trump campaign aide. trump laundered russian money through real estate deals. trump was blackmailed by russia through his financial exposure with deutsche bank. trump had a diabolical plan to build a trump tower in moscow. trump changed the republican national committee platform to hurt ukraine and benefit russia. the russians laundered money through the nra for the trump campaign. trump's son-in-law lied about his russian contacts while obtaining his security clearance. a long list of charges. all false. and i could go on and on and on. but i will spare you for these moments. clearly these ludicrous accusations don't reflect
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committee members who are honestly searching for the truth. they're the actions of partisan extremists who hijacked the intelligence committee, transformed it into a impeachment committee, abandoned its core oversight functions and turned it into a beach head for ousting an elected president from office. you have to keep that history in mind as you consider the democrats' latest catalog of supposed trump outrages. granted, a friendly call with the ukrainian president wouldn't seem to rise to the same level as being a russian agent, but the democrats were running out of time. if they waited any longer their impeachment circus would intervene with their own candidate's 2020 campaigns. so you have to give them points for creativity in selling this absurd tee as an impeachable offense. all this explains why the democrats have gathered zero republican support in the house
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of representatives for their impeachment crusade. in fact, the vote we held was a bipartisan vote against this impeachment inquiry. speaker pelosi, chairman schiff and nadler the key figures behind this impeachment crusade saying impeachment is so damaging to the country it can only proceed with bipartisan support. are those declarations suddenly no longer true? did impeachment become less divisive? of course not. they know exactly what kind of damage they are inflicting on this nation. but they passed the point of no return. after three years of preparation work, much of it spearheaded by the democrats on this committee using all the tools of congress to accuse, investigate, indict, and smear the president, they stoked a frenzy amongst their most
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fanatical supporters, that they can no longer control. ambassador sondland, you are here today to be smeared. you will make it through it and i appreciate your service to this country and i'm sorry you have had to go through this. in closing, democrats have zeroed in an on anonymous whistleblower complaint cooked up in cooperation with the democrats on this very committee. they lied to the american people about that cooperation and refuse to let us question the whistleblower to discover the truth. meanwhile, the democrats lash out against anyone who questions or casts doubt on this spectacle. when ukrainian president zelensky denies anything improper happened on the phone
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call, the democrats say he is a liar. when journalists report on the ukraine election meddling and hunter biden's position on the board of corrupt ukrainian companies, the democrats label them conspiracy theorists. when the democrats can't get any traction for their allegations of quid pro quo, they move the goalpost and accuse the president of extortion, then bribery, and at last resort obstruction of justice. american people sent us to washington to solve problems, not to wage scorched earth political warfare against the other party. this impeachment is not helping the american people. it is not a legitimate use of taxpayer dollars and it is definitely not improving our national security. finally, the democrats fake outrage that president trump used his own channel to
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communicate with ukraine. remind my friends on the other side of the aisle that our first president george washington directed his own diplomatic channels to secure a treaty with great britain. if my democratic colleagues were around in 1794, they probably would want to impeach him, too. mr. chairman, this morning we have transmitted to you a letter exercising our rights under h660 to subpoena documents and witnesses. we take this step because you have failed to insure fairness and objectist in this inquiry. as such we need to subpoena hunter biden and the whistleblower for closed door depositions as well as relevant dock frments the dnc, hunter biden's firm and the whistleblower. in the interest of some, basic
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level of fairness we expect you to concur with these subpoenas. and i'll submit that letter for the record and yield back the balance of my time. >> i thank the gentleman. we are joined this afternoon by ambassador gordon sondland. i'm sorry, this morning. it was a long day yesterday. gordon sondland is the u.s. representative to the european union with the rank of ambassador. before joining the state department ambassador sondland was the founder and ceo of providence hotels, owner and operator of full service hotels. prior to his government service he was engaged in charitable enterprises. two finals points before him being sworn. witness depositions as part of this inquiry were in unclassified -- were unclassified in nature and all open hearings will also be held at the unclassified level. any information that may touch
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on classified information will be addressed separately. second congress will not tolerate any priceal. threat of reprisal or attempt to retaliate against any government official before testifying before congress including you or any of your colleagues, rise and raise your right hand and i will begin by swearing you in. do you swear or affirm the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god. let the record show the witness has answered in the affirmative. thank you and please be seated. the microphone is sensitive. your written statement will be made part of the record and you are now recognized for your opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, ranking member nunes. i appreciate the opportunity to speak again to the members of
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this committee. first, let me offer my thanks to the men and women of the u.s. department of state who have committed their professional lives to support the foreign policy work of the united states. in particular i want to thank my staff at the u.s. mission to the european union. your integrity, dedication and hard work often performed without public acclaim for recognition serve as a shining example of true public service. and i'm personally grateful to work beside you each and every day. it is my honor to serve as the u.s. ambassador to the european union. the u.s. mission to the e.u. is the direct link between the united states and the european union and its members. america's longest standing allies and one of the largest economic blocks in the world.
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every day i work to support a strong united, and peaceful europe. strengthening our ties with europe serves both american and european goals as we together promote political stability and economic prosperity around the world. i expect that few americans have heard my name before these events so before i begin my substantive testimony, please let me share some of my personal background. my parents fled europe during the holocaust, escaping the atrocities of that time, my parents left germany for uruguay and then in 1953 immigrated to seattle, washington, where i was born and raised. like so many immigrants, my family was eager for freedom and hungry for opportunity. they raised my sister and me to be humble, hard working, and
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patriotic. and i am forever grateful for the sacrifices they made on our behalf. public service has always been important to me. as a life long republican i have contributed to initiatives of both republican and democratic administrations. in 2003 i served as a member of the transition team for oregon democratic governor. that governor also appointed me to serve on various state-wide boards. in 2007 president george w. bush appointed me as a member of the commission on white house fellows. i worked with president bush on charitable events for his foundation's military service initiative and i also worked briefly with former vice president joe biden's office in connection with the vice president's nationwide anti-cancer initiative at a
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local northwest hospital. and, of course, the highest honor in my public life came when president trump asked me to serve as the united states ambassador to the european union. they confirmed me on a bipartisan voice vote and i resumed the role in brussels on july 9, 2018. today is my first public testimony on the ukraine matters, this is not my first time cooperating with this committee. as you know, i've already provided 10 hours of deposition testimony and i did so despite directives from the white house and the state department that i refused to appear as many others have done. i agreed to testify because i respect the gravity of the moment and i believe i have an obligation to account fully for my role in these events.
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but i also must acknowledge that this process has been challenging. and in many respects less than fair. i have not had access to all of my phone records, state department emails, and many, many other state department documents. and i was told i could not work with my e.u. staff to pull together the relevant files and information. having access to the state department materials would have been very helpful to me in trying to reconstruct with whom i spoke and met and when and what was said. as ambassador, i have had hundreds of meetings and calls with individuals but i am not a note taker or a memo writer. never have been. my job requires that i speak with heads of state, senior government officials, members of the cabinet, the president,
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almost each and every day. talking with foreign leaders might be memorable to some people, but this is my job. i do it all the time. my lawyers and i have made multiple requests to the state department and the white house for these materials. yet these materials were not provided to me and they have also refused to share these materials with this committee. these documents are not classified and in fairness -- and in fairness should have been made available. in the absence of these materials, my memory, admittedly, has not been perfect and i have no doubt that a more fair, open and orderly process of allowing me to read the state department records and other materials would have made this process far more transparent. i don't intend to repeat my prior opening statement or attempt to summarize 10 hours
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of previous deposition testimony. however, a few critical points have been obscured by noise over the last few days and weeks and i'm worried that the bigger picture is being ignored. so let me make a few key points. first, secretary perry, ambassador volker, and i worked with mr. rudy giuliani on ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the united states. we did not want to work with mr. giuliani. simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt. we all understood that if we refused to work with mr. giuliani, we would lose a very important opportunity to cement relations between the united states and ukraine. so we followed the president's
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orders. second, although we disagreed with the need to involve mr. giuliani, at the time we did not believe that his role was improper. as i previously testified, if i had known of all of mr. giuliani's dealings or his associations with individuals, some of whom are now under criminal indictment, i personally would not have acquiesced to his participation. still, given what we knew at the time, what we were asked to do did not appear to be wrong. third, let me say precisely because we did not think that we were engaging in improper behavior, we made every effort to insure that the relevant decision makers at the national security council and the state
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department knew the important details of our efforts. the suggestion that we were engaged in some irregular or rogue diplomacy is absolutely false. i have now identified certain state department emails and messages that provide contemporaneous support for my view. these emails show that the leadership of the state department, the national security council, and the white house were all informed about the ukraine efforts from may 23, 2019, until the security aid was released on september 11th, 2019. i will quote from some of those messages with you shortly. fourth, as i testified previously, as i testified
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previously, mr. giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a white house visit for president zelensky. mr. giuliani demanded that ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election dnc server and burisma. mr. giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the united states and we knew these investigations were important to the president. fifth, in july and august of 2019, we learned that the white house had also suspended security aid to ukraine. i was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid. i was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid as the ukrainians needed those funds to fight against russian aggression. i tried diligently to ask why
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the aid was suspended. but i never received a clearance. still haven't to this day. in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, i later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 elections and burisma as mr. giuliani had demanded. i shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid with senator ron johnson. and i also shared my concerns with the ukrainians. finally, at all times i was acting in good faith. i was acting in good faith as a presidential appointee i followed the directions of the
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president. we worked with mr. giuliani because the president directed us to do so. we had no desire to set any conditions. we had no desire to set any conditions on the ukrainians. indeed, my own personal view, which i shared repeatedly with others, was that the white house and security assistance should have proceeded without preconditions of any kind. we were working to overcome the problems given the facts as they existed. our only interest and my only interest was to advance longstanding u.s. policy and to support ukraine's fragile democracy. now let me provide additional details. specifically about ukraine and my involvement. first, my very first days as
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ambassador to the e.u., which was starting back in july of 2018, ukraine has featured prominently in my broader portfolio. ukraine's political and economic development are critical to the longstanding and long lasting stability of europe. more over, the conflict in eastern ukraine and crimea remains one of the most significant security crisis for europe and the united states. our efforts to counter balance an aggressive russia depend in substantial part on a strong ukraine. on april 21, 2019, zelensky was elected president of ukraine in an historic election. with the express support of secretary pompeo, i attended president zelensky's
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inauguration on may 20th as part of the u.s. delegation which was led by energy secretary rick perry. the u.s. delegation also included senator johnson, ukraine special envoy volker, and lieutenant colonel alex vindman from the national security council. my attendance at president zelensky's inauguration was not my first involvement with ukraine. as i testified previously, just four days after assuming my post as ambassador in july of 2018, i received an official delegation from the government of then ukraine president petroporoshenko. the meeting took place at the u.s. mission in brussels and was pre-arranged by my career e.u. missions staff and i have had several meetings since then in brussels. later, in february of 2019, i worked well with u.s.
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ambassador marie yovanovitch in making my first official visit to ukraine for a u.s. navy visit to the strategic black sea port of odessa. the reason i raise these prior ukraine activities, the meetings in brussels, my visit to odessa, is to emphasize that ukraine has been part of my portfolio from my very first days as the u.s. ambassador. any claim that i somehow muscled my way into the ukraine relationship is simply false. during the zelensky inauguration on may 20th, the u.s. delegation developed a very positive view of the ukraine government. we were impressed by president zelensky's desire to promote a stronger relationship with the united states. we admired his commitment to reform and we were excited about the possibility of
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ukraine making the changes necessary to support a greater western economic investment. and we were excited that ukraine might, after years and years of lip service, finally get serious about addressing its own well-known corruption problems. with that enthusiasm, we returned to the white house on may 23rd to brief president trump. we advised the president of the strategic importance of ukraine and the value of strengthening the relationship with president zelensky. to support this reformer we asked the white house for two things. first, a working phone call between presidents trump and zelensky, and second, a working oval office visit. in our view both would
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demonstrate support for ukraine in the face of russian aggression and advancing broader u.s. foreign policy interests. unfortunately, president trump was skeptical. he expressed concerns that the ukrainian government was not serious about reform and he even mentioned that ukraine tried to take him down in the last election. in response to our persistent efforts in that meeting to change his views, president trump directed us to, quote, talk with rudy. we understood that talk with rudy meant talk with mr. rudy giuliani, the president's personal lawyer. let me say again, we weren't happy with the president's directive to talk with rudy. we did not want to involve mr. giuliani. i believe then as i do now that the men and women of the state department, not the president's
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personal lawyer, should take responsibility for ukraine matters. nonetheless, based on the president's direction, we were faced with a choice, we could abandon the efforts to schedule the white house phone call and visit between presidents trump and zelensky, which was unquestionably in our foreign policy interest, or we could do as president trump had directed, and talk with rudy. which at our core -- it was the only constructive path open to us. over the course of the next several months, secretary perry, ambassador volker and i were in communication with mr. giuliani. secretary perry volunteered to make the initial calls with mr. giuliani given their prior relationship. ambassador volker made several
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of the early calls and generally informed us of what was discussed. i first communicated with mr. giuliani in early august, several months later. mr. giuliani emphasized that the president wanted a public statement from president zelensky committing ukraine to look into the corruption issues. mr. giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election, including the dnc server, and burisma as two topics of importance to the president. we kept the leadership of the state department and the nfc informed of our activities. and that included communications with secretary of state pompeo, his counselor, his executive secretary, and also communications with
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ambassador bolton, dr. hill, mr. morrison, and their staff at the nfc. they knew what we were doing and why. on july 10th, 2019, senior ukrainian national security officials met with ambassador bolton, ambassador volker, dr. hill, secretary perry, myself, and several others in washington, d.c. during that meeting, we all discussed the importance of the two action items i identified earlier. one, a working phone call, and two, a white house meeting between presidents trump and zelensky. from my perspective, the july 10th meeting was a positive step toward accomplishing our shared goals. while i am now aware of accounts of the meeting from dr. hill and lieutenant colonel vindman, their recollections of
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those events simply don't square with my own or with those of ambassador volker or secretary perry. i recall mentioning the prerequisite of investigations before any white house call or meeting. but i do not recall any yelling or screaming or abrupt terminations as others have said. instead, after the meeting, ambassador bolton walked outside with our group and we all took some great pictures together outside on the white house lawn. more important, those recollections of protest do not square with the documentary record of our interactions with the nfc in the days and weeks that followed. we kept the nfc apprised of our efforts including specifically our efforts to secure a public statement from the ukrainians that would satisfy president trump's concerns.
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for example, on july 13th -- this is three days after that july 10th meeting -- i emailed tim morrison. he had just taken over dr. hill's post as the nfc, eurasian director and i met him that day for the first time. i wrote to mr. morrison with these words. the call between zelensky and potus, president of the united states, should happen before 7-21, which is the parliamentary elections in ukraine. sole purpose is for zelensky to give potus assurances of new sheriff in town, corruption ending, unbundling moving forward and -- and i emphasize, any hampered investigations will be allowed to move forward transparently. goal is for potus to invite him to oval. volker, perry, bolton and i
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strongly recommend. mr. morrison acknowledged and said thank you and specifically noted that he was tracking these issues. again, there was no secret regarding moving forward and the discussion of investigations. moreover, i have reviewed other state department documents, some of which are not currently in the public domain, detailing mr. giuliani's efforts. for example, on july 10th the very same day that ambassador volker, secretary perry and i were meeting with the ukraine officials in washington, ambassador taylor received a communication that mr. giuliani was still talking with ukrainian prosecutor yuri lutsenko and messages with ambassador volker and i,
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ambassador taylor wrote to us as follows. just had a meeting with andre and videm. referring to the ukraine foreign minister. taylor said the ukrainians were, quote, very concerned about what lutsenko told them, that according to r.g., meaning rudy giuliani, the zelensky/potus meeting will not happen. volker responded good grief, please tell the dean to let the official u.s. government representatives speak for the u.s. lutsenko has his own self-interest here. taylor confirmed that he had communicated that message to the ukrainians and he added i briefed the state department counselor. again, everyone is in the loop. three things are critical about this whatsapp exchange.
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first, while the ukrainians were in washington at the white house, mr. giuliani was communicating with the ukrainians without our knowledge. ambassador taylor, ambassador volker and i were all surprised by this. second, mr. giuliani was communicating with the reportedly corrupt ukrainian prosecutor lutsenko and discussing whether a zelensky/trump meeting was going to happen again without our knowledge. and third, with this alarming news, ambassador taylor briefed the counselor to secretary of state pompeo and even as late as september 24th of this year, secretary pompeo was directing kurt volker to speak with mr. giuliani. in a whatsapp message kurt volker told me in part, spoke with rudy per guidance from s.,
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s. is the state department's official designateor for the secretary. look, we tried our best to fix the problem. while keeping the state department and the nfc closely apprised of the challenges we faced. on july 25th, presidents trump and zelensky had their official call. i was not on the call and i don't think i was invited to be on the call. in fact, i first read the transcript on september 25th the day it was publicly released. all i had heard at that time was that the call had gone well. looking back, i find it very odd -- very odd that neither i, nor ambassador taylor, nor ambassador volker ever received a detailed read-out of that call with the biden references. now there are people who say
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they had concerns about the call but no one shared any concerns about the call with me at the time, which frankly would have been very helpful to know. on july 26th, ambassador taylor, ambassador volker and i were all in kiev to meet with president zelensky. the timing of that trip immediately after the call between presidents trump and zelensky was entirely, entirely coincidental. the kiev meetings had been scheduled well before the date that the white house finally fixed the call. during our kiev meeting i do not recall president zelensky discussing the substance of his july 25th call with president trump. nor did he discuss any request to investigate vice president biden, which we all later learned was discussed on the july 25th call. and this is consistent with the reported comments from ambassadors volker and taylor.
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after the zelensky meeting, i also met with zelensky's senior aide yermak. i don't recall the specifics of our conversation but i believe the issue of investigations was probably a part of that agenda or meeting. also, on july 26th shortly after our kiev meetings, i spoke by phone with president trump. the white house, which is finally, finally shared certain call dates and times with my attorneys, confirms this. the call lasted five minutes. i remember i was at a restaurant in kiev and i have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations. again, given mr. giuliani's demand that president zelensky make a public statement about investigations, i knew that investigations were important to president trump. we did not discuss any
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classified information. other witnesses have recently shared their recollection of overhearing this calling. for the most part i have no reason to doubt their accounts. it is true that the president speaks loudly at times and it is also true i think we primarily discussed asap rocky. it is true that the president likes to use colorful language. anyone who has met with him at any reasonable amount of time knows this. while i cannot remember the precise details again, the white house has not allowed me to see any read-outs of that call and the july 26th call did not strike me as significant at the time. actually, i would have been more surprised if president trump had not mentioned investigations, particularly given what we were hearing from mr. giuliani about the president's concerns. however, i have no recollection of discussing vice president biden or his son on that call
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or after the call ended. i know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question, was there a quid pro quo? as i testified previously, with regard to the requested white house call and the white house meeting, the answer is yes. mr. giuliani conveyed to secretary perry, ambassador volker and others that president trump wanted a public statement from president zelensky committing to investigations of burisma and the 2016 election. mr. giuliani expressed those requests directly to the ukrainians and mr. giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. we all understood that these prerequisites for the white house call and the white house meeting reflected president trump's desires and
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requirements. within my state department emails, there is a july 19th email. this email was sent, this email was sent to secretary pompeo, secretary perry, brian mccormack who is secretary perry's chief of staff at the time, ms. kenna, who is the executive secretary for secretary pompeo. mr. mulvaney and his senior advisor rob blair. a lot of senior officials. a lot of senior officials. here is my exact quote from that email. i talked to zelensky just now. he is prepared to receive potus's call. will assure him that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will turn
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over every stone. he would greatly appreciate a call prior to sunday so that he can put out some media about a friendly and productive call, no details, prior to ukraine election on sunday. chief of staff mulvaney responded. i asked the nfc to set it up for tomorrow. everyone was in the loop. it was no secret. everyone was informed via email on july 19th, days before the presidential call. as i communicated to the team, i told president zelensky in advance that assurances to run a fully transparent investigation and turn over every stone were necessary in his call with president trump. on july 19th in a what's appear
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message between taylor, volker and me volker stated had breakfast with rudy this morning. that's ambassador volker and rudy giuliani. teeing up call with yermak monday, senior advisor andre yermak. must have helped. most important is for zelensky to say that he will help investigation and address any specific personnel issues if there are any. on august 10th, the next day, mr. yermak texted me. once we have a date, which is the date for the white house meeting, we will call for a press briefing announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of the u.s./ukraine relationship including, among other things, burisma and election meddling investigations. this is from mr. yermak to me.
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the following day, august 11th, this is critical, i sent an email to counselor break bull and lisa kenna. lisa was frequently used as the pathway to secretary pompeo as sometimes he preferred to received his emails through her. she would print them out and put them in front of him. with the subject ukraine. i wrote, mike, referring to mike pompeo, kurt and i negotiated a statement from zelensky to be delivered for our review in a day or two. the contents will hopefully make the boss happy enough, the boss being the president, to authorize an invitation. zelensky plans to have a big presser, press conference, on the openness subject, including
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specifics next week. all of which referred to the 2016 and the burisma. ms. kenna replied gordon, i'll pass to the secretary, thank you. again, everyone was in the loop. curiously, and this was very interesting to me, on august 26th shortly before his visit to kiev, ambassador bolton's office requested mr. giuliani's contact information from me. i sent ambassador bolton the information directly. they requested mr. giuliani's contact information on august 26th. i was first informed that the
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white house was withholding security aid to ukraine during conversations with ambassador taylor on july 18th, 2019. however, as i testified before, i was never able to obtain a clearance regarding the specific reason for the hold, whether it was bureaucratic that in nature, which often happens or indicated concern in the interagency process. i never participated in any of the subsequent dod or dos review meetings that others have described so i can't speak to what was discussed in those meetings. nonetheless, before the september 1st warsaw meeting, the ukrainians had become aware that security funds had yet to be disbursed. in the absence of any credible explanation for the hold, i came to the conclusion that the aid, like the white house
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visit, was jeopardized. in preparation for the september 1 warsaw meeting, i asked secretary pompeo whether a face-to-face conversation between trump and zelensky would help to break the log jam. and this was when president trump was still intending to travel to warsaw. specifically on august 22nd i emailed secretary pompeo directly copying secretary kenna. i wrote this is my email to secretary pompeo. should we block time in warsaw for a short pull aside for potus to meet zelensky? i would ask zelensky to look him in the eye and tell him that once ukraine's new justice folks are in place in mid-september, that zelensky should be able to move forward
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publicly and with confidence on those issues of importance to potus and the u.s. hopefully that will help break the log jam. the secretary replied yes. i followed up the next day asking to get 10 to 15 minutes on the warsaw schedule for this. i said we would like to know when it is locked so that i can tell zelensky and brief him. executive secretary kenna replied i will try for sure. more over, given my concerns about the security aid, i have no reason to dispute that portion of senator johnson's recent letter in which he recalls conversations he and i had on august 30th. by the end of august my belief was that if ukraine did something to demonstrate a serious intention to fight corruption and specifically addressing burisma and the
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2016, then the hold on military aid would be lifted. there was a september 1st meeting with president zelensky in warsaw. unfortunately president trump's attendance at the warsaw meeting was canceled due the hurricane dorian. vice president pence attended instead. i mentioned to vice president pence before the meetings with the ukrainians that i had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations. i recall mentioning that before the zelensky meeting. during the actual meeting, president zelensky raised the issue of security assistance directly with vice president pence and the vice president said that he would speak to president trump about it. based on my previous communication with secretary pompeo, i felt comfortable sharing my concerns with mr. yermak. it was a very, very brief pull-aside conversation that happened within a few seconds. i told mr. yermak that i
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believed that the resumption of u.s. aid would likely not occur until ukraine took some kind of action on the public statement that we had been discussing for many weeks. as my other state department colleagues have testified, this security aid was critical to ukraine's defense and should not have been delayed. i expressed this view to many during this period but my goal at the time was to do what was necessary to get the aid released, to break the log jam. i believe that the public statement we had been discussing for weeks as essential to advancing that goal. you know, i really regret that the ukrainians were placed in that predicament. but i do not regret doing what i could to try to break the log jam and to solve the problem. i mentioned at the outset that throughout these events we kept state department leadership and
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others apprised of what we were doing. state department was fully supportive of our engagement in ukraine efforts and was aware that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing. to provide just two examples, on june 5th, the day after the u.s./e.u. mission hosted the independence day. acting assistant secretary phil reeker sent an email to me, secretary perry and others forwarding some positive media coverage of president zelensky's attendance at our event. mr. reeker wrote, and i quote, this headline underscores the importance and timeliness of zelensky's visit to brussels and the critical -- and the critical perhaps historic role of the dinner and engagement gordon coordinated. thank you for your participation and dedication to
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this effort. months later, on september 3rd, i sent secretary pompeo an email to express my appreciation for his joining a series of meetings in brussels following the warsaw trip. i wrote, mike, thanks for coming to europe. i think it was really important and the chemistry seems promising. really appreciate it. secretary pompeo replied the next day on wednesday, september 4th, quote, all good. you're doing great work. keep banging away. state department leadership expressed total support for our efforts to engage the new ukrainian administration. look, i've never doubted the strategic value of strengthening our alliance with ukraine. and at all times -- at all times our efforts were in good faith and fully transparent to
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those tasked with overseeing them. our efforts were reported and approved and not once do i recall encountering an objection. it remains an honor to serve the people of the united states as their united states ambassador to the european union. i look forward to answering the committee's questions. thank you. >> we'll now proceed with the first round of questions as detailed in the memo provided to committee members, 45 minutes of questions conducted by the chairman, majority counsel followed by 45 minutes for the ranking member or minority counsel. following that unless we'll proceed under 5 minute rule and every member will have a chance to ask questions. i recognize myself or majority counsel for the first round of questions. mr. sondland, there is a lot of new material in your opening statement for us to get through. but i want to start with a few
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top line questions before passing it over to mr. goldman. in your deposition you testified you found yourself on a continuum that became more insidious over time. can you describe what you mean by this continuum of insidiousness? >> well, mr. chairman, when we left the oval office i believe on may 23rd, the request was very generic for an investigation of corruption in a very vanilla sense. and dealing with some of the oligarch problems in ukraine which were longstanding problems. as time went on, more specific items got added to the menu, including the burisma and 2016 election meddling specifically, the dnc server specifically,
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and over this continuum, it became more and more difficult to secure the white house meeting because more conditions were being placed on the white house meeting. >> and then of course on july 25th although you were not privy to the call another condition was added that being the investigation of the bidens. >> i was not privy to the call and i did not know that the tha record, correct? >> it was not in any record i received. >> but when you did see -- >> i saw that in september, correct. >> so on this continuum the beginning of the continuum begins on may 23 when the president instructs you to talk to rudy? >> correct. >> you understood it was a direction by the president that you needed to satisfy the concerns that rudy giuliani would express to you about what the president wanted in ukraine? >> not to me, to the entire group, volker, perry and myself, correct. >> and in your opening statement you confirmed there
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was a quid pro quo between the white house meeting and the investigations into burisma and the 2016 election that giuliani was publicly promoting, is that right? >> correct. >> and in fact you say that other senior officials in the state department and the chiefs of staffs office including mick mulvaney, secretary pompeo were aware of this quid pro quo that in order to get the white house meeting they were going to have to be these investigations the president wanted. >> correct. >> and those again are investigations into 2016 and burisma/bidens. >> 2016/burisma. the bidens did not come up. >> you would ultimately learn that burisma meant the bidens when you saw the call record. >> of course today i know exactly what it means. i didn't know at the time. >> then on july 26th you
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confirm you did indeed have the conversation with president trump from a restaurant in kiev that david holmes testified about last week, is that right? >> correct. >> you have no reason to doubt mr. holmes recounting of your conversation with the president. >> the only part of mr. holmes recounting that i take exception with is i do not recall mentioning the bidens. that did not enter my mind. it was burisma and 2016 election. >> you have no reason to believe that mr. holmes would make that up if that's what he recalls you saying. you have no reason to question it? >> i don't recall saying biden. i never recall saying biden. >> but the rest of mr. holmes' recollection is consistent with your own? >> well, i can't testify as to what mr. holmes might or might not have heard through the phone. i don't know how he heard the conversation. >> are you familiar with his testimony? >> >> vaguely, yes. >> the only exception you take is to the mention of the name
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biden. >> correct. >> and i think you said in your testimony this morning that not only is it correct that the president brought up with you investigations on the phone the day after the july 25th call, but you would have been surprised had he not brought that up, is that right? >> right, because we had been hearing about it from rudy and we presumed rudy was getting it from the president so it seemed like a logical conclusion. >> mr. holmes also testified you told him president trump doesn't care about ukraine, he only cares about big stuff that relates to him personally. i take it from your comment you don't dispute that part of the conversation. >> well, he made that clear in the may 23rd meeting that he was not particularly fond of ukraine and we had a lot of heavy lifting to do to get him to engage. >> so you don't dispute that part of mr. holmes's recollection.
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>> no. >> in august when you worked with rudy giuliani and a top ukrainian aide to give a statement to zelensky that announced investigations into burisma, you understood that was required by president trump before he would grant a white house meeting to president zelensky. >> that's correct. >> and the ukrainians understood that as well? >> i believe they did. >> and you informed secretary pompeo about that statement as well. >> i did. >> later in august you told secretary pompeo that president zelensky would be prepared to tell president trump that his new justice officials would be able to announce matters of interest to the president which could break the log jam. when you say matters of interest to the president you mean the investigations that president trump wanted, is that right? >> correct. >> and that involved 2016 and burisma or the bidens. >> 2016 and burisma.
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>> and when you are talking about breaking the log jam you are talking about the log jam over the security assistance, correct? >> i was talking log jam generically. nothing was moving. >> that included the security assistance, did it not? >> correct. >> based on the context of that email this wasn't the first time you had discussed these investigations with secretary pompeo, was it? >> no. >> he was aware of the connections that you were making between the investigations and the white house meeting and security assistance. >> yes. >> did he ever take issue with you and say no, that connection is not there or you're wrong? >> not that i recall. >> you mentioned that you also had a conversation with vice president pence before his meeting with president zelensky in warsaw and that you raised the concern you had as well
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that the security assistance was being withheld because of the president's desire to get a commitment from zelensky to pursue these political investigations. what did you say to the vice president? >> i was in a briefing with several people and i just spoke up and i said it appears that everything is stalled until this statement gets made. something, words to that effect. that's what i believed to be the case based on, you know, the work that the three of us had been doing, volker, perry, and myself. and the vice president nodded like, you know, he heard what i said and that was pretty much it as i recall. >> and you understood that the ukrainians were going to raise the security assistance with the vice president at this meeting? >> i didn't know what they were going to raise but they in fact did raise it, mr. chairman. >> it was public by that point that there was a hold on the security assistance, correct? >> i didn't know what they were going to raise. i didn't get a pre-brief from
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the ukrainians. they were concerned, obviously. >> you wanted to help prepare the vice president for the meeting by letting him know what you thought was responsible for the hold on the security assistance. >> that's fair. >> do you recall anything else the vice president said other than nodding his head when you made him aware of the fact. >> i don't str a read-out of the meeting so i can't remember anything else. >> it was immediately after this meeting between the vice president and zelensky that you went to speak with yermak and you told him similarly that in order to release the military assistance they were going to have to publicly announce these investigations. >> much has been made of that meeting. it wasn't a meeting. everyone got up after the bilateral meeting between president zelensky and vice president pence and people do what they normally do. they mill around, shake hands, and i don't know if i came over to yermak or he came over to me but he said you know, what's going on here? i said i don't know.
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it might at be tied together. i have no idea. i was presuming it was. it was a very short conversation. >> in that short conversation as you would later relate to mr. morrison and ambassador taylor you informed mr. yermak that they would need to announce the investigations in order to get the aid. >> mr. yermak was already working on the statement about the investigations. >> you confirmed that he needed to get it done if they were going to get the military aid. >> i likely did. >> mr. morrison and ambassador taylor have related a conversation you had with the president following the warsaw meeting in which the president relayed to you that there was no quid pro quo but nevertheless unless zelensky went to the mic and announced these investigations there would be a stalemate over the aid, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> and that was an accurate
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reflection of your discussion with the president? >> well, that email was not artfully written. i'm the first to admit. what i was trying to convey to ambassador taylor after his frantic emails to me and to others about the security assistance which by the way i agreed with him. i thought it was a very bad idea to hold that money. i finally called the president, i believe it was on the 9th of september, i can't find the records and they won't provide them to me. but i believe i just asked him an open-ended question, mr. chairman, what do you want from ukraine? i keep hearing all these ideas and theories and this and that. what do you want? it was a very short, abrupt conversation. he was not in a good mood. and he just said i want nothing. i want nothing. i want no quid pro quo. tell zelensky to do the right thing. something to that effect. so i typed out a text to ambassador taylor and my reason
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for telling him this was not to defend what the president was saying, not to opine on whether the president was being truthful or untruthful, but simply to relay i have gone as far as i can go. this is the final word i heard from the president of the united states. if you are still concerned, you, ambassador taylor, still concerned, please get ahold of the secretary and maybe he can help. >> i'm not asking about your text message. i'm asking about your conversations with mr. morrison and ambassador taylor after you spoke with the president either in that call or in a different call. >> i'm confused, mr. chairman. which conversations with mr. morrison. >> mr. morrison testified you related a conversation you had with the president in which the president told you no quid pro quo but president zelensky must go to a microphone and announce these investigations and that he should want to.
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similarly you told ambassador taylor that while the president said no quid pro quo, unless zelensky announced these investigations, they would be at a stalemate presumably a stalemate over the military assistance. do you have any reason to question those conversations that mr. morrison and ambassador taylor took notes about? >> well, i think it's tied to my text, mr. chairman. because in my text i think i said something to the effect that he wants zelensky to do what he ran on, i believe, is transparency, etc., etc., which is my clumsy way of saying he wanted these announcements to be made. >> again i'm not asking about your text message i'm asking about what you relayed to ambassador taylor and mr. morrison about your conversation with the president? do you have any reason to question their recollection of what you told them? >> all i can say is that i
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expressed what i told -- what the president told me in that text and if i relayed anything other than what was in that text i don't recall. >> you don't recall >> i don't recall. >> you have no reason to question ambassador taylor or mr. morrison of what they wrote in their notes about your conversation with them. >> could you kindly repeat what they wrote? >> i'll have mr. goldman go through that with you. let me get to the top line here, ambassador sondland. you have testified that the white house meeting that president zelensky desperately wanted and that was very important to president zelensky, was it not? >> absolutely. >> you testified that that meeting was conditioned, was a quid pro quo, for what the president wanted these two investigations, is that right? >> correct. >> that everybody knew it? >> correct. >> now that white house meeting was going to be an official
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meeting between the two presidents, correct? >> presumably. >> it would be an oval office meeting hopefully? >> working meeting. >> an official act, correct? >> yeah. >> and in order to perform that official act, donald trump wanted these two investigations that would help his reelection campaign, correct? >> i can't characterize why he wanted them. all i can tell you is this is what we heard from mr. giuliani. >> but he had to get those two investigations if that official act was going to take place, correct? >> he had to announce the investigations. he didn't actually have to do them as i understood it. >> okay. president zelensky had to announce two investigations the president wanted, make a public announcement, correct? >> correct. >> and those were of great value to the president that he was quite insistent upon them and his attorney was insistent upon him. >> i don't want to characterize if they were value or not value. through mr. giuliani we were led to believe that's what he
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wanted. >> you said that mr. giuliani was acting at the president's demand, correct? >> right. when the president says talk to my personal lawyer, mr. giuliani, we followed his direction. >> and so that official act of that meeting was being conditioned on the performance of these things the president wanted as expressed both directly and through his lawyer rudy giuliani, correct? >> as expressed through rudy giuliani. >> you've also testified that your understanding, it became your clear understanding that the military assistance was also being withheld pending zelensky announcing these investigations, correct? >> that was my presumption. my personal presumption based on the facts at the time. nothing was moving. >> and in fact you had a discussion, communication with the secretary of state in which you said the log jam over aid could be lifted if zelensky announced these investigations, right? >> i don't recall saying the
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log jam over aid. i recall saying the log jam. >> that's what you meant, right? >> i meant that whatever was holding up the meeting, whatever was holding up our deal with ukraine, i was trying to break. again, i was presuming. >> here is what you said in your testimony a moment ago, okay, page 18. but my goal at the time was to do what was necessary to get the aid released, to break the log jam. that's still your testimony, right? >> yeah. >> so the military aid is also an official act, am i right? >> yes. >> this is not president trump's personal bank account. it is $400 million of u.s. taxpayer money, is it not >> absolutely. >> there was a log jam in which the president would not write that u.s. check you believe
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until ukraine announced these two investigations the president wanted, correct? >> that was my belief. >> mr. goldman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in your opening statement ambassador sondland you detailed the benefits that you have gained from obtaining some additional documents over the past few weeks, is that right? >> in terms of refreshing my recollection, right. >> because reviewing these documents has helped you to remember the events that we're asking about, is that correct? >> correct. >> because you acknowledge, of course, that when you can place a document and a date and context it helps to jog your memory >> that's correct. >> you would agree for people unlike yourself who take notes, that that is very helpful to their own recollection of events, right? >> i think you asked your question backwards. are you saying people that take notes it is helpful to have
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those documents or people who don't take notes it's helpful. >> you were not a note taken. >> never have been. >> you would agree people who do take notes generally are more able to remember things than people who don't? >> some, yes. >> and there are additional documents that you've been unable to obtain, is that right? >> that's correct. >> i think you said in your opening statement that the state department prevented you and your staff from trying to gather more documents, is that correct? >> certain documents, yes. >> which documents. >> who prevented you from doing that? >> you have to ask my counsel. he was dealing with them. >> certainly based on the additional memory that you have gained over the past few weeks from reading the testimony of others based on their notes and reviewing your own documents, you have remembered a lot more than you did when you were
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deposed, is that right? >> that's correct. >> and one of the things that you now remember is the discussion that you had with president trump on july 26th in that restaurant in kiev, right? >> what triggered my memory was someone's reference to asap rocky, the primary purpose of the phone call. >> certainly. that's one way memory works, isn't it? and you were sitting in a restaurant with david holmes in kiev having lunch? >> i think i took the whole team out to lunch after the meeting, yeah. >> and it was a meeting one-on-one meeting you had with andre yermak? >> again, trying to reconstruct a very busy day without the benefit but if someone said i had a a meeting and i went to the meeting, then i won't dispute that. >> particularly if that person took notes at that meeting? >> correct. >> or sat outside the door when you didn't let them in?
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>> i have no control over who goes into a meeting in ukraine. that was the ukrainians that didn't let him in. >> you met with president zelensky among others that day, is that right? >> that's correct. >> and you called president trump from your cell phone, from the restaurant, is that right? >> that's right. >> and this is not a secure line, was it? >> it was an open line. >> did you worry that a foreign government may be listening to your phone call with the president of the united states? >> well, i have unclassified conversations all the time from land lines that are unsecured and cell phones. if the topic is not classified and it is up to the president to decide what is classified and what's not classified and we were having -- he was aware it was an open line as well. >> you don't recall the specifics of holding your phone outside -- far away from your ear as mr. holmes testified but you have no reason to question
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his recollection of that, do you? >> i mean, it seems a little strange i would hold my phone here. i probably had my phone close to my ear and he claims to have overheard part of the conversation and i'm not going to dispute what he did or didn't hear. >> he also testified that you confirmed to president trump that you were in ukraine at the time and that president zelensky, quote, loves your ass, unquote. do you recall saying that? >> it sounds like something i would say. [laughter] that's how president trump and i communicate, a lot of four-letter words. in this case three letter. >> holmes said he heard trump ask, quote, is he, meaning zelensky, going to do the investigation? to which you replied he is going to do it and then you added that president zelensky will do anything that you, meaning president trump, ask
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him to. do you recall that? >> i probably said something to that effect because i remember the meeting, the president -- president zelensky was very solicitous is not a good word. he was just very willing to work with the united states and was being very -- by putting it in trump speak he said he would really work with us on a whole host of issues. >> he was not only willing, he was very eager, right? >> that's fair. >> because ukraine depends on the united states as its most significant ally, isn't that correct? >> one of its most, absolutely. >> so just so we understand, you were in kiev the day after president trump spoke to president zelensky on the phone. and you now know from reading the call record that in that phone call he requested a favor
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for president zelensky to do investigations related to the bidens and the 2016 election, right? >> i do now know that, yes. >> you meet with president zelensky and his aides on the day after that phone call and then you had a conversation with president trump from your cell phone from a restaurant terrace and he asked you whether president zelensky will do the investigations. and you responded that he is going to do them or it, and that president zelensky will do anything you ask him to do. is that an accurate recitation of what happened there? >> it could have been words to that effect. i don't remember my exact response. >> but you don't have any reason to dispute mr. holmes' recollection, correct? >> i won't dispute it but again i don't recall. >> after you hung up with the president, mr. holmes testified about a conversation that you and he had where he says that
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you told mr. holmes that the president does not care about ukraine, but the president used the more colorful language including a four-letter word that you just referenced. do you recall saying that to mr. holmes? >> again, i don't recall my exact words but clearly the president beginning on may 23rd when we met with him in the oval office was not a big fan. >> but he was a big fan of the investigations. >> apparently so. >> and in fact mr. holmes said that you said that president trump only cares about the quote big stuff that benefits himself. is that something that you would have said at the time? >> i don't think i would have said that. i would have honestly said that he was not a big fan of ukraine and he wants the investigations that we have been talking about for quite some time to move forward. that's what i would have said. that's the fact.
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>> mr. holmes also remembers that you told him giving an example of the big stuff, the biden investigation that rudy giuliani was pushing. do you recall that? >> i don't. i recall burisma, not biden. >> but do you recall saying at least referring to an investigation that rudy giuliani was pushing. is that something you likely would have said? >> i would have, yes. >> now, even if you don't recall specifically mentioning the biden investigation to david holmes, we know that it was certainly on president trump's mind. because just the day before in his call with president zelensky he mentions specifically the biden investigation. i want to show you that exhibit or that excerpt from the call on july 25th.
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where president trump says the other thing, there is 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 around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me. president zelensky then responds with a reference to the company that he is referring to and two witnesses yesterday said that when president zelensky actually said the company he said burisma. so you would agree that regardless of whether you knew about the connection to the bidens, at the very least that you now know that that's what president trump wanted at the time through the burisma investigation. >> i now know it all, of course. >> at this time you were aware of the president's desire, along with rudy giuliani, to do these investigations including
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the 2016 election interference investigation, is that right? >> that's correct. >> and you said president trump had directed you to talk -- you and the others to talk to rudy giuliani at the oval office on may 23rd. is that right? >> if we wanted to get anything done with ukraine it was apparent to us we needed to talk to rudy. >> you understood that mr. giuliani spoke for the president, correct? >> that's correct. >> and in fact president trump also made that clear to president zelensky in that same july 25th phone call. he said mr. giuliani is a highly respected man. he was the mayor of new york city, a great mayor and i would like him to call you. i will ask him to call you along with the attorney general. rudy very much knows what is happening and he is a very capable guy. and after this president trump then mentions mr. giuliani
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twice more in that call. now, for mr. giuliani by this point you understood that in order to get that white house meeting that you wanted president zelensky to have and that president zelensky desperately wanted to have, that ukraine would have to initiate these twro investigations, is that right? >> they have to announce they were going to do it. >> right. giuliani and president trump didn't actually care if they did them, right? >> i never heard mr. goldman anyone say that the investigations had to start or had to be completed. the only thing i heard from mr. giuliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced in some form. that form kept changing. >> announced publicly. >> announced publicly. >> you recognized there would be political benefits to a public announcement as opposed to a private announcement. >> the ukrainians had a long history of committing to things privately and never following
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through. so president trump presumably again communicated through mr. giuliani wanted the ukrainians on record publicly that they were going to do these investigations. that's the reason that was given to me. >> you never heard anyone say that they really wanted them to do the investigations, just that they wanted to announce it. >> i didn't hear either way. >> now, your july 26th call with the president was not the only time that you spoke to the president surrounding that ukraine trip, was it? >> i believe i spoke to him before his call. >> and that's so that would be on july 25th, the day before. >> yeah, i think i was flying to ukraine and i spoke with him if i recall correctly, just before i got on the plane. >> so that's two private telephone calls with president trump in the span of two days, is that right? >> correct. >> you had direct access then to president trump, correct?
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>> i had occasional access when he chose to take my calls. sometimes he would, sometimes he wouldn't. >> he certainly took your call twice as it related to ukraine on these two days, is that right? >> he did. >> now the morning of july 25th, you texted ambassador volker and we could bring up the next text exchange at 7:54 a.m. and said call asap. ambassador volker did not respond to you for another hour and a half and he said hi, gordon, got your message. had a great lunch with yermak and passed your message to him. he will see you tomorrow. think everything in place. >> volker, though, an hour before that and about a half an hour before the phone call had texted andre yermak, a top aide for president zelensky. good lufrng, thanks. heard from white house. assuming president z will get to the bottom of what happened
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in 2016 we'll nail down visit to washington good luck, see you tomorrow. ambassador sondland, was this message that kurt volker passed to andre yermak the message you left for kurt volker on that voicemail he referenced. ? i don't remember but it could have been. >> you don't have any reason to think it wasn't, right? >> i honestly, honestly don't remember. seems logical to me. >> and if ambassador volker testified that he did get that message from you, you have no reason to doubt that. >> if he testified he got that message from me then i would concur with that. >> this message is what you received from president trump that morning. >> if he testified to that, likely i would have received that from president trump >> you talked to president trump, told kurt volker to call you. you left him a message. volker sent this message to andre yermak to prepare
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president zelensky and president trump had a phone call where president zelensky spoke very similar who what was in this text message, right? >> right. >> you would agree that the message expressioned here is that president zelensky needs to convince trump that he will do the investigations in order to nail down the date for a visit to washington, d.c. is that correct? >> that's correct. >> now, i'll move ahead in time to the end of august and early september when you came to believe i believe as you testified. it wasn't just the white house meeting that was contingent on the announcement of these investigations, that the president wanted, but security assistance as well. you testified that in the absence of any credible explanation for the hold on security assistance, you came to the conclusion that like the white house visit, the aid was
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conditioned on the investigations that president trump wanted, is that what you said in your opening statement? >> it is. >> let me break this down with you. by this time you and many top officials knew that that coveted white house meeting for president zelensky was conditioned on these investigations, right? >> the announcement of the investigations, correct. >> thank you. and that includes secretary pompeo, right? >> many people. >> well, secretary pompeo? >> yes. >> acting chief of staff mulvaney? . >> yes. >> you testified it was a quid pro quo, is that right? >> i did. >> at this point by the end of august knew the aid had been held up for at least six weeks, is that correct? >> i believe i found out through ambassador taylor that the aid had been held up around july 18th is when i heard originally. >> and even though you searched for reasons you never were given a credible explanation, is that right?
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>> that's right. >> no one you spoke to thought the aid should be held to your knowledge, is that right? >> i never heard anyone advocate for holding the aid. >> and now by this point at the end of august it went public and the ukrainians knew about it, right? >> i believe there was some press reports presuming or who knows, but i think at that point it became sort of common knowledge that everything might be tied together. >> and in fact president zelensky brought it up at that september 1 meeting with vice president pence that you were at, right? >> i don't know if he brought it up specifically, but asked where the aid was i think was more -- i think he sort of asked again very vague recollection because i don't have a read-out of the bilateral meeting but why don't i have my check essentially. >> and you understood the ukrainians received no credible explanation, is that right? >> i certainly couldn't give them one.
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>> so this kind of a two plus two equals four conclusion that you reached? >> pretty much. >> the only logical conclusion to you that given all these factors that the aid was also a part of this quid pro quo? >> yep. >> now, i want to go back to that conversation that you had with vice president pence right before that meeting in warsaw. and you indicated that you said to him that you were concerned that the delay in the aid was tied to the issue of investigations, is that right? >> i don't know exactly what i said to him. this was a briefing attended by many people and i was invited at the very last minute. i wasn't scheduled to be there but i think i spoke up at some point late in the meeting and said it looks like everything is being held up until these statements get made and that's my personal belief. >> vice president pence just nodded his aide?
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>> i don't recall any exchange where he asked me any questions. it was a duly noted -- >> he didn't say gordon, what are you talking about? >> no, he did not. >> he didn't say what investigations? >> he did not. >> now, after this meeting you discussed this pull aside you had with mr. yermak where you relayed your belief that they needed to announce these investigations prior to the aid being released, is that right? >> i said i didn't know exactly why but this could be a reason. >> you had been speaking with mr. yermak for quite a while about a public announcement of these investigations, right? >> we had all been working toward that end, yes. >> so you indicated to him in addition to the white house meeting security aid was now also involved in that? >> i said it could have been involved, yes.
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>> i'm going to show you another text exchange you had on september 1 where ambassador taylor says to you are we now saying that security assistance and white house meeting are conditioned on investigations? and you respond call me. ambassador taylor recalls that he did call you and you did have a conversation. and in that conversation you told ambassador taylor that the announcement of these investigations by president zelensky needed to be public and that that announcement was conditioned on -- that announcement would ultimately release the aid. do you recall that conversation with ambassador taylor? >> again, my conversation with ambassador taylor and my conversation with senator johnson were all my personal belief just based on as you put it two plus two equals four. >> in his testimony ambassador
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taylor says that you said that president trump had told you that he wanted president zelensky to state publicly as of september 1st. do you have any reason to doubt ambassador taylor's testimony which he said was based on his meticulous contemporaneous notes? >> president trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. the only thing we got directly from giuliani was that the burisma and 2016 elections were conditioned on the white house meeting. the aid was my own personal guess based again on your analogy two plus two equals four. >> you didn't talk to president trump when ambassador taylor says that's what you told him. is that your testimony? >> my testimony is i never heard from president trump that aid was conditioned on an announcement of elections. >> so you never heard those specific words.
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>> correct. never heard those words. >> let's move ahead because you have another conversation in a little bit later that both tim morrison and ambassador taylor recount. in the september 1st conversation ambassador taylor also testified under oath that you said that president trump wanted zelensky in a public box. do you recall using that expression? >> yeah. it goes back to my earlier comment that again coming from the giuliani source because we didn't discuss this specifically with president trump. they wanted whatever commitments ukraine to be made to be made publicly so they would be on the record and held more accountable, whatever those commitments were. >> you also testified -- ambassador taylor testified you told him you had made a mistake in telling ukrainians that only the white house meeting was conditioned on the announcement
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of the investigations and that in fact everything was, including the security assistance. do you remember saying that? >> when i referenced a mistake, what i recall was i thought that a statement made by the new ukrainian prosecutors that the investigations would commence would be sufficient to satisfy mr. giuliani and president trump. as i i recall, my mistake was someone came back through volker or otherwise no, it won't do if the prosecutor makes these statements. the president wants to hear it from zelensky directly. that's the mistake i think i made. >> do you have any reason to question ambassador taylor's testimony based on his meticulous and careful notes? >> i'm not going to question or not question. i'm telling you what i believe i was referring to. >> let me fast forward a week and show you another text exchange which may help refresh
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your recollection. on september 8th you sent a text to ambassador taylor and volker. >> multiple convoys with zelensky/potus, let's talk. >> this is september 8th. ambassador taylor immediately now is fine with me. if we could go to the next exchange. ambassador taylor then 15 minutes later says gordon and i just spoke, 20 minutes later, rather. i can brief you if you and gordon don't connect speaking to ambassador volker. then taylor and hour later says the nightmare is they give the interview and don't get the security assistance. the russians love it and i quit. you would agree that in this text message after you had spoken an hour earlier with ambassador taylor that he is linking the security assistance to this interview, this public announcement by president zelensky, is that right? >> absolutely.
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>> in fact, ambassador taylor testified you did have a conversation with him at that point and he did -- and that you told him that just as your text message indicate you did have a conversation with president trump prior to that text message. does that help to refresh your recollection that you in fact spoke to president trump at that time? >> again, i don't recall president trump ever talking to me about any security assistance ever. what this tells me refreshing my memory is that by the 8th of september it was abundantly clear to everyone that there was a link and that we were discussing the chicken and egg issue of should the ukrainians go out on a ledge and make the statement that president trump wanted them to make and then they still don't get their white house visit and their aid? that would be really bad for our credibility. i think that's what he was
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referring to. >> so you do acknowledge you spoke to president trump as you indicated in that text, right? >> if i said i did, i did. >> and that after that conversation you were still under the impression that the aid was contingent on these public announcements. >> i did not get that from president trump. i was under the impression that absolutely it was. >> you weren't dissuaded, right? you still thought the aid was conditioned on the public announcement of the investigations after speaking to president trump? >> by september 8th i was absolutely convinced it was. >> and president trump did not dissuade you of that in the conversation that you acknowledge you had with him. >> i don't ever recall -- because that would have changed my entire calculus. if president trump had told me directly i'm not >> that's not what i'm asking. you still believed that the security assistance was conditioned on the investigations after you spoke to mr. trump, yes or no. >> from a time frame standpoint, yes.
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>> now ambassador taylor also testified that -- mr. morrison, both testified that you told them that president trump said there was no quid pro quo, which you also included in that text message that you referred. but then you went on and they had slight variations as to what you told them but then you said that to ambassador taylor that president zelensky himself, not the prosecutor general, needed to clear things up in public or there would be a stalemate. and mr. morrison recounted something similar. you don't have any reason to doubt that both of their very similar recollections of a conversations they had with you, do you, ambassador sondland? >> let me break that down, mr. goldman. the text as i said about the know quid pro quo was my effort to respond to ambassador taylor's concerns to go to president trump apparently ambassador taylor had access to
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secretary pompeo, not access to president trump. so i made the phone call. i said what do you want? president trump responded with what i put in the text. and then i strongly encouraged ambassador taylor to take it up with the secretary and he responded i agree. when i said that. as far as the other part of your question relating to whether or not the prosecutor could make the statement or zelensky could make the statement, i don't recall who told me whether it was volker, whether it was giuliani, or whether it was president trump. it has to be zelensky, it can't be a prosecutor. that's what i relayed. whoever i got that information from i relayed that to i believe both -- ambassador taylor and mr. morrison. >> as of september 9th you understood, did you not, that president trump either himself or through his agents required that president zelensky make a public announcement of the two
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investigations that president trump cared about in order to get both the white house meeting and to release the security assistance, is that correct? >> i believe that is correct. >> mr. chairman, i yield back. >> that concludes our 45 minutes. i recognize mr. nunes. why don't we take a 5 or 10-minute break. >> thank you. >> we were expecting nunes to continue the hearing here but let's get a 5 or 10 minute break and we'll bring in our list of panelists after the long statement by ambassador sondland. sandra, a lot of very interesting information here. that we will now go through and wait for the cross examination. what sondland is saying, the statement by the prosecutor he thought would be sufficient and the president wanted to hear directly from the new president of ukraine how far he was willing to go toward the investigation of corruption in his country.
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clearly this was an issue for the president. and the white house. how far it goes is something we're waiting to hear play out here. >> joining us from washington martha and john roberts here in new york city. martha, i'll bring you in first. what we heard repeatedly there was that there was a quid pro quo. he asked the question in his opening statement, was there a quid pro quo? yes. he testified that everyone was in the loop. his words. he repeatedly said in his opening statement that they were taking orders. he was taking orders -- following orders on multiple other occasions through the questioning and the opening statement from president trump. your takeaways. >> there is a lot here, sandra. one of the early things that gordon sondland wanted to establish was that he and the so-called three amigos, mr. taylor and mr. volker, did not want to work with rudy giuliani. he said that several times. he said it became clear to him that was the only way that it was going to go forward.
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the only way they were going to get the meeting. the president insisted he work with rudy giuliani and that was the only way to accomplish their goal of getting president zelensky to sit down with president trump. as you say, he pointed out that he believed there was a quid pro quo and it was for the meeting and for the white house call. the whole part of aid being related to that came later. he said he was aware on july 18th that there was a hold on the aid. he said that's the first time that he became aware of that. and he said that over time he started to understand or presume, which was his word, it was my presumption, my personal presumption, he said, that all was linked. that would break the log jam. there is quite a bit here in terms of him tying it together. one thing i want to mention that i thought was significant here. he says several times that
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secretary of state pompeo and vice president pence were well aware, everyone was in the loop, he says several times, of what was going on. he says he brought up the fact that all of this was being held up. the aid was being held up for this -- the statement was required that they would look into and investigate burisma and 2016. he says that vice president pence nodded. he didn't seem like he didn't know what he was talking about. that was one of the significant moments here. one of the ways he is trying to thread the needle and protect himself is that he claims and remember that ambassador volker said the same thing, that they were not aware that the bidens equaled burisma. this is very significant. >> certainly is. came up at 10:15 asked about the bidens. i did not know. it wasn't a part of any record. today i know exactly what it means. i didn't know at the time. the bidens, i never recall saying biden.
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another point he said trump never told me the aid was conditioned. i never heard those words. bret baier analysis in washington, d.c. how did you hear it, bret? >> well, this statement was very detailed and very specific and i think again and again saying everyone was in the loop. specifically pointing to secretary pompeo and mick mulvaney as martha mentioned. there was a quid pro quo, he says, with tying the investigations to the meeting and the phone call. on the security aid, you rightly point out he says president trump never told me directly that the aid was tied to the investigations. however, he came to the conclusion that that was 100% what was happening. expect the gop to go down that road. what the conclusion, that was his conclusion. not that president trump told him anything. listen, on its face it's very damaging to some of the arguments the gop has been making. i think it will be fascinating
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to see in cross examination how they go. remember, back in october president trump called ambassador sondland a really good man and a great american. he is testifying now, i think, cleaning up for gordon sondland rather than for president trump. >> i went back to the initial transcript that was released dated july 25th. zelensky says toward the beginning of that conversation we're trying to work hard because we wanted to drain the swamp here in our country. you imagine how the president heard those words. not the old politicians, we want to have a new format and a new type of government. you are a great teacher for all of us in that. what the president said is that much more than the european countries are doing, we spend a lot of effort and time. pause on that. go ahead. adam schiff talking in the hallway. >> reelection campaign was a basic quid pro quo.
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it was the conditioning of official acts for something of great value to the president. these political investigations. it goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery as well as other potential high crimes or miss demeanors. but we also have heard for the first time that knowledge of this scheme was pervasive. the secretary of state was aware of it. the acting chief of staff mulvaney was aware of it and of course at the very top donald trump, through his personal lawyer and others was implementing it. and so this i think only goes to underscore just how significant the president's obstruction of this investigation has been. we now can see the veneer has been torn away, just why secretary pompeo and president donald trump do not want any of these documents provided to congress because apparently they show as ambassador
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sondland has testified that the knowledge of this scheme to condition official acts, a white house meeting, and $400 million in security assistance to an ally at war with russia was conditioned on political favors the president wanted for his reelection. so i think a very important moment in the history of this inquiry. [inaudible question] >> the point here from july 25th. we spent a lot of time and effort, much more than the european countries are doing and they should be upping more than they are. germany does almost nothing for you. all they do is talk. i think it's something you should ask them about. zelensky agrees with the point that trump makes during that transcript. ukraine has a longstanding issue with corruption. he wanted the new president to root that out. at the base of this the president wanted to figure out what was happening in the election of 2016. convinced that ukraine had a role in that as evidenced from the transcript itself. burisma was a part of that
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corruption and hunter bidden was a part of burisma. then we ask the question is this ultimately a crime? and is this impeachable? to chris wallace now in washington on that. chris. >> well, i think that as bret mentioned i think what gordon sondland was trying to do here is protect himself more than he is to protect anybody else. to a certain degree took out the bus and ran over president trump, vice president pence, mike pompeo, john bolton, rudy giuliani, mick mulvaney. he imply indicates all of them. it pains to say this wasn't a rogue operation. i wasn't a freelancer. everybody knew. everybody was in the loop on this. i think one of the keys is going to be going to the specific points of contact between him and the president because there are a couple of points where he says it was abundantly clear. my personal presumption. my belief. and he is not saying directly that the president told him
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these things. and specifically he says the president never told me that there was any condition between aid as opposed to the white house meeting between military aid and zelensky announcing the investigations. however, they did go through and in fact to a certain degree sondland offered it, his involvement with the president may 23 his first meeting with the president from his opening statement. the president was skeptical about ukraine. he even mentioned that ukraine tried to take him down in the last election and he directed us to talk with rudy. that we took that as the express direction of the president to deal with rudy giuliani. july 25th he has an exchange with gordon volker, one of the other diplomats involved in all this in which he says before the phone call with zelensky, he apparently says that assuming president zelensky convinces trump he will investigate, get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down a date for the
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meeting. and there are more contacts. so he certainly makes it clear that in the direct conversations he has with the president he saw a conditionality here and very much saw rudy giuliani as a personal agent and the person the president was directing them to talk to on the specific issue of aid. he says -- he was quite insistence, i was never told by the president that aid was conditioned on this. but i added up two and two and got to four. i suspect that the republicans are going to challenge his math skills. >> you already are seeing some of that. i want to bring in ken starr. one of the republican lawmakers sitting in the room biggs is live twiting through this. we were led to believe this is what the president wanted. sondland referring to the investigations, sondland never heard it from the president himself. so i'll ask you the question, ken, i asked you three hours ago before the hearing took place this morning or before it
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began, you called yesterday the hearings extravagant and political and so far these hearings haven't revealed a crime. did anything change in the last couple of hours? >> yes, because we've gotten closer to the president but just for the reasons you identified, the president may have covered himself by saying no quid pro quo, the record is muddled. so we have gordon sondland's understanding. it doesn't look good for the president substantively but i want to make a different point. the chairman began with essentially pulling out the richard nixon articles of impeachment figuratively speaking and he pointed to the third article, contempt. contempt in the sense of you have stood in the way of this investigation. i was then -- i thought that was very intriguing. point two, then ambassador sondland spoke vehemently and bitterly about his lack of
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access to records to help him. then thirdly, the very first questions from mr. goldman went exactly to obstruction. you have not had the ability to refresh your recollection, you are not a note taker and so forth. so we already have one article of impeachment and the third article of impeachment in the richard nixon situation is very clear, it's very succinct and very well done. that just got drawn up today thanks to ambassador sondland saying it is not a complaint now, but the house chairman or anyone on this committee it is from the witness himself and he was -- i thought he was quite bitter and almost impassioned with respect to i have been stymied. so we have now a process crime. contempt of congress, contempt of the house in the course of its impeachment. what's the response to that?
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we don't recognize this. it was not proper. it was not authorized through a proper vote of the house, etc. this is a house, not judiciary committee. there are responses to it but one of the takeaways from this morning. >> where does that lead you, ken? >> it leads me there will be articles of impeachment. we've known that. it was just confirmed today and substantively what we heard from the chairman just now is it's over. we now know -- this is his position. we now know that the president in fact committed the crime of bribery. something of value. i think articles of impeachment are being drawn up if they haven't already been drawn up. so it depends will it be bipartisan and so forth. so this obviously has been one of those bombshell days. >> ken starr in dallas.
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thank you to john roberts in new york. have we heard from the president? he was expected to leave this morning. i don't know if there has been movement at the white house. >> the significance of sondland's testimony is felt at the white house. the president was supposed to depart. he is going down to the apple manufacturing plant in austin, texas, supposed to leave a half hour ago. marine one has not even landed on the white house lawn yet. so clearly the white house has given instruction to the military office hold back on the helicopter. the president is not ready to leave. i think the white house is looking at sondland's testimony and probably saying this is better for us than his opening statement. clearly they have got a problem with this idea that there was a quid pro quo in terms of phone call with zelensky and a white house visit. but there is still this idea that sondland only presumed. it was his belief that the aid was tied to this idea of investigations and again he is saying burisma and not biden.
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and he did testify openly for everyone to hear who is watching that the president told him on the phone that there was no quid pro quo. let's listen to what he said here. >> i finally called the president, i believe it was on the 9th of september. i just asked him an open-ended question, mr. chairman. what do you want from ukraine? i keep hearing all these different ideas and theories and this and that, what do you want? it was a very short, abrupt conversation. he was not in a good mood and he just said i want nothing, i want nothing. i want no quid pro quo. tell zell to do the right thing. >> he says he presumed that giuliani was speaking on behalf of the president and he came to his own personal presumption that the aid was linked. so there may be some wiggle room here for the republicans the try to exploit in their cross examination this idea of
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a quid pro quo for a meeting and phone call seemed to be pretty well established. >> bret, what response if any are you hearing from washington in particular republicans have been quite quiet through the hearing this morning. >> they are still pretty quiet. everybody is taking a breath here. the one question i have to john's point is whether you can get to the origins of that aid being held up without the testimony of white house chief of staff mick mulvaney or the national security advisor john bolton. does it change the dynamic in searching for those people to testify? it would be up in the courts for that decision to be made. calculation by the white house is that nothing in these hearings, even this one today as explosive as it potentially could be, nothing can convince 20gop republicans in the senate to convict president trump. that's their calculation. until you link that foreign aid being held up to the investigations directly from
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the oval office to the decision, i think it does become tougher to move those republican votes. >> bret, thank you. back to ken starr and your analysis there was quite emphatic. how do republicans, i guess, if this were a trial, how do they rehabilitate the witness when they come back here? >> on the substance i think we have identified the fact that the president may have covered himself adequately by saying no quid pro quo, do the right thing. when we go back to ambassador volker's testimony yesterday he was supportive of a public announcement. yes indeed. show by president zelensky, show you are serious about corruption. you are going to go after it. so ambassador volker was comfortable with that. i need, says president trump, some kind of manifestation that
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the new government is really serious about getting to the bottom of this endemic corruption. now, what the president may have wanted in his heart of hearts namely the bidens, burisma and the like, nonetheless can be seen in this broader context that i think ambassador volker's testimony is helpful to the president. >> hearing looks like it will be underway shortly. the chairman and ranking member are back in their chairs and the witness is seated. we'll see this hearing resume just moments from now. chad pergram is joining us now. what do you expect for the -- here is the chairman. >> i recognize mr. nunes and counsel for 45 minutes of questions. >> thank the gentleman. for those of you watching at home that was not a bathroom break. it was a chance for the democrats to go out and hold a press conference. ambassador for all the supposed
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bombshells that were in your opening testimony. i want to get back to the facts of the matter here and the thing that the democrats have been unwilling to accept is that their operatives got campaign dirt from ukrainians in the 2016 election. now, they know it, they know it's true. we have financial records that show it. so they were -- the democrats were heavily involved working with ukrainians to dirty up the trump campaign in 2016. ambassador, i want to go through a few of the incidents that we know. i know you may not know all about them, you may know about them now. but i want to walk through some of those examples of why the president may be very upset with ukraine and think that they are a country that's out to get him as i think both you've said that and ambassador
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volker have said that from that may 23rd meeting. the first question i have is were you aware of the anti-trump efforts by dnc operative alexandra chalupa? >> i am not aware of it. >> so in -- there is a 2017 article that also quotes ukrainian parliamentarian saying quote, it was clear that they were supporting, meaning ukraine, supporting hillary clinton's candidacy and they did everything from organizing meetings with the clinton team to publicly supporting her to criticizing trump. i think that they simply didn't meet with the trump campaign because they thought hillary would win. do you know that ukrainian official that stated that? >> i don't. >> were you aware that the
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ukrainian ambassador to the u.s. wrote an op-ed in the hill during the 2016 presidential campaign criticizing then candidate trump? >> not aware. >> you know that now after the last few months? >> correct. >> so probably one of the more disturbing ones is the ukraine internal affairs minister mocked and disparaged then candidate trump on facebook and twitter. were you aware that a parliamentarian admitted part of his reason for spreading the information about the black ledger supposedly revealing corruption of a trump campaign official was to undermine the trump candidacy? >> i wasn't aware. >> the black ledger was used in the 2016 election to dirty up a campaign associate and later mueller didn't use that as evidence in his report on
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election meddling. so knowing all these facts from high-ranking ukrainian officials, ambassador, probably makes a little more sense now as to why the president may think there is problems with ukraine and that ukraine was out to get him. is that correct? >> i understand your point, yes, chairman. >> you said in your deposition i'm going to make sure this -- read it back to you. on page 279 for your legal team. quote, they are all corrupt. this is your -- what you said about your conversation with the president so this is your words about what the president told you. >> this is the may 23 meeting? >> that's correct. they are all corrupt. they are alterible people and you know i don't want to spend any time with that. he also said they tried to take
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me down. >> that's correct. >> they tried to take him down and then i think any logical person that wants to do two plus two equals four games would say that that was in the 2016 election, wasn't it? >> i believe that's what he was referring to, yes, right, ranking member. >> so during all this time -- and remember in the spring the democrats russia hoax witch hunt is still ongoing. they are still claiming that president trump is a russian agent. they are out to get president trump at the time. his personal attorney is then interested in trying to figure out who were these ukrainians trying to get to my candidate? as those of us, the republicans on this committee, who were also trying to get to the bottom of who were the sources in the steele dossier that the democrats paid for? house republicans wanted to know that all through the
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spring and even the summer of and even as of today we would still like to know. that's why we've subpoenaed the dnc operatives but they refused to subpoena. we sent a letter this morning. we want to know exactly who were these democratic operatives dirtying up the trump campaign in 2016? and they just can't get over that the president would send his personal attorney over there to try to get to the bottom of that. ambassador, you had very few dealings with rudy giuliani, a few text messages. >> a few text messages and a few phone calls. >> right. so the whistleblower trying to put together here with their timeline they seem to have a timeline problem. the whistleblower that only they know, who they won't subpoena, who clearly mr. vindman knows who they blocked testimony yesterday and would not allow him to answer our
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questions, that whistleblower says on july 25th that there were all these promises being made. yet the -- i forget what they call it, the drug deal the three amigos were cooking up seems to be their latest. you are part of the three amigos and the drug deal ambassador. were you aware of any drug deal on july 25th when the phone call actually occurred? >> i don't know about any drug deal. >> right. do you know you're part of the three amigos? >> a proud part. >> that's the same thing ambassador volker said yesterday. by the time the phone call that supposedly the whistleblower claims was the original quid pro quo, has now got down to we're now a month later where you are involved and their quid pro quo has gotten down to the
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low level of well, they want a statement. and you didn't even know about anything to do with july 25th you knew nothing about military aid being withheld. >> i knew military aid was withheld beginning on july 18th when ambassador taylor told both of us that was the case. >> but you don't know -- you were not on the july 25th call. >> i was not. >> where the aid doesn't come up at all. >> again, i just read the read-out when everyone else did. >> everybody has testified it was on the july 25th call that there was no aid discussed from the july 25th call. so then you are in the process, you have no idea this is tied to burisma or anybody else. you don't realize that until the end of august. >> i didn't realize that aid was tied. the burisma and 2016 piece was much earlier, ranking member.
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>> i'm glad you bring up burisma. this is another issue that the democrats don't want to go into. they refuse to call in hunter biden. hunter biden could get to the bottom of all of this. he could come in and talk about whether or not it was appropriate for him to receive over $50,000 a month while his dad was vice president and when they actually were able to stop and get an investigator fired. they could call in hunter biden but they don't want to do it. let's talk about burisma, ambassador. i know you are the ambassador to the e.u. and i think some of the members later will get into whether or not it was appropriate for you to be in ukraine or not. i believe it was. i think you have a clear mandate to do it. but you wouldn't be the first ambassador to actually be interested in burisma. did you know that in september of 2015 then ambassador to
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ukraine called for an investigation into zlochevsky, the president of the burisma. the ukrainian ambassador appointed by president obama in ukraine. >> i wasn't aware of that, no. >> you weren't aware of that. >> no. >> you wouldn't be the first one to be mentioning that investigations should be done on burisma because it happened during the obama administration. did you know that financial records show burisma routed more than $3 million to the american accounts tied to hunter biden? >> i did not know that. >> did you know that burisma's american lawyers tried to secure a meeting with the new state prosecutor the same day his predecessor, victor shokin, who the vice president wanted fired, was announced? >> did not know that. >> we're not going to get to the answer to many of these questions because the witnesses that need to come in and
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clarify exactly what the democrats were doing in 2016, we're not going to be able to visit with those witnesses and so oats an inconvenient truth that the democrats don't want to admit their operatives that were dirtying up the trump campaign. using ukrainian sources. they don't want us or you or the president's personal attorney under a special counsel investigation, they fed into the f.b.i. that we dealt with for over three years, they don't want to get to the bottom of that, ambassador. i think mr. castor has some questions for you. >> thank you, mr. nunes. good morning, ambassador, how are you? >> good morning. >> welcome back. you are here all day on the 17th. late into the night. so thank you for your cooperation with the investigation. did the president ever tell you
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personally about any pre-conditions for anything? >> no. >> okay. so the president never told you about any preconditions for the aid to be released. >> no. >> the president never told you about any pre-conditions for a white house meeting. >> personally, no. >> you said you didn't have your records or documents from the state department. if you did there wouldn't be any documentary record that ties president trump personally to any of this, correct? >> i don't want to speculate what would be on. >> your documents are records. >> i don't recall anything like that. >> good heavens, okay. you testified mr. giuliani's requests for a quid pro quo for the white house meeting. you indicated that you believed he was evinceing president trump's interests, correct? >> my contact with mr. giuliani began late in the process after
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august 1st when i was first introduced to him by a a text from ambassador volker. we had already begun those discussions i believe with the ukrainians prior to august 1st. so everything was being funneled through others including mr. volker. >> okay. but you testified that mr. giuliani was expressing the desires of the president, correct? >> that's our understanding, yes. >> how did you know that? who told you? >> well, when the president says talk to my personal attorney and then mr. giuliani as his personal attorney makes certain requests or demands, we assume it's coming from the president. i don't -- i'm not testifying that i heard the president tell mr. giuliani to tell us if that's your question. >> but your deposition you said the question was the may 23rd meeting when the president said go talk to rudy, you responded he didn't even say go talk. he said talk to rudy.
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you subsequently said it was sort of like i don't want to talk about this. so it wasn't an order or direction to go talk with mr. giuliani, correct? >> our conclusion and the conclusion of the three of us was that if we did not talk to rudy nothing would move forward on ukraine. >> okay. that was may 23 and you never had any personal communications with giuliani until august, right? >> that's correct. >> and volker was handling >> volker, perry and others. >> okay. ambassador volker, you testified he is a professional diplomat, correct? >> yes, he is. >> and you said you had a great relationship with him? >> i do, yes. >> you said he was a very smart guy. >> yes. >> ambassador yovanovitch said he is a brilliant diplomat, in fact, do you agree with that? >> he is pretty smart. >> you said he was one of those people you would hand your wallet to? >> i would. >> did you hear his testimony
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yesterday? >> i did not. i was busy getting ready for you. >> he didn't have any evidence of any of these pre-conditions and he was the one most engaged with the ukrainians, wasn't he? >> yes. >> okay. you testified this was his full-time job although he was doing it for free. >> he was the special envoy. >> you testified you came in and out of the events, correct? >> that's correct. >> okay. your deposition we asked you about your communications with the president. and we asked you whether there were so many that it would be impossible to chronicle. and you said no, it wasn't that many and we went down the path of building a list of communications you remember with the president, right? >> correct. >> we talked about may 23 and the oval office. >> yes. >> you mentioned on july 25th before you went to ukraine you
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called the president but there was no material information on the 25th call, correct? >> not that i recall. >> then last friday mr. holmes came in and i guess his testimony refreshed your recollection. >> yeah. what refreshed my recollection was when he mentioned asap rocky, then it came back to me. >> talking about president zelensky loving the president and so forth? >> the whole thing came back to me after you mentioned asap rocky. >> the next time we tried to unpack this the next time you talked with the president was on the telephone was september 9th according to your deposition, right? >> i may have spoken to him on september 6th but again i just don't have all the records. i wish i could get them. then i could answer your questions very easily. >> okay. in september 9th at least at your deposition you were extremely clear. you called the president and he was cranky that day.
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>> he seamed very cranky to me. >> you said in no uncertain terms on heels of the bill taylor text, right? >> right. >> and why don't you tell us, what did the president say to you on september 9th that you remember? >> well, words to the effect i decided to ask the president the question in an open-ended fashion because there were so many different scenarios floating around as to what was going on with ukraine. so rather than ask the president nine different questions, is it this, this and that? i said what do you want from ukraine? i may have even used a four-letter word. and he said i want nothing. i want no quid pro quo. i just want zell to do the right thing. to do what he ran on or words to that effect. that gave me the impetus to respond to ambassador taylor with the texas i said to mr. goldman. it was not an artfully written text. i should have put it in quotes. something like that.
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but basically i wanted mr. taylor, ambassador taylor to pick up the ball and take it from there. i had gone as far as i could go. >> and you believed the president, correct? >> you know what? i'm not going to characterize whether i believed or didn't believe. i was trying to convey what he said on the phone. >> at that point in time the pause in the aid. the aid was paused for 55 days. there was a news article in "politico" on august 28th talking about it. by that point in time the president had been receiving calls from senators, he had been getting pressure to lift the aid, correct? >> that's what i understand, yes. >> i want to turn back to your opener on page 5 under -- when you talk about in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid i later came to believe the resumption
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of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from ukraine committing to the investigations, correct? >> correct. >> and you acknowledge that this is speculation, right? >> it was a presumption. >> okay. it was a guess in fact i think you even said this morning. >> well, i want to say that it goes back to mr. goldman's point or chairman schiff's, two plus two equaled four in my mind at that point. >> but you didn't have any evidence of that, correct? >> other than the aid wasn't being released and we weren't getting anywhere with the ukrainians. >> did ambassador volker clue you in that was the issue? this is a pretty high -- this is a pretty serious conclusion you've reached without precise evidence. >> well, i sent that email to secretary pompeo to set up a potential meeting between president trump and president zelensky in warsaw and when i
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referred to the log jam i referred to the log jam in a very inclusive way. everything was jammed up at that point. and secretary pompeo essentially gave me the green light to brief president zelensky about making those announcements. >> okay. we can turn to that. then that was your email dated what date? >> do you have the page there? >> your email to secretary pompeo. august 11th? 16. >> august 22nd. >> okay, you are asking secretary pompeo whether we should block time. is there any discussion of
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specific investigation or any discussion of biden or burisma or anything linking to aid in this email that you sent to pompeo? >> no. this was a proposed briefing that i was going to give president zelensky. and i was going to call president zelensky and ask him to say what is in this email and i was asking essentially president pompeo's permission to do that. which he said yes. >> at that point in time we're talking about investigations into the origins of the 2016 election. not talking about anything to do with joe biden. >> joe biden did not come up. >> okay. stepping back a page to your email to the state department on august 11th, you emailed secretary pompeo and you say kurt and i negotiated a statement from zelensky to be delivered for our review in a
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day or two. the question i have here is that statement never was issued and in fact ambassador volker has testified that he didn't think it was a good idea and ultimately the ukrainians didn't think it was a good idea. the statement never reached a finalized state. >> that's correct. >> but even if it had, it doesn't talk about bidens or burisma or anything insidious, correct? >> well, the statement as i recall would have mentioned the 2016 election/dnc server and burisma. it would not have mentioned the bidens. >> have you heard ambassador volker how he talks about what might be an investigation into burisma? >> no. >> he has said that if there were ukrainians engaged in violations of ukrainian law, then the prosecutor general with the new administration ought to investigate that.
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did ambassador volker ever relate that to you? >> no, we just talked in generic terms about quote investigating burisma. >> it had nothing to do with vice president biden. >> i had never heard vice president biden come up until very late in the game. >> when? >> i don't recall the exact date but when it all sort of came together. maybe after the transcript of the july 25th call. i don't know the exact date when i made the connection. >> okay. >> apparently a lot of people did not make the connection. >> want to turn to the letter from senator johnson. when he heard about some of these issues and the hold of aid he called the president. he called the president on august 31st, page 6 of his letter. senator johnson states or he writes i asked him, the president, whether there was some kind of arraignment where ukraine would take some action and the hold would be lifted.
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without hesitation president trump immediately denied such an arrangement existed. johnson quotes the president as saying no. and he prefaced it with a different word. no way. i would never do that. who told you that? i have senator johnson says i have accurately characterized the president's reaction, adamant, vehement and angry. senator johnson's telephone call with the president wasn't a public event. it was capturing a genuine moment with the president. and he had at this point in time on august 31st, he was adamant, vehement and angry that there was no connections to aid. there were no preconditions. >> i had my meeting with senator johnson where again i had made the presumption that i had made to both mr. yermak and the email i had sent to
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secretary pompeo. and we were sort of ruminateing about what was going on and senator johnson, i believe, said i'm going to call president trump and find out. then he obviously had that phone call. i wasn't involved in that phone call. >> okay. but you have no reason to disbelieve that wasn't the way it went down, right? >> no reason to disbelief senator johnson. >> and now that you have had some time since your deposition and you submitted an addendum relating to the warsaw get together with mr. yermak, as you sit here today are we missing a lot of your communications with the president? >> i haven't had that many communications with the president. in fact, a bunch of the call records that i have had access to just the short period of time on the call indicates i never got through. in other words, i was put on hold for one or two minutes and the call never connected. so i really can't give you an accurate count of how many
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conversations, plus mr. castor i have had a lot of conversations with the president about completely unrelated matters that have nothing to do with ukraine. >> but you don't think we're missing any material conversations that you had with the president. >> i don't recall any material conversations today as i'm sitting here. >> or with rudy giuliani. >> yeah, my memory about the conversations with rudy giuliani, whether they were direct, whether they were conference calls with ambassador volker or secretary perry, is really vague without seeing the call logs. >> are there any other key fact witnesses that would help us get to the bottom of whether there was any link to the aid and the -- >> maybe brian mccormack, the chief of staff for secretary perry who was involved in and out as well. >> okay. now the aid was ultimately
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lifted on september 11th, correct? >> i believe that's correct. >> senator johnson in his letter on page 6 quotes the president on august 31st ron, i understand your position. we're reviewing it now and you'll probably like my final decision. so even on august 31st, this is before any congressional investigation started, the president was signaling to senator johnson that he was going to lift the aid. >> sounds like it, yeah. >> and most of the other witnesses we talked to whether from the department of defense or omb or have told us that all along during this 55-day period they genuinely believed the hold would be lifted. was that your feeling, too, at the time? >> i didn't know because every time i asked about the hold i was never given a straight answer as to why it had been put in place to begin with. >> what do you know about the
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ukrainians' knowledge of the hold? >> that's very vague. i don't know if the "politico" article triggered it or if they were told by mr. giuliani. it would be pure -- you know -- guesswork on my part, speculation. i don't know. >> during your deposition you testified that you did not believe the ukrainians believed the -- were aware of the hold until the "politico" article. >> yeah. again i think i testified that i was not clear on the exact dates of when these things -- when the light went on. there were a lot of conversations going on with ukrainians by a lot of people. i don't know who communicated what to them. >> we have testimony from several witnesses that the president was concerned about foreign aid generally and so he had an appetite to put holds on aid because he was trying to be
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a good steward of u.s. taxpayer dollars. do you agree with that? >> i'm aware that that's been his position on aid in other matters, yes. >> and are you aware he was also interested in better understanding the contributions of our european allies? >> that i'm definitely aware of. >> there was some back and forth between state department officials trying to better understand that information for the president? >> yes, that's correct. >> how do you know that wasn't the reason for the hold? >> i don't. >> but yet you speculate that there was a link to this announcement. >> i presumed it, yes. >> okay. want to turn quickly to the july 10th meeting. the july 10th meeting in ambassador bolton's office
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involving ambassador volker, mr. yermak, has been the subject of some controversy. ambassador volker yesterday testified it wasn't until the end of the meeting. that mr. danyluk was going through some plans he had. it wasn't until the end of the meeting that ambassador volker recommends you mentioned something general about investigations. what do you remember from that meeting. >> i won't dispute mr. volker's notes. i know the desire to have the 2016 election dnc server and burisma were already being discussed by then. again, i had no direct contact with mr. giuliani on july 10th but through ambassador volker and i probably mentioned that this needs to happen in order to move the process forward.
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that seemed to be the conventional wisdom at the time. i don't recall any abrupt ending of the meeting or people storming out or anything like that. that would have been very memorable if someone had stormed out of a meeting based on something i said. >> nobody accused you of that point in time being involved with some sort of drug deal? >> no. >> did dr. hill ever relate to you her concerns about you being involved in a drug deal? >> never. >> you were surprised when testimony came out that there was a drug deal going on? >> i was shocked. >> in fact, after the meeting you went out and took a picture, right? >> yeah. ambassador bolton, his assistant indicated he was out of time. that he needed -- he had another meeting to attend and we all walked out of the white house. everyone was smiling. everyone was happy and we took a picture on the lawn on a nice, sunny day. >> okay.
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did you retire to the ward room? >> i think secretary perry asked to use the ward room to continue the conversation and the real subject that was under debate. it wasn't an angry debate. it was a debate. should the call from president trump to president zelensky be made prior to the parliamentary elections in ukraine or after the parliamentary elections? and there was good reason for both. we felt, ambassador perry and volker and i thought it would help president zelensky to have president trump speak to him prior to the parliamentary elections because it would give president zelensky more credibility and ultimately he would do better with his people in the parliamentary elections. others i believe pushed back and said no, it's not appropriate to do it before. it should be done after. ultimately it was done after. >> okay.
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there was no mention of vice president biden in the ward room. >> not that i remember, no. >> or any specific investigation? >> just the generic investigations, yeah. >> when again did the vice president biden nexus come to your attention? >> very late. i can't recall the exact date the light bulb went on. could have been as late as once the transcript was out. but it was always burisma to me. i didn't know about the connection between burisma and biden. >> to the best of your knowledge you never understood that anyjuan one was asking the ukrainians to investigate u.s. persons. >> ukrainians to investigate u.s. persons? no. no. >> okay. and just to sort of be clear here, ultimately the aid was lifted on september 11th.
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there was never any announcement by the ukrainians about any investigations they were going to do, correct? >> correct. >> the ukrainians never to your knowledge started any of these investigations, correct? >> not to my knowledge. >> and consequently these allegations that there was a quid pro quo that had to be enforced before the aid was released never came to fruition, right? >> i don't believe so. >> okay. i want to just step back a little bit and just verify with you that the president had some genuinely deep rooted concerns about corruption in ukraine, correct? >> that's what he expressed to us, yes. >> and you believed him given his business dealings in the region? >> when we had the
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conversation, i did. >> and when you first started discussing the concerns the president had with corruption, burisma wasn't the only company that was mentioned, right? >> it was a generic -- as i think i testified to chairman schiff, it was a generic corruption, oligarchs, just bad stuff going on in ukraine. >> and -- but other companies came up, didn't they? >> i don't know if they were mentioned specifically. it might have been nafta gas, that might have been one of them. >> at one point in your deposition i believe you said it comes up in every conversation, is that fair? >> probably. >> you had -- dr. hill at one
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attributed to you the terminology the president had given you a large remit. >> i didn't understand what she was talking about. >> okay. but you have and we got into this a little bit in your deposition, you said that the president gave you a special assignment with regard to ukraine, correct? >> well, when the president appointed me as a u.s. ambassador to the european union ukraine was part of my portfolio. what made my assignment larger than just being part of my portfolio were the unique circumstances where there was no current sitting ambassador in ukraine and there was a new president in ukraine. and the discussions that we had, the three amigos, perry, volker, and i was that ukraine needed extraordinary high level support as it could get from
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the united states during this period, which we cleared with both ambassador bolton and with chief of staff mulvaney to continue working on it. so by extension yes, if the national security advisor and the chief of staff approve your remit it really is coming from the president. >> okay. when we asked you that at the deposition you said i was spinning a little bit. >> i was spinning about something else, i think, in the interview in kiev. >> okay. and you further testified so when i said that president gave me an assignment it wasn't really the president, it was the secretary through the president. and that's where i received my direction, correct? >> correct. >> did ambassador taylor ever bring any concerns to your attention about the so-called channel he dubbed irregular? >> no, in fact, the opposite. when he came to post, i think
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-- i know i called him or he called me. i think he spoke with secretary perry and ambassador volker separately. and in the course of the first few weeks he was highly appreciative that a new ambassador coming to post like himself was getting the kind of support he was getting from all three of us having a cabinet member, a special envoy, and a fellow ambassador all helping to raise the profile of ukraine. he was highly appreciative and complimentary. >> you maintained an open line with him, correct? >> correct. i think there are a number of texts, some of which i have and some of which i don't where he is reaching out constantly to me and to the others for advice and help. >> we had i think we tried to count them, 215 or something text messages between you, volker and ambassador taylor.
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during the early august time frame. does that make sense to you? >> yeah. i think taylor started in late june or early july was when he first took post and i think we began communicating fairly shortly there after. >> he never communicated any concerns to you during this time frame that he had issues with what was going on? >> what do you mean by what was going on? >> this request for some sort of investigation. >> not in the early stages. you know, as time went on his emails began to be a little more pointed and frantic. and that's when we had very little visibility as to what was going on, either. i think it had to do more with the aid and why the aid was suspended. >> right. and ultimately you put a period on that issue by having the september 9th communication with the president, right? >> that's correct. >> when you shared that feedback with ambassador taylor
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was he satisfied this issue was now behind him? >> i don't really know. he responded when i said get ahold of the secretary, he said i agree and i never knew whether he reached out to the secretary or not. that was sort of the end of that. >> at one point in your text you said let's get on the phone and you said you are an individual that doesn't like to walk through these issues on texts when you can talk about it on the telephone, correct? >> i say talk it on the telephone correct? >> i say that to everybody when something becomes more substantive and that then a few lines of text. the speaker did you talk with ambassador taylor? >> i don't recall whether we spoke after that or he called the secretary. basically mr. castor wanted to get the notion across that i had gone as far as i can go with this. you are the ambassador and you need to pick up the ball and run with it at this point. >> okay. just getting back to the regular channel, did anyone else expressed concerns to


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