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tv   Special Report With Bret Baier  FOX News  November 20, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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today's proceedings. i would like to recap my recognition of the timeline in which these events played out. i testified about all of this at length in my deposition. in july, i became aware of a hold being an obligation of the state department's foreign military financing and dod's usai funds. in a series of interagency meetings, i heard that the president had directed the office of of management and budget to hold the funds becausf his concerns about corruption in ukraine. let me say at the outset that i have never discussed this or any other matter with the president and never heard directly from him about this matter. at a senior level meeting i attended on july 26, chaired by national security council leadership, as at all other interagency meetings on this topic of which i was aware, the national security community
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expressed unanimous support for resuming the funding as in the u.s. national security interest. at the july 26 meeting, there was a discussion of how ukrainian anticorruption efforts were making progress. dod reiterated what we had said in our earlier certification to congress, stating that sufficient progress in defense reform including anticorruption had occurred to justify the usai spending. i and others at the interagency meetings felt the matter was particularly urgent because it takes time to obligate that amount of money, and my understanding was that the money was legally required to be obligated by september 30, the end of the fiscal year. in the ensuing weeks, until the hold was released on september 11, i pursue three tracks. first, starting on july 31, and at interagency meetings, i made clear to interagency leadership my understanding that once dod
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reaches the point at which it does not have sufficient time to obligate all the funding by the end of the fiscal year, there were only two ways to discontinue obligation of usai. a presented directed rescission or dod directive reprogramming action. either of which we need to be notified to congress. i never heard that either was being pursued. second, i was in communication with the dod security assistance implementing community to try to understand exactly when they would reach the point at which they would be unable to obligate all the funds by the end of the fiscal year. i received a series of updates and in a september 5 update, i and other senior defense department leaders were informed that over 100 million could not be obligated by september 30. and third, i was advocating for a meeting of the cabinet level principles with the president to explain why the assistance should go forward.
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although i heard of attempts to discuss the issue with the president, i never received details about any conversations other than a status update of the hold had not been lifted. after the decision to release the funds on september 11 of this year, my colleagues across the dod security assistance enterprise worked tirelessly to be able to ultimately obligate about 86% of the funding by the end of the fiscal year. more than they had originally estimated they would be able to. due to a provision in september's continuing resolution appropriating an amount equal to the unobligated funds from fiscal year 2019, we ultimately will be able to obligate all of the u.s. ai funds. given how critical these funds are for both ukraine security and deterring russia, i appreciate this congressional action. that concludes my opening statement, but before answering your questions, there is one
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other matter i would like to address. i testified in a deposition before this committee and other committees on october 23, 2019. at that time, i was asked questions about what i knew about when the ukrainian government may have learned about any hold on security assistance funds. i answer those questions based on knowledge at that time. since my deposition, i have again reviewed my calendar and the only meeting where i recall a ukrainian official raising the issue with me this on septembe september 5 at the ukrainian independence day celebration. i have, however, since learned of some additional information about the subject from my staff. prior to my deposition testimony, i avoided discussing my testimony with members of my staff or anyone other than my attorney to ensure that my deposition testimony was based only on my personal knowledge.
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my deposition testimony was publicly released on november 11, 2019. members of my staff read the testimony and have come to me since then and provided additional information. specifically on the issue of ukraine's knowledge of the hold or of ukraine asking questions about possible issues with the flow of assistance, my staff showed me two unclassified emails that they received from the state department. one was received on july 25 at 2:31. that email said that the ukrainian embassy and house foreign affairs committee are asking about security assistance. the second email was received on july 25 at 4:25 p.m. that email said that the hill knows about the situation to an extent and so does the ukrainian embassy. i did not receive either of these emails. my staff does not recall informing me about them and i was not aware of their content
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at the time. i do not have any additional information about precisely what the ukrainians may have said, what may have been their source of information about a hold or any possible issues with the flow of assistance, or with the state department officials may have told them. my staff also advised me the last few days of the following additional fact that may be relevant to this inquiry. again, my staff does not recall informing me about them and i do not recall being made aware of them. on july 3 at 4:23 p.m., they received an email from the state department stating that they had heard that the cn is being blocked by omb. this partly refers to the congressional notification state would send for ukraine fmf. i have no further information. on july 25, member of my staff got a question from a ukraine embassy contact asking what was going on with ukraine security assistance. because at that time, we did not know what the guidance was on
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usai. the omb notice of apportionment arrived that day but the staff member did not find out about it until later. i was informed that the staff member told the ukrainian official that we were moving forward on usai but recommended that the ukraine embassy check in with state regarding the fmf. sometime during the week of august 6-10, an officer told a member of my staff that a ukrainian official might raise concerns about security assistance in an upcoming meeting. my understanding is that the issue was not raised. i have no further information about what concerns about the security assistance ukraine may have had at that time. my staff recall thinking that ukrainians were aware of the hold on security assistance during august but they cannot pinpoint any specific conversations where it came up. i staff told me they are aware of additional meetings where
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they saw officials from the ukrainian embassy in august and they believe that the question of the hold came up at some point. they told me they did not find any corresponding email or any record of those meetings. consequently neither they nor i knew precisely when or what additional discussions may have occurred with the ukrainians in the month of august. if i have more details on these matters, i would offer them to the committee but this is the extent of additional information i have received since my deposition. mr. chairman, i welcome your questions and i will answer them to the best of my ability. thank you. >> thank you for your testimony. for this hearing, we will forgo the first round of questions by committee counsel and proceed to member questions under the five minute rule, i do want to respond to the comments of my ranking member however that i think suggested since it was as apprised of the minority. we informed the minority last
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night after overhearing that we would, because the nature of testimony today, we do not believe that a staff member around was necessary and the message we got back from the minority was okay, got it. thanks for the heads up. the minority was not noticed and raised no objection about going directly to member rounds. i want to point out that the minority has representative that we have called -- not called any minority witnesses and that is not accurate. mr. hale appears tonight as i minority witness. i know that's not how you characterize yourself but your testimony was requested by the minority. two of the witnesses yesterday, ambassador volker, as well as mr. morrison, were both minority requested witnesses. ambassador volker testified he didn't believe any of the allegations against joe biden and in retrospect that he should've understood that an investigation into burisma was
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really an investigation into biden which he acknowledged would be inappropriate and mr. morrison gave testimony as to conversations that he had with ambassador sondland about the conversations that he had relayed to the ukrainians about the hold on security assistance being a result of the failure to secure the investigations. i can understand why the minority does not want to know characterize them as minority requested witnesses but nonetheless they were minority requested witnesses. i now recognize myself for 5 minutes and i want to begin by asking you, ms. cooper, about what you just informed us of, to make sure i understand the import of what you're saying. as early as july 25, the same day president trump spoke with president zelensky on the phone and asked for this favor, the same day president zelensky
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thanked the united states for its military support and signaled it was ready to purchase more javelins, on that date you got inquiries, your staff got inquiries from someone at the ukrainian embassy who was concerned about the status of the military assistance. is that correct? >> sir, that is correct. i would say specifically ukrainian embassy staff asked, what is going on with ukrainian security assistance. >> did that could otu that they were concerned that something was in fact going on with it? >> yes, sir. >> you received, i guess your staff receive more than one inquiry on that date. what was the nature of the other one? >> sir, that was the one inquiry to my staff, but the other points that i had raised were emails reflecting outreach to the state department.
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>> so the ukrainian embassy was also contacting the state department to find out about its portion of military assistance. >> yes, sir. >> was not similarly -- was that are concerned about was going on with our military aid? >> it was similarly a question about what's going on with security assistance. >> your staff are one of the other department staff also heard in august additional inquiries from the ukraine embassy about a potential hold up in the military assistance? >> sir, i want to be careful about how i phrase it. my staff recall having had meetings with ukrainian embassy representatives during the month of august, and they believed that the topic came up at some point during those meetings but they don't recall the precise date or specifically what the nature of the discussion was. >> but your staff at least
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gleaned from those conversations that ukrainian embassy was aware that there was some kind of a hold on the assistance. >> sir, the way i would phrase it is that there was some kind of an issue. yes. >> you are now, ms. cooper, the third witness before our committee who has testified that the ukrainians found out about a problem or a hold on the security assistance prior to becoming public but you are the first to indicate that may go back as early as the date of the president's call with president zelensky. let me move to a related issue. in august, you testified that your deposition that you met with kurt volker i believe it was august 20. the hold on security assistance was still in place. you testified that ambassador volker told you that if he could get zelensky to make a public statement "that would somehow disavow any interference in u.s. elections and would commit to the prosecution of any individuals involved in election
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interference, it might lift a hold on security assistance. "is that correct? >> sir, i believe i testified that it was my inference that that would lift the hold on ukraine security assistance. >> that was your inference because of the time you were talking about the hold on security assistance? >> that's correct. the first part of our conversation was about the hold on security assistance. >> and it was during that portion of the conversation that he brought up the effort to get this public statement? >> it was during that conversation. i would not say am sure it was that part of the conversation. >> what else did you discuss? >> the other two topics i recall are the urgency of lifting the hold on security assistance and him relating the separate diplomatic effort that i had previously been unaware of. >> so you didn't have any discussion about any white house
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meeting? >> sir, i don't recall specifically talking about the white house meeting. but i've had many conversations about the desire for the white house meeting. it's likely that was part of the conversation. >> the two things you do recall are you talked about the hold on security assistance and that he brought up this public statement that they wanted zelensky to get, that he thought might be useful? >> that is correct, sir. >> mr. nunes. >> yield to mr. ratcliffe. >> thank you for yielding. ambassador hale, ms. cooper, thank you for being here. it is opening, ranking member's may 24 referenced president trump's general skepticism of providing aid and the amount of foreign aid being provided to foreign countries.
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would you agree with that characterization, ambassador hale? >> we have often heard at the state department that the president of the united states wants to make sure that foreign assistance is reviewed scrupulously to make sure it's in u.s. national interests and that we evaluated continually. >> since his election, is it a fair to say president trump is looking to overall how foreign aid is distributed. >> yes, there was a process launched to review. >> throughout the campaign and the administration, president trump has repeatedly sought to reframe american foreign policy in economic terms and as he described, america first policy. consistent with that, well before there was a whistle-blower talking about a pause on aid to the ukraine, the president had expressed genuine concern about providing u.s. foreign assistance. to that point is a very say the president has wanted to ensure
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that american taxpayer money was being effectively and efficiently spent outside of the united states? >> yes, that is the broad intent of the foreign assistance review among other goals. >> had the president expressed he expects allies to give their fair share of foreign aid. a point that he raised in the july 25 phone call. >> the principle of greater burden sharing by allies and other like-minded states is an important element of the foreign assistance review. >> is it fair to say usaid is withheld from foreign countries for a number of factors? >> correct. >> you have testified that it's normal to have delays on aid. >> i may have said it that way. it is certainly an occurrence. it does occur. >> in the past year ukraine was not the only country to have aid withheld. is that correct? >> correct. >> was aid withheld from
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pakistan? to go yes, sir. >> why was aid withheld from pakistan? >> because of unhappiness over the policies and behavior of the pakistani government toward certain proxy groups that were involved in conflicts with the united states. >> was aid also withheld from honduras? >> aid was withheld from the 3m states in central america, yes. >> was aid withheld from the lebanon? stay go yes. >> one aid was withheld from lebanon, were you given a reason why. >> no. >> having no explanation for why aid is being withheld is not uncommon. >> i would say it's not the normal way that we function. >> but it does happen. >> it does happen. >> when it was being withheld from lebanon, that was at the same time aid was been withheld from ukraine. >> correct. >> you have testified that the
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aid to lebanon still hasn't been released, is that right? >> that's correct. >> but aid to ukraine was released on september 11, correct? >> i read that, yes. >> it's fair to say that eight had been withheld from several countries across the globe for various reasons and in some cases for reasons that are still unknown, just in the past year. >> correct, sir. >> the surgeon has been made that president trump's ukraine policy changed when there is a pause in the aid or the aide was withheld. is that an accurate statement? >> that was not the way i understood things to be happening at the time. we were not given an explanation. >> in terms of aid to ukraine, you describe it as robust, our aid to ukraine. >> yes. >> as evidenced by president trump's policy decision to provide with all defensive weapons.
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javelin missiles. >> very robust, yes. >> that was a decision president trump made that the prior administration, president obama, had not done. lethal weapons had not been provided to ukraine in the obama administration. >> i was not involved in ukrainian affairs during the obama administration. >> when aid to ukraine was put on pause, believe you have testified there may have been concerned by secretary kent and by ambassador taylor that it was intruding to a potentially negative effect on u.s.-ukraine relations. do you agree with that? >> the state department position was to advocate for the continuation of the assistance as an important element, a key element of our strategy to support ukraine against russia. >> my time is expired. i yield back.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to our witnesses. i am delighted to follow is to radcliffe because he perfectly summarize the defense by republican colleagues are mounting. the defense goes like this. the president is acting on some deep, historical concern apparently invisible concern about corruption and that because he's so concerned about corruption in ukraine, he's holding up aid in being prudent and judicious. the first part of that is pretty easy to dispose of because president trump wasn't worried about corruption in ukraine. in fact in the two conversations he had with the president of ukraine, april 21 and july 25, not once does the president of the united states use the word or mention corruption to the president. the second part is a little more interesting. holding up aid, it's not just
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wrong but it's illegal. ms. cooper, help us walk through this. since the impoundment control act of 1974, the president has not have the authority to on a whim or out of prudence or as republicans say because of general skepticism of foreign aid, to stop foreign aid. this cooper, under the constitution, it is congress not the president that controls the power of the purse. correct? >> yes, sir. >> the security assistance authorized to ukraine was authorized and appropriated by the congress, correct? >> yes, sir. >> congress is also concerned about corruption. it was to ensure american foreign assistance is spent wisely and does not worsen corruption. so when congress authorizes this money, it built in conditions, as mr. ratcliffe suggested, by law ukraine wouldn't get all the money until he demonstrated that a that undertaken substantial anticorruption reforms. ms. cooper, the department of
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defense works with the state department and other agencies to establish anticorruption benchmarks and determine whether ukraine has met them. correct? >> that's correct. that provision pertains to ukraine security assistance. >> that is a legally specified process. it's not the president in the oval office manifesting a general skepticism of foreign need, right? that's a process. >> it's a congressionally mandated process. >> to the process take place for the dod funding that was held up in july? >> sir, the process that took place for the certification took place prior to the may certification to the u.s. congress. >> right, not only did it take place before, as required by law, but months before president trump froze the money. the department of defense in consultation with state sent a letter to congress certifying, and you said this in your
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opening statement, the government of ukraine has taken substantial actions to make defense institutiona institutios for the purpose of decreasing corruption, increasing tolerability and sustaining improvements in com combat capability. by the time president trump froze the aid, the department of defense had spent weeks if not months determining that the ukraine government met every requirement in the law and made significant strides in combating corruption. is that correct? >> that is correct. we made that determination in may. >> this wasn't about corruption. the timeline proves it. in fact, if there was any doubt about what was going on here, the chairman referred to your inference from the conversation with ambassador volker, that if ukraine made a statement committing to the investigations, the aid would be lifted. you cover that with the chairman
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and then we have the press conference of october 17 when mick mulvaney left the cat fully out of the bag. he revealed president trump talk to him, "the corruption related to the dnc server" and admitted "that's why we held up the money. any other explanation for the hold is a farce. in my remaining 30 seconds, so people understand what i referred to, in the 1970s, richard nixon arbitrarily decided, i don't know if it was because he had a general skepticism of foreign aid but richard nixon decided to hold up congressionally mandated aid and as a result congress went to work and passed the impoundment control act of 1974 which prohibits the president from withholding congressionally appropriated funds without the approval of congress for any reason. is that correct, ms. cooper? >> i'm not a lawyer but that
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approximates my understanding of the provision of the impoundment control act. >> i will go with that, thank you very much. >> mr. conaway. as paul harvey said, here's the rest of the story. certain issues with respect to the certification. dod certification was not corruption writ large through the entire country of ukraine. it was focused on defense institutional reforms and combat capability. >> that is correct. >> ms. cooper, thank you for being here. i appreciate it. my colleagues seem to leave that out. he left off the correct emphas emphasis. certification in may didn't really speak to the broader concept of corruption throughout the rest of ukraine that the president would be familiar with, the -- >> the main certification was specific to the defense sector,
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defense industry, and it did reference the importance of civilian control of the military which relates more broadly. >> none of us would argue that that fixes corruption throughout the rest of the country. ms. cooper, maybe you can shed light on the details. the security assistance program. 250 million. someone argued that because the pause, that people died in august because of the pause. can you help us understand exactly what obligated, and was there things there were about to be delivered, was ukraine out of ammunition, where they out of javelins and because of this pause they didn't get certainly full equipment that they needed in order protect their folks during the month of august? >> sir, we will deliver all of the -- >> i'm trying to get a timeline. >> there was no shortfall in equipment deliveries that were expected within that time frame. obligate means you're putting the funding on contract.
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you're starting the process. >> contracts will be fulfilled fourth-quarter perhaps. >> sir, i have to say i am a policy official. i'm not contracting expert. my understanding is we will be able to make up for lost time in the contracting process. >> fantastic. the three or four steps that you went through because you disagreed with the holes being placed on the assistance and i certainly agree with that. did you get any kind of criticism from the folks that you deal with because you were going against the omb's direction to put a hold? did you get criticized for that? >> absolutely not. my entire chain of command was supportive of advocating for removing the hold on the funds. >> you weren't restricted on the full throated advocating on behalf of getting a hold lifted. >> no, sir, i face no restrictions. >> thank you for that.
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i thought you might be more in touch with the specifics of accounting process. thank you for being here tonight and i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ambassador hale, when did you actually find out about the hold on the ukraine assistance? july 21? >> yes, in the deposition that i did come over close hearing, i misspoke. i was confused. i confused june 21 which is when state first sent the cn up to the department for clearance. the 21st is when i was hearing there was a potential hold. >> did you intend the july 26 deputies meeting, deputies committee meeting? >> i did. >> is it your understanding that the president directed the hold? >> we were told and then meeting by the omb representative that
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they were objecting to proceedings with the assistance because the president had so directed through the acting chief of staff. >> what was the state departme state department's position? >> the state department advocated, as i did in the meeting, for proceeding with the assistance consisting with our policies and interests in ukraine. >> you believe what you said. you believed in the release of the hold. >> i did. >> did anyone at the interagency meeting at the end of july support the hold? did anybody want the hold to remain? what agency? >> the only agency representin representative in the meeting that indicated they supported the hold was omb. >> ms. cooper, did you understand that there was an overwhelming interagency consensus to lift the hold and that omb at the direction of the president was the only roadblo
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roadblock? >> yes, ma'am. >> how is the security assistance in the national security interests of the united states? what is our interest? explain that to my constituents in alabama who are wondering why we should care about the security, the hold on the security assistance. >> yes, ma'am. the specific assistance helped build the capacity of the ukrainian armed forces. it's important to understand that these are forces that are fighting to defend themselves against russian aggression every day. it's an ongoing war. they do need this equipment. to support their ability to defend themselves. i would say there is a larger issue here that relates to u.s. policy on russia. we believe it's very important to strengthen the capacity of ukraine in order to deter russian aggression elsewhere around the world. >> exactly. were you ever able to get a
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reason why that hold was on? did you ever get a reason? >> no, ma'am, the only thing that i heard about it, this is again, second, third hand, was that the president was concerned about corruption. but that was all i ever heard. >> were you ever provided any additional information about the reason for the hold? >> no, ma'am. >> i think -- i think you mr. hale, we asked, is it common to have hold on military aid and you said it would be unusual. would you agree would be unusual to place a hold on military aid to leverage a foreign country to get them to investigate a political opponent? >> yes. >> i take it you would agree would be completely inappropriate. >> it would be inconsistent with
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our conduct in the foreign policy in general. >> it would also be wrong, wouldn't it? >> it is certainly not what i would do. >> mr. turner. >> it'll be interesting if witnesses testified that was the case. i yield my time to mr. jordan. >> i thank the gentleman. i want to go where the chairman started. you said ambassador hale was one of our witnesses. they are all your witnesses. you called 17 witnesses. you subpoenaed 15 of them. they are all your witnesses. we didn't get to subpoena anyone or call anyone. you gave us an opportunity to get a list to you a couple weeks ago where we made suggestions on who you might allow us to have. we put three people of those 17 on that list so they can provide some semblance of context and framework. once again, misleading the folks watching this hearing is not
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helpful. thank you both for being here and for your save service to our country. ambassador. pakistan, lebanon, jordan, served in tunisia, bahrain, event about every hot spot on the planet. thank you for those hardship assignments. we appreciate your service. first, earlier today ambassador sondland said he was denied access to some of his records. the state department said "ambassador sondland, like every current department of state employee called before congress in this manner retained at all times and continues to retain full access to a state department document terry records and his state department email account which he has always been fully. access and review at will. that's an accurate statement? >> i had not seen it until shortly before entering the
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hearing room but it sounds accurate. >> appreciate that. ambassador, you are aware of no connection between the pause in aid in exchange for any kind of investigation, is that correct? >> i missed a keyword. >> you're not aware of any connection between depositing aid and exchange for some kind of investigation being announced or done by ukraine, is that right. you're not aware of secretary pompeo having any knowledge, direct knowledge of the connection between investigations and security aid. >> i'm not aware of that. he did not speak to me about that. >> you're not aware of any the various motive to withhold aid to ukraine, is that correct? >> correct. >> you testified that what you know was that president trump was skeptical of foreign assistance in general, mr. ratcliffe highlighted that, and two, skeptical of the corruption environment in ukraine. is that accurate? >> we had heard that. that was he general impression
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at the state department. >> the aid was released to ukraine, is that correct? >> yes, i read that. >> there was a 55 day or less than two months pause in the actual hold on the aid, is that right? >> seem so, yes. >> is a top principal in the state department, an investigation into the bidens, burisma, the 26 teen election, never happened by the ukrainians. is that correct? >> i don't know that i have the ability to answer that question, having taken this job in august of 2018. >> all. well, since you've taken the job, how about that. >> to my knowledge, that's correct. >> i yield back. >> mr. carson. >> thank you, chairman. mr. cooper, ukraine is the fern first line of defense against
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russia's expansion into europe, numerous witnesses testified ukraine is vulnerable to russian influence. at your deposition, sir, you testified that providing security assistance is "vital to helping the ukrainians be able to defend themselves." what did you mean by that, sir? >> its long-standing policy of helping ukraine become a resilient state in order to be able to defend itself. want a reliable and resilient and self-reliant secure and economic partner in ukraine they can stand up to russian intimidation and aggression. >> you testified at the time of russia's 2014 attack that the ukrainian armed forces were "significantly less capable than today." would you say that ukrainian forces were outmatched by russia's military in important ways?
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>> i did not so testified. i am ambassador hale. miss cooper may -- >> i believe that was my deposition. could you repeat the question? >> during the time of the 2014, eight the ukrainian armed forces were "significantly less capable than it is today." would you say ukrainian forces were outmatched by russians military in critical ways question marks to go absolutely. >> are the ukrainian forces self-sufficient? >> no, sir, they have a long way to go. >> would you say the ukrainian armed forces are completely self-sufficient? how much of an impact does the u.s. need to have in terms of that deterrence and how critical is the relationship between ukraine and the u.s.? >> so, the ukrainians are on the right path to be able to provide for their own security but they
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will still need u.s. and allied support for quite some time. they need that support in the form of tangible assistance, as well as political and mimetic support. >> this question is this to both of you, why was russia's illegal annexation of crimea so significant in your mind? madame cooper. >> russia violated the sovereignty of ukraine's territory. russia illegally annexed territory that belong to ukraine. they also denied ukraine access to its naval fleet at the time. to this day, russia is building a capability on crimea designed to expand russian military power projection far beyond the immediate region. >> in 2014, were there concerns
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in washington and european capitals that russia might not stop in ukraine? >> i was not in my current position in 2014 but it is my understanding that there was significant fear about where russian aggression would stop. >> what about today? if the u.s. were to withdraw its military support of ukraine, what would effectively happen? >> it is my belief that if we were to withdraw or support, it would embolden russia. it would also validate russia's violation of international law. >> which country stands to benefit the most from such a withdrawal? >> russia. >> ambassador taylor testified about the importance of the u.s. upholding the international
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system. it has underwritten peace in europe since santa world war ii. a credible aspect of defending the system is ensuring russia cannot change -- there is strong bipartisan support for providing ukraine with security assistance. that's why its own critically distractive of the president, of the united states to withhold the assistance as part of a scheme to pressure ukraine into investigating a defunct conspiracy theory and attack former vice president biden. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> dr. wenstrup. >> thank you. as an army reserve surgeon, i can say i served proudly for two republican and two democrat presidents myself. ms. cooper, page 3. i had heard the president
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directed the office of management and budget to withhold funds because of concerns about corruption in ukraine. you are coming from the dod side. i served a year in iraq and it was important and i think it's something that the army always does, as i have seen, that we don't want to deliver aid or assistance if it's going to some corrupt, or being delivered in a corrupt way. if we are going to build a medical treatment facility for the iraqis, we want to make sure we are not getting charged ten times as much. we are concerned about corruption in general when we are delivering funds through the dod. is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> i think that's a normal thing to want to be concerned about and we would do that in iraq. especially if we are providing payment for something. so i want to go through a few things with you because multiple witnesses have testified that the action to provide javelins
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to ukraine by the trump administration demonstrates strong u.s. support to ukraine. ambassador yovanovitch in her deposition said president trump's decision to provide lethal weapons to ukraine, that our policy got stronger over the last three years. she also said in terms of legal assistance, we felt it was significant that this administration made the decision to provide lethal weapons to ukraine. ambassador taylor said it was a substantial improvement in that this administration provided javelin antitank weapons. strong political message that said the americans are willing to provide more than blankets. ambassador volker testified that providing lethal defensive arms do ukraine has been extremely helpful. mr. volker stated mrds and blankets is fine but if you are being attacked with mortars and artillery's and tanks you need to be able to fight back. george kent stated javelin's are
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incredibly effective weapons at stopping armed advance in the russians are scared of them. special advisor catherine croft stated javelins help ukraine defend themselves. the decision provide javelins is counter to russian interest. do you dispute what these witnesses have testified to, including ambassador yovanovitch, taylor, volker and others? >> circle i absolutely agree that the javelin system is an important capability. this was an important decision to support ukraine with his capability. >> thank you. you already testified that you are personally proud of the trump administration's decision to arm ukraine with javelins. >> that's correct. >> on page 3, talking about the july 26 meeting and after that he said "i was aware the national security community express unanimous support for resuming the funding as in the
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u.s. national security interests." that is correct? >> that is correct. >> i take question with resuming because we don't want to resume as is. would that be correct? as is would not include javeli javelins. >> sir, i'm not sure and following. >> the previous administration, javelins were not provided. even though they could've been. president obama stopped the javelins. he could have delivered javelins. >> i think i should clarify what i meant by that statement. resuming was referring to the fact that omb had placed a hold on the assistance that we weren't spending. and i wanted to resume the spending. so we could maintain this policy, maintain the strength. >> maintain the policy. i guess what i'm asking, there's a difference and i think
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undersecretary hale, i thought i saw you nodding. the difference being that as it's resumed in this case, now it included javelins which the obama administration denied. is that correct. >> it is true that the trump administration approved the release of defensive lethal assistance to include javelin where is the previous administration did not support that policy. >> mr. hale, do you have a comment? >> that seems correct. i defer to ms. cooper. >> we can conclude that more than blankets and mres have been aiding ukraine. thank you. >> ms. speier. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you both for being here. this mystery surrounding the
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hold on the aid in july it appears. back in may, ms. cooper, i believe you said that there was aid to that was conditioned but you certified in may that the conditions have been met. they included progress on command-and-control reform, commitment to pursue defense industry reform, and pass laws to enable government procurement. is that correct? for going us ma'am, that's correct. >> and you find out in july they are concerned about corruption, you are scratching your head, right? >> yes, ma'am, we did not understand it. >> do you know of any effort that was undertaken then to assess the corruption in ukraine in june, july, august? >> ma'am, as i believe i said in my deposition, the only specific
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discussions that i am aware of related to that series of interagency meetings. the sub pcc come as we called it, the pcc, policy coronation committee, and deputy small group and in those meetings if participants did discuss the degree to which corruption was a concern and the degree to which there was progress. my recollection of what the participant said in these meetings was that there was a very positive sense that progress was being made. >> you have these meetings. progress is being made. nothing really changes from may until september that would trigger the release of the money, except a whistle-blower came forward. >> ma'am, i do not know what triggered the release of the funding. >> all right.
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the fact that there was reference made to money being withheld for other countries was made by some of our colleagues, but in those situations, in countries like pakistan, lebanon, their multiyear funding streams, correct? >> ma'am, those accounts fall outside of my purview. i cannot answer that question. >> i was told that indeed the case. so there is not the immediate angst or hit financially they would potentially accrue. the difference, as i see it, in ukraine as compared to these other countries is that ukraine is engaged in a hot war with russia right now. and it seems that withholding that money was irresponsible considering that they had made all -- taken steps to meet all the conditions that we had
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requested of them and congress had appropriated the funds. is that not the case? >> ma'am, i and my dod colleagues advocated strenuously for the release of these funds because of the national security importance. >> so basically the entire interests of the department of defense and state department were consistently supportive or releasing the funds. everyone was mystified as to why the funds have been withheld and everyone's running around trying to get an answer and you're getting kind of obtuse responses saying it was the president because of corruption. what we see is president zelensky gets elected in april. the expectation is vice president pence is going to attend the inauguration in september and then the president pulls the carpet out from under him in terms of him going and then he proceeds in june or july
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to withhold the funds. there is a concerted effort by the president of the united states to act in a manner that is not consistent with our interests in wanting to protect ukraine and help them deal with the russian aggression at its border. would you agree with them? >> ma'am, i have advocated for the security assistance and i have advocated for high-level engagement with a government of ukraine because i think both are in the national security interests. >> i yield back. >> mr. stewart. >> thank you, chairman. undersecretary, assistant secretary, thank you for being here. you are recognized as experts, dedicated public servants and i've got to tell you even the president of president of the
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united states is perhaps the most complicated endeavor in the history of the world. no one could do it without people like you to rely that backbone you do and thank you for doing that. i don't mean to repeat the same questions and nausea him, but i think we have reached a point of nausenauseum. ms. cooper, i have questions based on things you said previously and i want to add for clarification there's a question about these emails, they claimed withholding the aid and it'd come from capitol hill or someone on foreign affairs. is that true? >> sir, are you referring to my statement today or something? >> i believe this is previous. are you aware of such an email? theo i'm sorry i don't think i have enough information to make an assessment. is it from a particular page in my deposition? >> just reporting we have heard
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that there may have been communications with you and someone on the foreign affairs committee. is that not true? >> that there were communications with me? sir, i'm not aware. >> thank you. for clarification, someone may have asked you or queried you from the ukrainian embassy about the withholding of aid, is that true? did you hear from them? >> sir, i testified earlier that the communication from the ukrainian embassy was to my staff and my staff mentioned this to me after my deposition. the only specific communication that i recollect with the ukrainians about this specific issue was on, i believe september 5, at a reception at the ukrainian embassy. >> just to bore down on that, was that a query generally about the forthcoming aid or was it specific regarding them being aware that the aide was being
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withheld? >> sir, to be cleared, the september 5 conversation that i had was specific to the hold. there was an awareness of that and there was a question of concern. >> okay, thank you. ms. cooper, well, both of you, undersecretary hale as well. at the end of the day, and i've done this before, it comes down to this. the transcript i'm holding up of the transcript of the phone call between president zelensky and president trump. i would hold every american would take the opportunity to read it. it's only a few pages long. much more information beyond that is may be helpful to inform but it really comes down to those conversations, those few sentences. mr. hale, going quickly through series of questions and i have your answers here so this won't take long. and you've answered them generally anyway. you agree the united states should evaluate whether countries are worthy of our aid.
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>> yes, sir. >> you understand president trump has been skeptical generally of foreign agents for the money that we've given. is that fair? speak i think so. >> i think that's fairly consistent. he's done that since before he was elected. others in the process of testified that ukraine has a long history of corruption. that's not going to surprise do you think it was right that the president would test, is a word he used previously, that he would test president zelensky prior to providing some of the security assistance? >> president zelensky was new, i had met him in february. i was impressed by him, but i think it was understandable for the administration as a new precedent in ukraine was coming to office to understand better what that president's attitude would be in the attitude towards the united states. >> secretary, i think that is key. we had a referred to from the dod at the same time. this is a person elected and we knew nothing about him.
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he did not have a history of president in the ukraine prayed he came i president trump himself, he did not come from a background that we would have much information on him. that seems prudent to test him and to see if he was serious about ukraine. at some point i will conclude. i believe that it was labor day. the secretary was able to engage the president on the security assistance, about the same time, by the way, that you had some others secretary, vice president pence and bolton, and bolton as well as a burden sharing review is completed. and shortly after the aide was released, is that your understanding? >> i was never informed as to why the assistance was released. i did read about it. >> okay, those events did happen, and it seem like they were the reasons that the aide was released. thank you both, i yield back. >> think you both for being here and thank you for your service. you both have been asked about the importance of this military
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assistance as it affects ukrainian sovereignty. and it is important, because of potential greater ambitions by the russians. let me try to put it in context, and please get your reaction from both of you from someone who had been there before, a renowned international policy expert on such things. his quote seems to strike home today, he wrote "russia can either be an empire, or a democracy. but it cannot be both. without ukraine, russia ceases to be an empire. but with ukraine, and subordinated, russia automatically becomes an empire." your thoughts on how this could be put into context today, please? >> sir, that is a very powerful and accurate quote. >> i would agree.
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>> miss cooper, you talked about emails that were drawn to your attention, that they were sent to your staff, is that correct? >> the emails that i discussed this evening were email sent to my staff, that is correct. >> okay, i think, first of all it is important to point this out that it is not something you were aware of. it points to a larger issue that the defense department and the state department have refused to comply with a duly issued subpoena to provide this committee with documents that which further shed light on when exactly the ukrainians knew about the hold. so this is not something -- there is untold information out there being blocked that would draw greater light and help us understand. is there anything else out there that you are aware of, or possibilities that are out there with the dod or the
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state department that could help us shed light on what the ukrainians knew and when they knew it? >> sir, i have shared with the committee all that i recollect, but i have not done an exhaustive investigation. i really cannot speculate on what else might be available by combing through all of the defense department records, which are substantial. >> did the state department or the department of defense ask you for your information? or did they coordinate with you to get information that you had? >> sir, i was told not to destroy anything, and our i.t. personnel have been collecting documents is my understanding. so that occurs without the individual having to -- >> they were collecting and passing it on to state or dod, is that correct? >> i'm sorry, sir, could you repeat that? >> you said your department was
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collecting it, they were not passing it to you, they were passing it to state department? department of defense? >> this is what they reported to me. i have not seen the documents that have been collected. i only know those documents that i have produced or that my staff at my staff has brought to my attention or that i have received. so no, i do not know what has happened with the documents that have been collected. >> same general question to you, sir. >> i requested it wants given access to documents that had originated or were sent to me for the pertinent matters of this investigation during a finite. back. i don't have information about what is going on in terms of other documents that i did not produce or do not receive. there was a move to gather them, and i understood generally and directly and informally that they had been gathered. that is the extent of my knowledge.