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tv   MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin  MSNBC  November 20, 2019 8:00am-9:00am PST

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yes. >> now, ambassador taylor also testified that -- and mr. morrison both of them testified that you told them that president trump said there was no quid pro quo which you also included in the 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 zelenskiy 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 the conversations they had with you, do you, ambassador sondland? >> let me break that down, mr. goldman. the text as i said about the no quid pro quo was my effort to respond to ambassador taylor's
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concerns to go to president trump apparently ambassador taylor had access to secretary pompeo. he did not have 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 zelenskiy 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's got to be zelenskiy. it can't be the prosecutor. but that's what i relayed. whoever i got that information from i relayed that to i believe mr. -- ambassador taylor and to mr. morrison. >> but as of september 9th you understood did you not that president trump either himself or through his agents required
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that president zelenskiy make a public announcement of the two 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 and now i recognize mr. nunes. okay. why don't we take a five or ten minute break. >> thank you. >> well, you heard the man, the chairman says five or ten minute break giving us a chance to introduce our friends and have our first discussion. as part of our live coverage of the blow torch testimony this morning from gordon sondland, an owner of a chain of hotels from the pacific northwest. wrote a $1 million check to the inauguration and turns out to be the guy who has offered the most
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stunning testimony. >> he has been compared to john dean to as you said, taking a blow torch to every defense donald trump has offered. we don't say this very often anymore because it's rarely true. but i think today changed everything. i think gordon sondland's testimony today changed everything. and there was a little bit of foreshadowing. he has an attorney who a lot of people believe was the difference between karl rove coming out of the valerie plame special counsel, safe, legally speaking. his client submitted three new pages of testimony before his than script was released, amending the decision to be more in line of testimony of the others but the bombshell there was no irregular policy channel. there was the channel. it was run by donald j. trump, mike pence, mike pompeo the secretary of state. that channel directed an extortion of the government, the country of ukraine in exchange for dirt on joe biden.
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full stop. >> what do the republicans do on this committee? >> i mean, you know, what do they do? maybe they pray for the southern district of new york to indict rudy giuliani and try to blame it on him. i think they can't be unmoved. here's the other bombshell today. he essentially calls into question john bolton's role. john bolton's had the very angelic -- he's left an impression of being on the side of angels but if the operation -- if there was one channel and it was run by the president, the vice president and mike pompeo, john bolton knew about it. john bolton seemed to have made efforts to cover himself by sending his deputies, fiona hill, and tim morrison and others to create some sort of record of his alarm. but sondland calls into question by citing this very jovial atmosphere where pictures were taken and there are some on social media after a meeting that's been described by hill and others as sort of blowing
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up. that bolton sent everyone out of the room when investigations came out. he might have done that, i have no reason to doubt that. but he also went to the south lawn of the white house and took pictures with everybody so he couldn't have been that offended or if he was, it needs to be explained by bolton himself. bolton so far has been the reluctant witness but someone who was thought of as not having any exposure and sondland sticks him in the middle of which was clearly an effort, a conspiracy, i don't know if that's the right legal word, but a -- you know, it wasn't an off book operation. the operation, the policy from the president, the vice president, the american secretary of state and i guess it's an open question whether the national security adviser was to extort ukraine for dirt on biden. >> plainly put. we want to introduce you, the politics editor to the root, msnbc political contributor jason johnson. our legal analyst maya wiley who
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previously worked in the civil division of the u.s. attorneys office and in the southern district of new york, former senior fbi official, chuck rosenberg. also an msnbc legal analyst and for good measure, a former democratic united states senator from the great state of missouri, current msnbc political analyst claire mccaskill. your reaction? >> we are hearing from the white house already that trying to hang their hat on sondland does not say he heard the president say all this. that it was in fact rudy giuliani. so you're going to see now this bus has run over a lot of people. looks like to me that giuliani is the next one up to -- for the white house to try to distant the president from him. but what's really clear in this testimony is that everyone knew that giuliani had been tasked
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with accomplishing this dirty political op. that giuliani's job was to go over there and talk to a corrupt prosecutor and get this corrupt prosecutor to help them forward this theory that joe biden's character was less than stellar. and, you know, it's obvious and now we have a witness who says, yes, giuliani was speaking for the president. yes, giuliani was insisting on this. yes, there was a quid pro quo. so it's a problem for the white house. >> let's listen to schiff for just a moment. >> -- is among the most significant evidence to date and what we have just heard from ambassador sondland is that the knowledge of this scheme, this conditioning of the white house meeting of the security assistance to get the deliverable that the president wanted, these two political investigations that he believed would help his re-election
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campaign was a basic quid pro quo. 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 misdemeanors. 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
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show as ambassador sondland has testified that the knowledge of this scheme to condition official acts, the white house meeting and $400 million in security assistance to an ally at war with russia was conditioned on political favors that the president wanted for his re-election. so i think a very important moment in the history of this inquiry. thank you. >> all right. chairman schiff, senator mccaskill, you were in the process of saying that short of calling the former mayor secretary giuliani he was in charge of this policy. >> giuliani clearly the president told everyone including zelenskiy on the call, giuliani is the guy. he's executing this and sondland just confirmed it. by the way, these conversations giuliani was having with the corrupt prosecutor was at the very time the ukrainian officials were in washington meeting at the white house. this was in july.
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so this is really -- and the white house has sent out the talking points. the president never said this. this is sondland saying this came from giuliani. >> chuck, we learned you didn't have to investigate corruption. just say you're going to do it. >> that's right. we heard a lot about how this white house was big, strong on anti-corruption efforts particularly in eastern europe and ukraine. nope, turns out brian, they wanted an announcement. it was all for show. i will say this if i may. what we're seeing today is not unusual. as a federal prosecutor we would see witnesses evolve from falsity to something approaching complete truth. i'm just making the numbers up but if you imagine the zero is, you know, utter lies and the ten is complete truth, they kind of move from five to seven to nine over time. you're seeing an evolution if you're wondering how republicans attack it, that's one way.
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they go after the inconsistencies, the prior statements. i think you're going to see some of that when the republicans have their turn with ambassador sondland. >> maya wiley? >> i agree both with claire and with chuck and i would say nicole to your question about conspiracy, adam schiff just said that what was so ground breaking in addition to sondland essentially saying i wasn't rogue, i was being transparent about my quid pro quo and i kept everyone in the loop, we were having meetings and conversations, i hid nothing that says what a conspiracy is is an agreement. and what it says is they agreed. they understood it was not in the national security interests of the country. every last one of them. i believe them on this. i think it was credible to say this was not good for the country. this is what we have to deliver to the president, to get what's good for the country. so we're going to agree to
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participate in allowing rudy giuliani who publicly represented himself as the personal lawyer for the president going to ukraine in may to try to turn the tables on the democrats that we are going to serve this master not the country in order to -- we think do what's best for the country. and it doesn't matter what their intentions were if they intentionally participated in that. >> can i read these words? i think these words will live on far beyond the trump presidency. he says, this is ambassador sondland says, 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 rudy giuliani. we played the hand we were dealt. we understood if we refused to work with mr. giuliani we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations.
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so we followed the president's orders. >> jason johnson? >> basically, sondland said i won't go to jail for any of you. that's good. i'm not going to jail for any of you and i think what's key is -- this is the thing when we talk about whether the impeachment hearings make sense to regular people. he ratted out everybody. we know the biggest rat of all, the pixar movie is rudy manipulating everybody from behind the scenes but that's something that regular people can understand. i think part of what's been difficult about some of this, well, if you don't know morrison or taylor, he basically said everybody was involved in this. we all went along with it. this narrative that we have had prior to now of brave individuals like vindman who stand up against this, he's painted a different picture. yeah, there's some brave folks and now we're caught we'll rat everybody out. i think that's a difficult thing for republicans to try to explain. because when you have individuals basically saying we were being manipulated by the president's personal lawyer, we all knew it, we went along with it, how are we going to say this
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is a huge conspiracy by rudy himself? he wouldn't have thought of it on his own. so i think this is a rough day for the republicans. >> actually, i think we have garrett haake up on capitol hill in the blast radius this morning. >> well, nicole, here's what you'll hear in the next 45 minutes. sondland said he was ordered to work with rudy giuliani and he made a point of saying he never talked to the president linking the aid to the investigation. i think you will see republicans hammer that point home and while sondland was very casual, almost nonchalant saying of course it was a quid pro quo, it was as obvious as two plus two equals four, you will hear republicans say that was your judgment. that was not the order that he explicitly got from the president of the united states. they will make this come down to whether or not he was explicitly ordered to commit a crime or not. the other thing that really caught my attention in the first part of this hearing in the prepared remarks, the biggest
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deviation that sondland made, it was him that gave ambassador bollton's rudy giuliani's contact information and talking about that as a curious thing. that's the second thing in the last two days that witnesses have gone back to expressly link bolton to something. remember we learned that bolton had the one-on-one meeting with president trump about the aid from morrison's testimony and today we hear sondland going out of his way everyone thought it was him that connected bolton and giuliani. sondland is not going down on this, but he's the second to pull bolton that much closer to this. that's something that democrats are going to be so tempted to want to explore further. the question is do they wait to get john bolton who has thus said he's not going to testify until mid december at the soonest. >> as someone pointed out this morning on a neighboring network to ours, if you want to hear from john bolton these days, you
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have to pay to have him come talk to your event. and i'm wondering if this testimony today will kind of sweeten the deal to get him into this. >> and the whole frame of the debate around john bolton they have been playing chicken with congress. his lawyer, mr. cooper, made a point of saying two fridays ago he has a lot of interesting insights, guys. you know, basically waving a red flag in front of the bull. congressional sources told me we're not playing. we are not playing that game. we're not subpoenaing him or getting wrapped up in court for 10 to 12 months. he has been accused by gordon sondland of essentially is lying. lying. so i think the calculation changes. and they may call and request through a back channel a subpoena so that bolton has some cover to go. but i think that the power -- you know, it's look a girl saying everyone wants to date me. well, congress is saying well, we don't want to date you, but he may call them and say, hey, i'm available.
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>> jason is so right. so much of life and so much of this story starts in the movies. it is a reference you hear and see on a daily basis. pick your film. a lot of them happened to be mob movies. a lot of them happen to be scorsese and nature, but you're right. >> the whole mob set-up we said that a lot about this sort of administration especially with giuliani sort of being the point person. but now i think it's as nicole said, you have someone who is called out. he's been called out. this is the big western and as bolton, does he want to keep playing, wait a minute, i won't have all of these people basically throwing my mind out there when i wanted to present myself as the hero. i think the other accomplishment that might happen today he may feel compelled as you say to come out and explain himself. now rudy giuliani don't want to do that, but there are several different individuals. if this continues and other people take sort of the hint from sondland, you know what, who is going to rat out each other? >> when rudy giuliani holds up on fox news which is is as friendly as it gets for rudy
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giuliani his defense is the state told me to do it. thing is a much worse day for mike pompeo than even rudy giuliani. >> i agree. >> chuck? >> you know, one thing i'd like to hear from sondland a little more sharply is contrition. he talks about, you know, everyone else knew that he didn't have access to his documents, so only now is his memory refreshed. you know, he did it too. let's be absolutely clear. i think you're right to call this the regular channel, nicole. but he was in it too. one thing you want to hear from the witness before you put him on the stand, they're culpable. they get it. they did it. they understand why it's wrong. that gives them the credibility with the jury. i'm not quite hearing that yet. >> do you not think that will come out as a consequence as a result of the republican questioning? >> i think garrett said a bit before, they're going to point out he didn't have a lot of
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direct, explicit instructions from the president and anyone who doesn't think that giuliani was carrying that water for the president is a little bit daffy. they'll go after his changing story. brian, i think that's a fair point. he may end up saying, you know, expressly before the day is out that i did it too. >> i cannot stop thinking about michael cohen's congressional testimony when he sat there and by that point, the day he testified publicly he knew he was probably headed to jail. there was enough on him and even though mueller viewed him favorably, sdny did not and he said, trump didn't have to tell me what to do. we all knew, it was how he talked. sondland said -- i mean there were so many echoes to cohen's testimony. that is how trump and i talked. we cussed a lot. we talked on open lines that is how we talked. roger stone in his guilty conviction last week, i told these lies essentially because the truth would make trump look bad. it's a story that happens over and over again with trump.
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>> if i may, the president kept saying talk to rudy, talk to rudy. talk to rudy. it is inconceivable to me that everyone didn't understand that talking to rudy is the same as talking to the president. >> he said talk to barr. we'll see if we hear more about attorney general barr. >> the witness is back at the table. we'll just monitor this when the conversation begins again. are our mics live in the room? not yet. okay. the committee is asking the still photographers to clear the space. members of the committee appear to be ready to go. >> come to order. and now i recognize ranking member nunes for 45 minutes of questions. >> thank the gentleman. for those of you watching at home, that was not a bathroom
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break. that was actually a chance for the democrats to go out and hold a press conference, ambassador, for all the supposed 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. because 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. so ambassador i want to go through the incidents we know. 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're a country that's out to get him as
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i think both you have said that and ambassador 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'm not aware of it. >> so in 2000 -- there was a 2017 article that also quotes ukrainian parliamentarian art da men coe saying quote it was clear they were supporting -- meaning the 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 by any official -- >> i don't.
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>> were you aware that then ukrainian ambassador to the u.s. chalet wrote an op-ed in the hill during the 2016 presidential campaign criticizing then candidate trump? >> not aware. >> but you know that now in the last few months. >> correct. >> so probably one of the more disturbing one is the ukraine internal affairs minister mocked and disparaged then candidate trump on facebook and twitter. were you aware that a ukrainian parliamentarian admitted that part of his motivation in spreading the information about the black ledger a disputed document was to undermine the trump candidacy? >> i wasn't aware. >> so you may be familiar that the black ledger was used in the 2016 election to dirty up a
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campaign associate and later mueller didn't use that as evidence in his report on election meddling. so knowing all of these facts from high ranking ukrainian officials, ambassador, probably makes a little more sense now as to why the president may think that there's problems with ukraine and that ukraine was out to get him. is that correct? >> i understand your -- i understand your point, yes. >> because you said in your deposition -- i'm going to make sure this was your -- read it back to you. on page 279 for your legal team. quote, they are all corrupt. this is what you said about your conversation with the president. so this is your words about what the president told you. >> this is the may 23rd meeting? >> that's correct. they are all corrupt they're all terrible people and you know i don't want to spend any time with that.
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and he also said they tried to take me down. >> that's correct. >> they tried to take him down. i think any logical person that wants to do two plus two plus equal 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. >> so during all of this time, and remember, in the spring the democrats russian hoax witch-hunt is still ongoing. they're still claiming that president trump is a russian agent. they're out to get president trump at the time. his personal attorney is then interested in trying to figure out, hey, who are the ukrainians that are trying to get to my candidate? as those of us -- the republicans on this committee who are also trying to get to the bottom of who were the sources in the still dossier
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that the democrats have pay for. the democrats wanted to know that through the spring and the summer of -- even as of today we still would like to know. that's why we have subpoenaed the dnc operatives but they refused to subpoena. we sent a letter this morning. i doubt we'll see the subpoenas. we want to know exactly -- it's -- exactly who are these democratic operatives that were 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. and ambassador, you had very few dealings with rudy giuliani, a few text messages? >> a few text messages and a few phone calls. >> all right. so the whistle-blower trying to put together the time line. they seem to have a time line problem because the whistle-blower that only they know who they won't subpoena, who clearly mr. vindman knows who they blocked testimony now from -- would not allow mr. vindman to answer our questions,
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that whistle-blower says on july 25th that there were all these promises being made. yet, the -- forget what they call it, the drug deal that the three amigos were cooking up. 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. and do you know you're part of the three amigos? >> i am, i'm a proud part of the three amigos. >> that's the same thing that ambassador volker said yesterday. the phone call that the supposed whistle-blower claims is the original quid pro quo has now got down to we're now a month later where you're involved and their quid pro quo has gotten down to the low level of, well,
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they want a statement. and you didn't even know about anything to do with on july 25th, you knew nothing about military aid being withheld. >> i knew military aid was withheld beginning on july 18th when ambassador taylor told us that was the case. >> 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 readout when everyone else did. >> it was on the july 25th call, there was no aid discussed on the july 25th call. so then you're in the process, you have no idea this is tied to burisma or anybody else. you say you don't realize that until the end of august. >> i didn't realize that aid was tied. the burisma in 2016 piece was
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much earlier, ranking member. >> i'm glad you bring up burisma because this was 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 -- 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. but let's talk about burisma, ambassador. i know you're the ambassador of the eu. 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, a mandate to do it. but you wouldn't be first ambassador to actually be interested in burisma. did you know that in september
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of 2015 then ambassador to ukraine geoffrey pyatt called for an investigation into zlochevsky, the president of burisma. this was the ambassador appointed by president obama in ukraine. >> i wasn't aware of that, no. >> you were not aware of it. >> no. >> so you would not 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 as predecessor viktor shokin who the vice president wanted fired was announced? >> i did not know that. >> well, we're not going to the
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answer to many of the questions because the witnesses who need to clarify what the democrats were doing in 2016, we're not going to be able to visit with those witnesses. and so it's an inconvenient truth that the democrats don't want to admit their operatives that were dirtying up the trump campaign, using ukrainian sources in 2016 and they do not want us to get to the bottom of it. they don't want you, ambassador, to get to the bottom of it. they don't want the president's personal attorney, even though he's under a special counsel investigation that they fed into the fbi, that we have dealt with for over three years, they don't want to get to the bottom of that, ambassador. i think mr. caster has some questions for you. >> thank you, mr. nunes. good morning, ambassador, how are you? >> good morning, mr. caster. >> welcome back. you're here all day on the 17th, late into the night, so thank you for your cooperation with
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the investigation. did the president ever tell you personally about any preconditions 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 preconditions for a white house meeting? >> personally, no. >> the -- you said you didn't have your records or your documents from the state department but if you did there wouldn't be a document or record that ties president trump personally to this? >> i don't want to speculate -- >> your documents or records? >> i don't recall anything like that. no. >> good heavens, okay. you testified mr. giuliani's request for a quid pro quo for the white house meeting, and you indicated that you believe that was -- he was evincing president trump's interests, correct? >> mr. -- my contact with mr.
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giuliani began as i said very late in the process after august 1st when i was first introduced to him by a text. from ambassador volker. so 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. >> 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. so if that's your question. >> but in your deposition the question was at the may 23rd meeting when the president said go talk to rudy. you responded he didn't even say
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go talk. he said talk to rudy. you subsequently said it was sort of like i don't want to talk about this. so it wasn't an order or a 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. and then that was may 23rd. you never had personal communications with rudy until august. >> that's correct. >> and ambassador volker was -- >> volker and perry and others. >> okay. ambassador volker you testified he's 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. >> and ambassador yovanovitch said he's a brilliant diplomat, in fact. do you agree with that? >> he's pretty smart. >> you stated that he's one of those people i'd hand my wallet
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to. >> i would. >> and so did you hear his testimony yesterday? >> i did not. >> okay. because he -- >> i was busy getting ready for you. >> he didn't have any -- he didn't have any evidence of any of these preconditions and he was the one most engaged with the ukrainians, wasn't he? >> yes. >> okay. i mean, you testified -- you know, this was his full-time job. although he was doing it for free. >> he was the special envoy. >> he testified you came in and out of the events, correct? >> that's correct. >> okay. all right. 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. >> and we talked about may 23rd in the oval office. >> yes.
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>> and you mentioned on july 25th before you were at the ukraine, you called the president, but there was no material information on the 25th call, correct? >> not that i recall. >> okay. then last friday, mr. holmes came in and i guess his testimony refreshed your recollection? >> yeah. what refreshed my recollection is when he mentioned asap rocky. then all of a sudden it came back to me. >> and talking about the -- the president zelenskiy loving the president and so forth? >> well, the whole thing sort of came back to me after he mentioned asap rocky. >> then the next time, you know, we tried to unpack this. the next time you talked to the president was on the telephone, september 29th, according to your deposition. >> i may have spoken to him on september 6th but again, i just don't have all of the records. i wish i could get them then i could answer your questions very easily. >> okay. but on september 9th. at least at your deposition you were extremely clear. you called the president, you
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said he was feeling cranky that day, right? >> he seemed cranky to me. >> and you said in no uncertain terms -- this is on the heels of the bill taylor text. >> right. >> 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, is it that, i just said what do you want from ukraine? i may have even used the four letter word. and he said i want nothing. i want no quid pro quo. i just want zelenskiy 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 text that i sent as i said to mr. goldman it was not an artificially written text.
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i should have put it in quotes. something like that. 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, it was paused for 55 days. there was a news article in politico on august 28th talking about it. so 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
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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, 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 mr. schiff's, two plus two equalled four at that point. >> but you didn't have evidence? >> other than the aid wasn't being released and we weren't getting anywhere with the ukrainians. >> but did ambassador volker clue you in this is the issue? that was -- i mean, this is a pretty serious conclusion you have reached without precise evidence. >> well, i sent that email to secretary pompeo to set up a potential meeting between
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president trump and president zelenskiy in warsaw. and when i referred to the logjam, i referred to the logjam in a very inclusive way. everything was jammed up at that point and secretary pompeo essentially gave me the greenlight to brief president zelenskiy about making those announcements. >> okay. we can -- we can turn to that. and then that was your email dated what date? >> do you have the page there? >> well, your email to secretary pompeo. was that august 11th? >> 16th. >> august 22nd. >> okay. so you're asking secretary pompeo whether we should block
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time -- i mean, is there any discussion of specific investigations, 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 zelenskiy. and i was going to call president zelenskiy and ask him to say what is in this email and i was asking essentially pompeo's permission to do that and he said yes. >> but at that point in time we're talking about investigations into the origins of the 2016 election. we're 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
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statement from zelenskiy to be delivered for our review in a day or two. and the question i have here is that -- i mean, 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 so the statement never reached a finalized state. >> that's correct. >> but even if it had, it doesn't talk about biden's our burisma or anything insidious, correct? >> well, the statement as i recall you have mentioned the 2016 election/dnc server and burisma. >> okay. >> it would not have mentioned the bidens. >> have you heard ambassador volker how he talks about what might be an investigation into burisma? >> no. >> okay. i mean, he has said that if there were ukrainians engaged in violations of ukrainian law then
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the prosecutor general with the new administration ought to investigate that. did ambassador volker ever relate that to you? >> no. we just talked in generic terms about quote investigating burisma. >> but had nothing to do with vice president biden? >> i had never vice president biden come up until late in the game. >> when? >> maybe after the transcript of the july 25th call. i don't know. i don't know the exact date when i made the connection. >> okay. >> apparently a lot of people did not make the connection. >> okay. i want to turn to the letter from senator johnson. he -- when he heard about some of the issues in the 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 arrangement where
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you ukraine would take some action and the hold would be lifted. without hesitation, president trump immediately denied such an arrangement existed. and senator 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 reaction as adamant and angry and the telephone call wasn't a public event. it was capturing a genuine, you know, 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. >> yeah, i had my meeting with senator johnson where again i had made the presumption that i
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had made to both mr. yermak and the email i had sent to secretary pompeo and we were sort of ruminating about what was going on and senator johnson i believe said i'm going to call president trump, you know, 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 disbelieve senator johnson. >> now you have had some time since your deposition and you submitted the addendum related to the warsaw get together with 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 and in fact a bunch of the call records that i have had access to just the short period of the time on the call indicates i never got through. i was put on hold and the call
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never connected an i can't give you an accurate count of how many conversations and plus, i have had conversations with the president about completely unrelated matters that have nothing to do with ukraine. >> so 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 -- you know, the call logs. >> are there any other key fact witnesses that would help us you know 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. >> okay. 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're probably like my final decision. so even on august 31st and this is before any congressional investigations started. the president was signaling to senator johnson that he was going to lift the aid? >> sounds like it, yeah. >> okay. and most of the other witnesses we talked to, whether it's from the department of defense or omb or, you know, they 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
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answer as to why it had been put in place to begin with. >> now, what do you know about the ukrainians' knowledge of the hold? >> oh, that's very vague. i don't know if the politico article triggered it. i don't know if they were told by mr. giuliani it would be p e pure -- you know, get work on my part. speculation. i don't know. >> okay. i mean, during your deposition, you testified that you did not believe the ukrainians believed the -- were aware of the hold until the political article. >> yeah, 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 the ukrainians by a lot of people so i don't know who communicated what to them. >> we have testimony that the president was concerned about foreign aid generally and so he was -- he had an appetite to put
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holds on aid because he was trying to be 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 that he was also interested in better understanding the contributions of our european allies? >> that i'm definitely aware of. >> and there was some back and forth between the state department officials trying to better understand that information for the president? >> yes. that's correct. >> and how do you know that wasn't the reason for the hold? >> i don't. >> but yet, you speculate that there was -- you know, a link to this announcement. >> i presumed it, yes. >> okay. i want to turn quickly to the july 10th meeting. the july 10th meeting in ambassador volker's office involving ambassador volker, mr.
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daniluk and mr. yermak has been the subject of some controversy. mr. volker testified that it wasn't until the end of the meeting mr. danny luck was going through some detailed -- some detailed information about some of the plans he had. the meeting ambassador volker recollects that you mentioned something general about investigations. what do you remember from that meeting? >> again, i'm not going to dispute ambassador volker's recollection, particularly if he had notes. i know that the desire to have the 2016 election, dnc server, and burisma were already being discussed by them. and i probably mentioned that
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this needs to happen in order to move the process forward. that seemed to be, umm, 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 ofsaid. >> okay. nobody accused you at that point in time of being involved in some sort of drug deal? >> no. >> did dr. hill ever relate to you concerns about you being involved in a drug deal? >> never. >> so you were surprised when testimony emerged that she thought there was a drug deal going on? >> i was shocked. in fact after the meeting you went out and you took a picture, right? >> yeah. ambassador bolton or his assistant indicated he was out of time, that he needed -- he had another meeting to attend. we all walked out of the white house. everyone was smiling, everyone was happy, and we took a picture
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on the lawn on a nice sunny day. >> did you retire to the ward room? >> i think secretary perry asked to use the ward room to continue the conversation. and theco real subject that was under debate, and it wasn't an angry debate, it wasan a debate just 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, ambassador 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. and ultimately it was done after.
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>> there is no mention of vice president biden in the ward room? >> not that i remember, no. >> or any specific investigations? >> just the generic, "investigations." >> eswhen, 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. it could have been as late as once the h transcript was out. but it was always burisma to me, and i didn't know about the connection between burisma and biden. >> and to the best of your knowledge, you never understood that anyone was asking ukrainians to investigate u.s. persons, correct? >> ukrainians to investigate u.s. persons? >> right. >> no. >> okay. >> no. >> and just to sort of be clear here, ultimately the aid was lifted on september 11th.
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>> yes. >> 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, ancorrect? >> not to my knowledge. >> and consequently, these allegations that there was a quid pro quo that had to be enforced beforet the aid is released, it never came to fruition, right? >> i don't believe so. >> 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, right,
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given his business dealings in the region? >> when we had the 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. >> okay. and -- but other companies came up, didn't they? >> i don't know if they were mentioned specifically. it niefb in hamight have been n because we were working on an issue with naftogaz, that might have been one of them. >> at a deposition you said naftogaz comes up in every conversation; is that fair? >> probably. >> you had -- i guess dr. hill
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at one point attributed to you the terminology that the president has given you a large remit. are you familiar with her assertion of that? >> i didn't understand what she was talking about. >> okay. but we have -- and you got into this a little bit in your deposition, you know, you said that the president gave you a special assignment with regard to ukraine, correct? >> well, when the president appointed me as u.s. ambassador to the european union, ukraine was part of my portfolio. what happened my assignment largerap than just being part o 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, andy, i, was that ukraine neede extraordinary, as highra level
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support asex it could get from e united states during this period,ri which we cleared with both c ambassador bolton and wi chief of staff mulvaney to continue working on it. so byki extension, yes, if the national security adviser and the chief of staff approve your remit, it really is coming from the president. >> when we asked you about that at the deposition,n you said, was spinningd, a little bit." >>ng i was spinning about something else, i think, in the interview in kiev. >> you further testified, so when i said the president gave me an assignment, it wasn't really the president, it was a secretary through the president. 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.
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when he came to post, i think -- 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 highly complimentary. >> and you maintained an open line with him, correct? >> correct. i think there are a number of texts, some ofth which i have a some of which i don't, where he is reaching out constantly to me and others for advice and help. >> we tried to count them up, there's 215 or something text messages between you, volker, and ambassador taylor, you know,
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during the early august time frame. does that maket sense to you? >> yeah, i think he -- i think taylor started in late june or early july, was when he first took post. and i think we began communicating fairly shortly thereafter. >> and he never communicated any concerns to you during this time frame, that he had issues with what wasad 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 pointedo 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 as to why the aid was suspended. >> right. and ultimately, you put a period on that issue by having the september 9th communication with president, correct? >> that's prcorrect. >> and when you shared that
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phoebe with ambassador taylor, was he assesssatisfied that thie was now behindti him? >> i don't really know, because when i responded, get ahold of the secretary, and he said i agree. i never knew i whether he reach out to the secretaryhe or not. that was sort of the end -- >> at one point in the text you said let's get on the phone, you said you're an individual that doesn't like to walk through these issues on texts when you can talk about it on the 1 telephone, correct? >> i say that to everybody when something becomes more substantive than a few lines of text, i say, let's talk. >> did you say that to ambassador taylor? >> i don't recall. i don't recall whether we spoke after that or whether he called the secretary. basically, mr. castor, wanted to get the notion across that i've gone as far as i can go with this, you need to -- you're the ambassador, you need to pick up the ball and run with it at this point. >> okay. just getting back to the irregular channel, did anyone el


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