Laura Cooper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia

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It’s not a smoking gun, it’s more than that. It’s a smoldering crater.

On the day Republicans staged their theatrics and ate pizza:

PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE, joint with the
COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND REFORM
and the
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
WASHTNGTON, D.C.

DEPOSITION OF: LAURA KATHERINE COOPER

[….]

THE CHAIRMAN: The House Parliamentarian will be delivering a statement about the House rules, stating that any Members that remain will be in violation of the House rules. We’ve already dispensed with enough time of this witness, so I’m going to forego my opening statement. I would urge the minority to do the same so we can begin the questioning.

Mr. Goldman, you are recognized.

MR. GOLDMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chainman. This is a deposition of Launa Cooper conducted by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, pursuant to the impeachment inquiry announcement by the Speaker of the House on
September 24th.

Ms. Cooper, we apologize to you for the 5-hour delay as a result of some unauthorized Republican Members being present, but we appreciate that you are here today and that you waited to take your testimony.

[….]

Q How important is security assistance to Ukrainians?

A Security assistance is vital to helping the Ukrainians be able to defend themselves.

Q Can you explain a little bit more?

A Well, if you go back to 2014, when Ukraine found itself under attack by Russia, the state of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was significantly less capable than it is today, and that capability increase is largely the result of U.S. and allied assistance. And now what you see is a Ukrainian armed force that is able to
better deter Russian aggression, and you’ve seen a drop in the kinetic action, although not — not a complete lack of hostilities, certainly. We still have casualties on a regular basis.

Q So the security assistance that’s provided by the U.S. is within the Ukrainians’ national interest, obviously. Is that night?

A Absolutely.

Q And what about within the U.S. national interest?

A It is also within the U.S. national interest to provide security assistance to Ukraine.

[….]

A Ukraine, and also Georgia, are the two front-line states facing Russian aggression. In order to deter further Russian aggression, we need to be able to shore up these counties’ abilities to defend themselves. That’s, I think, pure and simple, the rationale behind our strategy of supporting these countries. It’s in our interest to deter Russian aggression elsewhere around the world.

Q And would you also agree that the U.S. security assistance to Ukraine is also helpful to Europe as a whole with regard to thwarting any sort of Russian aggression?

A Absolutely.

Q In 2018 and 2019, has Ukrainian security assistance received bipartisan support?

A It has always received bipartisan support, in my experience.

Q And that’s both in the House and the Senate?

A Absolutely, in my experience.

Q And what about at the interagency level?

A I have witnessed, even in the recent past, overwhelming consensus in favor of providing Ukraine security assistance.

Q And when you say “within the recent past,” you mean even oven the course of this year?

A Even over the course of the summer.

[….]

Q And would you agree or disagree that Ukraine has generally made forward progress, again, oven the course of your tenure when you have been monitoring these benchmarks?

A Yes. I see significant forward progress.

[….]

Q And what was the — I guess, what was the effect of this release on June t8th by DOD?

A Well, one effect was that the Ukraine Embassy and the Ukraine Government thanked us for making that public. They had been looking for a public acknowledgement of the assistance, not because this was unusual, just they appreciate it when allies publicly note what kind of support we’re providing Ukraine.

So that was an immediate reaction. We got a thank you phone call from the — my staff did, anyway — from the Ukraine Embassy; and our team in Kyiv, in the Defense Attache Office, heard appreciation.

But the second potential effect — and I want to be clean that I am speculating here – – was that a few days later, we got a question from my chain of command forwarded down from the chief of staff, I believe, from the Department of Defense, asking for follow-up on a meeting with the President.

And it said, there are three questions. I believe it was — I think it was three questions for follow-up from this meeting, no further information on what the meeting was.

And the one question was related to U.S. industry. Did U.S. — is U.S. industry providing any of this equipment? The second question that I recall was related to international contributions. It asked, what are other countries doing, something to that effect.

And then the third question, I don’t recall — I mean, with any of these I don’t recall the exact wording, but it was something to the effect of, you know, who gave this money, on who gave this funding?

So when my office responded to these questions, we speculated that perhaps someone in the White House had seen our press release and then seen an article that came out after the press release. And the article that came out afterwards had a headline that could have been a little bit misleading, because the headline said something like, you know, U.S. gives 25O million to Ukraine, something that didn’t explain this is equipment and it’s, you know, U.S. industry and all that sort of thing.

So, again, I’m speculating here a little bit, but we did get that series of questions just within a few days after the press release and after that one article that had the headline.

[….]

A Okay. So the meeting on the 31st, the expectation I think at least of my participation in the meeting was that we would talk about security assistance, but the agenda that was prepared by the NSC was largely focused on just routine Ukraine business, post election follow up. Those sorts issues.

So it wasn’t — security assistance was not actually an explicit agenda item, but because we had left the deputies without clarity on the legally available mechanisms, this was a topic that I raised at the PCC. And I shared with the PCC my understanding that for USAI, not speaking to FMF — I left that for the State Department — but for USAI, my understanding was that there were two legally available mechanisms should the President want to stop assistance.

And the one mechanism would be Presidential rescission notice to the Congress and the other mechanism, as I understood it and articulated it in that meeting was for the Defense Department to do a reprogramming action. But I mentioned that either way, there would need to be a notification to Congress.

Q And did that occur?

A That did not occur.

[….]

A So the other — the other kind of theme during that time period was — that was when various folks in the Department started to get phone calls from industry. And the firm I referenced earlier all of these U.S. firms that were implementing USAI they were getting concerned. So during that timeframe, I don’t remember exact dates but it was kind of mid- to late August, a number of people my front office, in the Assistant Secretary office just the staff we’re getting phone calls from industry. I received a call from the Chamber of Commence.

So before the kind of press broke on it, we were hearing that there were signs of concern. And from my part, I think — I think I started to get questions from staff from congressional staff probably, you know, it was around that timeframe. It was late August, late August. And so I had prepared, and my staff had prepared here draft responses. There wasn’t much we could say other than OMB has placed a hold on this and we, you know, sent those replies up — up the chain. And I never — I never got authorization to be able to send anything oven here, and then you did start to see the news break.

[….]

Q During this timeframe, did you have any communications with Ukrainians?

A I would have to say I’m sure I did, but I don’t recall —

Q About this?

A But not about this. No, no, I did not speak with them about this. And no Ukrainians raised this issue with me on my team.

Q Okay. So to the best of —

A To my knowledge, to my knowledge.

Q To the best of your knowledge, they didn’t know that this funding was possibly being held up until —

A Oh, that’s not what I’m saying.

Q Okay. What are you saying?

A So I personally was not — sorry, I apologize. I did not mean to be interrupting you. So I personally did not have Ukrainian ministry — I deal with the ministry of defense, none of them raised this issue with me. But I knew from my Kurt Volker conversation and also from sort of the alarm bells that were coming from Ambassador Taylor and his team that there were Ukrainians who knew about this.

Q Okay.

A They just weren’t talking to me.

[….]

Q Okay. What were your communications with the embassy during this time period on this topic?

A WeI1, my staff were mostly the folks communicating with our defense attache office. I can’t recall specifically, but it was fairly routine. We have email communications with the embassy that are fairly
routine.

Q Okay. And what was the general information you were getting from the embassy?

A The embassy was expressing clearly and consistently that we needed to get the security assistance funds released and that this would cause a major major challenge in our relationship in the Ukraine security, and that the President had sent an invite to President Zelensky much earlier, I want to say May, it might have been May on June timeframe, and that the fact that the President hadn’t followed up on that was causing a lot of concern. Those were the consistent themes from our embassy.

[….]

MR. MEADOWS: So let me come back to the obligated, unobligated funds. One, thank you for your service. And it is refreshing to have people who are experts on thein topic, and so I want to just say thank
you for that.

So your staff, they didn’t — they didn’t know that unobligated funds well typically that happens, end of fiscal year there’s always unobligated funds and there was — they were not aware of not only what happened in this case, but it had happened previously. Is that correct?

MS. COOPER: No, sir. My staff and I am aware that there are frequently unobligated funds at the very end of the year. What we were worried about in this case was that, you know, the bulk of the funds on a significant amount of funding would be unobligated. So absolutely we do understand that, you know, sometimes you can’t actually obligate everything. And I believe last year USAI did not have 100 percent obligation.

[….]

Bad combover. Check. Too long red tie. Check. Orange spray tan. Check. Tiny hands. Check. Cluelessness. Check…

Previously:

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): While you’re at it, a few questions… (October 23, 2019)

He truly believes his base is this stupid…and they probably are

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Yesterday evening:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Just like Schiff fabricated my phone call, he will fabricate the transcripts that he is making and releasing!
5:24 PM · Nov 11, 2019

Think about that for about two seconds.

Bad combover. Check. Too long red tie. Check. Orange spray tan. Check. Tiny hands. Check. Cluelessness. Check…

You can read the transcripts.

Previously:

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (r): While you’re at it, a few questions… (October 23, 2019)

Impeachment: read the transcripts (November 4, 2019)

Impeachment: Greenland (November 7, 2019)

Dr. Fiona Hill, Former Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia, National Security Council (November 8, 2019)

George P. Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (November 9, 2019)

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman (November 9, 2019)

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman: “How could it possibly be a good idea …” (November 10, 2019)

George P. Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs: “Mr. Piggy” and the list (November 11, 2019)

George P. Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs: “Mr. Piggy” and the list

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“…There were about 15 names, and I remember it was very odd. It included the country’s leading rock star, Slava Vakarchuk, who is now the leader of one of the parties in parliament. It included very bizarrely a person who was a friend of the current — the ex-President Poroshenko and was head of the overseer of the defense industry named Gladkovskiy, and in parentheses it had his previous name, Svinarchuk. The reason why that’s memorable is because it means a pig or a pig farmer, and he changed his name before he went into government so he didn’t have a name that said basically Mr. Piggy. But no one knew that that was really — knew that was his name when the list allegedly was created in 2015. That was a story line from 2019…”

It’s not a smoking gun, it’s more than that. It’s a smoldering crater.

Oh, yeah, that “do not prosecute” list was a fabrication.

From page 70 onward in the deposition, questioning by the Minority (Republican) Counsel:

PERMANENT SELECT COMIITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE, joint with the
COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND REFORM
and the
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTAT]VES,
WASHINGTON, D.C.

INTERVIEW OF: GEORGE KENT

Tuesday, 0ctober 15, 2019
Washington, D. C.

[….]

BY MR. CASTOR:

Q At any point in time were names of officials, whether it was for any reason, shared with the prosecutor’s office in connection with do not prosecute?

A Well, again, we don’t go in and say do not prosecute. The types of conversations that we have that might be construed are different.

Q You mentioned the name Sytnyk earlier?

A Artem Sytnyk who is the still and the first head of the so-ca11ed NABU, National Anti-Corruption Bureau of
Ukraine.

Q And was he ever in the cross hairs of Lutsenko?

A He was.

Q Was he being investigated?

A To the best of my knowledge, yes, there were open prosecutor general investigations on Mr. Sytnyk.

Q Do you know if anyone at the embassy ever asked Lutsenko not to investigate Sytnyk?

A What I would say, I would characterize the interactions as different because what we warned both Lutsenko and others that efforts to destroy NABU as an organization, including opening up investigations of Sytnyk, threatened to unravel a key component of our anticorruption cooperation, which had started at the request of Petro Poroshenko.

Q I mean, could reasonable people request not to investigate Sytnyk?

A I am sure that Mr. Lutsenko claimed that, but he also claimed that there was a list, and there was no list, and he made a lot of other claims. And so as I said, this is an issue of believability about someone who routinely lies.

Q You’re familiar with the name Shabunin?

A Vitali Shabunin perhaps? Is that —

Q Yeah. And could you identify him for us?

A He is one of the leaders of the NGO known as AnTAC, ‘It’s the anticorruption center in Ukraine.

Q What’s AnTAC’s role?

A AnTAC is an advocacy group that is designed to both publicly bring attention to issues related to corruption, to advocate for better laws and better prosecutions, and on occasion it has also participated in some of the capacity-building activitjes that were funded by the U. S. Government.

Q Who funds AnTAC?

A AnTAC is an organization, has funding that, to the best of my knowledge, includes primarily funds from the European Union and the U.S. Government. It has also received grants from the International Renaissance Foundation, which is the Ukrainian name and arm of the Open Society Institute.

Q And who runs the Open Society institute?

A The Open Society Institute was initiated 20-odd years ago by George Soros.

Q Can you remember — sorry. Do you know if the name Vitali — I apologize for these pronunciations.

A That’s okay.

Q I’m not familiar with how to do this properly, and I apologize. I mean no disrespect.

A I’m not Ukrainian, so —

Q Vitali Shabunin, do you know if he was ever the subject of a prosecution in Ukraine by Lutsenko?

A I do not know. To the best of my knowledge, he was subject to harassment by the securities service known as the Security Bureau of Ukraine. There was an incident where someone threw what’s known as bright green, it’s iodine-based disinfectant, and they actually threw it on his face near his house. It can damage eyes but is oftentimes done as a form of intimidation in the former Soviet Uni on. So because Shabunin was outspoken, he was certainly the target of harassment. But I don’t know for certain whether there was an active criminal investigation by the prosecutor general’s office.

Q Was he ever up on charges of hooliganism or something to that effect?

A I believe when the person who was picketing his house and throwing this green material on him, and claiming to be a journalist even though he wasn’t, provoked him, and Shabunin pushed him near his house. Yes, he was then — I think there was a charge of alleged hooliganism.

Q Do you know if anyone ever tried to communicate with Lutsenko’s office that this was not a worthwhile charge to pursue?

A I think, you know, if we’re going back I don’t know specifically about that particular incident or charge, but as a matter of conversation that U.S. officials had with Ukrainian officials in sharing our concern about the direction of governance and the approach, harassment of civil society activists, including Mr. Shabunin, was one of the issues we raised, yes.

Q Was Shabunin on this list that you described as fake?

A I don’t know if that list has been provided to the committee. You could show me the list and I might have some recollection. But I —

Q Okay. Do you have any recollection of who was on that list?

A There were about 15 names, and I remember it was very odd. It included the country’s leading rock star, Slava Vakarchuk, who is now the leader of one of the parties in parliament. It included very bizarrely a person who was a friend of the current — the ex-President Poroshenko and was head of the overseer of the defense industry named Gladkovskiy, and in parentheses it had his previous name, Svinarchuk. The reason why that’s memorable is because it means a pig or a pig farmer, and he changed his name before he went into government so he didn’t have a name that said basically Mr. Piggy. But no one knew that that was really — knew that was his name when the list allegedly was created in 2015. That was a story line from 2019.

There were a couple of young so-called Euro optimist MPs where friends had joined Poroshenko’s party but then become sort of critics of President Poroshenko. Their names include Mustafa Nayyem, Svitlana Zalishchuk, and Serhiy Leshchenko. I believe the former defense minister, who was running for President at the time, Anatoliy Hrytsenko, was at the list. There was a judge I’d never heard of. And there may have been other people on that list. I just don’t remember the full list.

Q What do you know about Leshchenko?

A Serhiy Leshchenko was a journalist for Ukrainskaya Pravda, which is an online — the leading online news source in Ukraine. He ran for parliament as one of the young pro-western members of then-President Poroshenko’s party. He continued to act as an investigative-style public figure even as a member of parliament. He did not get reelected in the parliamentary elections in September. And because he was an active parliamentarian, because he had been an investigative journalist, he was someone that the U.S. Embassy had known for years.

Q What was his role in the Manafort issue?

A To the best of my recollection he was one of the individuals who helped popularize the information that came out of the black book. I believe Andy Kramer from The New York Times was the first person to write a story in English about it. Andy came and talked to me sometime in late 2015, 2016. I do not recall. He was based in Moscow, so he was not there in Kyiv that often. But at some point Andy shared with me where he had heard the first information. And so I believe, although I cannot say for sure, that Mr. Kramer may have shared that he had talked to Leshchenko as one of his sources for that early article.

Q Were there other sources of information regarding Manafort pushing out of Ukraine?

A About — well, Mr. Manafort operated in Ukraine for over a decade. So are you specifically saying about his entire time, or what’s the specific —

Q Around that timeframe, which of course is you know, mid-2016 is when he became involved with the President’s campaign.

A Right. Because Mr. Manafort had spent a decade in Ukraine, Ukrainians followed his reemergence as a U. S. figure very closely.

Q And was Leshchenko the primary person bringing that to the attention of The New York Times and the other —

A No. I think, alt Ukrainians, they didn’t need a single person doing it. Because Mr. Manafort first appeared in Ukraine in 2005 when he was hired by former Prime Minister Yanukovych who tried the steal the election that became the 0range Revolution, that was the end of 2004. To the best of my recollection, in this case it’s actually quite good because I was with Ambassador Herbst at the time when Yanukovych told us that he’d hired Manafort, and that was the spring of 2005. So Mr. Manafort’s time in Ukraine started in 2005, and according to public records, he participated up through the campaigns of 2014.

Q Now, the allegation that the embassy shared an animus about Manafort or was interested in pushing information to the forefront, is that an accurate description of the second narrative that was pushed in the March 2019 time frame?

A That is part of what Yuriy Lutsenko in that narrative pushed, yes.

Q Okay.

A It’s, again, inaccurate, not accurate characterization.

Q Okay. Is it accurate that somebody in the Ukraine, not from the embassy, but somebody, maybe Ukrainians, were pushing this narrative?

A I think it would be accurate to say, given what President Yanukovych did to the country, which was loot tens of billions of do11ars, that there were many Ukrainians who in part blamed Paul Manafort for that success because he proved to be a brilliant political technologist in giving Yanukovych advice that helped him win the presidency.

Q And do you think people in the U.S., supporters of President Trump that saw this information come out of the Ukraine may have wondered if this was an effort to attack the President or the President when he was a candidate?

THE CHAIRMAN: Counsel, are you asking what the American public — an opinion about what the American public might
believe?

BY MR. CASTOR:

Q No. Is it reasonable — I’ll restate it.

A Well, I will just say, I was in Ukraine at the time so I don’t know what the reaction was.

Q Is it reasonable to conclude that if you are in President Trump’s world and you’re seeing these stories coming out of the Ukraine that it appears to have the look of a politica1 attack?

[….]

Q Do you think the second narrative that either Lutsenko is pushing or the journalist he was dealing with in the United 5tates were pushing, do you think that related to trying to spin up President Trump’s supporters?

A You’re asking me to speculate on what Yuriy Lutsenko, Rudy Giuliani, and John Solomon were doing, and I would suggest that’s a question for those three individuals.

Q Did it have the effect of that though?

A It’s hard for me to make an assessment since there were so many story lines put in play at the same time to assess how any one of those story lines had an effect on any given audience.

[….]

A Our primary concern was that our Ambassador and our embassy were being subjected to inaccurate accusations. But as situational awareness, we followed or tried to follow because the volume was intense, the various different
stories.

[….]

Yes, yes, let’s ask Rudy.

It sounds like the Republican minority wants to “rehabilitate” Paul Manafort. How very interesting.

Bad combover. Check. Too long red tie. Check. Orange spray tan. Check. Tiny hands. Check. Cluelessness. Check…

Previously:

George P. Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (November 9, 2019)

Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus

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This morning in west central Missouri:

Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus.
Canon 5D III, 2.8 70-200 mm, 2x III.
F 8, 1/640, ISO 1600, 400 mm.

This little one was singing loudly this morning. As I brought the camera up, he flitted away, returning a few moments later.

The underside coloration eliminated Bewick’s Wren – Thryomanes bewickii as a possible identification.

Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus.
Canon 5D III, 2.8 70-200 mm, 2x III.
F 8, 1/500, ISO 1600, 400 mm.

Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus.
Canon 5D III, 2.8 70-200 mm, 2x III.
F 8, 1/500, ISO 1600, 400 mm.

Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus.
Canon 5D III, 2.8 70-200 mm, 2x III.
F 8, 1/640, ISO 1600, 400 mm.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman: “How could it possibly be a good idea …”

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“…I’m representing my witness here and this is my client. And for you to — I mean, the insinuation — if you guys want to go down this road, God be with you. But I’m telling you it’s so apparent that — and it’s so — it’s so cynical for you to go down such a road with such a — with such an individual like this. If that’s the game you guys want to play, go at it. Okay? But we’re going to –“

It’s really a simple question.

Do you believe that is legal or acceptable for the President of the United States to extort interference in a U.S. election from a foreign government by withholding previously appropriated military aid?

The following individuals who appear in the deposition transcript hold law degrees:

Michael Volkov, legal counsel for Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman
Representative John Ratcliffe (R)
Representative Eric Swalwell (D)
Representative Mike Quigley (D)

From page 157 through 163 in the deposition:

PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE, joint with the
COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND REFORM
and the
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
WASHTNGTON, D.C.

DEPOSITION OF: LIEUTENANT COLONEL ALEXANDER S. VINDMAN

Tuesday, October 29, 2Ot9
Washington, D.C.

[….]

MR. RATCLIFFE: Okay. Then let me move on to something that you said earlier that I want you to clarify for me, Colonel Vindman. You said that — I wrote down, in talking about the investigations that they — it was your opinion that they were, quote, “not credible,” end quote, that, quote, “there seemed to be a lot of leaks,” end quote. And then you — and, again, I’m not — I wrote this down. I want to give you an opportunity to address it or clarify it. That you had conversations with Ukrainian officials about what to do regarding Mr. Giu1iani, and I wrote down that your response was that you told them to stay out of U.S. domestic issues, stay out of U.S. politics. Does that sound like what you said earlier today, on words to that effect?

LT. COL. VINDMAN: So yeah. I mean, frankly, Congressman, I think you captured like three on four different responses to three on four different questions there. I don’t think those were all, you know, in the same — same, you know, question. But I think that I guess, as individual sections, that sounds accurate, yes.

MR. RATCLIFFE: Okay. So on the issue of advising Ukrainian officials to stay out of U.S. domestic issues, is that one conversation, multiple conversations?

LT. COL. VINDMAN: I could probably — I would say that it became an increasing theme as the Ukrainians became increasingly concerned about the narrative that was emanating from Mr. Giuliani, that I would continue to get the same types of questions about what — you know, what do we do with regard to these calls for an investigation and things of that nature.

My answer would be consistent. I am not a — you know, a political individual. I’m not a political operative. I’m a professional military officer, a — you know — as designated by the National Security Council, a kind of foreign policy expert, though that might be extreme.

I would counsel them that this is outside of my wheelhouse and, frankly, you know, I don’t fu11y understand all the implications; but I would consistently also counsel them that it’s important to stay out of U.S. politics. Because if you recall, Congressman, we have Ukraine’s neighbor, who is actively engaged in war with them, was involved in 2016 election meddling, and that did not work well for the U.S. – Russian bilateral relationship. If anything, that significantly retarded that relationship.

MR. RATCLIFFE: So —

LT. COL. VINDMAN: And in order to — Congressman, I apologize. In order to avoid that kind of pitfall for what I considered to be an important ally to the United States and certainly an ally in the struggle to push back against Russian aggression, I counseled them to stay out of U.S. politics.

MR. RATCLIFFE: So after this July 25th phone call, how many of those conversations did you have and with what Ukrainian officials?

LT. COL. VINDMAN: So after the July 25th phone call, it was an extremely busy week. I know I didn’t speak to any of the Ukrainians that week. I believe in order — just for good housekeeping — I was getting ready to go on vacation. I went on vacation — I was supposed to go on vacation from the 3rd through the 18th of July. That didn’t happen. I got called back early. And I believe, in terms of good housekeeping, there was probably a conversation with the Ukrainians. My recollection is, best recollection is about the 31st of July. It’s the middle of that week right before I went on vacation, you know, we had a conversation.

MR. RATCLIFFE: Okay. Who’s “we”?

LT. COL. VINDMAN: It would be my standard counterpart, which would be the Deputy Chief of Mission for Ukraine.

MR. RATCLIFFE: And who is that?

LT. COL. VINDMAN: Oksana Shulyar. It’s in the record, Congressman.

MR. RATCLIFFE: Okay. And were you having that conversation in the course of your responsibilities and duties at the NSC?

LT. COL. VINDMAN: Absolutely.

MR. RATCLIFFE: All right. And you had authority to have those conversations?

LT. COL. VINDMAN: Absolutely.

MR. RATCLIFFE: So you — a week following you listening in on a phone call with the President of the United States making a request of the Ukrainian Government to assist in ongoing investigations, a member of his National Security Council subsequently told Ukrainian officials to do just the opposite and to ignore his request and stay out of U.S. politics. Is that what we’re to understand from your testimony today?

LT. COL. VINDMAN: That’s an interesting characterization, Congressman. I was certainly not going against the orders of my Commander in Chief. What I was suggesting is that very superficial — on at the basic 1evel, staying out of U.S. domestic politics is not a good idea. Congressman, I apologize, do you think this is —

MR. RATCLIFFE: Let me ask the question.

LT. COL. VINDMAN: Congressman, do you think this is a good idea to get involved —

MR. SWALWELL: Let him finish.

MR. RATCLIFFE: He has a lawyer here, President Swalwell.

LT. COL. VINDMAN: How could it possibly be a good idea —

MR. QUIGLEY: [Presiding.] Hold on, gentlemen. Gentlemen, let the witness finish answering this question.

LT. COL. VINDMAN: Congressman, how could it possibly be a good idea to counsel at my 1evel — I’m certainly not the President of the United States. The President of the United States has the authority to do this, I guess, I don’t know. I didn’t think it was right. And that is not a criticism against the President. I just don’t know how — a better way to put it, so I apologize.

But I, as a Director on the National Security Council, would certainly not counsel my counterpart to somehow involve themselves into U.S. domestic politics. You could take that as — I mean, I guess you could twist that into some sort of specific —

MR. RATCLIFFE: I’m not trying to twist anything.

LT. COL. VINDMAN: I guess I misunderstood the question.

MR. VOLKOV: I object to that characterization. It’s pretty obvious what you’re trying to do, sir.

MR. RATCLIFFE: Let me ask the question.

MR. VOLKOV: I’m representing my witness here and this is my client. And for you to — I mean, the insinuation — if you guys want to go down this road, God be with you. But I’m telling you it’s so apparent that — and it’s so — it’s so cynical for you to go down such a road with such a — with such an individual like this. If that’s the game you guys want to play, go at it. Okay? But we’re going to —

MR. RATCLIFFE: Let me ask my question, because what I heard —

MR. VOLKOV: You don’t have a jury here, sir. You don’t have the public here.

MR. RATCLIFFE: I understand that. I’m making a record.

MR. VOLKOV: And eventually you will and you can do it then.

MR. RATCLIFFE: I will.

MR. VOLKOV: Right now we’re going to object.

MR. RATCLIFFE: Well, you can object, but I’m going to ask this question, because the witness just testified —

MR. VOLKOV: Well —

MR. RATCLIFFE: Are you going to let me ask a question, Mr. Volkov?

MR. VOLKOV: Yes, I will. Ask a proper question.

MR. RATCLIFFE: All night. Colonel Vindman, You have spent a lot of today talking about the fact that you reported to national security lead counsel that you thought there was something wrong with respect to the conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky, correct?

MR. VOLKOV: Asked and answered. How many times are we going to go through this? I’m asking the chair, how many times are we going to go through this? Are we going to go through this over and over and over again?

MR. RATCLIFFE: Do You have an answer?

MR. VOLKOV: Wait a minute. He hasn’t had an instruction from the chain yet. Remember when you’re in front of a judge, you wait for the judge.

MR. QUIGLEY: So the question has been asked and answered, the ruling of the chair.

MR. RATCLIFFE: All night.

Colonel Vindman, on July 25th, 2O19, the President of the United States asked for the assistance of the Ukraine in connection with criminal investigation or investigations.

Your testimony a few minutes ago was that during the week of July 31, following that ca11, you advised Ukrainian officials to stay out of U.S. politics. Is that connect? I want an answer.

MR. VOLKOV: We’ve already been down this road.

MR. RATCLIFFE: No, you haven’t.

MR. VOLKOV: I object.

MR. QUIGLEY: Just one second.

MR. CICILLINE: May I raise a point of inquiry or point of order?

MR. QUIGLEY: Hold that for a second. So I believe you asked the question in terms of it being criminal, and I’m not sure that was even anywhere in the President’s comments, that he said, I’m asking you to help in a criminal investigation. The rest of the question has been asked and answered. And the time is up.

MR. CASTOR: You guys got to give him a few more minutes after all the —

MR. QUIGLEY: No, I don’t.

[….]

Mr. Ratcliffe (R) is quite a piece of work, eh?

Addressing another member of Congress (Eric Swalwell) as he did tells us all a lot about his views on comity and decorum.

Bad combover. Check. Too long red tie. Check. Orange spray tan. Check. Tiny hands. Check. Cluelessness. Check…

Previously:

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman (November 9, 2019)

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman

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It’s not a smoking gun, it’s more than that. It’s a smoldering crater.

Excerpts from a deposition:

PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE, joint with the
COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND REFORM
and the
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
WASHTNGTON, D.C.

DEPOSITION OF: LIEUTENANT COLONEL ALEXANDER S. VINDMAN

Tuesday, October 29, 2Ot9
Washington, D.C.

[….]

0n July 10th, 2019, Oleksandr Danylyuk, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council for Ukraine, visited Washington, D.C., for a meeting with National Security Advisor Bolton. Ambassadors Volker and Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry attended.

The meeting proceeded well until the Ukrainians broached the subject of a meeting between the two Presidents. The Ukrainians saw this meeting as critically important in order to solidify the support for their most important international partner. Ambassador Sondland started — when Ambassador Sondland started to speak about Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the President, Ambassador Bo1ton cut the meeting short.

Following the meeting — this meeting — there was a scheduled debriefing during which Ambassador Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigation into the 2016 elections, the Bidens, and Burisma. I stated to Ambassador Sondland that the statements — that his statements were inappropriate, that the request to investigate the Bidens and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something that the NSC was going to get involved in on push. Dr. Hill entered the room shortly thereafter and assented to Ambassador Sondland that his statements were inappropriate.

Following the debriefing, I reported my concerns to NSC’s 1ega1 counsel, Lead legal counsel. Dr. Hill also reported the incident to lead legal counsel.

[….]

Q And are you aware of any factual basis for that narrative, based on your training, experience, and knowledge of Ukraine?

A I am unaware of any factual basis for the accusations against Ambassador Yovanovitch, and I am, frankly, unaware of any authoritative basis for Ukrainian interference in 2016 elections, based on my knowledge.

[….]

Q Was this the first time that you had heard about these investigations in connection with a White House meeting?

A This ls the first time that it didn’t come from, you know — this wasn’t a — this had developed mainly — my situational awareness into this developed initially through open source and then, you know, professional communications to determine what was the substance behind some of this. But this was the first time that it emerged kind of with a government official discussing it.

[….]

Q Did Ambassador Sondland — were the Ukrainian officials in the room when he was describing the need for these investigations in order to get the White House meeting?

A So they were in the room initially. I think, once it became clean that there was some sort of discord amongst the government officials in the room, Ambassador Sondland asked them to step out of the room.

Q What was the discord?

A The fact that it was cl-ear that I, as the representative — I, as the representative of the NSC, thought it was inappropriate and that we were not going to get involved in investigations.

Q Did you say that to Ambassador Sondland?

A Yes, I did.

[….]

Q Why did you think it was not appropriate?

A I just — I thought it was inappropriate to have — to call for an investigation — to call a foreign power to investigate a U.S. citizen. In my mind, I had spent quite a bit of time in that part of the world. I understand how the justice system works. It’s not a rule of law that governs. These could all be orchestrated to achieve some sort of objective. And, in my mind, I thought it was, you know — if they thought that this was in their national security interests and they could potentially get away with it — you know, I’m not talking about the Ukrainians; I’m talking about foreign powers in general — and if they thought that it was in their national security interests — and this is a country that’s fighting a wan against Russia — and they could get away with it, I mean, why should they really care that much about domestic politics at a different country? They’re going to do what they need to to protect and advance thein own national security interests. And, you know, this would not be — if they chose to do it, they could potentially tip the scales, and this would not be a fair investigation, and it would provide, you know, compromising on maybe even fabricated information, if need be. So these things, these thoughts were all going through my mind.

[….]

And a Republican member tells a Democratic member to “shut up.”

[….]

THE CHAIRMAN: Excuse me. Excuse me. Let me just state this for the record. The whistleblower has a statutory night to anonymity. There are concerns about — and I’m –

MR. MEADOWS: Mr. Chainman, point of order.

MR. SWALWELL: Hey, Mr. Meadows, he’s the chainman. He finishes.

THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Meadows, when I’m finished.

MR. MEADOWS: I have a point of order.

THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Meadows, you may make your —

MR. SWALWELL: He’s the chainman. He finishes.

MR. MEADOWS: Shut up.

THE CHAIRMAN: Hey, Mr. Meadows, you –

MR. MEADOWS: I have a point of order. Mr. Chairman, I have a point of order.

THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Meadows, you’11 be recognized after I finish what I have to say.

[….]

[….]

MR. JORDAN: Why are you instructing him that way, counsel?

MR. VOLKOV: Because –

MR. JORDAN: I don’t cane what you say Mr. –

THE CHAIRMAN: Excuse me, Mr. Jordan, you’re not recognized.

MR. JORDAN: It’s our time.

THE CHAIRMAN: You are not recognized, and your time has expired.

MR. JORDAN: You told us you were going to give us extra time, what you took from us.

THE CHAIRMAN: And you’ve used it. And you’ve used it.

MR. JORDAN: There’s a question on the table, Mr. Chairman.

THE CHAIRMAN: It is the ruling of the chain that the witness shall not identify employees, detailees, on contractors of the intelligence agency, or provide information that may lead to the revelation of the identity of the whistleblower, someone whose life has been put at risk. The majority canes about this, and we are determined to protect the night of that whistleblower to remain anonymous. And we will not allow bad faith efforts to out this whistleblower.

[….]

There’s a whole lot more.

Bad combover. Check. Too long red tie. Check. Orange spray tan. Check. Tiny hands. Check. Cluelessness. Check…

George P. Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

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It’s not a smoking gun, it’s more than that. It’s a smoldering crater.

Excerpts from a deposition:

George P. Kent
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

Conducted on October 15, 2019

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
House Committee on Oversight and Reform
House Committee on Foreign Affairs

[….]

Q: In your belief, in your understanding, in your experience, why was the Ambassador recalled?

A: Based on what I know, Yuriy Lutsenko, as prosecutor general, vowed revenge, and provided information to Rudy Giuliani in hopes that he would spread it and lead to her removal. I believe that was the rationale for Yuriy Lutsenko doing what he did. Separately, there are individuals that I mentioned before, including Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who started reaching out actively to undermine Ambassador Yovanovitch, starting in 2018 with a meeting with former Congressman Pete Sessions on May 9th, 2018, the same day he wrote a letter to Secretary Pompeo impugning Ambassador Yovanovitch’s loyalty and suggesting that she be removed. And others also in 2018 were engaged in an effort to undermine her standing by claiming that she was disloyal. So that’s the early roots of people following their own agendas and using her as an instrument to fulfill those agendas.

[….]

Q: Following this January 9th meeting, when is the next time that you learned about any involvement of Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine matters?

A: On February 11th, there was a seminar hosted at the U.S. Institute of Peace, about the conflict in Donbas, and the Minister of Interior, Arsen Avakov, came and participated presenting his plans for what he calls a plan of small steps. We had a separate meeting, since I’m the leading policymaker focused on the region. And during that meeting, he let me know that Yuriy Lutsenko, the then-prosecutor general of Ukraine, had made a private trip to New York in which he met Rudy Giuliani. I said, did he know what the purpose was, and the Minister of Interior Avakov said it was to throw mud. And I said, throw mud at whom? And he said, a lot of people. I asked him, whom? And he said, towards Masha, towards you, towards others.

Q: Masha is Marie Yovanovitch?

A: Former Ambassador Yovanovitch, yes.

[….]

So I would say the breaking point of our disillusionment with Yuriy Lutsenko came in late 2017, by that point he had been in office for a year and a half, and there was a specific case, and it was as emblematic as the diamond prosecutor case had been for Shokin. The National Anti Corruption Bureau, NABU, became aware because of [a] complaint that there was a ring of Ukrainian state officials that were engaged in selling biometric passports, Ukrainian passports, to people who did not have the right to the passports, including foreigners. And the ring included [the] deputy head of the migration service, a woman named Pimakova (ph), as well as people collaborating in the security service of Ukraine. And, obviously, for our own integrity, you know, we want to know that a passport from a country is issued to the correct person. And as this case was developing, Lutsenko became aware of it, and this corrupt official who was sort of the apex of the scheme went to him or to the prosecutors and became essentially a cooperating witness for them. And so they basically busted up the ring or they busted up the investigation by NABU. And then he went further and exposed the undercover agents that had been a part of this case. So that’s obviously a fundamental perversion of law and order to expose undercover agents. They were actually engaged in pursuing an actual crime, whereas, he was essentially colluding with a corrupt official to undermine the investigation. And so this case was critical to us because when we searched the database it turned out that a number of the passports that had been issued as part of these schemes had gone to individuals who had applied for U.S. visas. So we were very angry and upset because this threatened our security, and it potentially also threatened their ability to retain their visa free status in the European Union.

[….]

Q: So what else did the State Department do? I mean, this seems like it is a major threat to the Ambassador, and major threat to the State Department. What type of additional full-throated maneuvers did the State Department take here?

A: The request from the embassy endorsed by the European Bureau, there should be a high-level endorsement of Ambassador Yovanovitch.

Q: And then what happened there?

A: There was no high-level Department endorsement of Ambassador Yovanovitch.

Q: What did the State Department do? You described a series of complete falsehoods in your words.

A: Yes.

Q: Fabrications, a fake list, that is going to the heart of the ability of the Ambassador to serve effectively.

A: Correct.

Q: And so is it fair to say this was a big league crisis for the Ambassador?

A: This particularly after there were Tweets by members of the Presidential family, it was clearly a crisis for Ambassador Yovanovitch and a crisis that was threating to consume the relationship. So our recommendation to our superiors was that there should be a clear statement of support for Ambassador Yovanovitch.

[….]

Q: And what does the State Department do? It didn’t seem like the efforts were sufficient.

A: There were exchanges at this point with officials, including, to the best of my recollection, Under Secretary Hale. It may have included the Counselor of the Department, Brechbuhl, at that point. And there was a suggestion made, and I can’t remember by whom, initially, but eventually, Gordon Sondland, our Ambassador to the E.U. also joined some of the back and forth that Ambassador Yovanovitch should issue a statement, or do a video or tweet declaring full support for the foreign policy of President Trump, essentially asking her to defend herself as opposed to having the State Department defend her.

[….]

Q: On April 29th, Bill Taylor sent a WhatsApp message to Kurt Volker describing a conversation that you had with Bill Taylor in which you talked about two, quote, two snake pits, one in Kyiv, and one in Washington. And then Mr. Taylor went on to say that you, Mr. Kent, described much more than he knew, and it was very ugly. Do you recall having that conversation along these lines with Mr. Taylor?

A: I had many conversations with Chargé Taylor, and my reference to the snake pits would have been in the context of having had our Ambassador just removed through actions by corrupt Ukrainians in Ukraine as well as private American citizens back here. Q: And what corrupt Ukrainians in the Ukraine were you talking about? A: The series of corrupt former—or still current prosecutors who engaged former Mayor Giuliani and his associates, and those included former Prosecutor General Shokin, the then Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, who no longer is, the special anticorruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky, and another deputy prosecutor general named Kostiantyn Kulyk.

[….]

Q: Did you have any discussions with anyone else at the State Department by midJuly, and time up to mid-July or prior to, about Mr. Giuliani’s potential influence on the President and the fact that what he was advocating may be contrary to official U.S. policy?

A: I did not, in part because after Giuliani attacked me, as well as Ambassador Yovanovitch and the entire embassy, in his late May interview, I was told to keep my head down and lower my profile in Ukraine.

Q: Who told you that?

A: The message was relayed from my supervisor, Acting Assistant Secretary Reeker message relayed [sic] from Under Secretary Hale.

Q: Do you know if it became [sic] from above Under Secretary Hale?

A: All I know is that Assistant Secretary Reeker, after a meeting with Under Secretary Hale said that Under Secretary Hale had directed me to keep my head down and a lower profile in Ukraine.

[….]

Q: Following that meeting you said that Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland and Ambassador Volker had asserted that they were leading Ukrainian policy efforts? Did I get that right?

A: Correct.

Q: Who had asserted that?

A: Well, the three of them asserted that. And citing the fact that they had briefed the President coming out of that meeting, they felt they had the mandate to take the lead on coordinating efforts to engage the new Ukrainian leadership.

[….]

I do not recall whether the follow-on conversation I had with Kurt about this was in Toronto, or whether it was subsequently at the State Department. But he did tell me that he planned to start reaching out to the former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. And when I asked him why, he said that it was clear that the former mayor had influence on the President in terms of the way the President thought of Ukraine. And I think by that moment in time, that was self-evident to anyone who was working on the issues, and therefore, it made sense to try to engage the mayor. When I raised with Kurt, I said, about what? Because former Mayor Giuliani has a track record of, you know, asking for a visa for a corrupt former prosecutor. He attacked Masha, and he’s tweeting that the new President needs to investigate Biden and the 2016 campaign. And Kurt’s reaction, or response to me at that was, well, if there’s nothing there, what does it matter? And if there is something there, it should be investigated. My response to him was asking another country to investigate a prosecution for political reasons undermines our advocacy of the rule of law.

[….]

A: It was described as a hold, not a freeze. There was a representative of the Office of Management and Budget. I was at the State Department in a secure video conference. I did not recognize the face. And I believe the individual representing OMB at the time was not normally the person who did. It was the summer vacation cycles. And he just stated to the rest of the those [sic] participants, either in person or video screens, that the head of the Office of Management and Budget who was the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, at the direction of the President had put a hold on all security assistance to the Ukraine.

Q: Mulvaney had put a hold at the direction of the President. Is that what you heard?

A: That is what the representative of the Office of Management and Budget stated in the sub-PCC on July 18th, yes.

Q: Was there any discussion following that announcement?

A: There was great confusion among the rest of us because we didn’t understand why that had happened. …

Q: Did OMB provide any reasoning beyond simply it was at the direction of the President?

A: Not to my recollection, no.

Q: So they didn’t describe why the President had placed this hold?

A: There was a lack of clarity.

Q: What do you mean by that?

A: The participants who up until that point had thought that there was unanimity that this was in our national interest did not receive an explanation for why this particular action was taken.

[….]

Q: What did he tell you to the best of your recollection?

A: It was different than any read-out call that I had received. He felt—I could hear it in his voice and his hesitancy that he felt uncomfortable. He actually said that he could not share the majority of what was discussed because of the very sensitive nature of what was discussed. He first described the atmospherics and compared it to the previous call, which was April 21st. That had been a short, bubbly, positive, congratulatory call from someone who had just won an election with 73 percent. He said this one was much more, the tone was cooler, reserved. That President Zelensky tried to turn on the charm, and he is a comedian and a communicator, but that the dynamics didn’t click in the way that they had on April 21st. Again, he did not share the majority of what was said. I learned the majority of the content after reading the declassified read-out. He did share several points. He mentioned that the characterization of the Ambassador as bad news. And then he paused, and said, and then the conversation went into the direction of some of the most extreme narratives that have been discussed publicly. That’s all he said. Later on, he said that he made reference to a back and forth about the prosecutor general, that would be Lutsenko, saying, you’ve got a good guy, your prosecutor general, and he’s being attacked by bad guys around you, is how I recall Lieutenant Colonel Vindman characterizing it. And then he, in summation, he said in his assessment, Zelensky did not cross any line. He said that Zelensky said, if anything bad had happened in the past, that was the old team. I’m a new guy, I’ve got a new team, and anything we do will be transparent and honest.

Q: And is that as much as you can remember from your—

A: And then there was—I think the last thing that Lieutenant Colonel Vindman mentioned was there about a brief mention by Zelensky about U.S.—interested in working on energy-related issues. Previously, I should have said, at the front earlier in the conversation, that he said that[,] Lieutenant Colonel Vindman told me that President Zelensky had thanked the U.S. for all of its military assistance. That the U.S. did a lot for Ukraine. And Lieutenant Colonel Vindman told me that the President replied, yes, we do, and it’s not reciprocal.

[….]

Q: I want to ask you actually about what the President said, because he didn’t talk generically about corruption. He asked for a favor involving an investigation into CrowdStrike and that conspiracy theory and for an investigation into the Bidens. Is it appropriate for the President of the United States in the context of an ally seeking military support to ask that ally to investigate his political rival?

A: The first time I had detailed knowledge of that narrative was after the White House declassified the transcript that was prepared—not transcript, the record of conversation that was prepared by staff at the White House. As a general principle, I do not believe the U.S. should ask other countries to engage in politically associated investigations and prosecutions.

Q: Particularly those that may interfere with the U.S. election?

A: As a general principle, I don’t think that as a matter of policy the U.S. should do that period, because I have spent much of my career trying to improve the rule of law. And in countries like Ukraine and Georgia, both of which want to join NATO, both of which have enjoyed billions of dollars of assistance from Congress, there is an outstanding issue about people in office in those countries using selectively politically motivated prosecutions to go after their opponents. And that’s wrong for the rule of law regardless of what country that happens.

Q: And since that is really U.S. policy to further the rule of law and to discourage political investigations, having the President of the United States effectively ask for a political investigation of his opponent would run directly contrary to all of the anticorruption efforts that we were making. Is that a fair statement?

A: I would say that request does not align with what has been our policy towards Ukraine and many other countries, yes. …

A: I believe it is a matter of U.S. policy and practice, particularly since I have worked in the area of promoting the rule of law, that politically related prosecutions are not the way of promoting the rule of law, they undermine the rule of law.

Q: But is that written as a policy somewhere or is that just standard practice?

A: I have never been in a position or a meeting where I’ve heard somebody suggest that politically motivated prosecutions are in the U.S. national interest.

[….]

Frankly, what a private citizen tweets is an exercise in one way of First Amendment rights, but when you have U.S. Government employees, or in this case, a special U.S. Government employee potentially seemingly to align to that view, that’s when it became real for me and a matter of concern. And that was, as I said, I said the 15th or the 16th, because the next day, I had a conversation with Chargé Taylor in which he amplified the same theme. And he indicated that Special Representative Volker had been engaging Andriy Yermak; that the President and his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, were interested in the initiation of investigations; and that Yermak was very uncomfortable when this was raised with him, and suggested that if that were the case, if that were really the position of the United States, it should be done officially and put in writing, essentially what I described to Catherine the day before, which is the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty option. And I told Bill Taylor, that’s wrong, and we shouldn’t be doing that as a matter of U.S. policy.

[….]

A: And so after having had these two conversations, I wrote a note to the file saying that I had concerns that there was an effort to initiate politically motivated prosecutions that were injurious to the rule of law, both Ukraine and the U.S. I informed the senior official still present and the European Bureau at 7:30 on a Friday night in the middle of the summer, which was Michael Murphy, and informed him of my intent to write a note to the file, which he agreed was the right thing to do.

Q: And when you say politically motivated investigations, are you referring to investigations that were also referenced in that July 25 call record?

A: At the time, I had no knowledge of the specifics of the call record, but based on Bill Taylor’s account of the engagements with Andriy Yermak that were engagements of Yermak with Kurt Volker, at that point it was clear that the investigations that were being suggested were the ones that Rudy Giuliani had been tweeting about, meaning Biden, Burisma, and 2016.

Q: And I understand you didn’t know the contents of the call record, but now being able to read the call record as you have, you are referring to the Biden investigation that the President mentioned, as well as the CrowdStrike 2016 investigation. Is that right?

A: Those align with the Rudy Giuliani tweet. I think it was June 21, as well as some of the other story lines from earlier in the spring before President Zelensky was elected.

[….]

A: I came back after Labor Day. The next communication or data point that I can recall was a WhatsApp message that Chargé Taylor sent me on September 7, which would have been, I think, the Saturday after Labor Day.

Q: And what did that WhatsApp message say?

A: Chargé Taylor indicated that he had talked to Tim Morrison, who is the senior director for Europe, who replaced Fiona Hill. And Tim indicated that he had talked to Gordon. And Gordon had told him, Tim, and Tim told Bill Taylor, that he, Gordon, had talked to the President, POTUS in sort of shorthand, and POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton.

… Q: Okay. Moments ago you referenced the name Clinton?

A: What I said—

Q: Could you just go through that again?

A: Right. Q: I haven’t heard that name lately.

A: That was a message—that was described in the shorthand of the desire to have— this was the Gordon Sondland messaging of what the Ukrainians need to say in shorthand 2016. And in shorthand, it was suggested that the Ukrainians needed— Zelensky needed to go to a microphone and basically there needed to be three words in the message, and that was the shorthand.

Q: Clinton was shorthand for 2016?

A: 2016, yes.

[….]

A: I did have several interactions with other State Department officials on Tuesday, October 1st.

Q: With whom?

A: With the director general of the Foreign Service, and with the acting L [Acting Legal Adviser], so to speak, Marek [Marik] String.

Q: And what was the purpose of those conversations?

A: I approached the director general late in the afternoon—mid-afternoon on October 1st, because I had not had any contact from any member on the leadership of the Department. And there was a letter sent to these committees that characterized interactions that I do not feel was accurate.

Q: Can you explain what you didn’t feel was accurate?

A: Well, there was a line in there that the committees had been attempting to bully, intimidate, and threaten career foreign service officers. And I was one of two career foreign service officers which had received letters from the committees, and I had not felt bullied, threatened, and intimidated. There was another line in there that suggested that the career Foreign Service officers had requested the committees to route all communications through House liaison and I think your colleague who—[Committee staff], who sent the initial email on Friday night received my reply, which indicated that I acknowledged receipt, and that our congressional liaison had requested that the information be routed to them. So I was concerned that the letter itself did not accurately characterize the interaction.

Q: When you’re talking about the letter, you’re talking about the letter from Secretary Pompeo?

A: Correct.

[….]

Bad combover. Check. Too long red tie. Check. Orange spray tan. Check. Tiny hands. Check. Cluelessness. Check…

Dr. Fiona Hill, Former Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia, National Security Council

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Forget the smoking gun, it’s way beyond that. It’s a smoldering crater.

Dr. Fiona Hill Former Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia, National Security Council

Conducted on October 14, 2019

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
House Committee on Oversight and Reform
House Committee on Foreign Affairs

[….]
A: And Ambassador Sondland, in front of the Ukrainians, as I came in, was talking about how he had an agreement with Chief of Staff Mulvaney for a meeting with the Ukrainians if they were going to go forward with investigations. And my director for Ukraine was looking completely alarmed. And I came in again as this discussion was underway. … And I said: Look, I don’t know what’s going on here, but Ambassador Bolton wants to make it very clear that we have to talk about, you know, how are we going to set up this meeting. It has to go through proper procedures. And he started to basically talk about discussions that he had had with the chief of staff. He mentioned Mr. Giuliani, but then I cut him off because I didn’t want to get further into this discussion at all. …

Q: So it was you personally who heard Ambassador Sondland mention Burisma—

A: Correct.

Q: —in the Ward Room?

A: Correct. And Wells had been sitting with me in Ambassador Bolton’s office when the initial meeting took place, and he also understood it was a redirect.

Q: And Mr. Vindman was also there—

A: Correct.

Q: —and heard it?

A: And Kurt Volker.[….]

[….]
A: And I went back to talk to Ambassador Bolton. And Ambassador Bolton asked me to go over and report this to our NSC counsel, to John Eisenberg. And he told me, and this is a direct quote from Ambassador Bolton: You go and tell Eisenberg that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this, and you go and tell him what you’ve heard and what I’ve said. So I went over to talk to John Eisenberg about this. …

Q: And in that initial brief conversation, do you recall what you said and what he said?

A: Yeah. I told him exactly, you know, what had transpired and that Ambassador Sondland had basically indicated that there was agreement with the chief of staff that they would have a White House meeting or, you know, a Presidential meeting if the Ukrainians started up these investigations again. And the main thing that I was personally concerned about, as I said to John, was that he did this in front of the Ukrainians.[….]

[….]
Q: At my peril, I’m trying to figure out whether this is just complete fiction that was pitched to a reporter and has been completely debunked based on information you have or whether there’s any other explanation for this—

A: It is a fiction that the Ukrainian Government was launching an effort to upend our election, upend our election to mess with our Democratic systems….

Q: I’m just asking you about—

A: Because if you’re also trying to peddle an alternative variation of whether the Ukrainians subverted our election, I don’t want to be a part of that, and I will not be part of it.

Q: I’m not trying to peddle anything. I’m trying to ask you about what information you have regarding these. And, you know, frankly, if we didn’t have such a—

A: But you’re asking me about an article that was written in Politico in January of 2017.

Q: And I probably wouldn’t have returned to it, but it was just such a passionate rebuke of this article that just—

A: Well, it’s the thrust of the question that you’re asking here, which is to basically—you know, what we’re dealing with now is a situation where we are at risk of saying that everything that happened in 2016 was a result of Ukraine in some fashion.

Q: Yeah. I’m not saying that. I’m not—

A: Well, that’s certainly what it sounds like to me. I’m just trying to basically say here that I have very—you know, obviously strong feelings about our national security. And I just want to, if I’ve done anything, leave a message to you that we should all be greatly concerned about what the Russians intend to do in 2020. And any information that they can provide, you know, that basically deflects our attention away from what they did and what they’re planning on doing is very useful to them [….]

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R): he thinks we’re all too stupid to remember to breathe

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Gaslighting.

Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (r) [2014 file photo].

Yesterday afternoon:

Blaine Luetkemeyer @RepBlaine
Today I sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff demanding the release of all transcripts from their secret impeachment depositions. Despite promising increased transparency, this investigation continues to happen behind closed doors and completely on Democrats’ terms.
[….]
3:36 PM · Nov 7, 2019

Benghazi!

There was much hilarity in the responses:

Where have you been?

Many of the transcripts have been released already!!!!

Reading is hard…

Republicans on these committees have access to it all. Whether or not they choose to exercise that right is their call. Maybe you should pen a letter to those who chose to not attend the depositions.

Hmm, did no one tell you about all the transcripts they released this week? You know, the ones your GOP colleagues participated in? I know, a bunch of them blew the depositions off so they could have talking points but we both know BS when we see it, right?

[….]I’ve only seen this identical tweet by like 12 other Republicans. Working yet?

Absolutely, let’s get all the information about Trump’s wrongdoing out in public.

We see what you did there.

They weren’t secret, the GOP members of the intelligence committee were allow into the depositions, which were held in accordance to the congressional rules republicans concocted and passed. Next week everything will be televised and you’ll complain about something else.

So you mean just like every investigation under GOP control except those turned up absolutely nothing of consequence while this one just keeps rolling out result after result after result? Also, transcripts ARE being released, but GOP folks say they won’t read ’em… Which is it?

That’s gaslighting for you.

How secret are they, Blaine? Meadows was tweeting earlier about the deposition he was present for.

Instead of tweeting about the fancy letters you’ve been writing, just ask Mark.

The WH must have threatened to primary you. Perhaps you should share the number of Republican House members involved in these “secret” investigations. Plus, this tweet seems a bit outdated. Transcripts being made public & open hearings beginning soon.

Wow you wrote a letter? Amazing stuff! Should we tune in tomorrow to see you mail the letter!?! I can’t wait the suspense is killing me!

Actually, the next step is a harshly worded memo.

Does it take effort to be this craven and disingenuous and is this a skill you’ve honed over time? Or does it come naturally?

Every time y’all demand stuff, they release it, and then y’all say the incriminating evidence doesn’t matter. Go gaslight your wife and leave us alone.

They’ve released transcripts everyday this week and public hearings are starting next week. So what exactly was the point of your letter?

Ready for the public hearings? I am!

They’re being released but you’re too busy grandstanding to notice.

You are a dollar short and a day late. Maybe you don’t have a television or access to the internet, so I’ll tell you, they been releasing them! You guys are tragic with your ineptness and inability to find a way to defend the indefensible! Find a new lie to cover the old ones.

They are being released. You know this, yet tweet nonsense anyway. You are a sorry excuse for an elected official.

Who in their right mind voted for you?
Seems like you don’t stay up to date with developments.
BTW: Are you bothering to read the transcripts as they are released?

Bad combover. Check. Too long red tie. Check. Orange spray tan. Check. Tiny hands. Check. Cluelessness. Check…

Liar and Grifter in Chief

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Accountability.

“…Mr. Trump admits to personally misusing funds at the Trump Foundation, and agrees to restrictions on future charitable service and ongoing reporting to the Office of the Attorney General in the event he creates a new charity. The settlements also include mandatory training requirements for Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump. Finally, the settlements name the charities that will receive the remaining assets of the Trump Foundation as part of its dissolution…”

“…The third stipulation includes 19 paragraphs of factual admissions by Mr. Trump and the Foundation of illegal activity…”

“…The $1.78 million in assets currently being held by the Trump Foundation, along with the $2 million in damages to be paid by Mr. Trump, will be disbursed equally to eight charities: Army Emergency Relief, the Children’s Aid Society, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, United Negro College Fund, United Way of National Capital Area, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The charities — which were required as part of the resolution to be entities that did not have any relationship with Mr. Trump or entities he controlled — were approved by the Office of the Attorney General and the court…”

Last night:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
[….]
6:08 PM · Nov 7, 2019

From the New York State Attorney General:

AG James Secures Court Order Against Donald J. Trump, Trump Children, And Trump Foundation
AG James Achieves Restitution of Misused Funds, Dissolution of Foundation, and Restrictions on Charitable Activity After Donald J. Trump’s Abuse of the Trump Foundation
Trump to Pay $2 Million in Damages for Illegal Activity During 2016 Election

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that the New York Supreme Court ordered Donald J. Trump to pay $2 million in damages for improperly using charitable assets to intervene in the 2016 presidential primaries and further his own political interests. The award is part of Attorney General James’ lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation and its directors — Mr. Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump.

As part of the settlement, Attorney General James also announced that her office entered into multiple stipulations with the Trump Foundation and its directors to resolve the remaining claims in the lawsuit. Chiefly, Mr. Trump admits to personally misusing funds at the Trump Foundation, and agrees to restrictions on future charitable service and ongoing reporting to the Office of the Attorney General in the event he creates a new charity. The settlements also include mandatory training requirements for Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump. Finally, the settlements name the charities that will receive the remaining assets of the Trump Foundation as part of its dissolution.

“The Trump Foundation has shut down, funds that were illegally misused are being restored, the president will be subject to ongoing supervision by my office, and the Trump children had to undergo compulsory training to ensure this type of illegal activity never takes place again,” said Attorney General James. “The court’s decision, together with the settlements we negotiated, are a major victory in our efforts to protect charitable assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal gain. My office will continue to fight for accountability because no one is above the law — not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the President of the United States.”

The lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation was filed in June 2018 — charging the Foundation’s directors with ignoring their oversight duties under New York’s charity laws and demonstrating how Mr. Trump repeatedly used Foundation money for his own personal, business, and political interests, including the unlawful coordination with his 2016 presidential campaign. In the first half of 2016 — at the height of the Republican primaries — Mr. Trump used Foundation money, raised from the public, to demonstrate his purported generosity and attract votes. Mr. Trump and his campaign doled out $500,000 at a campaign rally in the days leading up to the first primary election in the nation, the Iowa caucuses, then took credit for all $2.8 million in grants the Foundation made.

In her decision ordering Mr. Trump to pay $2 million, Justice Saliann Scarpulla said, “…Mr. Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation and that waste occurred to the Foundation. Mr. Trump’s fiduciary duty breaches included allowing his campaign to orchestrate the Fundraiser, allowing his campaign, instead of the Foundation, to direct distribution of the Funds, and using the Fundraiser and distribution of the Funds to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.”

In total, the Office of the Attorney General has entered into four stipulation agreements as part of this settlement.

Last year, in December 2018, following a court decision in favor of the Attorney General’s Office, the first stipulation took effect when the Trump Foundation agreed to shutter its doors and dissolve under court supervision. In October 2019, the Office of the Attorney General entered three additional stipulations. One stipulation ensures that the Foundation’s remaining assets will go to reputable charities approved by Attorney General James and that have no connection to Mr. Trump or his family members. Another stipulation ensures that Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump received training on the duties of officers and directors of charities so that they cannot allow the illegal activity they oversaw at the Trump Foundation to take place again.

The third stipulation includes 19 paragraphs of factual admissions by Mr. Trump and the Foundation of illegal activity. Mr. Trump admitted that the Foundation’s board of directors — of which he was chair — failed to meet, failed to provide oversight over the Foundation, and failed to adopt legally required policies and procedures. He also admitted that these failures “contributed to the Foundation’s participation” in seven related party transactions described in the settlement document and in the Attorney General’s lawsuit.

Mr. Trump and the Foundation have admitted key facts about their illegal political coordination with the Trump campaign, including that a purported Foundation fundraiser in January 2016 was in fact a campaign event, and that Foundation gave the Trump campaign complete control over the timing, amounts, and recipients of the $2.8 million raised through that event. Mr. Trump further admits that he and his campaign took credit for the grants that the Foundation made with funds that had been raised from the public. Justice Scarpulla noted in her decision that “Mr. Trump’s campaign, rather than the Foundation: (1) ‘planned’ and ‘organized’ the Fundraiser; and (2) ‘directed the timing, amounts, and recipients of the Foundation’s grants to charitable organizations supporting military veterans.’”

Additionally, Mr. Trump admitted a number of key facts about the other self-dealing transactions he initiated as chair — specifically, that he used Foundation funds to settle legal obligations of companies he controlled, and that the Foundation paid for a portrait of Mr. Trump that cost $10,000. As separate piece of the settlement Donald Trump Jr. reimbursed the Foundation for the cost of the portrait. The settlement also requires the Foundation to be reimbursed $11,525 for sports paraphernalia and champagne purchased at a charity gala.

Finally, the settlement agreement imposes a regime of restrictions on any future service by Mr. Trump on a charity’s board of directors, including a total ban on any self-dealing. Any charity he joins as a director must have a majority of independent directors, must engage counsel with expertise in New York not-for-profit law, and must engage the services of an accounting firm to monitor and audit the organization’s grants and expenses. If Mr. Trump forms a new charity, such an organization must comply with these requirements, and also report to the Office of the Attorney General for five years.

The $1.78 million in assets currently being held by the Trump Foundation, along with the $2 million in damages to be paid by Mr. Trump, will be disbursed equally to eight charities: Army Emergency Relief, the Children’s Aid Society, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, United Negro College Fund, United Way of National Capital Area, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The charities — which were required as part of the resolution to be entities that did not have any relationship with Mr. Trump or entities he controlled — were approved by the Office of the Attorney General and the court.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Yael Fuchs, Co-Chief of the Enforcement Section of the Charities Bureau; Assistant Attorneys General Steven Shiffman and Peggy Farber of the Charities Bureau; with assistance from Senior Counsel Matthew Colangelo and former Special Counsel Laura Wood. James Sheehan is the Chief of the Charities Bureau, and Karin Kunstler Goldman is the Deputy Chief. The Charities Bureau is a bureau of the Division of Social Justice, headed by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux.

Bad combover. Check. Too long red tie. Check. Orange spray tan. Check. Tiny hands. Check. Cluelessness. Check…