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