“…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
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTAT]VES,
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
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.
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
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
Yes, yes, let’s ask Rudy.
It sounds like the Republican minority wants to “rehabilitate” Paul Manafort. How very interesting.