Key Quotes From Trump Administration Testimony

AMBASSADOR GORDON SONDLAND

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union

Testimony: October 17, 2019 + November 20, 2019 

Key Quotes:

Was there a ‘quid pro quo?‘ As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

“We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the president’s orders.

“I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations.

“In my opinion, security aid to Ukraine was in our vital national interest and should not have been delayed for any reason.”

“However, President Trump was skeptical that Ukraine was serious about reforms and anti-corruption, and he directed those of us present at the meeting to talk to Mr. Giuliani, his personal attorney, about his concerns. It was apparent to all of us that  the key to changing the President’s mind on Ukraine was Mr. Giuliani. It is my understanding that Energy Secretary Perry and Special Envoy Volker took the lead on reaching out to Mr. Giuliani, as the President had directed.”

“We were also disappointed by the President’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani. Our view was that the men and women of the State Department, not the President’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for all aspects of U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine. However, based on the President’s direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening U.S.-Ukrainian ties and furthering long-held U.S. foreign policy goals in the region; or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President’s concerns.” 

LIEUTENANT COLONEL ALEXANDER VINDMAN 

National Security Council Director for European Affairs

Testimony: October 29, 2019 + November 19, 2019

Key Quotes:

“In the Spring of 2019, I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency. This narrative was harmful to U.S. government policy.” 

“Amb. Sondland started to speak about Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the President, at which time Ambassador Bolton cut the meeting short. Following this meeting, there was a scheduled debriefing during which Amb. Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma. I stated to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate, that the request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something the NSC was going to get involved in or push. Dr. Hill then entered the room and asserted to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate. Following the debriefing meeting, I reported my concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel. Dr. Hill also reported the incident to the NSC’s lead counsel.”

“On July 25, 2019, the call occurred. I listened in on the call in the situation room with White House colleagues. I was concerned by the call. What I heard was inappropriate and I reported my concerns. It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a US citizen and a political opponent. I was also clear that if Ukraine pursued investigation, it was also clear that if Ukraine pursued investigation into the 2016 elections, the Bidens and Burisma, it would be interpreted as a partisan play. This would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing bipartisan support, undermining US national security and advancing Russia’s strategic objectives in the region.

AMBASSADOR BILL TAYLOR 

Former Ambassador to Ukraine, Former Chargé d’Affaires for Ukraine

Testimony: October 22, 2019 + November 13, 2019

Key Quotes:

“But President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference. Ambassador Sondland and I spoke on the phone. He said he had talked to President Trump as I had suggested a week earlier, but that President Trump was adamant that President Zelensky, himself, had to “clear things up and do it in public.” President Trump said it was not a “quid pro quo.” Ambassador Sondland said that he had talked to President Zelensky and Mr. Yermak and told them that, although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate. We understood a stalemate to mean that Ukraine would not receive the much-needed military assistance. Ambassador Sondland said that this conversation concluded with President Zelensky agreeing to make a public statement in an interview with CNN.”

“On September 25 at the UN General Assembly session in New York City, President Trump met President Zelensky face-to -face. He also released the transcript of the July 25 call. The United States gave the Ukrainians virtually no notice of the release, and they were livid. Although this was the first time I had seen the details of President Trump’ s July 25 call with President Zelensky, in which he mentioned Vice President Biden, had come to understand well before then that ‘investigations’ was a term that Ambassadors Volker and Sondland used to mean matters related to the 2016 elections, and to investigations of Burisma and the Bidens.”

“Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check.”

“I said on September 9 in a message to Ambassador Gordon Sondland that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be ‘crazy.’ I believed that then, and I still believe that.”

By mid-July it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on the investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. It was also clear that this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel I had come to understand was guided by Mr. Giuliani.”

“By mid-August, because the security assistance had been held for over a month for no reason that I could discern, I was beginning to fear that the longstanding U.S. policy of strong support for Ukraine was shifting.”

“I wrote and transmitted such a cable on August 29 describing the “folly in withholding military aid to Ukraine at a time when hostilities were still active in the east and when Russia was watching closely to gauge the level of American support for the Ukrainian government. I told the Secretary that I could not and would not defend such a policy.”

I wrote that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be ‘crazy.’ I believed that then, and I believe it now.”

AMBASSADOR KURT VOLKER

Former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine

Testimony: October 3, 2019

Source: Opening Statement, Axios

Key Quotes:

“I think the allegations against Vice President Biden are self-serving and not credible.”

Text to Andrey Yermak: Heard from White House—assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / “get to the bottom of what happened” in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. 

AMBASSADOR MARIE YOVANOVITCH 

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine

Testimony: October 11, 2019 + November 15, 2019

Source: Opening Statement

Key Quotes:

Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray and shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.

Q: And now, the president in real-time is attacking you. What effect do you think that has on other witnesses’ willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?
“Well, it’s very intimidating.”

“Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the President, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an Ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives. To make matters worse, all of this occurred during an especially challenging time in bilateral relations with a newly elected Ukrainian president. This was precisely the time when continuity in the Embassy in Ukraine was most needed.”

“Today, we see the State Department attacked and hollowed out from within.”

“I was shocked and devastated that I would feature in a phone call between two heads of state in such a manner, where President Trump said that I was ‘bad news’ to another world leader and that I would be ‘going through some things.'”

AMBASSADOR MICHAEL MCKINLEY

Former Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Testimony: October 16, 2019

Source: New York Times 

Key Quotes:

“The timing of my resignation was the result of two overriding concerns: the failure, in my view, of the State Department to offer support to Foreign Service employees caught up in the Impeachment Inquiry on Ukraine; and, second, by what appears to be the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance domestic political objectives.”

“I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents. I was convinced that this would also have a serious impact on foreign service morale and the integrity of our work overseas.”

“Since I began my career in 1982, I have served my country and every President loyally. Under current circumstances, however, I could no longer look the other way as colleagues are denied the professional support and respect they deserve from us all.”

DR. FIONA HILL

Former Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian affairs on the National Security Council

Testimony: October 14, 2019 + November 21, 2019

Key Quotes:

“[Sondland] was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy.”

“I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary, and that Ukraine—not Russia—attacked us in 2016. These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes.”

Reported 

Quoting Former National Security Advisor John Bolton: “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up.”

Quoting Former National Security Advisor John Bolton: “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.” 

[T]estified that Mr. Giuliani and his allies circumvented the usual national security process to run their own foreign policy efforts, leaving the president’s official advisers aware of the rogue operation yet powerless to stop it. At one point, she confronted Mr. Sondland, who had inserted himself into dealings with Ukraine even though it was not part of his official portfolio, according to the people informed about Ms. Hill’s testimony. He told her that he was in charge of Ukraine, a moment she compared to Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr.’s declaration that he was in charge after the Ronald Reagan assassination attempt, according to those who heard the testimony. According to whom, she asked. The president, he answered.

[…] But she confirmed that the administration leveraged a coveted White House invitation for Mr. Zelensky to a commitment to investigate corruption, which was seen as code for investigating Democrats.

Reported 

Testified that she viewed Ambassador Sondland as a potential national security risk because he was so unprepared for his job, according to two people familiar with her private testimony.

GEORGE KENT

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State 

Testimony: October 15, 2019

Source: NBC

Key Quotes:

“The President wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton.”

Reported – Rep. Connolly on Kent testimony

According to Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who was present for the deposition, Kent testified that Mulvaney oversaw a meeting where he sidelined State Department officials and tapped three political appointees — Energy Secretary Rick Perry, European Ambassador Gordon Sondland and special envoy Kurt Volker — to oversee Ukraine policy for the United States.

Kent told congressional investigators that the trio called themselves “the three amigos” and elbowed all the other officials at State out of the way, according to Connolly.

According to Connolly, Kent also testified that after the May 23 meeting, he was told to “lay low” by a superior when he raised concerns about Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was working to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

DAVID HOLMES

U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine

Testimony: November 21, 2019

Key Quotes:

“Ambassador Sondland agreed that the President did not “give a shit about Ukraine.” I asked why not, and Ambassador Sondland stated that the President only cares about “big stuff.” I noted that there was “big stuff” going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia, and Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant “big stuff” that benefits the President, like the “Biden investigation” that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.”

“Of course the President is pressing for a Biden investigation before he’ll do these things the Ukrainians want… It was obvious, what the president was pressing for.

“[In March 2019] our support for Ukrainian democratic resistance to Russian aggression became overshadowed by a political agenda promoted by Rudy Giuliani and a cadre of officials operating with a direct channel to the White House.

MICK MULVANEY 

Acting Chief of Staff

Testimony: October 17, 2019

Source: Press Conference

Key Quotes:

“He’s like, ‘Look, this is a corrupt place. I don’t want to send them a bunch of money and have them waste it, have them spend it, have them use it to line their own pockets. Plus, I’m not sure that the other European countries are helping them out either.’ […] So that was — those were the driving factors. Did he also mention to me in pass the corruption related to the DNC server?  Absolutely. No question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money […] The look back to what happened in 2016 — certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. And that is absolutely appropriate.”

Q: And withholding the funding?
A: Yeah. Which ultimately, then, flowed.

Q: But to be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is: Funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happens as well.
A: We do that all the time with foreign policy.  

“Again, I was involved with the process by which the money was held up temporarily, okay?  Three issues for that: the corruption of the country; whether or not other countries were participating in the support of the Ukraine; and whether or not they were cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our Department of Justice.  That’s completely legitimate.”

“You may not like the fact that Giuliani was involved. That’s great. That’s fine. It’s not illegal. It’s not impeachable. The President gets to use who he wants to use. If the President wants to fire me today and hire somebody else, he can […] The President gets to set foreign policy and he gets to choose who to do so. As long as he doesn’t violate any law — okay? — and he doesn’t violate laws regarding confidential information or classified material or anything like that, the President gets to use who he wants to use.”

Q: Did the President direct you or anyone else to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine?
A: Um, yeah.  The — when was it?  It was the May meeting, and I think this has been widely reported. 

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