Impeachment depositions by topic

The following list takes key quotes from the deposition transcripts released so far in the impeachment inquiry. The key quotes are organized by topic.

The intent is to illustrate how these crucial parts of the story are corroborated by multiple witnesses.

Yovanovitch was wrongly removed

  • KENT: “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.” (181)
  • KENT: We “had our Ambassador just removed through actions by corrupt Ukrainians in Ukraine as well as private American citizens back here…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.” (133-134)
  • MCKINLEY: ”   the transcript of the President’s telephone conversation with President Zelensky, which included negative comments on Ambassador Yovanovitch. The disparagement of a career diplomat doing her job was unacceptable to me.” (22)
  • MCKINLEY: “… as the ‘information began to flow after the whistleblower account…it became very evident just how much was political in her removal.” (35)
  • YOVANOVITCH: At the end of 2018, she learned “there had been a number of meetings between Mr. Lutsenko and Mayor Giuliani, and that they were looking—I should say that Mr. Lutsenko was looking to hurt me in the U.S…. Lutsenko was not pleased that—that we continued at the embassy to call for cleaning up the PGO, the Prosecutor General’s Office…” (31-32)
  • YOVANOVITCH: “…one of the senior Ukrainian officials was very concerned, and told me I really needed to watch my back…Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, who were working with Mayor Giuliani, and that they had set up the meetings for Mr. Giuliani with Mr. Lutsenko. And that they were interested in having a different ambassador at post, I guess for—because they wanted to have business dealings in Ukraine, or additional business dealings.” (41)
  • VINDMAN: “I am unaware of any factual basis for the accusations against Ambassador Yovanovitch…” (23)
  • VINDMAN: “Lutsenko, who was at that point [March] in — for the purpose of self-preservation for himself and the President at the time, President Poroshenko, was advancing a narrative undermining the Ambassador in Ukraine, Ambassador Yovanovitch. So, at the time, that was probably — the key influences were the Ukrainians that were looking to preserve their position in power, retain — gain reelection, looking to basically undermine Ambassador Yovanovitch and the Embassy that was critical of recent reports of corruption.” (22)
  • HILL: “Because there was no basis for her removal. The accusations against her had no merit whatsoever. This was a mishmash of conspiracy theories that, again, I’ve told you, I believe firmly to be baseless, an idea of an association between her and George Soros.” (41)
  • HILL: On why Yovanovitch was recalled:  “…the most obvious explanation at that point, I have [sic] to be said, seemed to be business dealings of individuals who wanted to improve the investment positions inside of Ukraine itself…I understood this to be the result of the campaign that Mr. Giuliani had set in motion…” (43-44)
  • HILL: “ …everybody knows Ambassador Yovanovitch to be the best of the best in terms of a nonpartisan career official…She’s, remember, also been commandant of the National Defense University. I mean, this is really one of our most distinguished diplomats.” (46-47)
  • HILL: “About reading the July 25 rough transcript: I was actually shocked…Well, particularly on Ambassador Yovanovitch, and very saddened because, again, Ambassador Yovanovitch is a great American, and I don’t think any American citizen should be disparaged by their President, just put it out there. So that made me very sad and very shocked and, yeah, not too happy.” (237-238)
  • CROFT: “During my time at the NSC, I received multiple calls from lobbyist Robert Livingston who told me that Ambassador Yovanovitch should be fired. He characterized Ambassador Yovanovitch as a, quote, “Obama holdover,” end quote, and associated with George Soros. It was not clear to me at the time, or now, at whose direction or at whose expense Mr. Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch.” (14-15)

Biden, Burisma, and 2016 election claims are debunked

  • VOLKER: Giuliani “was repeating all of the things that were in the media that we talked about earlier about, you know, firing the prosecutor general and his son being on the company and all that. And I said to Rudy in that breakfast the first time we sat down to talk that it is simply not credible to me.” (202-203)
  • VOLKER: Biden “was executing U.S. policy at the time and what was widely understood internationally to be the right policy.” (330)
  • VINDMAN: “I’d say in the April timeframe is when I, frankly, became aware of Mr. Giuliani, Mayor Giuliani, also being involved in this particular narrative…So this narrative, as the narrative developed, it became clear that it had to do with the 2016 elections and Ukrainian—supposed Ukrainian involvement in partisan support of candidate Clinton and in opposition to President Trump. That was the key element of that particular narrative that developed… I am, frankly, unaware of any authoritative basis for Ukrainian interference in 2016 elections.” (22-23)
  • HILL: “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.” (338-339)
  • HILL:  this seems to be the alternative theory for 2016… that Ukraine might have interfered in the election, particularly in the references to CrowdStrike. Tom Bossert has already spoken out publicly against this, and we spent a lot of time with Tom and General McMaster and others trying to refute this one in the first year of the administration…Basically, Tom and others who were working on cybersecurity laid out to the President the facts about the interference.” Q:  they advised him that the alternative theory that Ukraine had interfered in the election was false? A: “Correct.” (234-235)
  • CROFT: On a May meeting with Ambassador Taylor: ”I sat down with him and shared my very frank assessment that the White House was not likely to change its policy on Ukraine except in the event that the President viewed it— the—that Biden was going to be a credible rival for him in the upcoming election, and that he—that furthering the narrative that Russia was for the Republicans and Ukraine was for the Democrats would be in his interest, and that might push him to change the policy on Ukraine. But I said that, otherwise, I saw no reason that our policy would change.” (46-47)
  • CROFT: “…in an attempt to counter the narrative about Russian support for the Trump administration in the 2016 election or Russian interference in the 2016 election that—that it would be useful to shift that narrative by shifting it to Ukraine as being in support of the Clintons…painting sort of Ukraine as being against Trump would help distract from a narrative or balance out a narrative that he had gotten help in the 2016 election from Russia.” (48-49)

Giuliani created massive problems

  • VOLKER: “The negative narrative about Ukraine which Mr. Giuliani was furthering was the problem. It was, in my view, it was impeding our ability to build the relationship the way we should be doing.” (138)
  • KENT: “Well, Mr. Giuliani was almost unmissable starting in mid-March. As the news campaign, or campaign of slander against, not only Ambassador Yovanovitch unfolded, he had a very high—a media promise [presence], so he was on TV, his Twitter feed ramped up and it was all focused on Ukraine.” (58)
  • YOVANOVITCH: After rejecting a visa for former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin due to his “known corrupt activities, “Mayor Giuliani was calling the White House as well as the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, saying that I was blocking the visa for Mr. Shokin, and that Mr. Shokin was coming to meet him and provide information about corruption at the embassy, including my corruption.” (264)
  • YOVANOVITCH: “…one of the senior Ukrainian officials was very concerned, and told me I really needed to watch my back…Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, who were working with Mayor Giuliani, and that they had set up the meetings for Mr. Giuliani with Mr. Lutsenko. And that they were interested in having a different ambassador at post, I guess for—because they wanted to have business dealings in Ukraine, or additional business dealings.” (41)
  • ANDERSON: Circa March 2019:  “I briefed [Volker] that these [efforts] were occurring, and I provided background on Lutsenko’s role in this and what Lutsenko was seemingly trying to do… I believed that Lutsenko was trying to keep his job by making himself useful to the U.S. Government, or to certain people in the U.S. Government, or in the U.S. …Giuliani and others. It seemed that he was trying to—Lutsenko was trying to play into U.S. domestic politics and thereby win favors.” (43-44)
  • HILL: Yovanovitch’s dismissal was “the result of the campaign that Mr. Giuliani had set in motion in conjunction with people who were writing articles and, you know, publications that I would have expected better of, and also, you know, just the constant drumbeat of these accusations that he was making on the television. And as a result of that, he had created an atmosphere in which she was under great suspicion, and it was obvious that she would lose the confidence of senior people because these accusations seem to stick to people even when they’re proved not to be true.”
  • HILL: Bolton’s reaction to Yovanovitch’s dismissal: “His reaction was pained. And he basically said—in fact, he directly said: Rudy Giuliani is a hand grenade that is going to blow everybody up. He made it clear that he didn’t feel that there was anything that he could personally do about this.” (45)
  • VINDMAN: “I very quickly went and spoke to the senior White House—or senior National Security attorney and, you know, relayed the incident, the fact that, you know, this investigation that had previously emerged in open source and had certainly been connected to the—what Mr. Giuliani was pushing, was now being pulled into a, you know, national security dialogue. And I relayed these elements.” (36, 38)
  • HILL:  “Ambassador Bolton made it very clear that, you know, again, he didn’t think anybody should be dealing with Giuliani…He expressed it in one of the meetings with Ambassador Volker. But, at that point, I don’t think he was fully aware of the extensive meetings that Ambassador Volker was having.” (128)
    • HILL: About Volker trying to work with Giuliani: “…I didn’t think that this was actually going to be very helpful. Because the more you engage with someone who is spreading untruths, the more validity you give to those untruths.” (117)
  • HILL: About a conversation with Charlie Kupperman, Deputy National Security Adviser: “we were concerned that—not at this particular juncture, again, not specifically about the Bidens per se, but that Ukraine was going to be played by Giuliani in some way as part of the campaign…Because it was positing, you know, here that there was a great deal of, you know, illegal or whatever activity going on in Ukraine, according to Giuliani. You know, basically, the 2016 alternative theory of the election, the cyber issues—these were all getting put out through these articles in the newspaper. So it was kind of creating a kind of a story that was out there that was being packaged.” (130-131)
  • HILL: Board member of Ukrainian-U.S. energy company Naftogaz told her: “…he also said that a number of Ukrainian officials had come to him very concerned that they were getting pressure from Giuliani and Giuliani associates and he also mentioned the names of Mr. Parnas and Fruman to basically start to open up investigations and also to change the composition of the Naftogaz board.” Q: So did you come to understand that Mr. Giuliani perhaps, at a minimum, was advocating for an investigation into Burisma? A: “It was part of what seemed to be a package of issues that he was pushing for, including what seemed to be the business interests of his own associates.” (57)
  • CROFT: On discussions with her boss, Volker: “We had one discussion in which I thanked him for keeping me out of that mess, and then, you know, I think another, you know, a couple times he mentioned sort of a need to get this Giuliani line of effort, sort of, off the table, so we can get on with the business of our actual policy.” (70)
  • ANDERSON: Ambassador Volker relayed to me that he believed Mr. Giuliani would continue with this vein…I took it to mean Ambassador Volker was warning me that ‘No, Giuliani is not moving on to other issues, and so this might still be a problem for us moving forward.’ Mr. Giuliani tweeted that there were enemies around—enemies of the President [Trump] around Zelensky. And we took it to be problematic for improving our relationship if he was still spreading that message, that there were enemies that Ukraine—the people around President Zelensky were enemies of the President. So this is what I meant by this issue.” (48-49, 96-97)
  • ANDERSON: In response to the question that he “saw Rudy Giuliani’s efforts as potentially undermining the U.S. Government’s ability to bring Russia back to the negotiating table to resolve this issue in the Donbas,” Anderson responded: “That was my personal opinion, yes.” (47)

Trump relied on Giuliani to deliver his message

  • VOLKER: When told that Ukrainian President Zelensky was committed to fighting corruption and should be engaged with, Trump “just didn’t believe it. He was skeptical. And he also said, that’s not what I hear. I hear, you know, he’s got some terrible people around him. And he referenced that he hears from Mr. Giuliani as part of that…—I think he said, not as an instruction but just as a comment, talk to Rudy, you know. He knows all of these things, and they’ve got some bad people around him.” (304)
  • SONDLAND: Trump “just kept saying: Talk to Rudy, talk to Rudy,” adding that “Ukraine is a problem.” 
  • KENT: Volker “planned to start reaching out to” Giuliani because 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.” (246)
  • TAYLOR: “President Trump didn’t agree, but what he did say was ‘work with Rudy Giuliani,’ he told the three of them to work with Rudy Giuliani…In order to get President Zelensky and President Trump in a meeting in the Oval Office, they took from that May 23rd meeting that they [Volker and Sondland] needed to work with Rudy Giuliani, so—and so they did.” (59, 113)
  • ANDERSON: During a June 13 meeting Bolton “cautioned that Mr. Giuliani was a key voice with the President on Ukraine…every time Ukraine is mentioned, Giuliani pops up and that the President was listening to Giuliani about Ukraine.” (15-16, 101)

Trump held a negative view of Ukraine

  • VOLKER: Trump said of Ukraine that “they are all corrupt, they are all terrible people…I don’t want to spend any time with that…and they tried to take me down.” (279)
  • KENT: “Putin and Orban, extensively talked Ukraine down, said it was corrupt, said Zelenskyy was in the thrall of oligarchs…those two world leaders, along with former Mayor Giuliani, their communications with President Trump shaped the President’s view of Ukraine and Zelensky, and would account for the change from a very positive first call on April 21 to his negative  assessment of Ukraine when he had the meeting in the Oval 0ffice on May 23.” (254)
  • TAYLOR: “The delegation returned to Washington enthusiastic about the new Ukrainian president and urged President Trump to meet with him early on to cement the U.S. Ukraine relationship. But from what I understood, President Trump did not share their enthusiasm for a meeting with Mr. Zelensky…[he] was skeptical of Ukraine in general, but—of the new Ukrainian administration. (24, 59)
  • CROFT: In questioning about the hold on providing Javelin missiles to Ukraine: “The President was skeptical of providing weapons to Ukraine…When this was discussed, including in front of the Ukrainian delegation, in front of President Poroshenko, he described his concerns being that Ukraine was corrupt, that it was capable of being a veny rich country, and that the United States shouldn’t pay for it, but instead, we should be providing aid through loans.” (31)
  • ANDERSON: About an Oval Office meeting on May 23: “Ambassador Volker told me that the President said something to the effect of the Ukrainians tried to take me down. And then the four principals, Ambassador Volker, Sondland, Senator Johnson, and Secretary Perry, convinced him that, no, this is different, there is a real possibility of change here, Ukraine is on the cusp of turning a whole page, and if we engage now we can make a real difference here and they can become a strong security partner.” (57)

Trump extorting/bribing Ukraine (aka quid pro quo)

  • SONDLAND: Sondland pulled Zelensky’s aide, Yermak, aside after Pence’s Poland meeting (Sept 1) with the Ukrainian president. “I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.” (Addendum p 2) 
  • SONDLAND: “…whatever the Ukrainians were going to promise in any context, he wanted it public.” (142-142)
  • VOLKER: In a text to Zelensky aide Yermak, Volker said that a meeting with Trump depended on a commitment to undermine Mueller’s investigation: “Good lunch — thanks. 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. Good luck! See you tomorrow -kurt.”
  • KENT: “POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton… in shorthand 2016.” (268, 275)
  • TAYLOR: “Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election… Sondland said everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky in a box by making [a] public statement about ordering such investigations.” (36)
    • TAYLOR: “By mid-July, it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian influence in the 2016 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.” (26)
    • TAYLOR: “That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the President [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation.” (189)
  • TAYLOR: “So the irregular channel, I think under the influence of Mr. Giuliani, wanted to focus on one or two specific cases, irrespective of whether it helped solve the corruption problem, fight the corruption problem.” (124) 
  • VINDMAN: “I heard him [Sondland] say that this had been coordinated with White House Chief of Staff Mr. Mick Mulvaney…He just said that he had had a conversation with Mr. Mulvaney, and this is what was required in order to get a meeting… So he was talking about the 2016 elections and an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma.” (29-30)
  • HILL: About the July 10 meeting with Ukrainian officials:  “Ambassador Sondland blurted out: Well, we have an agreement with the chief of staff for a meeting if these investigations in the energy sector start… we all kind of looked up and thought that was somewhat odd. And Ambassador Bolton immediately stiffened and ended the meeting.” (67)
  • HILL: “Ambassador Sondland said to Ambassador Volker and also Secretary Perry and the other people who were with him, including the Ukrainians, to come down to—there’s room in the White House, the Ward Room, to basically talk about next steps. And that’s also unusual…Ambassador SondIand, 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…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… 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…” (68-71)
    • HILL: Q: So it was you personally who heard Ambassador Sondland mention Burisma in the Ward Room? A: Correct
  • VINDMAN: July 10 meeting w/ Ukrainian officials: “…the conversation unfolded with Sondland proceeding to kind of, you know, review what the deliverable would be in order to get the meeting, and he talked about the investigation into the Bidens…there was no ambiguity, I guess, in my mind. He was calling for something, calling for an investigation that didn’t exist into the Bidens and Burisma.”  (64-65)
  • VINDMAN: “On the 10th of July, this — it became completely apparent what the deliverable would be in order to get a White House meeting. That deliverable was reinforced by the President. There was no, oh, it’s okay — you know, I guess in my mind, there was no it’s okay, if you don’t want to do the investigation we can still do a White House meeting. The demand was, in order to get the White House meeting, they had to deliver an investigation.” (148)
  • VINDMAN: “Congressman, the power disparity between the President of the United States and the President of Ukraine is vast, and, you know, in the President asking for something, it became—there was—in return for a White House meeting, because that’s what this was about. This was about getting a White House meeting. It was a demand for him to fulfill his—fulfill this particular prerequisite in order to get the meeting.” (147)
  • HILL: About the July 25 phone call: “Rudy Giuliani has been saying an awful lot of things all the time, and he was pretty inescapable. And after a while, you know, kind of he was making it crystal clear what it was that he was pushing. And this [the transcript] is very much repeating things that Rudy Giuliani was saying in public on television.” Q: And by that, you mean that he wanted an investigation done of the Bidens and of this debunked conspiracy theory about 2016? A: “Correct.” Q: And that this was a condition of getting this White House meeting? A: “That’s certainly what this looks like, in the context of the transcript. “ (238-239)
  • CROFT: “On July 18 I participated in a sub PCC [Policy Coordination Committee] video conference where an OMB representative reported that the White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, had placed an informal hold on security assistance to Ukraine. The only reason given was that the order came at the direction of the President.” (15)
  • COOPER: On July 18 “the White House Chief of Staff [Mulvaney] has conveyed that the President has concerns about Ukraine and Ukraine security assistance… immediately deputies began to raise concerns about how this could be done in a legal fashion because there was broad understanding in the meeting that the funding—the State Department funding related to an earmark for Ukraine and that the DOD funding was specific to Ukraine security assistance. So the comments in the room at the deputies’ level reflected a sense that there was not an understanding of how this could legally play out.” (50-52)
  • COOPER: In order to get Trump to lift the hold on security assistance, Volker “was engaged in to see if there was a statement that the government of Ukraine would make that would somehow disavow any interference in U.S. elections and would commit to the prosecution of any individuals involved in election interference.” (68-69)
  • COOPER: About Volker’s indication that the aid would not be released without a public statement from the Ukrainians committing to investigations that Trump sought: “The context for the discussion that I had with Ambassador Volker related specifically to the path that he was pursuing to lift the hold would be to get them to make this statement, but the only reason they would do that is because there was, you know, something valuable.” (71-72)

The demands on Ukraine were wrong

  • SONDLAND: “…it would be improper” to demand the Ukrainians investigate the Bidens. (308)
  • KENT: “I had growing concerns that individuals were pushing communications with Ukrainians that had not been discussed and endorsed in the formal policy process.” (267)
  • KENT: “I do not believe the U.S. should ask other countries to engage in politically associated investigations and prosecutions.” (113)
  • KENT: Trump and Guiliani’s interest “in the initiation of investigations…that’s wrong, and we shouldn’t be doing that as a matter of U.S. policy.” (262-263)
  • TAYLOR: During a July 10 meeting with Ukrainian officials, “Ambassador Sondland had connected ‘investigations’ with an Oval Office meeting for President Zelensky, which so irritated Ambassador Bolton that he abruptly ended the meeting…[saying]  that they should have nothing to do with domestic politics.” 
  • VINDMAN: July 10th meeting with Ukrainian officials, Bolton, Volker, Sondland, & Rick Perry: “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 Bolton cut the meeting short.” (17)
  • VINDMAN: “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 Bunisma. 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. Dn. 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 legal counsel, lead legal counsel. Dn. Hill also reported the incident to lead legal counsel.” (17-18)
  • VINDMAN: {Fiona Hill] said that [Bolton] was upset with what Ambassador Sondland was attempting to orchestrate… that Ambassador Sondland was trying to orchestrate an investigation being called by Mayor Giuliani who was a live hand grenade.” (67-68)
  • SONDLAND: The demands on Ukraine “kept getting more insidious as timeline went on.” (240)
  • HILL: “[Bolton] made it clear that he believed that they were making, basically, an improper arrangement to have a meeting in the White House, that they were predicating the meeting in the White House on the Ukrainians agreeing, in this case, based on the meeting on July 10th, to restart investigations that had been dropped in the energy sector…by which point it was apparent that this was code, at least, for Burisma. Because that had been mentioned, you know, in the course of Mr. Giuliani’s appearances on television.” (129)
  • TAYLOR: “I said on September 9th, 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.” (19)
  • TAYLOR: “There followed a series of NSC-led interagency meetings, starting at the staff level and quickly reaching the level of Cabinet secretaries. At every meeting, the unanimous conclusion was that the security assistance should be resumed, the hold lifted.” (132).
  • VINDMAN: On July 13-14: He was instructed “to draft a Presidential decision memo for Ambassador Bolton to be able to take along with his principal counterparts to the President for a decision… it had the consensus views from the entire deputies small group (the National Security Council, State Department, and Department of Defense) with their recommendations, and then it recommended that the security assistance be released… ultimately, it was presented to the President.” (186-187)
    • VINDMAN: “…amongst the various issues that were discussed, this was also raised, this issue of security assistance was also raised, and, I mean, the President didn’t act on the recommendation…To release security assistance funding to Ukraine.” (188)
  • VINDMAN: “I thought it was wrong. I thought it was wrong to call — to basically have — to organize a situation in which you’re asking a foreign power to investigate a matter. Again, it wasn’t an active investigation, so they would have to start an investigation…in exchange for a meeting.” (71)
  • HILL: About the demands Trump made during the July 25 call: “it was pretty blatant. So, I mean, I found that I couldn’t really explain that away with an alternate explanation. So that’s what I mean about being, you know, quite shocked. And I was also very shocked, to be frank, that we ended up with a telephone conversation like this…I sat in an awful lot of calls, and I have not seen anything like this. And I was there for 2 and a half years. So I was just shocked.” (238)
  • HILL: About the July 25 phone call:  “The specific references, also juxtaposed with the release of the text messages by Ambassador Volker—you know, what I said before—really was kind of my worst fears and nightmares, in terms of, you know, there being some kind of effort not just to subvert the national security process but to try to subvert what really should be, you know, kind of, a diplomatic effort to, you know, kind of, set up a Presidential meeting…There seems to be an awful lot of people involved in, you know, basically turning a White House meeting into some kind of asset…something that was being, you know, dangled out to the Ukrainian Government. They wanted the White House meeting very much.” (420-421)
  • HILL: About the investigations Trump and Guiliani were demanding: “I don’t honestly see much national security interest in what I’ve just read there, and I do not see and I did not see at any point any national security interest in the things that Rudy Giuliani was saying on the television that I watched.” (243)
  • ANDERSON: Taylor and Anderson discussed in relation to Giuliani’s interference that “it was important not to talk about—not to push for individual investigations…Because if you’re going to do individual investigations there is a formal process for that, which is…we should go through the Department of Justice and our policy is for anti-corruption writ large, no individual cases.” (103)
  • COOPER: “…my sense is that all of the senior leaders of the U.S. national security departments and agencies were all unified in their—in their view that this assistance was essential, that we could work with the government of Ukraine to tackle corruption, and they were trying to find ways to engage the President on this.”

The threat to national security posed by Trump’s extortion/bribery

  • KENT: “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 in Ukraine and the U.S.” (264)
  • KENT: “asking another country to investigate a prosecution for political reasons undermines our advocacy of the rule of law.” (247)
  • MCKINLEY: “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.” (22)
  • YOVANOVITCH: In Feb. 2019, Ukrainian Minister of the Interior Arsen Avakov “thought it -was very dangerous. That Ukraine, since its independence, has had bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans all these years, and that to start kind of getting into U.S. politics, into U.S. domestic politics, was a dangerous place for Ukraine to be… the issue of whether, you know, it was Russia collusion or whether it was really Ukraine collusion, and, you know, looking forward to the 2020 election campaign, and whether this would somehow hurt former Vice President Biden. I think he felt that that was just very dangerous terrain for another country to be in.” (43-44)
  • TAYLOR: “In an instant, I realized that one of the key pillars of our strong support for Ukraine was threatened. The irregular policy channel was running contrary to the goals of longstanding U.S. policy…Longstanding goal of U.S. policy would be to support Ukraine in its attempt to defend itself against the Russians. Part of that was security assistance. Security assistance had been very effective… To stop it, to hold it, for no apparent reason that I could see, was undercutting the longstanding U.S. policy.” (28, 131)
  • TAYLOR: “Ukraine is important to the security of the United States. It has been attacked by Russia, which continues its aggression against Ukraine. If we believe in the principle of sovereignty of nations on which our security and the security of our friends and allies depends, we must support Ukraine in its fight against its bullying neighbor. Russian aggression cannot stand.” (42)
  • VINDMAN: Encouraging Ukraine to conduct investigations related to domestic U.S. politics “had inherent risks, in that, frankly, if Ukrainians took a partisan position, they would significantly undermine the possibility of future bipartisan support…we’re basically trying to continue the relationship and advance the U.S. national security interests. And losing bipartisan support would have a significant cost.” (40-41)
  • HILL: About the investigations Trump and Giuliani were demanding: “My worst nightmare is the politicization of the relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine and, also, the usurpation of authorities, you know, for other people’s personal vested interests.” (428)
  • HILL: “…Mr. Fruman and Mr. Parnas are Ukrainian Americans who were also trying to subvert our democracy and who managed to get one of our ambassadors sacked.” (339)
  • CROFT: “My firm belief in the importance of Ukraine’s future to U.S. national interests Ied me to the Ukraine desk.” (14)
  • COOPER: “It is also within the U.S. national interest to provide security assistance to Ukraine… 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 countries’ 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.” (16-17)

The global implications of Trump’s extortion/bribery of Ukraine

  • TAYLOR: “The Russians loving it. The Russians are paying attention. The Russians are paying attention to how much support the Americans are going to provide the Ukrainians…the Russians want to know how much support the Ukrainians are going to get in general, but also what kind of support from the Americans. So the Russians are loving, would love, the humiliation of Zelensky at the hand of the Americans, and would give the Russians a freer hand.” (210)
  • YOVANOVITCH: “Put simply, anti-corruption efforts serve Ukraine’s interests, but they also serve ours as well. Corrupt leaders are inherently less trustworthy, while honest and accountable Ukrainian leadership makes a U. S. -Ukrainian partnership more reliable and more valuable to us.” (17) 
  • YOVANOVITCH: Q: “Would it benefit Russia if Ukraine were if the allegations that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 election were true?” A: “I think so…Because, you know, I think most Americans believe that there shouldn’t be meddling in our elections. And if Ukraine is the one that had been meddling in our elections, I think that the support that all of you have provided to Ukraine over the last almost 30 years, I don’t know that I think people would ask themselves questions about that.” (137)
  • VINDMAN: At a July 31 National Security Council Policy Coordination Committee meeting: “…the lack of security assistance would significantly undermine the message of support for Ukraine if it became — if it was revealed, and that this would also signal to the Russians that they could potentially be more aggressive. Those were the views that were expressed by various members.” (186)
  • VINDMAN: “I perceive that our relationship is damaged. I think as this process wears on, I think the relationship will continue to be damaged and undercut. It undercuts U.S. resolve to support Ukraine and certainly puts a question into their mind whether they in fact have U.S. support.”
  • CROFT: On the hold on security assistance: “…if this were public in Ukraine it would be seen as a reversal of our policy and would, just to say sort of candidly and colloquially, this would be a really big deal, it would be a really big deal in Ukraine, and an expression of declining U.S. support for Ukraine.” (97)
  • CROFT: The Office of Management and Business put a hold on providing Javelin missiles to Ukraine because Mulvaney expressed concern about “the Russian reaction…That Russia would react negatively to the provision of Javelins to Ukraine.” Croft added, “all of the policy agencies were in support…The lone objector in the paper PC on the Javelin decision was OMB…it was rather unusual to have OMB expressing concerns that were purely policy-based and not budget-oriented.” Asked if not providing Javelins to Ukraine would serve Russia’s interest, Croft responded: “In my opinion, yes.” (26-27, 51-52)
  • HILL: About allegations that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Clinton: “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.” (345)
  • CROFT: “Zelensky’s election and his mandate to tackle corruption ignited a new energy and to stall talks. Right now, even as Ukrainians face casualties nearly every day in defense of their own territory against Russian aggression, decide they are making progress in disengaging at key crossing points. Zelensky has shown a willingness to take political risk to bring Russia back to the table. His best chance at success is with our support, along with our European partners. It is my hope that even as this committee’s process plays out, we do not lose sight of what is happening in Ukraine, and its great promise as a prosperous and democratic member of the European Community.” (16) 
  • ANDERSON: “Russia had been stalling in the negotiations more or less since the spring of 2018, and we believed that part of that was a belief by Russia that the U.S. Government was getting Ukraine fatigue…There was a fear that—I had a fear, I’ll speak about myself, I had the fear that if Giuliani’s narrative took hold, that the Ukrainian Government was an enemy of the President, then it would be very hard to have high-level engagement, and that would mean that we would—that Russia would not—that it would be harder for us to pressure Russia to come back to the negotiating table.” (46-47)
  • COOPER: “Security assistance is vital to helping the Ukrainians be able to defend themselves.” (16)
  • COOPER: About the hold on security assistance: “…we [Dept. of Defence] were also concerned about any signal that we would send to Ukraine about a wavering in our commitment… we didn’t want to signal any lack of support…They are trying to negotiate a peace with Russia, and if they are seen as weak, and if they are seen to lack the backing of the United States for their Armed Forces, it makes it much more difficult for them to negotiate a peace on terms that are good for Ukraine.” Q: It would potentially strengthen or embolden Russia? A: “That is correct.” (95-96)

State Department turmoil

  • KENT: “This is where I find myself today, faced with enormous professional and personal cost and expense of dealing with a conflict between the executive and legislative branches not of my making.” (17)
  • HILL: “ I had had accusations similar to this being made against me as well. My entire first year of my tenure at the National Security Council was filled with hateful calls, conspiracy theories, which has started again, frankly, as it’s been announced that I’ve been giving this deposition, accusing me of being a Soros mole in the White House, of colluding with all kinds of enemies of the President, and, you know, of various improprieties.” (41)
  • KENT: “…there were Tweets by members of the Presidential family, it was clearly a crisis for Ambassador Yovanovitch and a crisis that was threatening to consume the relationship. So our recommendation to our superiors was that there should be a clear statement of support for Ambassador Yovanovitch…There was no high-level Department endorsement of Ambassador Yovanovitch.” (65-66)
  • KENT: “There were exchanges at this point with officials… 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.” (67)
  • MCKINLEY: “I sent an email to senior officials proposing a strong and immediate statement of support for Ambassador Yovanovitch’ s professionalism and courage, particularly to send a message to Department employees that leadership stood behind its employees in this difficult moment. I was told that the decision was not to issue a statement.” (22-23)
    • MCKINLEY: About Trump denigrating Yovanovitch: “We think she’s a strong, professional career diplomat who’s still on the rolls, who’s still a full-time Department employee. It shouldn’t be difficult to put out a short statement that’s not political, stating clearly that we respect the professionalism, the tenure of Ambassador Yovanovitch in the Ukraine. Thank you. That’s pretty much as straightforward and simple a statement as I was proposing…the Secretary [Pompeo] had decided that it was better not to release a statement at this time.” (39,59) 
  • KENT: “there was a letter sent to these committees that characterized interactions that I do not feel was accurate… 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.” (27)
  • KENT: A top consular official “objected to my raising of the additional information and… made clear that he did not think it was appropriate for me to make the suggestion. I took the opportunity, then, to point out that that was the first—the meeting was the first time that we were discussing guidance for being responsive to a subpoena. At this point… we had less than 2 business days to be responsive.” (32)
  • MCKINLEY: “It was extremely clear to everyone…that they were State Department officials being used in a way that certainly didn’t fit into any past example we can think of.” Chairman Schiff: “Because they’re being used to dig up political dirt on an opponent?” McKinley responded, “that’s correct,” (113)
  • MCKINLEY: Resigned due to “ the engagement of our missions to procure negative political information for domestic purposes, combined with the failure I saw in the building to provide support for our professional cadre in a particularly trying time.” (81)
  • YOVANOVITCH: “if you have the President’s son saying, you know, We need to pull these clowns, or however he referred to me, it makes it hard to be a credible ambassador in a country.” (62)
  • YOVANOVITCH: A statement of support was not released by the State Dept. “because it could be undermined…[by] a tweet or something” from President Trump. (63-64)
  • TAYLOR: On Aug. 27,  “Ambassador Bolton recommended that I send a first-person cable to Secretary Pompeo directly, relaying my concerns. I wrote and transmitted such a cable on August 29th describing the folly I saw 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 received no specific response.” (33-34)
  • TAYLOR: “We did a search of all of our documents, including the ones I just mentioned, and sent them into the State Department.” Goldman says “the committees have not received any of these documents from the State Department.” Taylor adds, “I was also instructed not to appear.” (45-47)
  • CROFT: The narratives pushed by Giuliani and others “made me certainly a lot more trepidatious” to take a job related to Ukraine. “I thought at the time that it was possible that the Trump administration would choose to change its policy to suit domestic politics.” (44-45)

Subversion of normal processes

  • VINDMAN: About the July 25 call transcript: “In this case, the way it was managed, I didn’t see the final version after my edits…As opposed to going into the standard communications system, it went into a different type, a different, more secure system.” Q: In other words, it was on a different system and you had to use a different process to put your edits in? A: “Yes.” (49-50)
  • VINDMAN: …”the call [to move the transcript to a secure location] was made by John Eisenberg, the senior NSC lead counsel, and he did it based on his experience and judgment… It doesn’t happen regularly, I think most of these types of things handle — occur in the normal channel” (122-124)
  • VINDMAN: “I did make a couple of changes and suggestions…So page four, bottom of the first paragraph, let’s see, okay, so that ellipses where it ends with ‘it,’ there was a comment about ‘there are recordings’ from the President. He said that ‘there are recordings of these misdeeds.’ … in the next paragraph from Zelensky, where it says, ‘He or she will look into the situation specifically to the company’—it shouldn’t be ‘the company.’ It should be ‘to Burisma that you mentioned.’ Because I think, you know, frankly, these are not necessarily folks that are familiar with the substance. So President Zelensky specifically mentioned the company Burisma.” (53-55)
  • VINDMAN: Referring to NSC lawyer John Eisenberg, about the July 25 call: “…he did, at a later point, say that, I shouldn’t talk to any other people.” Later clarification by Vindman’s lawyer: “…there was a time when Mn. Eisenberg came to him, asked him who he had talked to, and then he told him, do not talk to anybody else.” (103, 283)
  • VINDMAN: About a May 23 Oval Office meeting with Trump about Ukraine: “I was told that there was a gentleman that was providing information, representing himself as director for Ukraine, and that I would be confused with this person…Kash Patel [former Nunes aid]…[Fiona Hill] said that there was somebody representing himself as the Ukraine director, and since I’m not the individual providing information directly to the White House, it would be — there’s risk in me going to the OvaI Office. And I believe she came to this decision in conversation with Ambassador Bolton.” (168-169)
  • COOPER: About when the Defense Dept. certified that Ukraine met anti-corruption benchmarks: “in this case, in May of this year, it was Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, John Rood, who provided the certification to Congress, but that was after coordination with the State Department.”
  • COOPER: About the hold on security assistance to Ukraine: “I had expressed that, you know, because there are only two legally available options and we do not have direction to pursue either…There were many affirmative statements that the Congress has appropriated this, we need to obligate it.” (58, 79)
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