tv KPIX 5 News at 6AM CBS November 20, 2019 6:00am-7:00am PST
this is a cbs news special report. the impeachment hearings. i'm norah o'donnell in washington. and we are just minutes away from what could be the most explosive testimony in these proceedings so far. from eu ambassador gordon sondland who, according to witnesses, spoke directly to the president about ukraine. thiss his arrival on capitol hill earlier. he's one of the key players who could tie the president of the united states, his boss, to a pressure campaign in order to investigate democrats, including joe biden.
we have already heard from one top republican, mark meadow, who says it comes down to one guy. that is ambassador sondland. as we wait for this highly anticipated house intelligence committee hearing to begin on capitol hill, we are also getting a first look at the testimony and his prepared remarks. here it is. it is 23 pages long. that is considered a whopper by the standards so far that we have had today. in it he does admit a quid pro quo. he said, as i testified previously with regard to the requested white house call and white house meeting, the answer is yes. the existence of a quid pro quo is a key component of the democrats's case. sondland, referring to the potential investigation into the bidens, also describes the role of the president's personal attorney rudy giuliani. he writes, mr. giuliani's
requests was expressing the desires of the president of the united states and we knew that those investigations were important to the president. juligiuliani is currently being investigated by the justice department and does not work for the united states government. we have a team of correspondents. first to nancy cordes on capitol hill. nancy, i know you have looked through ambassador sondland's original deposition and his new remarks where he amended them. what are you seeing are the key highlights? >> reporter: well, nora the discrepancies frankly are significant. he has already walked back some of what he said behind closed doors. today he will walk back even more of it. the biggest whopper that he told it originally in multiple ways in his all-day deposition was he hadn't heard until very recently that u.s. military aid was being held up in an effort to extract a promise from the ukrainians to investigate former vice
president joe biden. he later admitted that he actually delivered that ultimatum to the ukrainians himself. and we heard more testimony yesterday about the fact that very early on in this process it was actually sondland himself at a white house meeting who delivered the ultimatum to a group of ukraines. he said you've got to say you are going to investigate biden if you want a meeting with the president of the united states. a few minutes ago, as he walked in, i asked him if he was going to change his testimony even more, if he was going to admit to a quid pro quo. he wouldn't answer. in this prepared testimony, nora, we can see that he is going to do that, which is problematic for the president of the united states because we know, based on other witnesses, based on his own emails, that sondland was in direct communication routinely with the president, with the acting white house chief of staff mick mulvaney about all of this.
. >> he does. just to go back to the headlines to what he is going to testify to today, he is going to say it was a quid pro quo, an exchange, in other words, a white house visit for this investigation. but he is going to say it was rudy giuliani's fault, correct? >> reporter: you know, he's going to say the original idea came from rudy giuliani. but he has now acknowledged that he himself delivered this message. if unwillingly to the ukrainians. he said it was really because he was trying to make sure this aid was unfrozen, that this meeting taopgs that the ukrainians wanted and felt the path of least resistance was just agree you are going to do this meeting that the president wants and you will get the meeting and you will get the aid. when democrats will hone in on with sondland today is not so much whether he believed this was right or not, but whether he was getting his directions from
the president of the united states himself. that's what they're trying to establish here. republicans have argued again and again that these witnesses got their information secondhand, thirdhand, they didn't really know what the president wanted. here you have someone who bragged about how often he was able to get the president of the united states on the phone, who called him from a cafe in kiev and reportedly, according to other witnesses, said the ukraines will do whatever you want. they love you. and so democrats want to know, did the president tell sondland here's what i want you to extract from the ukrainians? >> all right. there we see the spwor and wealthy hoteleer who donated a million dollars to the president's transition campaign. let's go to the white house as we continue to watch the ambassador talk with his respected washington attorney,
bob leskin. we already heard part of the white house respond from pam bondy who spoke on "cbs this morning". but she repeatedly miss identified him in the interview. what did we learn? >> reporter: right. this is someone who the white house hired to bring on to be in charge of all communications with regard to impeachment. nora, it seemed that she didn't exactly know how to answer questions when pressed about the substance of gordon's testimony that he has already given behind closed doors. for example, what we saw was her repeating the same white house lines that we have heard from other members of the press. but she didn't effectively defend the president with regard to this bombshell that is going to drop, according to sondland's opening statement that there was quid pro quo. he could not be more clear about that. we know on the inside that white house officials are very nervous and uneasy about what sondland is going to say.
they say he is unpredictable. if though they are embracing for him to describe a quid pro quo, they don't know what other bombs he could drop. he could take down the president's entire defense in one fell swoop. with sondland, he has bragged about being able to get in touch with the president whenever he wants. number two, president trump calls them never trumpers and say they have motivation. sondland donated $1 million to his inauguration. and going back to this quid pro quo, sondland draws a direct line to president trump. yes, he phraeupblames his perso attorney, rudy giuliani, but said he was acting on orders from president trump and that was understood. finally, nora, they will say mulvaney, secretary of state pompeo knew what was going on and he has the email
communications to prove it. >> all right. that is one key point there as well. thank you so much. also want to bring in margaret brennan, senior foreign affairs correspondent and moderator of "face the nation". another key figure that pops up in this stem is the secretary of state mike pompeo. the question whether he was freelancing or did the secretary of state know about it? >> reporter: exactly. we know grandssondland will say knew gordon sondland who reports to him and kurt volker, who we heard from yesterday, were keeping him apprised. so this is not good news for the secretary of state. for gordon sondland he is ambassador of the eu. that is 28 different countries. it does not include ukraine. that is why it is so add to say why was he in any way involved with policy. why was pam bondi calling him ambassador to ukraine?
>> very good question. gordon sondland will say, look, ukraine is central to the eu in that there are sanctions on it, a war with russia there. but there is no policy by which he should have been directly involved in crafting ukraine policy. and as the democrats have argued and adam schiff alluded to this, why -- >> good morning, everyone. >> let's listen in now. >> without objection, the chair is authorized to declare a recess at any time. there is a quorum present. we will proceed today in the same fashion as our other hearings. i will make an opening statement and ranking member nunes will have an opportunity to make a statement. we will turn to our witness for an opening statement and then to questions. for audience members, we welcome you and respect your interest in being here. in turn, we ask your respect as we proceed with today's hearing. it is the intention of the committee to proceed without disruptions. as chairman, i will make all necessary and appropriate steps to maintain order and to ensure
the committee is run in accordance with house rules and house resolution 660. with that, i now recognize myself to give an opening statement in the impeachment inquiry into donald j. trump, the 45th president of the united states. this morning we will hear from gordon sondland, the american ambassador to the european union. we are here today as part of the house of representatives impeachment inquiry because president donald trump sought to condition military aid to ukraine with the new ukrainian president zelensky that trump believed would help his re-election campaign. the first investigation was of a discredited conspiracy theory that ukraine, not russia, was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election. the second investigation that trump demanded into -- was into a political rival that he apparently feared most, joe biden.
trump sought to weaken biden and to refute the fact that his own election campaign in 2016 had been helped by russian hacking and dumping operation and russian social media campaign directedly vladimir putin to help trump. trump's scheme undermined military and diplomatic support for a key ally and under cut u.s. anti-corruption efforts in ukraine. trump put his personal and political interests above those of the united states. as ambassador sondland would later tell david holmes immediately after speaking to the president, trump did not give a expletive about ukraine. he cares about big stuff that benefits him, like the biden investigations that rudy giuliani was pushing. ambassador sondland was a skilled deal maker. but in trying to satisfy a directive from the president, found himself increasingly embroiled to press the new ukrainian president that deviated from the norm in policy
and process. in february ambassador sondland traveled to ukraine on his first official trip to that country. while in kyiv be he met with marie yovanovitch and found her to be an excellent dip with deep command of the internal dynamics. on april 21st, zelensky was elected president of ukraine and spoke to president trump who congratulated him and said he would look into attending zelensky's inauguration but pledged to send someone in a very, very high level. between the time of that call and the inaugural on may 20, trump's attitude towards ukraine hardened. may 13th, the president ordered vice president mike pence not to attend zelensky's inauguration, upping instead the three amigos, rick perry, ambassador sondland and kurt volker, special representative for ukraine negotiations. after turning from the inauguration, members of the u.s. delegation briefed
president trump on their encouraging first interactions with a new ukrainian administration. they urged the president to meet with zelensky but the president's reaction was decidely hostile. the president's order was clear, however, talk with rudy. during this meeting, ambassador sondland first came aware of what giuliani and the president were really interested in. this whole thing was sort of a continuum, he evident the at his deposition starting at the may 23rd meeting, ending up at the end of the line when the transcript of the call came out. it was a continuum he would explain that became more insidious over time. the three amigos were disain't poed with trump's directive to engage giuliani but vowed to press ahead. ambassador sondland testified we could abandon the goal of the white house meeting for president zelensky which the
group deemed crucial for u.s.-ukrainian relations or do as president trump directed and talk to mr. giuliani to address the president's concerns. we chose the latter path. in the coming weeks, ambassador sondland got more clearly involved in ukraine policy making starting with the june 4th u.s. independence day of brussels one month early. secretary perry, breck tell and the state department counselor and sondland met with president zelensky, whom sondland invited personally on the margins of the event. on june 10, 2019, perry organized a conference call with sondland, then national security adviser bol volkehersth decided volker would assist bill taylor, new acting ambassador in kyiv on ukraine and express trump's desire forab with the
ragy moving forward. two weeks later, june 27th, ambassador sondland called taylor to say, quote, zelensky needed to make clear to president trump that he was not standing in the way of investigations. on july 10th, ambassador sondland and other u.s. officials met with a group of u.s. and ukrainian officials. participants in the meeting have told us that ambassador sondland invoked mick mulvaney and said that the white house meeting sought by the ukrainian president with trump would happen only if ukraine undertook certain investigations. tpharblg security adviser bolton abruptly ended the meeting upon hearing this. undeterred, sondland brought the delegation downstairs to another part of the white house and was more explicit. according to witnesses, ukraine needed to investigate the bidens or burisma in the 2016 election interference if they wanted a
meeting at all. following this meeting in july, bolton said he would not be part of whatever drug deal sondland and mulvaney are cooking up on this. sondland continued to press for a meeting but he and others were willing to settle for a phone call. on july 21st, taylor texted sondland that, quote, president zelensky is sensitive about ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument of washington domestic re-election politics. sondland responded, absolutely. but we need to get the conversation started and the relationship built irrespective of the pretext. so that zelensky and trump could meet and all of this will be fixed. on july 25th, the day of the trump-zelensky call, volker had lunch in a senior aid to president zelensky and later texted the aide to say he had heard from the 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. ambassador sondland spoke to president trump a few minutes before the call was placed but was not on the call. during that now infamous phone call with zelensky, he ponded to the appreciation for u.s. defense support and request to buy more jaff line missiles by saying i would like you to do us a favor, though. trump asked zelensky to address the 2016 conspiracy theory and even more ominously, look into the bidens. neither had been part of the official preparatory material for the call but they were e in donald trump's personal interest and election campaign. and the ukrainian president knew both in advance in part because of ambassador volker and sondland's efforts to make him aware of what the president was demanding. around this time ambassador sondland became aware of the suspension of security
assistance to ukraine, which had been announced on a secure video conference july 18th. telling us that it was extremely odd that nobody involved in making and implementing policy toward ukraine knew why the aid had been put on hold. during august, sondland participated in text messages and telephone calls and said the gist of every call of what was going to go to the press statement. in august 9, text message with volker sondland said i think potus really wants the deliverable, which was, according to sondland, a deliverable public statement that president trump wanted to see or hear before a white house meeting could happen. on september 1, ambassador sondland participated in vice president pence's bilateral meeting in warsaw during which zelensky raised the security assistance. following that meeting, sondland approached the senior ukrainian official to tell him that he believed what could help move
the aid is if the pror general would go to the mic and announce he was opening the burisma investigation. sondland told taylor he had made a mistake by telling the ukrainians an oval office meeting was dependent on a public announcement of investigations. in fact, everything. , was depending on such an announcement, including security assistance. but even the announcement by the prosecutor general would not satisfy the president. on september 7th, sondland spoke to the president and told morrison and taylor about the call shortly thereafter. the president said although this was not a quid pro quo, if president zelensky did not clear things up in public we would be at a stalemate. moreover, announcement would not be enough. president zelensky was personally, announce personally that he would open the investigations. sondland told taylor 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 the check referred to here was the u.s. military assistance to ukraine, and ukraine had to pay up with investigations. throughout early september, sroebger and sondland sought to close the deal on an agreement that zelensky would announce investigations. after taylor texted sondland september 9, 2019, i think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. 16 days later, the transcript of the july 25th call was made public, and the american people learned the truth of how our president tried to take advantage of a vulnerable ally. you now it is up to congress as the peoples representatives to determine what response is appropriate. if the president abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections, if he's thought to condition, coerce, extort or bribe to aid
in his re-election campaign and did so by withholding official acts, a white house meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars of needed military aid, it will be up to us to decide whether those acts are compatible with the office of the presidency. finally, i want to say a word about the president and secretary pompeo's obstruction of this investigation. we have not received a single document from the state department and as ambassador sondland's opening statement today will make clear, those documents bear directly on this investigation and this impeachment inquiry. i think we know now based on a sample of the documents attached to ambassador sondland's statement that the knowledge of this scheme was far and wide and including, among others, secretary of state pompeo, as well as the vice president.
we can see why secretary pompeo and president trump have made such a concerted and across the board effort to obstruct this investigation and this impeachment inquiry. and i will just say this. they do so at their own peril. i remind the president that article 3 of the impeachment articles drafted against president nixon was his refusal to obey the subpoenas of congress. and with that, i recognize ranking member nunes for any remarks that he would wish to make. >> i thank the gentleman. as we learned last night, story time last night, we get story time first thing this morning. ambassador, sondland, welcome. glad you're here. really not glad you're here, but welcome to the fifth day of this circus. as i have noted before, the democrats on this committee spent three years accusing
president trump of being a russian agent. in march 2018, after a yearlong investigation, intelligence committee republicans issued a 240-page report describing in detail how the russians meddled in the 2016 elections and making specific recommendations to improve our election security. denouncing the report as a whitewash and auto accuccusing republicans as subverting the democrats issued their own report, focusing on their now debunked conspiracy theory that the trump campaign colluded with russians to hack the elections. and to present a further, quote, comprehensive report, unquote, after they finished their investigation into trump's treasonous collusion with russia. for some completely in exable reason after t imnfhesia
the demrats failed to omehensi . we're still waiting. this episode shows how the democrats have exploited the intelligence committee for political purposes for three years. culminating in impeachment hearings in their mania to attack the president. no conspiracy theory is too outlandish for the democrats. time and time again they floated the possibility of some far-fetched malfeasance by trump, declared the dire need to investigate it, and then suddenly dropped the issue and moved on to their next asinine theory. a sampling of their accusations and insinuations includes these k. trump is a long time russian agent as described in the steele dossier. the russians gave trump advanced access to emails stolen by the dnc in the hillary clinton
campaign. the trump campaign based some of its activities on these stolen documents. trump received nefarious materials from the russians through a trump campaign aide. trump laundered russian money through real estate deals. trump was blackmailed by russia through his financial exposure with deutsche bank. trump had a diabolical plan to build a trump tower in moscow. trump changed the republican national committee platform to hurt ukraine and benefit russia. the russians laundered money through the nra for the trump campaign. trump's son-in-law lied about his russian contacts while obtaining his security clearance. it's a long list of charges, all false. and i could go on and on and on. but i will spare you for these moments. clearly, these ludicrous accusations don't reflect those
committee members searching for the truth. they are the actions of partisan extremists who hijacked the intelligence committee, transformed it into the its core oversight functions and turned it into a beachhead for ousting an elected president from office. you have to keep that history in mind as you consider the democrats latest clog of supposed trump outrages. granted, a friendly call with the ukrainian president wouldn't seem to rise to the same level as being a russian agent. but the democrats were running out of time. if they waited any longer, their impeachment circus would intervene with their own candidates's 2020 campaigns. so you have to give them points for creativity in selling this absurdity as an impeachable offense. all this explains why the democrats have gathered zero republican support in the house of representatives for their
impeachment crusade. in fact, the vote we held was a bipartisan vote against this impeachment inquiry. speaker pelosi, chairman schiff and nadler behind this crusade all claim impeachment is so damaging to the country that it can only proceed with bipartisan support. are those declarations no longer true? did impeachment become less divisive? of course not. they know exactly what kind of damage they're inflicting on this nation, but they have passed the point of no return. after three years of preparation work, much of it spearheaded by the democrats on this committee, using all the tools of congress to accuse, investigate, indict, and smear the president, they stoked a frenzy amongst their
most fanatical supporters that they can no longer control. ambassador sondland, you are here today to be smeared. but you'll make it through it. and i appreciate your service to this country. g through this.hat you have had in closing, the democrats have zeroed in on anonymous whistle-blower complaint that was cooked up in cooperation with the democrats on this very committee. they lied to the american people about that cooration and refused to let us question the whistle-blower to discover the truth. meanwhile, the democrats lash out against anyone who questions or casts doubt on this spectacle. when ukrainian president zelensky denies anything improper happened on the phone call, the democrats say that he
is a liar. when journalists report on ukraine election meddling and hunter biden's position on the board corrupt ukrainian companies, the drats labeled them spirit theorists. when the democrats can't get any traction for their allegations of quid pro quo, they move the goalpost and accuse the president of extortion, then bribery, and at last resort, obstruction of justice. the american people sent us to washington to solve problems, not to wage scorched earth political warfare against the other party. this impeachment is not helping the american people. it's not a legitimate use of taxpayer dollars, and it's definitely not improving our national security. finally, the democrats's fakeout rage that president trump used his own channel to communicate
with ukraine. i remind my friends on the other side of the aisle that our first president george washington directed his own diplomatic channels to secure a treaty with great britain. if my democratic colleagues were around in 1794, they probably would want to impeach him too. mr. chairman, this morning we have transmitted to you a letter exercising our rights under hres 660 to subpoena documents and witnesses. we take this step because you have failed to ensure fairness and objectivity in this inquiry. as such, we need to sububpoena hunter biden and the whistle-blower for closed door depositions, as well as relevant documents from the dnc, hunter biden's firm, rosemont zenica, and the whistle-blower. in the interest of some basic level of fairness, we expect you
to concur with these subpoenas. and i'll submit that letter for the record and yield back the balance of my time. >> i thank the gentleman. we are joined this afternoon by ambassador gordon sondland. i'm sorry, this morning. it was a long day yesterday. gordon sondland is the u.s. representative to the european union with the rank of ambassador. before joining the state department, ambassador sonde land was founder and ceo of providence hotels, national owner and operator of full service hotels and ambassador sondland was engaged in charitable enterprises. two final points before our witness is sworn. first, witness depositions as part of this inquiry were in unclassified -- were unclassified in nature and all open hearings will also be held at the unclassified level. any information that may touch
on classified information will be addressed separately. second, congress will not tolerate any reprisal, threat of reprisal or attempt to retaliate against any u.s. government official for testifying before congress, including you or any of your colleagues. if you would please rise and raise your right hand. i will begin my swearing you in. do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? let the record show the witness hassensitive, so please speak directly into it. without objection, your written statement will be made part of the record. with that, ambassador sondland, you are recognized for your opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, ranking member nunes. i appreciate the opportunity to speak again to the members of this committee. first, let me offer my thanks to the men and women of the u.s.
department of state who have committed their professional lives to support the foreign policy work of the united states. in particular, i want to thank my staff at the u.s. mission to the european union. your integrity, dedication, and hard work often performed without public acclaim or recognition serve as a shining example of true public service, and i am personally grateful to work beside you each and every day. it is my honor to serve as the u.s. ambassador to the european union. the u.s. mission to the eu is the direct link between the united states and the european union and its members. america's longest standing allies and one of the largest economy blocks in the world. every day, i work to support a strong, united and peaceful europe. strengthening our ties with
europe serves both american and european goals as we together promote political stability and economic prosperity around the world. i expect that few americans have heard my name before these events. so before i begin my substantive testimony, please let me share some of my personal background. my parents fled europe during the holocaust, escaping the atrocities of that time, my parents left germany for uruguay and emigrated to seattle, washington, where i was born and raised. like so many immigrants, my family was eager for freedom and hungry for opportunity. they raised my sister and me to be humble, hard working, and patriotic. and i am forever grateful for the sacrifices they made on our behalf.
public service has always been important to me. as a life long republican, i have contributed to initiatives of both republican and democratic administrations. in 2003, i served as a member of the transition team for oregon democratic governor ted kulengowski. the governor also appointed m toer on vario 2007, president g bush appointed me as a member of the commission on white house fellows. i worked with president bush on charitable events for his foundation's military service initiative, and i also worked briefly with former vice president joe biden's office in connection with the vice president's nationwide anti-cancer initiative at a local northwest hospital. and of course the highest honor in my public life came when
president trump asked me to serve as the united states ambassador to the european union. the senate confirmed me as an ambassador on a bipartisan voice vote, and i assumed the role in brussels on july 9th, 2018. although today is my first public testimony on the ukraine matters, this is not my first time cooperating with this committee. as you know, i've already provided 10 hours of deposition testimony, and i did so despite directives from the white house and the state department that i refuse to appear, as many others have done. i agreed to testify because i respect the gravity of the moment and i believe i have an obligation to account fully for my role in these events. but i also must acknowledge that this process has been challenging.
and in many respects, less than fair. i have not had access to all of my phone records, state department emails, and many, many other state department documents. and i was told i could not work with my eu staff to pull together the relevant files and inform having access to the state department materials would have been very helpful to me in trying to reconstruct with whom i spoke and met and when and what was said. as ambassador, i've had hundreds of meetings and calls with individuals, but i am not a note taker or a memo writer. never have been. my job requires that i speak with heads of state, senior government officials, members of the cabinet, the president almost each and every day. talking with foreign leaders might be memorable to some
people, but this is my job. i do it all the time. my lawyers and i have made multiple requests to the state department and the white house for these materials. yet these materials were not provided to me. and they have also refused to share these materials with this committee. these documents are not classified. and in fairness, in fairness, should have been made available. in the absence of these materials, my memory admittedly has not been perfect, and i have no doubt that a more fair, open, and orderly process of allowing me to read the state department records and other materials would have made this process far more transparent. i don't intend to repeat my prior opening statement or attempt to summarize 10 hours of previous deposition testimony. however, a few critical points have been obscured by noise over
the last few days and weeks. and i'm worried that the bigger picture is being ignored. so let me make a few key points. first, secretary perry, ambassador volker, and i worked with mr. rudy giuliani on ukraine matters at the expressed direction of the president of the united states. we did not want to work with mr. giuliani. simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt. we all understood that if we refused to work with mr. giuliani, we would lose a very important opportunity to cement relations between the united states and ukraine. so we followed the president's orders. second, although we disagreed with the need to involve mr.
giuliani, at the time we did not believe that his role was improper. as i previously testified, if i had known of all of mr. giuliani's dealings or his associations with individuals, some of whom are now under criminal indictment, i personally would not have acquiesced to his participation. still, given what we knew at the time, what we were asked to do did not appear to be wrong. third, let me say precisely because we did not think we were engaging in improper behavior, we made every effort to ensure that the relevant decision makers at the national security council and the state department knew the proper details of our efforts. the suggestion that we were
engaged in some irregular or rogue diplomacy is absolutely false. i have now identified certain state department emails and messages that provide contemporaneous support for my view. these emails show that the leadership of the state department, the national security council, and the white house were all informed about the ukraine efforts from may 23rd, 2019, until the security aid was released september 11th, 2019. i will quote from some of those messages with you shortly. fourth, as i testified previously, as i testified previously, mr. giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a white house visit
for president zelensky. mr. giuliani demanded that ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election dnc server and burisma. mr. juligiuliani was expressing desires of the president of the united states and we knew these investigations were important to the president. fifth, in july and august of 2019, we learned that the white house had also suspended security aid to ukraine. i was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid. i was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid as the ukrainians needed those funds to fight against russian aggression. i tried diligently to ask why the aid was suspended, but i never received a clear answer. still haven't to this day.
in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, i later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 elections and burisma, as mr. giuliani had demanded. i shared concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid with senator ron johnson. and i also shared my concerns with the ukrainians. finally, times, i was acting in good faith. i was acting in good faith. as a presidential appointee, i followed the directions of the president. we worked with mr. giuliani because the president directed us to do so. we had no desire to set any
conditions. we had no desire to set any conditions on the ukrainians. indeed, my own personal view, which i shared repeatedly with others, was that the white house and security assistance should have preceded without preconditions of any kind. we were working to overcome the problems given the facts as they existed. our only interest, and my only interest, was to advance longstanding u.s. policy and to support ukraine's fragile democracy. now, let me provide additional details specifically about ukraine and my involvement. first, my very first days as ambassador to the eu, which was starting back in july of 2018,
ukraine has featured prominently in my broader portfolio. ukraine's economic and political development are critical to the long standing and longlasting stability of europe. moreover, the conflict in eastern ukraine and crimea remains one of the most significant security crisis for europe and the united states. our efforts to counterbalance an aggressive russia depend in strapbl part on a strong ukraine. on april 21st, 2019, zelensky was elected president of ukraine in an historic election. with the expressed support of secretary pompeo, i attended president zelensky's inauguration as part of the had us delegation which was led by energy secretary rick perry.
the u.s. delegation also included senator johnson, ukraine's special envoy volker, and lieutenant colonel alex vindman of the national security counsel. my attendance at president zelensky's inauguration was not my first involvement with ukraine. as i testified prev ser assumingsar in july of 2018i received an official delegation from the government of then ukraine president poroshenko. the meeting took place at the u.s. mission in brussels and was prearranged by my career eu mission staff. and i have had several meetings since then in brussels. later, in february of february 2019, i worked well with u.s. ambassador marie yovanovitch in making my first official visit to ukraine for a u.s. navy visit
to the black sea port of odessa. and the reason i raised these prior ukraine activities,s the meeting in brussels, my visit to odessa, is to emphasize that ukraine has been a part of my portfolio from my very first days as u.s. ambassador. any claim that i somehow muscled my way into the ukraine relationship is simply false. during the zelensky inauguration on may 20th, the u.s. delegation developed a very positive view of the ukraine government. we were impressed by president zelensky's desire to promote a stronger relationship with the united states. we admired his equipment to reform and we were excited about the possibility of ukraine making the changes necessary to support a greater western economic investment.
and we were excited that ukraine might, after years and years of lip service, finally get serious about addressing its own well-known corruption problems. with that enthusiasm, we returned to the white house on may 23rd to brief president trump. we advised the president of the strategic importance of ukraine and the value of strengthening the relationship with president zelensky. to support this reformer, we asked the white house for two things. first, a working phone call between presidents trump and zelensky. and second, a working oval office visit. in our view, both were vital to cementing the u.s.-ukraine relationship, demonstrating support for ukraine in the face of russian aggression and advancing broader u.s. foreign
policy interests. unfortunately, president trump was skeptical. he expressed concerns that the ukrainian government was not serious about reform, and he even mentioned that ukraine tried to take him down in the last election. in response to our persistent efforts in that meeting to change his views, president trump directed us to, quote, talk with rudy. we understand talk with rudy meant talk with mr. rudy giuliani, the president's personal lawyer. let me say again, we weren't happy with the president's directive to talk with rudy. we did not want to involve mr. giuliani. i believe then as i do now that the men and women of the state department, not the president's personal lawyer, should take responsibility for ukraine matters. nonetheless, based on the
president's direction, we were faced with a choice. we could abandon the efforts to the phone call questionably in our foreign policy we could do as president trump had directed and talked with rudy. we chose the latter course not because we liked it but because it was the only constructive path open to us. over the course of the next several months, secretary perry, ambassador volker and i were in communication with mr. giuliani. secretary perry volunteered to make the initial calls with mr. giuliani given their prior relationship. ambassador volker made several of the early calls and generally informed us of what was discussed. i first communicated with mr. giuliani in early august, several months later. mr. giuliani emphasized that the
president wanted a public statement from president zelensky committing ukraine to look into the corruption issues. mr. giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election, including the dnc server, and burisma as two topics of importance to the president. we kept the leadership of the state department and the nsc informed of our activities. and that included communications with secretary of state pompeo, his counselor ol' rec bechtel, lisa kinna and also communications with ambassador bolton, dr. hill, mr. morrison, and their staff at the nsc. they knew what we were doing and why. on july 10th, 2019, senior
ukrainian national security officials met with ambassador bolton, ambassador volker, dr. hill, secretary perry, myself, and several others in washington, d.c. during that meeting we all discussed the importance of the two action items i identified earlier. one, a working phone call and, two, a white house meeting between presidents trump and zelensky. from my perspective, the july 10th meeting was a positive step toward accomplishing our shared goals. while i am now aware of accounts of the meeting from dr. hill and lieutenant colonel vindman, their recollections of those events simply don't square with my own or with those of ambassador volker or secretary perry. i recall mentioning the prigatiobefore ahite house call
meeting. but i do not recall any yelling or screaming or abrupt terminations, as others have said. instead, after the meeting, ambassador bolton walked outside with our group and we all took some great pictures together outside on the white house lawn. more important, those recollections of protests do not square with the documentary record of our interactions with the nsc in the days and weeks that followed. we kept the nsc apprised of our efforts, including specifically our efforts to secure a public statement from the ukrainians that would satisfy president trump's concerns. for example, on july 13th, and this is three days after that july 10th meeting, i emailed tim morrison. he had just taken over dr. hill's post as the nsc eurasia
director. and i met him that day for the first time. i wrote to mr. morrison with these words, the call between zelensky and potus, should happen before 7:21, which is the parliamentary elections in ukraine. sole purpose is for zelensky to give potus assurances of new sheriff in town, corruption ending, unbundling moving forward, and i -- and i emphasize -- any hampered investigations will be allowed to move forward transparently. goal is for potus to invite him to oval. volker, perry, bolton and i strongly recommend. mr. morrison acknowledged and said, thank you and specifically noted that he was tracking these issues.
again, there was no secret regarding moving forward and the discussion of investigations. moreover, i have reviewed other state department documents, some of which are not currently in the public domain, detailing mr. giuliani's efforts. for example, on july 10th, the very same day that ambassador volker, secretary perry and i were meeting with the ukraine officials in washington, ambassador taylor received a communication that mr. giuliani was still talking with ukrainian prosecutor lasenko in whatsapp messages with ambassador volker and i, ambassador taylor wrote to us as follows, just had a meeting with andre and vadim, referring to ukraine foreign minister. taylor said the ukrainians were,
quote, very concerned about what letsenko told them. according to r.g., meaning rudy giuliani, the meeting will not happen. volker responded good grief, please tell the dean to let the u.s. government representatives speak for the u.s. lustenko has his own self-interest here. taylor confirmed that he had communicated that message to the ukrainians and he added, i briefed olric referring to state department counts lore ol' rick breck tell. again, everyone is in the loop. three things are critical about this whatsapp exchange. first, while the ukrainians were in washington at the white house, mr. giuliani was communicating with the ukrainians without our knowledge. ambassador taylor, ambassador volker and i were all surprised
by this. second, mr. giuliani was communicating with the reportedly corrupt ukrainian prosecutor lutsenko and discussing mr. a zelensky-trump meeting was going to happen, again, without our knowledge. third, with this alarming news, ambassador taylor briefed the counselor to secretary of state pompeo, and even as late as september 24th of this year, secretary pompeo was directing kurt volker to speak with mr. giuliani. in a whatsapp message, kurt volker told me in part, spoke with rudy per guidance from s. s. is the state department's official designator for the secretary. spoke with rudy per guidance from s. look, we tried our best to fix the problem. while keeping the state
department and the nsc closely apprised of the challenges we faced. on july 25th, presidents trump and zelensky had their official call. i was not on the call. and i don't think i was invited to be on the call. in fact, i first read the transcript on september 25th, the day it was publicly released. all i had heard at that time was that the call had gone well. looking back, i find it very odd, very odd, that neither i nor ambassador taylor nor ambassador volker ever received a detailed readout of that call with the biden references. now, there are people who say they had concerns about the call. but no one shared any concerns about the call with me at the time, which frankly would have been very helpful to know. on july 26th, ambassador taylor,
ambassador volker, and i were all in kiev to meet with president zelensky. the timing of that trip immediately after the call between president trump and zelensky was entirely, entirely coincidental. the kiev meetings had been scheduled well before the date that the white house finally fixed the call. during our kiev meeting, i do not recall president zelensky discussing the distance of his july 25th call with president trump. nor did he request vice president biden, which we all later learned was discussed on the july 25th call. and this is consistent with the reported comments from ambassadors volker and taylor. after the zelensky meeting, i ecall the specifics of s senior
our conversation, but i believe the issue of investigations was probably a part of that agenda or meeting. also on july 26th, shortly after our kiev meetings, i spoke by phone with president trump. the white house, which finally, finally shared certain call dates and times with my attorneys, confirms this. the call lasted five minutes. i remember i was at a restaurant in kiev and i have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations. again, given mr. giuliani's demand that president zelensky make a public statement about investigations, i knew that investigations were important to president trump. we did not discuss any classified information. other witnesses have