Impeachment Hearing Day 3 Transcript – Kurt Volker, Tim Morrison Testify
Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to the Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a senior director at the national security council, testified before the House of Representatives on November 19, 2019 in Day 3 of the Donald Trump Impeachment Hearings. Read the transcript of the hearing right here on Rev.com.
Adam Schiff: (00:54)
Committee will come to order. Good afternoon. This is the fourth in a series of public hearings the committee will be holding as part of the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry. Without objection, the chair is authorized to declare a recess of the committee at any time. There is a quorum present. We will proceed today in the same fashion as our other hearings. I’ll make an opening statement and then the ranking member will have an opportunity to make his opening statement. Then we will turn to our witnesses for opening statements and then two questions.
Adam Schiff: (01:23)
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 afternoon, we will hear from two witnesses requested by the minority: Ambassador Kurt Volker, the state department Special Representative for Ukraine negotiations and Tim Morrison, the former senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council. I appreciate the minority’s request for these two important witnesses as well as under secretary of state David Hale from whom we will hear tomorrow.
Adam Schiff: (01:55)
As we have heard from other witnesses, when Joe Biden was considering whether to enter the race for the presidency in 2020, the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, began a campaign to weaken Vice President Biden’s candidacy by pushing Ukraine to investigate him and his son. To clear away any obstacle to the scheme, days after the new Ukrainian president was elected, Trump ordered the recall of Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador in Kyiv who was known for pushing anti-corruption efforts.
Adam Schiff: (02:25)
Trump also canceled Vice President Mike Pence’s participation in the inauguration of President Zelensky on May 20th and instead sent a delegation headed by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland and ambassador Kurt Volker. These three returned from Kyiv and briefed President Trump on their encouraging first interactions with the new Ukrainian administration. Hopes that Trump would agree to an early meeting with the Ukrainian president were soon diminished, however, when Trump pushed back.
Adam Schiff: (02:58)
According to Volker, he just didn’t believe it. He was skeptical, and he also said, “That’s not what I hear. I hear he’s got some terrible people around him.” President Trump also told them he believed that Ukraine tried to take him down. He told the three Amigos, “Talk to Rudy,” and they did. One of those interactions took place a week before the July 25th phone call between Trump and Zelensky when Ambassador Volker had breakfast with Rudy Giuliani at the Trump Hotel. Volker testified that he pushed back on Giuliani’s accusation against Joe Biden.
Adam Schiff: (03:34)
On July 22nd, just days before Trump would talk to Zelensky, Ambassador Volker had a telephone conference with Giuliani and Andriy Yermak, a top advisor to the Ukrainian president so that Giuliani could be introduced to Yermak. On July 25th, the same day as the call between President Trump and Zelensky, but before it took place, Ambassador Volker sent a text message to Yermak, “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 a visit to Washington. Good luck!”
Adam Schiff: (04:13)
Later that day, Donald Trump would have the now-infamous phone call with Zelensky in which he responded to Ukraine’s appreciation for US defense support and a request by President Zelensky to buy more javelin anti-tank missiles by saying, ” I would like you to do us a favor though.” The favor involved the two investigations that Giuliani had been pushing for into the Bidens in 2016. Ambassador Volker was not on the call, but when asked about what it reflected, he testified, “No president of the United States should ask a foreign leader to help interfere in a US election.”
Adam Schiff: (04:51)
Among those listening in on the July 25th call was Tim Morrison who had taken over as the NSC senior director for European affairs at the NSC only days before, but had been briefed by his predecessor, Fiona Hill, about the irregular second channel that was operating in parallel to the official one. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and Ms. Williams, from whom we heard this morning, like them, Morrison emerged from the call troubled. He was concerned enough about what he heard on the July 25th call that he went to see the NSC legal advisors soon after it had ended.
Adam Schiff: (05:26)
Colonel Vindman’s fear was that the president had broken the law potentially, but Morrison said that his concern was that the call could be damaging if it were leaked. Soon after this discussion with lawyers at the NSC, the call record was hidden away on a secure server used to store highly classified intelligence where it remained until late September when the call record was publicly released. Following the July 25th call, Ambassador Volker worked with Sondland and the Ukrainian president’s close adviser, Yermak, on a statement that would satisfy Giuliani. When Yermak sent over a draft that’s still failed to include the specific words Burisma and 2016, Giuliani said the statement would lack credibility. Ambassador Volker then added both Burisma and 2016 to the draft statement. Both Volker and Morrison were, by late July, aware that the security assistance had been cut off at the direction of the president and acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. As the Ukrainians became aware of the suspension of security assistance and the negotiations over the scheduling of a White House meeting between Trump and Zelensky dragged on, the pressure increased and any pretense that there was no linkage soon dropped away.
Adam Schiff: (06:40)
Morrison accompanied Vice President Pence to Warsaw on September 1st where Pence and Zelensky met, and Zelensky raised the suspended security assistance. Following that meeting, Sondland approached Yermak to tell him that he believed that what could help move the aid was if the Ukrainian prosecutor general would go to the mic and announced that he was opening the Burisma investigation. On September 7th, Ambassador Sondland had a telephone call with Trump and asked him what he wanted from Ukraine.
Adam Schiff: (07:10)
According to Morrison, who spoke with Sondland after the call, Trump insisted that there was no quid pro quo, but President Zelensky must personally announce the opening of the investigations and he should want to do it. Sondland also said that if President Zelensky didn’t agree to make a public statement about the investigations, the US and Ukraine would be at a stalemate, meaning it would not receive the much-needed security assistance.
Adam Schiff: (07:37)
Morrison had a sinking feeling after the call as he realized that the ask was now being directed at Zelensky himself and not the prosecutor general as Sondland had relayed to a senior Ukrainian aid in Warsaw on September 1st. While President Trump claim there was no quid pro quo, his insistence that Zelensky himself must publicly announce the investigations or they’d be at a stalemate made clear that leads to official act White House meeting and 400 million in military aid were conditioned on receipt of what Trump wanted, the investigations to help his campaign.
Adam Schiff: (08:15)
The efforts to secure the investigations would continue for several more days, but appear to have abruptly ended soon after the three committees of Congress announced an investigation into the Trump-Giuliani Ukraine scheme only then would the aide be released. I now recognize ranking member Nunes for any remarks that he’d like to make.
Devin Nunes: (08:37)
Welcome back to act two of today’s circus, ladies and gentlemen. We are here to continue what the Democrats tell us is a serious, somber, and even prayerful process of attempting to overthrow a duly elected president. If they’re successful, the end result would be to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans who thought the president is chosen by the American people, not by 13 Democrat partisans on a committee that’s supposed to be overseeing the government’s intelligence agencies.
Devin Nunes: (09:10)
Isn’t it strange how we’ve morphed into the impeachment committee, presiding over a matter that has no intelligent component whatsoever? Impeachment, of course, is the jurisdiction of the judiciary committee, not the intelligence committee, but putting this sparse in our court provides two main advantages for the Democrats. It made it easier for them to shroud their depositions in secrecy and it allowed them to avoid giving too big of a role in this spectacle to another Democrat committee chairman, and whom the Democrat leaders obviously have no confidence.
Devin Nunes: (09:47)
Who can possibly view these proceedings as fair and impartial? They are being conducted by Democrats who spent three years saturating the airwaves with dire warnings that President Trump is a Russian agent and these outlandish attacks continue to this very day. Just this weekend in front of a crowd of democratic party activists, the chairman of this committee denounced President Trump as a profound threat to our democracy and vowed that we will send that charlatan and the White House back to the golden throne he came from.
Devin Nunes: (10:22)
How can anyone believe that people who would utter such dramatic absurdities are conducting a fair impeachment process and are only trying to discover the truth? It’s obvious the Democrats are trying to topple the president solely because they despise him because they’ve promised since election day to impeach him and because they’re afraid he will win re-election next year. No witnesses have identified any crime or impeachable offense committed by the president, but that doesn’t matter.
Devin Nunes: (10:59)
Last week, the Democrats told us his infraction was asking for a quid pro quo. This week, it’s bribery. Who knows what ridiculous crime they’ll be accusing him of next week? As witnesses, the Democrats have called a parade of government officials who don’t like President Trump’s Ukraine policy, even though they acknowledge he provided Ukraine with lethal military aid after the Obama administration refused to do so. They also resent his conduct of policy through channels outside their own authority and control. These actions they argue contradict the so-called interagency consensus.
Devin Nunes: (11:45)
They don’t seem to understand that the president alone is constitutionally vested with the authority to set the policy. The American people elect a president, not an interagency consensus. And of course our previous witnesses had very little new information to share in these hearings, that’s because these hearings are not designed to uncover new information. They’re meant to showcase a handpicked group of witnesses who the Democrats determined through their secret audition process will provide testimony most conductive and conducive to their accusations.
Devin Nunes: (12:21)
In fact, by the time any witness says anything here, people are actually hearing it for the third time. They heard it first through the Democrats cherry- pick leaks to their media sympathizers during the secret depositions and second, when the Democrats publish those deposition transcripts in a highly staged manner. Of course, there are no transcripts from crucial witnesses like Hunter Biden who could testify about his well paying job and the board of a corrupt Ukrainian company, or Alexandra Chalupa who worked on an election meddling scheme with Ukrainian officials on behalf of the democratic national committee and the Clinton campaign. That’s because the Democrats refused to let us hear from them. As for evidence, what we’re left with is the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call, which the president made public. That means Americans can read for themselves an unremarkable conversation with President Zelensky who repeatedly expressed satisfaction with the call afterward. The Democrats, however, claimed President Zelensky was being bribed and therefore, he must be lying when he says the call was friendly and pose no problems.
Devin Nunes: (13:34)
There’s some irony here, for weeks we’ve heard the Democrats bemoan the damage President Trump supposedly caused to the US-Ukrainian relations, but when the Ukrainian president contradicts their accusations, they publicly dismiss him as a liar. I may be wrong, but I’m fairly sure calling a friendly foreign president, newly elected a liar violates their so-called interagency consensus.
Devin Nunes: (14:05)
So overall, the Democrats would have you believe President Zelensky was being blackmailed with a pause on lethal military aide that he didn’t even know about, that President Trump did not mention to him, and that diplomats have testified they always assumed would be lifted, which it was. Without the Ukrainians undertaking any of the actions, they were supposedly being coerced into doing. This process is not serious. It’s not sober and it is certainly not prayerful.
Devin Nunes: (14:37)
It’s an ambitious attack to deprive the American people of the right to elect a president the Democrats don’t like. As I mentioned, chairman of this committee claims that democracy is under threat. If that’s true, it’s not the president who poses the danger. I yield back.
Adam Schiff: (15:01)
I thank the gentlemen. We are joined this afternoon by Ambassador Kurt Volker and Mr. Timothy Morrison. Ambassador Kurt Volker served in the US Foreign Service for nearly 30 years working on European and Eurasian political and security issues under five different presidential administrations. During the George W. Bush administration, he served as the acting director for European and Eurasian affairs in the National Security Council and later as a deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. In 2008, President Bush appointed Ambassador Kurt Volker to the United States permanent representative to NATO where he served until May 2009. In July 2017, Ambassador Kurt Volker was appointed to be the US Special Representative for Ukraine negotiations serving in that position until he resigned in September. It is pleasure to welcome Mr. Morrison back to the legislative branch where he served for almost two decades as a Republican staffer. He was a professional staff member for Representative Mark Kennedy of Minnesota, and Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.
Adam Schiff: (16:01)
Later, Mr. Morrison served as the longtime policy director for the Republican staff of the House Armed Services Committee. In July 2018, Mr. Morrison joined the National Security Council as senior director for countering weapons of mass destruction. Following the departure of Dr. Fiona Hill in July 2019, Mr. Morrison assumed the position of senior director for Russia and Europe.
Adam Schiff: (16:23)
Two final points before the witnesses are sworn. First witness depositions as part of this inquiry 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 US government official for testifying before Congress, including you or any of your colleagues.
Adam Schiff: (16:53)
If you’ll both please rise and raise your right hand, I will begin by swearing you in. Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you’re about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Let the record show that the witnesses answered in the affirmative. Thank you and please be seated. The microphones are sensitive so please speak directly into them without objection. Your written statements will also be made part of the record.
Adam Schiff: (17:24)
With that Mr. Morrison, you are recognized for your opening statement and immediately thereafter Ambassador Volker, you’re recognized for your opening statement.
Tim Morrison: (17:34)
Chairman Schiff, Ranking Member Nunes and members of the committee, I appear before you today under subpoena to answer your questions about my time as senior director for European affairs at the White House and the National Security Council, as related to Ukraine and US security assistance to that country. I will provide you the most complete and accurate information I can, consistent with my obligations to protect classified and privileged information. Whether the conduct that is the subject of this inquiry merits impeachment is a question for the US House of Representatives.
Tim Morrison: (18:04)
I appear here today only to provide factual information based upon my knowledge and recollection of events. I will not waste time restating the details of my opening statement from my deposition on October 31, 2019, which has recently been made public. However, I will highlight the following key points: first, as I previously stated, I do not know who the whistleblower is nor do I intend to speculate as to who the individual may be. Second, I have great respect for my former colleagues from the NSC and the rest of the interagency.
Tim Morrison: (18:37)
I am not here today to question their character or integrity. My recollections and judgments are my own. Some of my colleagues’ recollections of conversations and interactions may differ from mine, but I do not view those differences as the result of an untoward purpose. Third, I continue to believe Ukraine is on the front lines of a strategic competition between the West and Vladimir Putin’s revanchist Russia. Russia is a failing power, but it is still a dangerous one. The United States aids Ukraine and her people so they can fight Russia over there and we don’t have to fight Russia here.
Tim Morrison: (19:12)
Support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty has been a bipartisan objective since Russia’s military invasion in 2014. It must continue to be. As I stated during my deposition, I feared at the time of the call, on July 25th, how its disclosure would play in Washington’s political climate. My fears have been realized. I understand the gravity of these proceedings, but I beg you not to lose sight of the military conflict underway in Eastern Ukraine today. The ongoing illegal occupation of Crimea and the importance of reform of Ukraine’s politics and economy.
Tim Morrison: (19:46)
Every day that the focus of discussion involving Ukraine is centered on these proceedings instead of those matters is a day when we are not focused on the interest of Ukraine, the United States, and Western-style liberalism share. Finally, I concluded my act of service at the National Security Council the day after I last appeared before you. I left the NSC completely of my own volition. I felt no pressure to resign nor have I feared any retaliation from my testimony. I made this career choice sometime before I decided to testify on October 31st. I’m prepared to answer your questions to the best of my ability and recollection.
Adam Schiff: (20:26)
Thank you. Ambassador Volker.
Kurt Volker: (20:31)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and ranking member. Thank you very much for the opportunity to provide this testimony today. As you know, I was the first person to come forward to testify as part of this inquiry. I did so voluntarily and likewise voluntarily provided relevant documentation in my possession in order to be as cooperative, clear and complete as possible. I am here today voluntarily and I remain committed to cooperating fully and truthfully with this committee. All I can do is provide the facts as I understood them at the time. I did this on October 3rd in private and I will do so again today.
Kurt Volker: (21:13)
Like many others who have testified in this inquiry, I’m a career foreign policy professional. I began my career as an intelligence analyst for Northern Europe for the Central Intelligence Agency in 1986 before joining the state department in 1988. I served in diplomatic postings, primarily focused on European political and security issues for over 20 years under presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
Kurt Volker: (21:45)
My last three positions before leaving the senior foreign service in 2009 were as director for NATO in West European affairs at the National Security Council, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs at the state department, and finally, as US ambassador to NATO. In the spring of 2017 then secretary of state, Tillerson, asked if I would come back to government service as US Special Representative for Ukraine negotiations. I did this on a part-time, voluntary basis with no salary paid by the US taxpayer simply because I believed it was important to serve our country in this way. I believed I could steer US policy in the right direction. For over two years as US Special Representative for Ukraine negotiations, my singular focus was advancing the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States.
Kurt Volker: (22:39)
In particular, that meant pushing back on Russian aggression and supporting the development of a strong, resilient, democratic and prosperous Ukraine, one that overcomes a legacy of corruption and becomes integrated into a wider transatlantic community. This is critically important for US national security. If we can stop and reverse Russian aggression in Ukraine, we can prevent it elsewhere. If Ukraine, the cradle of Slavic civilization pre-dating Moscow succeeds as a freedom, loving, prosperous, and secure democracy, it gives us enormous hope that Russia may one day change, providing a better life for Russian people and overcoming its current plague of authoritarianism, corruption, aggression toward neighbors and threats to NATO in the United States. The stakes for the United States and a successful Ukraine could not be higher.
Kurt Volker: (23:36)
At no time was I aware of or knowingly took apart in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden. As you know from the extensive realtime documentation I have provided, Vice President Biden was not a topic of our discussions. I was not on the July 25th phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky. I was not made aware of any reference to vice president Biden or his son by President Trump until the transcript of that call was released on September 25th, 2019.
Kurt Volker: (24:09)
From July 7, 2017, until September 27th, 2019, I was the lead US diplomat dealing with Russia’s war on Ukraine. My role was not some irregular channel, but the official channel. I reported directly to secretaries of state: Tillerson and Pompeo kept the national security advisor and secretary of defense well-informed of my efforts and worked closely with Ambassador Masha Yovanovitch, NSC Senior Director Hill, and her successor, Tim Morrison, then-Assistant Secretary Wess Mitchell and his successor acting Assistant Secretary Phil Reeker, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of defense, Laura Cooper, NSC Director Alex Vindman and many, many others. I have known many of them for several years. It was a team effort.
Kurt Volker: (25:02)
When Ambassador Yovanovitch left Kyiv, I identified and recommended Bill Taylor to Secretary Pompeo, so we would still have a strong seasoned professional on the ground. For two years before the events at the heart of this investigation took place, I was the most senior US diplomat visiting the conflict zone, meeting with victims of Russia’s aggression, urging increased US security assistance, including lethal defensive weapons, working with Ukrainian President Poroshenko and then his successor President Zelensky and their teams, working with France and Germany and the so-called Norman process, pressing for support from NATO, the EU and OSCE, supporting the OSCE special monitoring mission and engaging in negotiations and other contacts with Russian officials.
Kurt Volker: (25:52)
At the time I took the position in the summer of 2017, there were major complicated questions swirling in public debate about the direction of US policy towards Ukraine. Would the administration lifts sanctions against Russia? Would it make some kind of grand bargain with Russia in which it would trade recognition of Russia seizure of Ukrainian territory for some other deal in Syria or elsewhere? Would the administration recognized Russia’s claimed annexation of Crimea? Will this just become another frozen conflict?
Kurt Volker: (26:23)
There are also a vast number of vacancies in key diplomatic positions, so no one was really representing the United States in the negotiating process about ending the war in Eastern Ukraine. During over two years of my tenure as US Special Representative, we fundamentally turned US policy around. US policy towards Ukraine was strong, consistent and enjoyed support across the administration, bipartisan support in Congress and support among our allies and Ukraine. We changed the language commonly used to describe Russia’s aggression.
Kurt Volker: (26:57)
I was the administration’s most outspoken public figure highlighting Russia’s invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine, calling out Russia’s responsibility to end the war. I visited the war zone three times, meeting with soldiers and civilians alike, always bringing media with me to try to raise the public visibility of Russia’s aggression and the humanitarian impact on the lives of the citizens of the Donbass. We coordinated closely with our European allies in Canada to maintain a United front against Russian aggression and for Ukraine’s democracy reform, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Kurt Volker: (27:35)
Ukraine policy is perhaps the one area where the US and its European allies had to be in, in a lockstep. This coordination help to strengthen US sanctions against Russia and to maintain EU sanctions as well. Along with others in the administration, I strongly advocated for lifting the ban on the sale of lethal defensive weapons or at least the defensive arms to Ukraine, advocated for increasing US security assistance to Ukraine and urged other countries to follow suit. My team and I drafted the Pompeo declaration of July 25th, 2018 in which the secretary clearly and definitively laid out the US policy of non-recognition of Russia’s claimed annexation of Crimea.
Kurt Volker: (28:20)
I engage with our allies, with Ukraine, and with Russia in negotiations to implement the Minsk agreements, holding a firm line on insisting on the withdrawal of Russian forces dismantling of the so-called people’s republics and restoring Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Together with others in the administration, we kept US policy steady through presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine and worked hard to strengthen the US-Ukraine bilateral relationship under the new president and government, helping shepherd in a peaceful transition of power in Ukraine.
Kurt Volker: (28:51)
So in short, whereas two years ago, most observers would have said that time is on Russia’s side, by 2019 when I departed, we had turned the tables and time was now on Ukraine’s side. It’s a tragedy for the United States and for Ukraine that our efforts in this area, which were bearing fruit, have now been thrown into disarray. One of the critical aspects of my role as US Special Representative was that, as the most senior US official appointed to work solely on the Ukraine portfolio, I needed to step forward to provide leadership. If we needed to adopt a policy position, I made the case for it.
Kurt Volker: (29:28)
If anyone needed to speak out publicly, I would do it. When we failed to get a timely statement about Russia’s illegal attack on Ukraine’s Navy and seizure of Ukraine sailors, I tweeted about it in order to condemn the act. If a problem arose, I knew it was my job to try to fix it. That was my perspective when I learned in May 2019, that we had a significant problem that was impeding our ability to strengthen our support for Ukraine’s new president in his effort to ramp up Ukraine’s fight against corruption and implementation of needed reforms.
Kurt Volker: (30:04)
I found myself faced with the choice to be aware of a problem and to ignore it or to accept that it was my responsibility to try to fix it. I tried to fix it. The problem was that despite the unanimous positive assessment and recommendations of those of us who were part of the US presidential delegation that attended the inauguration of President Zelensky, President Trump was receiving a different negative narrative about Ukraine and President Zelensky. That narrative was fueled by accusations from Ukraine’s then prosecutor general and conveyed to the president by former mayor, Rudy Giuliani.
Kurt Volker: (30:44)
As I previously told this committee, I became aware of the negative impact this was having on our policy efforts when four of us, who were a part of the presidential delegation to the inauguration, met as a group with President Trump on May 23rd. We stressed our finding that President Zelensky represented the best chance for getting Ukraine out of the mire of corruption that had been in for over 20 years. We urged him to invite President Zelensky to the White House. The president was very skeptical. Given Ukraine’s history of corruption, that’s understandable.
Kurt Volker: (31:19)
He said that Ukraine was a corrupt country full of terrible people. He said, “They tried to take me down.” In the course of that conversation, he referenced conversations with Mayor Giuliani. It was clear to me that despite the positive news and recommendations being conveyed by this official delegation about the new president, President Trump had a deeply rooted negative view on your grain rooted in the past. He was receiving other information from other sources, including Mayor Giuliani, that was more negative, causing him to retain this negative view.
Kurt Volker: (31:53)
Within a few days, on May 29th, President Trump indeed signed the congratulatory letter to President Zelensky, which included an invitation to the president to visit him at the White House. However, more than four weeks passed and we could not nail down a date for the meeting. I came to believe that the president’s long-held negative view towards Ukraine was causing hesitation in actually scheduling the meeting much as we had seen in our Oval Office discussion.
Kurt Volker: (32:23)
After weeks of reassuring the Ukrainians that it was just a scheduling issue, I decided to tell President Zelensky that we had a problem with the information reaching President Trump from Mayor Giuliani. I did so in a bilateral meeting at a conference on Ukrainian economic reform in Toronto on July 2nd, 2019 where I led the US delegation. I suggested that he called President Trump directly in order to renew their personal relationship and to assure President Trump that he was committed to investigating and fighting corruption, things on which President Zelensky had based his presidential campaign. I was convinced that getting the two presidents to talk with each other would overcome the negative perception of Ukraine that President Trump still harbored. President Zelensky senior aid, Andriy Yermak, approached me several days later to ask to be connected to Mayor Giuliani. I agreed to make that connection. I did so because I understood that the new Ukrainian leadership wanted to convince those, like Mayor Giuliani, who believed such a negative narrative about Ukraine that times have changed and that, under President Zelensky, Ukraine is worthy of US support.
Kurt Volker: (33:36)
Ukrainians believed that if they could get their own narrative across in a way that convinced Mayor Giuliani that they were serious about fighting corruption and advancing reform, Mayor Giuliani would convey that assessment to President Trump thus correcting the previous negative narrative. That made sense to me and I tried to be helpful. I made clear to the Ukrainians that Mayor Giuliani was a private citizen, the president’s personal lawyer and not representing the US government.
Kurt Volker: (34:05)
Likewise, in my conversations with Mayor Giuliani, I never considered him to be speaking on the president’s behalf or giving instructions, rather, the information flow was the other way, from Ukraine to Mayor Giuliani in the hopes that this would clear up the information reaching President Trump. On July 10th after hearing from Mr. Yermak, I wrote to Mayor Giuliani to seek to get together and finally on July 19th, we met for breakfast for a longer discussion.
Kurt Volker: (34:32)
At that meeting, I told Mr. Giuliani that in my view, the prosecutor general with whom he had been speaking, Mr. Lutsenko, was not credible and was acting in a self-serving capacity. To my surprise, Mayor Giuliani said that he had already come to that same conclusion. Mr. Giuliani also mentioned both the accusations about Vice President Biden and about interference in the 2016 election and stressed that all he wanted to see was for Ukraine to investigate what happened in the past and apply its own laws.
Kurt Volker: (35:03)
… for Ukraine to investigate what happened in the past and apply its own laws. Concerning the allegations, I stress that no one in the new team governing Ukraine had anything to do with anything that may have happened in 2016. They were making television shows at the time. I also said that it’s not credible to me that former Vice President Biden would have been influenced in any way by financial or personal motives in carrying out his duties as vice president. A different issue is whether some individual Ukrainians may have attempted to influence the 2016 election or thought they could buy influence. That is at least plausible given Ukraine’s reputation for corruption, but the accusation that Vice President Biden acted inappropriately did not seem at all credible to me. After that meeting, I connected Mayor Giuliani and Mr. Yermak by text and later by phone. They met in person on August 2nd, 2019.
Kurt Volker: (35:59)
In conversations with me following that meeting, which I did not attend, Mr. Giuliani said that he had stressed the importance of Ukraine conducting investigations into what happened in the past and Mr. Yermak stressed that he told Mr. Giuliani it is the government’s program to root out corruption and implement reforms and they would be conducting investigations as part of this process anyway. Mr. Giuliani said he believed the Ukrainian president needed to make a statement about fighting corruption and that he had discussed this with Mr. Yermak. I said, I did not think that this would be a problem since that is the government’s position anyway. I followed up with Mr. Yermak and he said that they would indeed be prepared to make a statement. He said it would reference Burisma and 2016 in a wider context of bilateral relations and rooting out corruption anyway. There was no mention of Vice President Biden. Rather in referencing Burisma and 2016 election interference, it was clear to me that he, Mr. Yermak, was only talking about whether any Ukrainians had acted inappropriately.
Kurt Volker: (37:05)
At this time I was focused on our goal of getting President Zelensky and President Trump to meet with each other and I believe that their doing so would overcome the chronically negative view President Trump had towards Ukraine. I was seeking to solve the problem I saw when we met with President Trump in the Oval Office on May 23rd. As a professional diplomat, I was comfortable exploring whether there was a statement Ukraine could make about its own intentions to investigate possible corruption that would be helpful in convincing Mr. Giuliani to convey to President Trump a more positive assessment of the new leadership in Ukraine. On August 16th, Mr. Yermak shared a draft with me, which I thought looked perfectly reasonable. It did not mention Burisma or 2016 elections but was generic. Ambassador Sondland and I had a further conversation with Mr. Giuliani, who said in his view, in order to be convincing that this government represented real change in Ukraine, the statement should include specific reference to Burisma and 2016. Again, there was no mention of Vice President Biden to these conversations.
Kurt Volker: (38:14)
Ambassador Sondland and I discussed these points and I edited the statement drafted by Mr. Yermak to include these points to see how it looked. I then discussed it further with Mr. Yermak. He said that for a number of reasons, including the fact that Mr. Lutsenko was still officially the prosecutor general, they did not want to mention Burisma or 2016. I agreed and the idea of putting out a statement was shelved. These were the last conversations I had about this statement, which were on or about August 17 to 18. My last contact with Mr. Giuliani according to my records was on August 13th, until he tried to reach me on September 20th after the impeachment inquiry was launched. At this time, that is to say in the middle of August, I thought the idea of issuing this statement had been definitively scrapped. In September. I was surprised to learn that there had been further discussions with Ukrainians about President Zelensky possibly making a statement in an interview with U.S. media similar to what we had discussed in August
Kurt Volker: (39:19)
Since these events and since I gave my testimony on October 3rd, a great deal of additional information and perspectives have come to light. I’ve learned many things that I did not know at the time of the events in question. First, at the time I was connecting Mr. Yermak and Mr. Giuliani and discussing with Mr. Yermak and Ambassador Sondland a possible statement that could be made by the Ukrainian president, I did not know of any linkage between the hold on security assistance and Ukraine pursuing investigations. No one had ever said that to me and I never conveyed such a linkage to the Ukrainians. I oppose the hold on U.S. security assistance as soon as I learned about it on July 18th and I thought we could turn it around before the Ukrainians ever knew or became alarmed about it. I did not know the reason for the hold, but I viewed it as a U.S. policy problem that we needed to fix internally and I was confident we would do so.
Kurt Volker: (40:14)
I believe the Ukrainians became aware of the hold on August 29th and not before. That date is the first time any of them asked me about the hold by forwarding an article that had been published in Politico. When I spoke to the Ukrainians about the hold after August 29th, instead of telling them that they needed to do something to get the hold released, I told them the opposite, that they should not be alarmed, it was an internal U.S. problem and we were working to get it fixed. I did not know others were conveying a different message to them around the same time. Second, I did not know about the strong concerns expressed by then national Security Advisor, John Bolton to members of his NSC staff regarding the discussion of investigations. I participated in the July 10th meeting between National Security Advisor Bolton and then Ukrainian chairman of the National Security and Defense Council, Alex Danylyuk.
Kurt Volker: (41:07)
As I remember, the meeting was essentially over when Ambassador Sondland made a general comment about investigations. I think all of us thought it was inappropriate. The conversation did not continue and the meeting concluded. Later on in the Ward Room. I may have been engaged in a side conversation or had already left the complex because I do not recall further discussion regarding investigations or Burisma. Third, I did not understand that others believe that any investigation of Ukrainian company, Burisma, which had a history of accusations of corruption was tantamount to investigating Vice President Biden. I drew a sharp distinction between the two. It has long been U.S. policy under multiple administrations to urge Ukraine to investigate and fight internal corruption. I was quite comfortable with Ukraine making its own statement about its own policy of investigating and fighting corruption at home. At the one in person meeting I had with Mayor Giuliani on July 19th, Mayor Giuliani raised and I rejected the conspiracy theory that Vice President Biden would have been influenced in his duties as vice president by money paid to his son.
Kurt Volker: (42:14)
As I previously testified, I have known Vice President Biden for 24 years, he is an honorable man and I hold him in the highest regard. At no time was I aware of or knowingly took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden. And as you know from the extensive documentation I provided, Vice President Biden was not a topic of discussion. I was not on the July 25th phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky. I was not made aware of any reference to Vice President Biden or his son by President Trump until the transcript of that call was released on September 25th, 2019. Throughout this time, I understood that there was an important distinction between Burisma and Biden and I urge the Ukrainians to maintain such a distinction. I did not know that President Trump or others had raised Vice President Biden with Ukrainians or had conflated the investigation of possible Ukrainian corruption with investigation of the former vice president.
Kurt Volker: (43:06)
In retrospect, for the Ukrainians, it would clearly have been confusing. In hindsight, I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption involving the Ukrainian company, Burisma, as equivalent to investigating former Vice President Biden. I saw them as very different, the former being appropriate and unremarkable. The latter being unacceptable. In retrospect, I should’ve seen that connection differently and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections. Fourth, much has been made of the term, “three amigos” in reference to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland and myself. I’ve never used that term and frankly cringe when I hear it because for me, the “three amigos” will always refer to Senator McCain, Senator Lieberman and Senator Graham in reference to their work to support the surge in Iraq. Moreover, I was never aware of any designation by President Trump or anyone else putting Ambassador Sondland or the three of us as a group in charge of Ukraine policy.
Kurt Volker: (44:03)
Rather, as I understood it, each of us in our own respective official capacities continued to work together after our attendance of President Zelensky’s inauguration to push for greater U.S. support for Ukraine. Leading the diplomacy around Ukraine negotiations have long been my official responsibility, but I welcomed the added support and influence of a cabinet member and our EU ambassador. Fifth, I was not aware that Ambassador Sondland spoke with President Trump on July 26th, while Ambassador Taylor and I were visiting the conflict zone. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, allow me to thank you again for the opportunity to provide this testimony. I believe that U.S. foreign policy and national security interest in Ukraine are of critical importance and I’d be pleased to answer your questions. Thank you.
Adam Schiff: (44:50)
Thank you gentlemen for your opening statements, we’ll now proceed to the first round of questions. As detailed in the memo provided to the committee members, there’ll be 45 minutes of questions conducted by the chairman or majority counsel followed by 45 minutes for the ranking member or minority counsel. Following that, unless I specify additional equal time for extended questioning, we’ll proceed under the five minute rule and every member will have a chance to ask questions. I now recognize myself or counsel for the first round of questions.
Adam Schiff: (45:23)
Ambassador Volker, I was going to just yield to the minority counsel, but there are a couple points that you made in your opening statement that I wanted to ask about first. First you said that now, former Attorney General Lutsenko was not credible. Mr. Lutsenko is the author of a number of allegations against Ambassador Yovanovitch, a number of allegations that were shared with John Solomon of The Hill, a number of allegations that have been repeatedly brought up by my Republican colleagues. Why is it that you found Mr. Lutsenko not credible and told Mr. Giuliani?
Kurt Volker: (46:06)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First off, the allegations themselves, including those against Ambassador Yovanovitch did not appear to me to be credible at all. I know her to be an incredibly competent professional. Someone I’ve worked with for many, many years. The suggestions that she was acting in some inappropriate manner were not credible to me. I’ve known Vice President Biden for a long time. Those accusations were not credible. And then separate from that, I also was aware of the political situation in Ukraine. We had a situation where President Poroshenko appeared to not be in a favorable position going into the elections. Where it was increasingly apparent then candidate Zelensky was going to win. As is often the case in Ukraine, a change in power would mean change in prosecutorial powers as well. And there have been efforts in the past at prosecuting the previous government.
Kurt Volker: (47:05)
I think Mr. Lutsenko in my estimation, and I said this to Mayor Giuliani when I met with him, was interested in preserving his own position. He wanted to avoid being fired by a new government in order to prevent prosecution of himself, possible prosecution of himself. Possibly also this is something that President Poroshenko would’ve welcomed as well because he probably would have avoided any efforts to prosecute President Poroshenko as well. So by making allegations like this and making sure they were reaching U.S. media, I think that Mr. Lutsenko was trying to make himself appear to be an important and influential player in the United States.
Adam Schiff: (47:45)
Ambassador, let me also ask you about the allegations against Joe Biden because that has been a continuing refrain from some of my colleagues as well. Why was it you found the allegations against Joe Biden related to his son or Burisma not to be believed?
Kurt Volker: (48:01)
Simply because I’ve known Vice President, former Vice President Biden for a long time. I know how he respects his duties of higher office and it’s just not credible to me that a Vice President of the United States is going to do anything other than act as how he sees best for the national interest.
Adam Schiff: (48:21)
And finally, Ambassador, before I turn it over, I was struck by something you said on page eight of your statement, which reads, “In hindsight, I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption involving the Ukrainian company, Burisma as equivalent to investigating former Vice President Biden. I saw them as different, the former being appropriate and unremarkable. The latter being unacceptable. In retrospect,” you said, “I should have seen that connection differently and had I done so I would have raised my own objections.” What is it now, Ambassador, in retrospect, that you recognize that you didn’t at this time that leads you to conclude that you would or should have raised these objections?
Kurt Volker: (49:07)
Yeah. That others did not see the distinction between these things as I saw it. As I said, there is a history of corruption in Ukraine. There’s a history with the company of Burisma that’s been investigated. That is well known. There is a separate allegation about the vice president acting inappropriately. His son was a board member of this company, but those things I saw as completely distinct .and what I was trying to do in working with Ukrainians was to thread a needle to see whether things that they can do that are appropriate and reasonable as part of Ukraine’s own policy of fighting corruption. That helped clarify for our President that are committed to that very effort. If there’s a way to thread that needle, I thought it was worth the effort to try to solve that problem. As it turns out, I now understand that most of the other people didn’t see or didn’t consider this distinction, that for them it was synonymous.
Adam Schiff: (50:11)
Well, one of those people who sought synonymous turns out to be the President of the United States. I take it you didn’t know until the call record was released that the President in that call doesn’t raise Burisma, He asked for an investigation of the Bidens, is that right?
Kurt Volker: (50:26)
That is correct.
Adam Schiff: (50:29)
I take it since you say that you acknowledge that asking for an investigation of the Bidens would have been unacceptable and objectionable. That had the President asked you to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens you would have told him so.
Kurt Volker: (50:45)
I would’ve objected to that, yes sir.
Adam Schiff: (50:48)
Dan Goldman: (50:49)
Thank you Mr. Chairman. Just one follow up on that Ambassador Volker, when when you say, thread the needle, you mean that you understood the relationship between Vice President Biden’s son and Burisma, but you were trying to separate the two of them in your mind, is that right?
Kurt Volker: (51:08)
Well I believe that they were separate. And this references the conversation I had with Mr. Giuliani as well, where I think the allegations against Vice President Biden are self-serving and not credible. Separate question is whether it is appropriate for Ukraine to investigate possible corruption of Ukrainians that may have tried to corrupt things or buy influence. To me they are very different things and as I said, I think the former is unacceptable, I think the latter in this case [crosstalk 00:51:39]
Dan Goldman: (51:38)
Understood. But you understood the relationship between Hunter Biden and Burisma-
Kurt Volker: (51:42)
I knew that he had been a board member of the company, yes.
Dan Goldman: (51:45)
Let’s go back.
Kurt Volker: (51:46)
That’s why it was so important to maintain a distinction.
Dan Goldman: (51:49)
Let’s focus on the the July 25th call for a moment. And Mr. Morrison, July 25th was day number what for you as the senior director overseeing Ukraine?
Tim Morrison: (52:04)
I officially took over on the 15th, approximately 10 days, very few days actually in the office.
Dan Goldman: (52:11)
You testified in your deposition that you received an email on the morning of July 25th from Ambassador’s Sondland shortly before the call. Is that right?
Tim Morrison: (52:21)
Dan Goldman: (52:22)
And I believe in that email Ambassador Sondland told you that he had briefed President Trump in advance of the call, is that right?
Tim Morrison: (52:30)
Dan Goldman: (52:33)
You also testified that Ambassador Sondland had told you on another occasion that he could call the President whenever he wanted, is that right?
Tim Morrison: (52:43)
Dan Goldman: (52:44)
And on July 25th, did you in fact make an effort to confirm whether or not the phone call between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump actually occurred?
Tim Morrison: (52:55)
Dan Goldman: (52:56)
And did it happen?
Tim Morrison: (52:58)
Dan Goldman: (53:00)
On other occasions when Ambassador Sondland told you that he spoke with President Trump, on some other occasions did you also seek confirmation of that fact?
Tim Morrison: (53:09)
On some, yes.
Dan Goldman: (53:10)
And on those occasions when you did seek to confirm that they had spoken, what did you find?
Tim Morrison: (53:17)
Dan Goldman: (53:18)
Now, I’m going to pull up a text message on the morning of July 25th, between, well, it should be another one. Oh yeah, sorry. Ambassador Sondland with you, Ambassador Volker. And at 7:54 in the morning, Ambassador Sondland says, “Call ASAP.” Then at 9:35 AM, Ambassador Volker, you respond, is the screen working in front of you or just to the side?
Kurt Volker: (53:51)
Dan Goldman: (53:51)
So if you could go ahead and read what you said.
Kurt Volker: (53:54)
Dan Goldman: (53:55)
At 9:35 AM.
Kurt Volker: (53:57)
Yes. So I say, “Hi Gordon. Got your message. Had a great lunch with Yermak and then passed your message to him. He will see you tomorrow. Think everything is in place.”
Dan Goldman: (54:09)
And who is Yermak?
Kurt Volker: (54:11)
Andre Yermak is the senior advisor to President Zelensky of Ukraine.
Dan Goldman: (54:19)
Now, what was the message that you had received?
Kurt Volker: (54:24)
That President Zelensky should be clear, convincing, forthright with President Trump about his commitment to fighting corruption, investigating what happened in the past, get to the bottom of things, whatever there is. And if he does that, President Trump was prepared to be reassured that he would say, “Yes, come on, let’s get this date for this visit scheduled.”
Dan Goldman: (54:51)
And did you understand from that message that Ambassador Sondland had spoken to President Trump?
Kurt Volker: (54:55)
I wasn’t sure whether he had or not. He, as Mr. Morrison just said, said that he does speak with President Trump. I knew that he had conversations in general. I didn’t know specifically about one leading up to this.
Dan Goldman: (55:09)
Now on the screen in front of you is another text message from you that same morning-
Kurt Volker: (55:14)
Dan Goldman: (55:14)
At 8:36 in the morning to Andre Yermak.
Kurt Volker: (55:18)
Yes, I believe because of the time difference. This is actually in the afternoon in Ukraine.
Dan Goldman: (55:23)
In Ukraine, and so this is East coast time, that’s right. So this is slightly less than a half hour before the call between President Trump and President Zelensky.
Kurt Volker: (55:31)
Dan Goldman: (55:31)
And can you just read what you wrote there?
Kurt Volker: (55:33)
Yes. And just after the lunch that I had with Andre Yermak. Says, “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.
Dan Goldman: (55:49)
And does this accurately relay the message that you had received from Ambassador Sondland?
Kurt Volker: (55:54)
Dan Goldman: (55:56)
Now Mr. Morrison, did the National Security Council also prepare talking points for President Trump for this call?
Tim Morrison: (56:03)
The NSC staff did, yes.
Dan Goldman: (56:05)
And per usual custom, were these talking points based on the official United States policy objectives?
Tim Morrison: (56:14)
Dan Goldman: (56:16)
And since there has been a little bit of dispute about what that means, can you explain how official U.S. policy is determined through the inter-agency process?
Tim Morrison: (56:27)
We operate under what’s known as NSPM-4, National Security Presidential Memorandum-4 it’s available on the internet. That lays out how the President wants to be provided options for his decision.
Dan Goldman: (56:40)
And there’s an extensive process to finalize any policy, is that right?
Tim Morrison: (56:48)
Dan Goldman: (56:53)
Mr. Morrison, you listened to this call on the 25th, is that right?
Tim Morrison: (56:57)
Dan Goldman: (56:57)
Where did you listen from?
Tim Morrison: (56:58)
The White House Situation Room.
Dan Goldman: (57:00)
In your deposition, you testified that the call was not what you were hoping to hear. What did you mean by that?
Tim Morrison: (57:07)
I was hoping for a more full-throated statement of support from the President concerning President Zelensky’s reform agenda. Given where we were at the time with respect to the overwhelming mandate, President Zelensky Servant of the Party people had received in the Rada election.
Dan Goldman: (57:28)
And Rada, which is the Ukrainian parliament, that election had occurred four days earlier?
Tim Morrison: (57:32)
Dan Goldman: (57:33)
And President Zelensky’s party won in a landslide, is that right?
Tim Morrison: (57:37)
They received more than a majority in their own right.
Dan Goldman: (57:41)
So at least in Ukraine there was tremendous support for Zelensky’s anti-corruption agenda, is that right?
Tim Morrison: (57:48)
At the time.
Dan Goldman: (57:50)
And within the inner agency, within the national security agencies here in the United States, was there broad support for President Zelensky?
Tim Morrison: (58:02)
There was broad support for giving President Zelensky a chance.
Dan Goldman: (58:06)
And to that point he had shown that he had at least put his money where his mouth was for the three months that he had been in office, is that right?
Tim Morrison: (58:15)
Approximately three months, yes.
Dan Goldman: (58:17)
Now I’m going to show a couple of excerpts from this call record to each of you. The first is President Trump responding to a comment by President Zelensky related to defense support from the United States and the purchase of javelins. And President Trump then says, “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine they say Crowdstrike .. I guess you have one of your wealthy people … the server, they say Ukraine has it.” And if we could go to the next excerpt, where President Trump says, “The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden’s stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution. So if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me.”
Dan Goldman: (59:16)
Now, Mr. Morrison were these references to Crowdstrike, the server, 2016 election and to Vice President Biden and his son, were they included in the President’s talking points?
Tim Morrison: (59:29)
They were not.
Dan Goldman: (59:31)
And were they consistent with what you understood at that time to be official U.S. policy?
Tim Morrison: (59:37)
I was not aware of much of this at the time.
Dan Goldman: (59:40)
And in fact, subsequent to this call, you did nothing to implement the investigations that President Trump … implement the request for the investigations that President Trump asked for, is that right?
Tim Morrison: (59:53)
I did not understand any instruction to do so.
Dan Goldman: (59:55)
And you were not aware of anyone else within … you coordinate the inter-agency process and you were not aware of anyone else who was doing that either, is that right?
Tim Morrison: (01:00:04)
Dan Goldman: (01:00:06)
Now, you testified in your deposition that hearing this call confirmed what you called the parallel process that your predecessor, Fiona Hill, had warned you about. What did you mean by that?
Tim Morrison: (01:00:21)
During the period in which Dr. Hill and I were conducting handoff meetings so that I could be up to speed on the various things that were occurring in the portfolio at the time. She mentioned the traditional NSPM-4 process and the parallel process. And in the context of discussing the parallel process, she mentioned issues like Burisma, which were noteworthy to me at the time because I had never heard of them before. And upon hearing them in the call, it wound up confirming, okay, there there’s something here.
Dan Goldman: (01:01:02)
And who did she inform you was involved in this parallel process?
Tim Morrison: (01:01:05)
As I recall, it was definitely Ambassador Sondland and I believe Mr. Giuliani.
Dan Goldman: (01:01:11)
And after she informed you of this company, Burisma, what if anything did you do to determine what that was?
Tim Morrison: (01:01:19)
After that particular a handoff meeting, I proceeded to look it up on the internet. I Googled it.
Dan Goldman: (01:01:25)
And did you find that it had some association with Hunter Biden?
Tim Morrison: (01:01:28)
Dan Goldman: (01:01:30)
Now Ambassador Volker, you did not listen to this call but you testified that you were surprised and troubled when you read the call record after it was released on September 25th. And you also that after reading the call record, it was clear to you that the Biden, Burisma and the 2016 election investigations that President Trump discussed on the call were designed to serve the President’s political interests, not the national interest. What did you mean when you said that?
Kurt Volker: (01:02:05)
Sir, I don’t recall that language from my testimony, it’s from my October 3rd testimony?
Dan Goldman: (01:02:09)
Yes it was.
Kurt Volker: (01:02:10)
Thank you. Well, what I do mean by that, and I’d like to phrase it in my own words now, is I don’t think that raising 2016 elections or Vice President Biden or these things that I consider to be conspiracy theories that have been circulated by the Ukrainians, particularly the former prosecutor general, are sort of, they’re not things that we should be pursuing as part of our national security strategy with Ukraine. We should be supporting Ukraine’s democracy, reforms, its own fight against corruption domestically, its struggle against Russia, its defense capabilities. These are the heart of what we should be doing and I don’t think pursuing these things serves a national interest.
Dan Goldman: (01:03:03)
Now, Mr. Morrison, shortly after you heard the July 25th call, you testified that you alerted the NSC legal advisor, John Eisenberg, pretty much right away, is that right?
Tim Morrison: (01:03:16)
Dan Goldman: (01:03:17)
And you indicated in your opening statement, or at least from your deposition that you went to Mr. Eisenberg out of concern over the potential political fallout if the call record became public and not because he thought it was illegal, is that right?
Tim Morrison: (01:03:32)
Dan Goldman: (01:03:34)
But you you would agree, right, that asking a foreign government to investigate a domestic political rival is inappropriate, would you not?
Tim Morrison: (01:03:44)
It’s not what we recommended that the President discuss.
Dan Goldman: (01:03:48)
Now in a second meeting with Mr. Eisenberg, what did you recommend that he do to prevent the call record from leaking?
Tim Morrison: (01:03:58)
I recommended we restrict access to the package.
Dan Goldman: (01:04:01)
Had you ever asked the NSC legal advisor to restrict access before?
Tim Morrison: (01:04:04)
Dan Goldman: (01:04:06)
Did you speak to your supervisor, Dr. Kupperman, before you went to speak to John Eisenberg?
Tim Morrison: (01:04:11)
Dan Goldman: (01:04:13)
Did you subsequently learn that the call record had been put in a highly classified system?
Tim Morrison: (01:04:17)
Dan Goldman: (01:04:19)
And what reason did Mr. Eisenberg give you for why the call record was put in the highly classified system?
Tim Morrison: (01:04:24)
It was a mistake.
Dan Goldman: (01:04:26)
He said it was just a mistake?
Tim Morrison: (01:04:29)
It was an administrative error.
Dan Goldman: (01:04:33)
Now isn’t it also true though, that you had authority to restrict access on the regular system if you wanted to?
Tim Morrison: (01:04:40)
I believe I could have instructed the appropriate staff to do so, yes.
Dan Goldman: (01:04:43)
So why did you go to the NSC legal advisor to recommend that?
Tim Morrison: (01:04:47)
Well, I was also concerned that based on the participants in the listening room that day, I did not then, and I do not now recall any representatives from the NSC legal advisor’s office, as they were often on head of state calls, but not always. And I wanted to make sure that John Eisenberg as the legal advisor and his deputy were aware to review this particular transcript.
Dan Goldman: (01:05:13)
And you wanted them to review it because you were concerned about the potential political consequences, not because anything was wrong?
Tim Morrison: (01:05:21)
Correct and political consequences was an umbrella term I used in my statement to describe a series of effects I feared about what would happen if and when the content of the transcript or the content of the [inaudible 01:05:34] leaked.
Dan Goldman: (01:05:34)
So just to make sure I understand this correctly, Mr. Morrison, you heard the call, you recognize that President Trump was not discussing the talking points that the NSC had prepared based on official U.S. policy and was instead talking about the investigations that Fiona Hill had warned you about, and then you reported it immediately to the NSC legal advisor. Is that the correct chain of events here?
Tim Morrison: (01:06:02)
Dan Goldman: (01:06:04)
Now, Ambassador Volker in the July 25th call, President Zelensky volunteers to President Trump that Rudy Giuliani had already spoken with one of his associates and that President Zelensky hopes Giuliani will come to Ukraine. And in response, President Trump proceeds to mention Mr. Giuliani on three separate occasions during this call. You testified about a May 23rd meeting in the Oval Office where the President spoke quite negatively about Ukraine and how it tried to take him down. And that he also repeated some of the allegations that Mr. Giuliani was making, is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:06:45)
Dan Goldman: (01:06:46)
Okay. And those allegations were in the media, were they not?
Kurt Volker: (01:06:49)
Dan Goldman: (01:06:50)
And during that meeting, President Trump told you and Ambassador Sondland and Secretary Perry to talk to Giuliani, isn’t that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:07:02)
I didn’t take it as an instruction, I want to be clear about that. He said, “That’s not what I hear.” When we were giving him our assessment about President Zelensky and where Ukraine is headed, “That’s not what I hear. I are terrible things. He’s got terrible people around him, talk to Rudy.” And I understood in that context, him just saying, that’s where he hears it from. I didn’t take it as an instruction.
Dan Goldman: (01:07:25)
So when he said, “talk to Rudy,” you didn’t take it for him to mean for you to talk to Rudy?
Kurt Volker: (01:07:31)
No, I didn’t take it that way. I took it as, just part of the dialogue that “I hear other things, I hear them from Rudy Giuliani or other people. That’s not what’s going on. He’s surrounded by terrible people. Talk to Rudy.” It just seemed like part of the dialogue.
Dan Goldman: (01:07:50)
Well, after that meeting, did you in fact talk to Rudy?
Kurt Volker: (01:07:53)
After that meeting not immediately, no. Remember this was May 23rd and we continued to proceed with our effort to get the White House visit for President Zelensky scheduled and to keep ramping up our support for the new Ukrainian president, and ultimately the new Ukrainian government. I did, however, on July 2nd as I was becoming concerned that we were not succeeding at this, to tell President Zelensky, “I think we have a problem.” And that problem being this negative feed of information from Mr. Giuliani.
Dan Goldman: (01:08:27)
Ultimately, I think as you testified in your opening statement, you introduced Mr. Yermak to Mr. Giuliani and they eventually met, is that right?
Kurt Volker: (01:08:35)
That is correct.
Dan Goldman: (01:08:36)
Now, during this whole time in July and after the call into early August when they met, Ukraine still desperately wanted that Oval Office meeting for President Zelensky, correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:08:46)
That is correct.
Dan Goldman: (01:08:46)
And you also wanted that for President Zelensky, is that right?
Kurt Volker: (01:08:50)
That is correct.
Dan Goldman: (01:08:50)
Why was that Oval Office meeting so important to President Zelensky?
Kurt Volker: (01:08:54)
I think that he felt that he was not well understood by President Trump. He is a charismatic leader who ran a remarkable campaign in Ukraine against the legacy of corruption and political mullahs that had been there. He had a massive showing in the presidential election, 73% support. He believed he was leading a movement of major change in Ukraine, and that President Trump did not see that or didn’t appreciate that. But if he had a chance to sit down and speak with President Trump face to face, he believed that he could be very convincing about that and I agree with him.
Dan Goldman: (01:09:31)
That certainly was your assessment, right?
Kurt Volker: (01:09:33)
It was my assessment, and I believe it was also what President Zelensky believed.
Dan Goldman: (01:09:37)
And certainly you understood from your experience in Ukraine that there would be a significant boost in legitimacy at home for President Zelensky if there were photos of him in the Oval Office, et cetera, right?
Kurt Volker: (01:09:48)
Yes, that is correct.
Dan Goldman: (01:09:49)
Now, you testified in your opening statement that Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Yermak, Zelensky’s aid met on August 2nd. Where did they meet?
Kurt Volker: (01:09:59)
They met in Madrid.
Dan Goldman: (01:10:01)
And did you learn that Mr. Giuliani-
Kurt Volker: (01:10:03)
Dan Goldman: (01:10:03)
And what did you learn that Mr. Giuliani requested anything of the Ukrainians at that meeting?
Kurt Volker: (01:10:08)
Only when I spoke with Mr. Giuliani afterwards, he said that he thought Ukraine should issue a statement. And then I spoke with Mr. Yermak after that, and he said yes and we are prepared to make a statement. And that then kicked off the series of discussions that I said in my testimony.
Dan Goldman: (01:10:25)
We’ll get into that in a second. But Mr. Giuliani did not explain to you what needed to be included in that statement and that call you had?
Kurt Volker: (01:10:33)
He said something more general, as I recall. I recall him saying fight corruption, that their commitment to being different. Mr. Yermak told me when I spoke with him, as I recall, that the statement would include specific mention of Burisma and 2016.
Dan Goldman: (01:10:51)
Right. Let’s go through some of the text messages so we know exactly who said what. And first, let’s start on August 9th. This is a text exchange between you and Ambassador Sondland, where Ambassador Sondland writes at the top, “Morrison ready to get dates as soon as Yermak confirms.” And what did you respond?
Kurt Volker: (01:11:13)
I said excellent with two exclamation points. How did you sway him with a smile afterwards?
Dan Goldman: (01:11:19)
Ambassador Sondland responded, “Not sure I did. I think POTUS really wants the deliverable.” And what did you say to that?
Kurt Volker: (01:11:26)
But how does he know that?
Dan Goldman: (01:11:28)
And Ambassador Sondland says, “Yep, clearly lots of convos going on.” Now, Mr. Morrison, you’re referenced in this text message. Had you discussed confirming a date for a White House visit for President Zelensky with Ambassador Sondland around this time?
Tim Morrison: (01:11:44)
I likely would have.
Dan Goldman: (01:11:47)
And did you have any discussions with him about a statement that Ukraine, that they were trying to get Ukraine to make?
Tim Morrison: (01:11:58)
I did not.
Dan Goldman: (01:12:00)
Were you aware that… Do you yourself know what Ambassador Sondland meant by the deliverable?
Tim Morrison: (01:12:09)
I did not at the time. I think I have an understanding now.
Dan Goldman: (01:12:14)
And what is your understanding now?
Tim Morrison: (01:12:16)
There seems to have been discussions about a statement, various drafts of which have been discussed in various proceedings.
Dan Goldman: (01:12:24)
But this to your knowledge, was part of that parallel process you were talking about?
Tim Morrison: (01:12:28)
Dan Goldman: (01:12:29)
If we can now go to the next exhibit, which is another text exchange just a few minutes later between Ambassador Sondland and you Ambassador Volker, where Ambassador Sondland says, “To avoid misunderstandings, might be helpful to ask Andrey for a draft statement embargoed so that we can see exactly what they propose to cover. Even though Ze, Zelensky, does a live presser, they can still summarize in a brief statement. Thoughts?” And how did you respond?
Kurt Volker: (01:13:00)
Dan Goldman: (01:13:01)
And this relates to the statement that Mr. Giuliani wanted. Is that right, Ambassador Volker?
Kurt Volker: (01:13:06)
It relates to the statement that he and Mr. Yermak had discussed.
Dan Goldman: (01:13:09)
And now to the next day on August 10th, there’s another text exchange between you and Mr. Yermak, who’s the same aid that Mr. Giuliani had met in Madrid. And if you could read what you wrote at the top at 5:02 PM.
Kurt Volker: (01:13:26)
Right. I wrote, I agree with your approach. Let’s iron out statement and use that to get date and then President Zelensky can go forward with it.
Dan Goldman: (01:13:36)
And Mr. Yermak responds, “Once we have a date, we will call for a press briefing announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US Ukraine relationship, including among other things, Burisma and election meddling in investigations.” And what did you respond?
Kurt Volker: (01:13:57)
Dan Goldman: (01:13:59)
Now the date that he’s referring to, that is the date for the White House visit.
Kurt Volker: (01:14:03)
Dan Goldman: (01:14:05)
Now two days later on August 12th, you receive another text message from Mr. Yermak, which reads, “Special attention should be paid to the problem of interference in the political processes of the United States, especially with the alleged involvement of some Ukrainian politicians. I want to declare that this is unacceptable. We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes, which in turn will prevent the recurrence of this problem in the future.” Now Ambassador Volker, this was a draft, was it not of the statement that you and Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Yermak and Ambassador Sondland had been discussing?
Kurt Volker: (01:14:51)
This is the first draft of that from Mr. Yermak after the conversations that we had.
Dan Goldman: (01:14:57)
And it does not mention Burisma or the 2016 election interference, correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:15:00)
It does not.
Dan Goldman: (01:15:01)
And you testified in your deposition that you and Ambassador Sondland and Mayor Giuliani had a conversation about this draft after you received it. Is that right?
Kurt Volker: (01:15:11)
That is correct.
Dan Goldman: (01:15:14)
And Mr. Giuliani said that if the statement did not include Burisma and 2016 election, it would not have any credibility. Is that right?
Kurt Volker: (01:15:23)
Dan Goldman: (01:15:24)
Now, this was the same Rudy Giuliani that President Trump was discussing in that May 23rd meeting and asked you and the others to talk to, correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:15:37)
That is the same Mr. Giuliani.
Dan Goldman: (01:15:38)
And even at that point on May 23rd, you were aware of these investigations that he was publicly promoting. Correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:15:46)
I knew that he had adopted or was interested in all of those conspiracy theories that had come from Lutsenko.
Dan Goldman: (01:15:54)
Back in May, you knew that?
Kurt Volker: (01:15:55)
Back in May.
Dan Goldman: (01:15:56)
Now he was insisting on a public commitment from President Zelensky to do these investigations. Correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:16:04)
Well, now what do we mean by these investigations?
Dan Goldman: (01:16:07)
Oh, Burisma and the 2016 election.
Kurt Volker: (01:16:09)
Burisma and 2016, yes.
Dan Goldman: (01:16:12)
And at the time that you were engaged in coordinating for this statement, did you find it unusual that there was such an emphasis on a public statement from President Zelensky to carry out the investigations that the president was seeking?
Kurt Volker: (01:16:27)
I didn’t find it that unusual. I think when you’re dealing with a situation where I believe the president was highly skeptical about President Zelensky being committed to really changing Ukraine after his entirely negative view of the country, that he would want to hear something more from President Zelensky to be convinced that, okay, I’ll give this guy a chance.
Dan Goldman: (01:16:49)
And perhaps he also wanted a public statement because it would lock President Zelensky in to do these investigations that he thought might benefit him?
Kurt Volker: (01:16:59)
Well, again, when we say these investigations, what I understood us to be talking about was Ukrainian corruption.
Dan Goldman: (01:17:07)
Well, what we’re talking about is Burisma and the 2016 election. Let’s just, we can agree on that. And so when we’re talking about these investigations, isn’t it clear that a public statement would be important to Mr. Giuliani because it was politically useful to the president?
Kurt Volker: (01:17:23)
The way I saw it is that it would be helpful. It would be a way of being convincing to Mayor Giuliani and also the president that this team in Ukraine is serious about fighting corruption reform, that they are different. And if that would be helpful in getting a more positive attitude and the White House meeting scheduled, then that would be useful.
Dan Goldman: (01:17:45)
And that would be helpful to get that White House meeting?
Kurt Volker: (01:17:47)
Dan Goldman: (01:17:48)
In fact, it was a necessary condition as you understood at that point.
Kurt Volker: (01:17:51)
I wouldn’t have called it a necessary condition. And in fact, when it became clear later that we were not able to agree on an agreement that the Ukrainians were comfortable with, I agree with the Ukrainians just to drop it. It’s not worth it.
Dan Goldman: (01:18:04)
No, I understand that. But is it your testimony that based on the texts that you wrote linking the investigations and the 2016 election on July 25th to the White House meeting, you’re saying that by this point in August with this back and forth that you were unaware that this public statement was a condition for the White House meeting?
Kurt Volker: (01:18:23)
I wouldn’t have called it a condition. It’s a nuance I guess, but I viewed it as very helpful. If we could get this done, it would help improve the perception that President Trump and others had, and then we would get the date for a meeting. If we didn’t have a statement, I wasn’t giving up and thinking that, oh well then we’ll never get a meeting.
Dan Goldman: (01:18:44)
Let’s go to the next day where there was another text exchange. And at the top could you just read the first text there?
Kurt Volker: (01:18:52)
It says, “Hi Andrey. Good talking. Following is text with insert at the end for the two key items. We will work on official request.”
Dan Goldman: (01:19:00)
And then you’ll see the highlighted portion of the next text. The other is identical to your previous one and then it just adds including the… Including these involving Burisma and the 2016 elections. Is that right?
Kurt Volker: (01:19:11)
That is correct.
Dan Goldman: (01:19:12)
And that was what Mr. Giuliani insisted on adding to the statement?
Kurt Volker: (01:19:16)
That’s what he said will be necessary for that to be credible.
Dan Goldman: (01:19:19)
And the Ukrainians ultimately did not issue this statement. Is that right?
Kurt Volker: (01:19:23)
That is correct.
Dan Goldman: (01:19:24)
And President Zelensky ultimately did not get the oval office meeting either, did he?
Kurt Volker: (01:19:27)
Dan Goldman: (01:19:30)
Now I want to move forward to September, in early September, when the security assistance begins to more overtly be used as leverage to pressure the Ukrainians to conduct these investigations that President Trump wanted. Mr. Morrison, you accompanied Vice President Pence to Warsaw when he met with President Zelensky. Is that right?
Tim Morrison: (01:19:58)
I was in Warsaw when the vice president was designated as the president’s representative. I was accompanying Ambassador Bolton.
Dan Goldman: (01:20:06)
Understood. You were at the bilateral meeting with the vice president and president Zelensky. Correct?
Tim Morrison: (01:20:11)
Dan Goldman: (01:20:11)
And in that meeting, were the Ukrainians concerned about the hold on security clearance, military assistance rather?
Tim Morrison: (01:20:24)
Dan Goldman: (01:20:26)
What did they say?
Tim Morrison: (01:20:29)
It was the first issue that President Zelensky raised with Vice President Pence. They were very interested. They talked about its importance to Ukraine, its important to the relationship.
Dan Goldman: (01:20:43)
And what was Vice President Pence’s response?
Tim Morrison: (01:20:46)
The vice president represented that it was a priority for him and that we were working to address, and he characterized President Trump’s concerns about the state of corruption in Ukraine and the president’s prioritization of getting the Europeans to contribute more to security sector assistance.
Dan Goldman: (01:21:14)
And did he directly explain to the Ukrainians that those were the actual reasons for the holds, or was he just commenting on general concerns of the president?
Tim Morrison: (01:21:26)
I don’t know that he necessarily acknowledged a hold. He mentioned that we were reviewing the assistance, and that’s the way I heard it. That’s the way I would characterize it. And those were the points he raised to help President Zelensky understand where we were in our process.
Dan Goldman: (01:21:46)
And to your knowledge though on sort of the staff level as the coordinator of all the inter-agency process, you were not of any review of the Ukraine security assistance money, were you?
Tim Morrison: (01:22:00)
Well we were. We had been running a review. We had been running an inter-agency process to provide the president the information that I had been directed to generate for the president’s consideration as to the state of inter-agency support for continuing Ukraine security sector assistance.
Dan Goldman: (01:22:18)
And the entire inter-agency supported the continuation of the security assistance, isn’t that right?
Tim Morrison: (01:22:23)
That is correct.
Dan Goldman: (01:22:24)
Now after this larger meeting with Vice President Pence and President Zelensky, you testified at your deposition that you saw Ambassador Sondland immediately go over and pull Andrey Yermak aside and have a conversation. Is that right?
Tim Morrison: (01:22:38)
I mean it was, President Zelensky left the room. Vice President Pence left the room. And in sort of an anteroom, Ambassador Sondland and presidential advisor Yermak had this discussion. Yes.
Dan Goldman: (01:22:51)
And what did ambassador Sondland tell you that he told Mr. Yermak?
Tim Morrison: (01:22:58)
That the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted.
Dan Goldman: (01:23:10)
And you testified that you were not comfortable with what Ambassador Sondland had told you. Why not?
Tim Morrison: (01:23:17)
Well, I was concerned about what I saw as essentially an additional hurdle to accomplishing what I had been directed to help accomplish, which was giving the president the information he needed to determine that the security sector assistance could go forward.
Dan Goldman: (01:23:35)
So now there’s a whole other wrinkle to it, right?
Tim Morrison: (01:23:38)
There was the appearance of one based on what Ambassador Sondland represented.
Dan Goldman: (01:23:42)
And you told Ambassador Taylor about this conversation as well. Is that right?
Tim Morrison: (01:23:45)
I promptly reached out to Ambassador Taylor to schedule a secure phone call.
Dan Goldman: (01:23:50)
And in your deposition you testified that his testimony other than one small distinction between President Zelensky and the prosecutor general was accurate as to what you told him. Is that correct?
Tim Morrison: (01:24:01)
About that conversation, yes.
Dan Goldman: (01:24:02)
And generally speaking, you confirmed everything that Ambassador Taylor told you except for that one thing and a small other ministerial matter relating to the location of a meeting. Is that correct?
Tim Morrison: (01:24:13)
Dan Goldman: (01:24:14)
Now did you tell Ambassador Bolton about this conversation as well?
Tim Morrison: (01:24:18)
I reached out to him as well and requested his availability for a secure phone call.
Dan Goldman: (01:24:22)
And what was his response when you explained to him what Ambassador Sondland had said?
Tim Morrison: (01:24:27)
Tell the lawyers.
Dan Goldman: (01:24:29)
Did you go tell the lawyers?
Tim Morrison: (01:24:30)
When I returned to the states, yes.
Dan Goldman: (01:24:32)
And did he explain to you why he wanted you to tell the lawyers?
Tim Morrison: (01:24:34)
He did not.
Dan Goldman: (01:24:36)
Now a few days later on September 7th, you spoke again to Ambassador Sondland who told you that he had just gotten off the phone with President Trump. Isn’t that right?
Tim Morrison: (01:24:46)
That sounds correct, yes.
Dan Goldman: (01:24:48)
What did Ambassador Sondland tell you that president Trump said to him?
Tim Morrison: (01:24:53)
If I recall this conversation correctly, this was where Ambassador Sondland related that there was no quid pro quo, but President Zelensky had to make the statement and that he had to want to do it.
Dan Goldman: (01:25:09)
And by that point did you understand that the statement related to the Biden in 2016 investigations?
Tim Morrison: (01:25:17)
I think I did, yes.
Dan Goldman: (01:25:20)
And that that was essentially a condition for the security assistance to be released?
Tim Morrison: (01:25:24)
I understood that that’s what Ambassador Sondland believed
Dan Goldman: (01:25:28)
After speaking with President Trump?
Tim Morrison: (01:25:30)
That’s what he represented.
Dan Goldman: (01:25:32)
Now you testified that hearing this information gave you a sinking feeling. Why was that?
Tim Morrison: (01:25:37)
Well, I believe if we’re all on September 7th, the end of the fiscal year, September 30th, these are one year dollars, the DOD and the Department Of State funds. So we only had so much time. And in fact, because Congress imposed a 15 day notification requirement on the state department funds September 7th, September 30th, that really means September 15th in order to secure a decision from the president to allow the funds to go forward.
Dan Goldman: (01:26:06)
Did you tell Ambassador Bolton about this conversation as well?
Tim Morrison: (01:26:10)
I did, yes.
Dan Goldman: (01:26:10)
And what did he say to you?
Tim Morrison: (01:26:12)
He said to tell the lawyers.
Dan Goldman: (01:26:13)
And why did he say to tell the lawyers?
Tim Morrison: (01:26:15)
He did not explain his direction.
Dan Goldman: (01:26:17)
But he’s not going to… He doesn’t tell you to go tell the lawyers because you’re running up on the eight day deadline there, right?
Tim Morrison: (01:26:25)
Again, I don’t know why he directed that, but it seemed reasonable and it’s consistent with what I was going to do anyway.
Dan Goldman: (01:26:30)
Right. And you weren’t going to go tell them because of that concern. Right? You were concerned about what you were hearing Ambassador Sondland relay to you. Correct?
Tim Morrison: (01:26:39)
Dan Goldman: (01:26:40)
So just so we’re clear, you reported two concerning conversations that you had with Ambassador Sondland to the lawyers in early September, in which you understood from him that the president was withholding security assistance as additional leverage to get Ukraine to publicly announce the specific political investigations that President Trump had discussed on the July 25th call. Is that accurate?
Tim Morrison: (01:27:04)
I was concerned about what Ambassador Sondland was saying were requirements, yes.
Dan Goldman: (01:27:09)
Right. And you understood though that the investigations that Ambassador Sondland was referring to were the two that President Trump referenced on the July 25th call, correct?
Tim Morrison: (01:27:17)
By this point, yes.
Dan Goldman: (01:27:18)
And during this early September time period, Mr. Morrison, did you have any conversations with Ambassador Volker about any of this?
Tim Morrison: (01:27:25)
I believe we had one conversation.
Dan Goldman: (01:27:27)
And what do you recall about that conversation?
Tim Morrison: (01:27:31)
I believe on or about September 6th, Ambassador Volker was in town to provide an update on some of his activities, and he provided that update and then we had a one on one conversation about this track, the separate process.
Dan Goldman: (01:27:51)
And what do you recall saying to him about the separate process?
Tim Morrison: (01:27:54)
I think I was interested in understanding his understanding of events.
Dan Goldman: (01:28:00)
Did you explain to him what your understanding of events was?
Tim Morrison: (01:28:05)
I think I was primarily on receive mode.
Dan Goldman: (01:28:08)
Okay. And Ambassador Volker, do you recall this conversation?
Kurt Volker: (01:28:12)
Thank you. I do remember a conversation with Tim. I’m not sure about the timing. I left around that time to go on a trip, and so it may have been a little bit earlier. I’m not sure about the timing. And what I do remember the discussion being is Tim asking me what is my impression of the role that Ambassador Sondland plays. And my response to that was, well, I find it helpful that he has political contacts in the White House. I don’t have those contacts. I’m working the national security, the diplomatic front, but I don’t have the political contacts. And so he’s able to use those to support the same goals that we are working toward. And I viewed that as helpful.
Dan Goldman: (01:28:56)
Well, that’s a good segue to our next exhibit, which is a September 8th text exchange with you and Ambassador Taylor and Ambassador Sondland. And at the top, Ambassador Sondland says, “Guys, multiple convos with Z. That’s Zelensky. POTUS. Let’s talk.” And then Ambassador Taylor about 15-16 minutes later says, “Gordon and I just spoke. I can brief you, meaning you Ambassador Volker, if you and Gordon don’t connect.” Approximately one hour later, Ambassador Taylor says, “The nightmare is they give the interview and don’t get the security assistance. The Russians love it. And I quit.” And then at the bottom about five hours later, how do you respond?
Kurt Volker: (01:29:40)
I say, I’m not in the loop. Talk Monday.
Dan Goldman: (01:29:43)
So you were not in the loop in terms of all of these conversations that Ambassador Taylor, Mr. Morrison, Ambassador Sondland were having?
Kurt Volker: (01:29:51)
Yes, that’s correct.
Dan Goldman: (01:29:52)
And now ultimately the hold was lifted on September 11th. Is that right Ambassador Volker?
Kurt Volker: (01:29:57)
That’s my understanding.
Dan Goldman: (01:29:59)
Okay. And Mr. Morrison, were you aware that prior to September 11th that there was a whistleblower complaint circulating around the White House?
Tim Morrison: (01:30:08)
I don’t believe so, no.
Dan Goldman: (01:30:10)
But you were aware of a request to preserve records, were you not?
Tim Morrison: (01:30:14)
We received a number of those requests. I have a general recollection of one as related to Ukraine.
Dan Goldman: (01:30:21)
And one final question. When was the hold lifted?
Tim Morrison: (01:30:24)
As I understand it, the president gave that direction the evening of September 11th.
Dan Goldman: (01:30:28)
Which is two days after the Congress announced an investigation. Were you aware of that?
Tim Morrison: (01:30:31)
I believe I was familiar with the letter from the three committee chairman.
Dan Goldman: (01:30:37)
Adam Schiff: (01:30:37)
That concludes the majority 45 minutes. Before I turn to the minority, are you both in your council okay? Or do you need a break? Okay. Ranking member Nunes, you’re recognized for 45 minutes.
Adam Schiff: (01:30:53)
Well Ambassador and Mr. Morrison, I have some bad news for you. TV ratings are way down, way down. Don’t hold it personally. I don’t think it’s you guys. But whatever drug deal the Democrats are cooking up here on the dais, American people aren’t buying it. I know you both answered this in your opening statements, but I just want to bring a little more clarity to it. Mr. Morrison, I’ll start with you. Did anyone ever ask you to bribe or extort anyone at any time during your time in the White House?
Tim Morrison: (01:31:33)
Adam Schiff: (01:31:34)
And you were the top person for Ukraine in the White House, correct? At the NSC level?
Tim Morrison: (01:31:39)
I would argue Ambassador Bolton would be.
Adam Schiff: (01:31:42)
Reporting to Ambassador Bolton.
Tim Morrison: (01:31:43)
I was a senior official, yes sir.
Adam Schiff: (01:31:46)
Ambassador Volker, You have a storied career. We’re very thankful for your service. And you were the special Envoy to Ukraine.
Kurt Volker: (01:31:53)
That is correct.
Adam Schiff: (01:31:55)
did anyone at the White House ever ask you to bribe or extort anything out of anyone at any time?
Kurt Volker: (01:32:02)
Adam Schiff: (01:32:03)
Thank you. I want to thank you both for being here. And I’ll yield to Mr. Caster.
Devin Nunes: (01:32:09)
Thank you, Mr. Nunes. Thank you both for being here today and also for participating in the lengthy depositions. Ambassador Volker, you were the first one on October 3rd, and Mr. Morrison. You were with us on Halloween. So thank you for your participation. Mr. Morrison, I also want to thank you. You’re a long time hill staffer. I certainly have appreciation for that, nearly 20 years, so thank you. And Ambassador Volker, Hatboro, Pennsylvania resident. That’s an incredible part of the country.
Kurt Volker: (01:32:40)
Very proud of it.
Devin Nunes: (01:32:41)
I’m from nearby. I just want to walk through some of your positions. You were a Senate confirmed ambassador to NATO for a stint?
Kurt Volker: (01:32:49)
That is correct.
Devin Nunes: (01:32:50)
And then you were at the state department, and your portfolio span much of what I believe George Kent has currently.
Kurt Volker: (01:32:58)
I was the principal deputy assistant secretary, so I had all, working for the assistant secretary, had all of Europe and Eurasia and particular responsibility for NATO, Western Europe and European Union.
Devin Nunes: (01:33:09)
And then you’re involved with the National Security Council. You were the director for NATO in Western Europe?
Kurt Volker: (01:33:17)
That is correct.
Devin Nunes: (01:33:17)
And then you were the senior director for European and Eurasian affairs.
Kurt Volker: (01:33:22)
I was acting for several months, six months or so.
Devin Nunes: (01:33:25)
Okay. Much like [crosstalk 01:33:28] Mr. Morrison had. And we’ll note that all the witnesses that we have interacted with have just heaped praise on you. Ambassador Yovanovitch said you are a brilliant diplomat, and so that’s very high praise. And for over two years, you served as the special representative for Ukraine negotiations.
Kurt Volker: (01:33:49)
That is correct.
Devin Nunes: (01:33:50)
And you served for free.
Kurt Volker: (01:33:52)
That is correct.
Devin Nunes: (01:33:54)
You served on a voluntary basis.
Kurt Volker: (01:33:55)
Devin Nunes: (01:33:56)
And you put a lot of time and effort into that job, didn’t you?
Kurt Volker: (01:34:00)
Yes, I did.
Devin Nunes: (01:34:01)
And the tax payers certainly got their money’s worth, didn’t they?
Kurt Volker: (01:34:03)
Not for me to say.
Devin Nunes: (01:34:07)
And you believe America’s policy towards Ukraine has been strengthened during your tenure as the special representative?
Kurt Volker: (01:34:15)
Absolutely. When I look back at the record, I think we did an awful lot to support Ukraine.
Devin Nunes: (01:34:20)
Is it fair to say that’s in part due to President Trump?
Kurt Volker: (01:34:23)
President Trump approved each of the decisions made along the way. Providing lethal defensive equipment and the non-recognition statement on Crimea, I think being two of the most important ones.
Devin Nunes: (01:34:35)
And for for many years there had been an initiative in the inner agency to advocate for lethal defensive weaponry for Ukraine. Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:34:43)
That is correct.
Devin Nunes: (01:34:43)
And it wasn’t until President Trump and his administration came in that that went through?
Kurt Volker: (01:34:49)
That is correct.
Devin Nunes: (01:34:54)
The delegation to President Zelensky’s inauguration in May, I believe you testified it was one of the largest delegations.
Kurt Volker: (01:35:04)
I believe it was. I can’t be 100% sure, but I believe it was the largest national delegation.
Devin Nunes: (01:35:10)
Okay. And included in the delegation was Secretary Perry?
Kurt Volker: (01:35:14)
Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland, myself, Senator Ron Johnson was there, and also the charge aid affair at the US embassy at the time, Joe Pennington.
Devin Nunes: (01:35:23)
Okay. And we’ve talked a little bit this morning, but President Zelensky’s inauguration came together rather quickly?
Kurt Volker: (01:35:36)
It did. I believe we had about three days notice in which to put the delegation together.
Devin Nunes: (01:35:40)
There’s been some discussion about whether the vice president was going to be able to lead that effort. And as it turned out, he was not able to lead it. Do you have any information as to why the vice president was unable to join?
Kurt Volker: (01:35:52)
Devin Nunes: (01:35:53)
And Mr. Morrison, do you have any information as to why the vice president was unable to participate in the delegation?
Tim Morrison: (01:36:01)
Devin Nunes: (01:36:05)
Ambassador Volker, you testified during your deposition that aid in fact does get held up from time to time for a whole assortment of reasons. Is that your understanding?
Kurt Volker: (01:36:16)
That is true.
Devin Nunes: (01:36:17)
And sometimes the holdups are rooted in something at OMB. Sometimes it’s at the defense department. Sometimes it’s just at the state department. Sometimes it’s on the hill, correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:36:28)
That is correct.
Devin Nunes: (01:36:29)
And so when the aid was held up for 55 days for Ukraine, that didn’t in and of itself strike you as uncommon?
Kurt Volker: (01:36:40)
No, it’s something that had happened in my career in the past. I’d seen holdups of assistance. I just assumed it was part of the decision making process. Somebody had an objection. We had to overcome it.
Devin Nunes: (01:36:51)
Okay. And in fact there were concerns that perhaps President Zelensky wasn’t going to be the reformer that he campaigned on?
Kurt Volker: (01:37:02)
That was a supposition that I made because of the meeting with the president on May 23rd. I thought that could be what’s behind it.
Devin Nunes: (01:37:10)
And in fact the aid was lifted shortly after he was able to convene a parliament?
Kurt Volker: (01:37:17)
I believe he, let me get the dates straight. I believe, yes. He was able to convene the parliament around the 1st of September, and I believe the aid was released on the 11th of September.
Devin Nunes: (01:37:28)
And when he was able to convene a parliament, he was able to push through a number of anticorruption initiatives?
Kurt Volker: (01:37:34)
That began with the parliament seated on that day. It was a 24 hour session, but then it continued for some time.
Devin Nunes: (01:37:39)
And that was an encouraging sign?
Kurt Volker: (01:37:43)
It started off in a very encouraging way. Yes.
Devin Nunes: (01:37:48)
And other than these things going on in the background with the pause in the aid, the US relations with Ukraine, you testified or you stated it was about as good as you’d want them to be?
Kurt Volker: (01:38:01)
Can you repeat the question? I’m sorry.
Devin Nunes: (01:38:03)
You testified at your deposition that once the aid was lifted, despite all the things going on in the background, that US Ukrainian relations were strong, were as good as you’d want them to be?
Kurt Volker: (01:38:12)
Devin Nunes: (01:38:13)
And you referenced that the security sector assistance was lifted, any hold on that, that there was a positive meeting in New York?
Kurt Volker: (01:38:21)
Devin Nunes: (01:38:22)
At the UNGA. And there was momentum and putting pressure on the Russians. Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:38:28)
That is correct.
Devin Nunes: (01:38:33)
In your deposition, you made it clear that President Trump had a deep rooted negative view on Ukraine and their corruption environment?
Kurt Volker: (01:38:39)
Devin Nunes: (01:38:41)
And you first became aware of his views back in September, 2017?
Kurt Volker: (01:38:47)
That is correct.
Devin Nunes: (01:38:48)
Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Kurt Volker: (01:38:49)
Yes. In September of 2017, I was invited by Secretary Tillerson to do a pre-brief with President Trump before his meeting with President Poroshenko on the margins of the UN general assembly. I did the pre-brief and then I took part in the bilateral meeting.
Devin Nunes: (01:39:06)
And so long before President Zelensky was elected, President Trump had a negative view of Ukraine?
Kurt Volker: (01:39:13)
Yes, he had a very strongly negative view.
Devin Nunes: (01:39:15)
Back in 2017, do you remember anything he said or did that gave you a feeling that he had these negative views?
Kurt Volker: (01:39:24)
Yes. I want to be very careful here because this was a bilateral meeting between the two presidents. I don’t want to stray into classified material. But I can tell you my impression was that he had a very strongly negative view of Ukraine at the time.
Devin Nunes: (01:39:36)
Okay, fair enough. And you described the president’s skepticism at your deposition as a reasonable position?
Kurt Volker: (01:39:46)
Devin Nunes: (01:39:47)
And I believe you said most people who know anything about Ukraine would possibly think that?
Kurt Volker: (01:39:52)
Devin Nunes: (01:39:55)
And you viewed it as part of your role to help change his mind that President Zelensky was a genuine reformer, that he was not running for office for self enrichment, that he was indeed a good person?
Kurt Volker: (01:40:10)
Devin Nunes: (01:40:18)
During the May 23rd meeting with the president in the oval office, could you just relay to us the concerns the president articulated about Ukraine?
Kurt Volker: (01:40:29)
Yes. The president came into the meeting and immediately started speaking. He had just a string of comments that Ukraine is a terrible place. They’re all corrupt. They’re terrible people. They tried to take me down. I tried to explain along with the others that were there. Each of us took turns speaking. I tried to explain that President Zelensky agrees with you, that he was elected because of that situation in Ukraine. And he has a strong mandate from the people of Ukraine to change it. And that’s why it’s important that we actually show him very strong support now. But the president was not convinced, and he said that Zelinsky is no different, that he has terrible people around him. It’s not what I hear about Ukraine, what we’re telling him. I hear that nothing has changed. Talk to Rudy, that kind of dialogue as I described.
Devin Nunes: (01:41:29)
And when the president said that the Ukrainians tried to take him down, did you have any idea what he was referring to?
Kurt Volker: (01:41:34)
I did. I believed that he was referring to the rumors of efforts to interfere in the 2016 election by providing damaging information about the president or about Paul Manafort to the Hillary Clinton campaign. That was one of the rumors that had been been out there and that had gotten some support from the Ukrainian prosecutor general.
Devin Nunes: (01:41:58)
And to the best of your knowledge, the president genuinely believed that. Right?
Kurt Volker: (01:42:03)
I believe he was concerned about it. I don’t know what he actually believed, but he brought it up.
Devin Nunes: (01:42:07)
Okay. And Mr. Morrison, you are also aware of the president’s skeptical view of foreign aid generally?
Tim Morrison: (01:42:17)
Devin Nunes: (01:42:17)
And that there was an initiative that he was looking at foreign aid pretty broadly?
Tim Morrison: (01:42:24)
Devin Nunes: (01:42:25)
And trying to scrutinize to make sure the US taxpayers were getting their money’s worth?
Tim Morrison: (01:42:28)
Devin Nunes: (01:42:31)
And the president was also interested, was he not, in better understanding opportunities for increased burden sharing among the Europeans?
Tim Morrison: (01:42:39)
Devin Nunes: (01:42:40)
And what can you tell us about that?
Tim Morrison: (01:42:43)
The president was concerned that the United States seemed to bear the exclusive brunt of security assistance to Ukraine. He wanted to see the Europeans step up and contribute more security assistance.
Devin Nunes: (01:42:57)
And was there any inter-agency activity, whether it be with the state department or the defense department, coordination by the National Security Council to look into that a little bit for the president?
Tim Morrison: (01:43:07)
We were surveying the data to understand who was contributing what and sort of in what categories.
Devin Nunes: (01:43:18)
And so the president evinced concerns, the inter-agency tried to address them?
Tim Morrison: (01:43:25)
Devin Nunes: (01:43:26)
And by late August, we just discussed with Ambassador Volker that a new Rata was seated. And did that give possibly some hope that President Zelensky would be able to push through some of these reforms?
Tim Morrison: (01:43:37)
Devin Nunes: (01:43:39)
And did you hope during this time period, during this 55 days where the aid was paused, that potentially Zelensky would be able to demonstrate his bona fides and would subsequently be able to get the president to lift the aid?
Tim Morrison: (01:43:55)
Devin Nunes: (01:44:01)
In fact, you traveled with Ambassador Bolton to Ukraine right around labor day weekend, correct?
Tim Morrison: (01:44:13)
Devin Nunes: (01:44:13)
And you met with President Zelensky on, I believe it was August 29th?
Tim Morrison: (01:44:19)
Ambassador Bolton had a meeting with President Zelensky and I staffed that meeting.
Devin Nunes: (01:44:23)
And that’s right around the time when the Rata had met and they had started to push through their reforms?
Tim Morrison: (01:44:28)
As I recall, the date of the meeting between Ambassador Bolton and President Zelensky was actually the first day of the new Rata.
Devin Nunes: (01:44:35)
And some of these reforms included naming a new prosecutor general?
Tim Morrison: (01:44:41)
A new prosecutor general, a brand new cabinet. Yes.
Devin Nunes: (01:44:45)
And they pushed through some legislation that eliminated immunity for Rata members?
Tim Morrison: (01:44:50)
Yes, eliminating parliamentary immunity.
Devin Nunes: (01:44:53)
And I believe you provided some color into this experience, this meeting, and you said that the Ukrainians had been up all night working on some of these…
Devin Nunes: (01:45:03)
Ukrainians had been up all night, working on some of these legislative initiatives.
Tim Morrison: (01:45:06)
Yes. The Ukrainians, with whom we met, were by all appearances exhausted, from the pace of activity.
Devin Nunes: (01:45:12)
Was Ambassador Bolton encouraged by the activity?
Tim Morrison: (01:45:15)
Yes, he was.
Devin Nunes: (01:45:16)
And was the meeting altogether favorable?
Tim Morrison: (01:45:18)
Devin Nunes: (01:45:22)
At that point in time, after the meeting, Ambassador Bolton did he head off to Warsaw, with the Vice President, or did he just… I know you went to Warsaw.
Tim Morrison: (01:45:33)
Well, we had a few stops between Ukraine and Poland, but yes, Ambassador Bolton proceeded to Warsaw, where we were expecting to ensure everything was staged properly, for the President’s arrival.
Devin Nunes: (01:45:48)
Did you have an opportunity to brief the Vice President on-
Tim Morrison: (01:45:51)
I did not.
Devin Nunes: (01:45:52)
Did Ambassador Bolton?
Tim Morrison: (01:45:53)
Devin Nunes: (01:45:54)
What do you remember, from what Ambassador Bolton shared with the Vice President, about the Zelensky meeting?
Tim Morrison: (01:46:00)
So, I was not there. The issue I remember most starkly was Ambassador Bolton was quite annoyed that Ambassador [inaudible 01:46:10] had crashed the pre-brief.
Devin Nunes: (01:46:11)
Tim Morrison: (01:46:12)
But the Ambassador had everything he needed to ensure that, either the President, or the Vice President were well-prepared.
Devin Nunes: (01:46:21)
Did you brief Ambassador Bolton before he had an opportunity to meet with Vice President?
Tim Morrison: (01:46:26)
I didn’t need to. I was… Ambassador Bolton was there.
Devin Nunes: (01:46:29)
Okay. But as far as you know, Ambassador Bolton communicated it to the Vice President that the goings on in Ukraine were positive?
Tim Morrison: (01:46:38)
That’s my understanding.
Devin Nunes: (01:46:39)
With President Zelensky. At this time, Ambassador Bolton was advocating for the lifting of the aid?
Tim Morrison: (01:46:45)
He had been for some time, yes.
Devin Nunes: (01:46:50)
Did you participate in the Warsaw meetings?
Tim Morrison: (01:46:54)
We had a reduced schedule, from what had been arranged for the precedent, for the Vice President, but the Vice President met with President Duda, of Poland, and he met with President Zelensky, and I participated in both meetings.
Devin Nunes: (01:47:07)
What do you remember from the meeting, with President Zelensky?
Tim Morrison: (01:47:12)
It seemed very positive. Very [crosstalk 01:47:13].
Devin Nunes: (01:47:13)
What was the message? President Zelensky, he raised the issue of the aid, correct?
Tim Morrison: (01:47:17)
Devin Nunes: (01:47:18)
How did the Vice President respond?
Tim Morrison: (01:47:20)
He represented his support for the aid. He represented the strong commitment of the United States to Ukraine, and he explained that President Trump, because this is after the Politico article had come out, that made clear there was a hold, he explained that what we were doing was the United States government, the inter agency, was examining what more Europe could do in the security space, and taking a look at how Ukraine was reforming what has been a history of corruption.
Devin Nunes: (01:47:57)
Was there any discussion, during the meeting with President [inaudible 00:03: 01], on the part of the Vice President, about any of these investigations we’ve come to talk about?
Tim Morrison: (01:48:06)
Devin Nunes: (01:48:08)
So, Burisma wasn’t raised?
Tim Morrison: (01:48:11)
Devin Nunes: (01:48:12)
2016 election wasn’t raised?
Tim Morrison: (01:48:15)
Devin Nunes: (01:48:16)
And the Vice President didn’t mention any investigations at all, did he?
Tim Morrison: (01:48:20)
Devin Nunes: (01:48:25)
You mentioned the August 28th Politico article. Was that the first time that you believe that Ukrainians may have had a real sense that the aid was on hold?
Tim Morrison: (01:48:34)
Devin Nunes: (01:48:35)
So, from the 55 day period, spanning July 18th through September 11th, it didn’t really become public until August 28th?
Tim Morrison: (01:48:46)
That’s correct. Ambassador Taylor and I had a number of phone calls where we, in fact, talked about, “Do the Ukrainians know yet,” because we both felt very strongly it was important that we ensure that the President was able to make the decision to release the aid before the Ukrainians ever found out about it.
Devin Nunes: (01:49:01)
Okay, Ambassador Volker, is that also your recollection?
Kurt Volker: (01:49:05)
Yes, it is.
Devin Nunes: (01:49:07)
That it wasn’t until the Politico article that-
Kurt Volker: (01:49:09)
That’s correct. I received a text message, from one of my Ukrainian counterparts, on August 29th, forwarding that article, and that’s the first they raised it with me.
Devin Nunes: (01:49:18)
Can you share a little bit with us about your communications, during that time period, about the hold in the aid?
Kurt Volker: (01:49:25)
Yes. I didn’t have any communications with the Ukrainians about the hold on aid until after they raised it with me, for the same reason that Tim just gave, on the hope that we could get it taken care of ourselves, before it became something that they became aware of. Inside the U.S. government, I was aware that the hold was placed. I was aware of that on July 18th. It was referenced at an inter agency meeting, and I got a read out from that meeting, from one of my assistants.
Kurt Volker: (01:49:55)
I, then, immediately spoke with several people in the administration, to object. I thought that this was a bad decision, or a bad hold, maybe not a decision, but a process. I wanted to make sure that all the arguments were marshaled, to get it lifted. So, I spoke with the Pentagon, [inaudible 01:50:14] Cooper, I spoke with Assistant Secretary of [inaudible 01:50:17] affairs at the state department, who was going to represent the state department at the next higher level meeting. I believe I spoke with officials in European Bureau, with the national security council staff. So, I was actively trying to convey that this needed to be lifted and I wanted them to be able to use my name in doing so, because I felt that the best prospect for positioning ourselves for negotiations with Russia, is the strongest defense capability for Ukraine.
Devin Nunes: (01:50:46)
During this time period, did you come to believe that any of these investigations were part of the hold up in the aid?
Kurt Volker: (01:50:53)
No, I did not.
Devin Nunes: (01:50:55)
Backtracking just a little bit. On July 3rd, you met in Toronto with President Zelensky, and there’s been some… Ambassador Taylor, and Mr. Kent provided some testimony that they had some apprehension, that part of this irregular channel, that Ambassador Taylor referenced, what would rear its head in Toronto. I’m just wondering if you can tell us whether that in fact happened.
Kurt Volker: (01:51:26)
Yes, thank you. I can only tell you what I know. There may have been other conversations, or other things, but I know that we had a conversation, Bill Taylor, and I believe Gordon Sondland, and I, around the 28th of June. That later connected to, I believe, a conversation with President Zelensky, although I may not have been part of the latter. That being said, I was convinced after that conversation we had gotten nowhere. We had our White House briefing of President Trump, on May 23rd. He signed a letter inviting President Zelensky to the White House on May 29th, and for several weeks, we were just temporizing with Ukrainians, saying, “Well, we’re working on it. It’s a scheduling issue. We’ll get there, don’t worry.”
Kurt Volker: (01:52:11)
I told Bill, and Gordon, that I was going to see President Zelensky in Toronto, and I feel an obligation to tell him the truth. That we have a problem here, we’re not getting a date scheduled, here’s what I think the problem is. It’s the negative information flow from Mayor Giuliani. Also, that I would advise him that he should call President Trump personally, because he needed to renew that personal relationship, and be able to convey to President Trump that he was serious about fighting corruption, investigating things that happened in the past and so forth. So, I did all of that with President Zelensky in a [inaudible 00:07:50], after our formal bilateral meeting.
Devin Nunes: (01:52:52)
Okay. During that meeting in Toronto, or the series of meetings, there was no discussion of preconditions, and investigations of anything?
Kurt Volker: (01:53:01)
Devin Nunes: (01:53:02)
Kurt Volker: (01:53:02)
Devin Nunes: (01:53:03)
And you were there with Mr. Kent?
Kurt Volker: (01:53:06)
Yes, I believe so.
Devin Nunes: (01:53:07)
And did you ever have any discussions with him about preconditions or investigations?
Kurt Volker: (01:53:13)
Not at that time. I think later on, these things came up, about when we were talking about a statement. Whether there were investigations, but I believe at this time in Toronto, it was really more referring to investigations generically, that that is how you go about fighting corruption, and that President Zelensky should reaffirm his commitment to President Trump in a direct phone call.
Devin Nunes: (01:53:35)
Okay. At any point in time had Mr. Kent raised any concerns to you about any of this?
Kurt Volker: (01:53:43)
Not at that time.
Devin Nunes: (01:53:46)
Next event I want to cover is the July 10th meeting, in Ambassador Bolton’s office. We talked a little bit about it this morning. I don’t if you had caught the coverage, but there was a testimony that at some point Ambassador Sondland mentioned investigations, and reportedly that the meeting ended abruptly. What can you tell us about that, in fact?
Kurt Volker: (01:54:10)
Thank you. Let me answer that question first. I’d like to come back to your prior question for a second, too, if I may, but on the July 10th meeting, this was a meeting that we had arranged between Alex Danyliuk, who was the head of the National Security and Defense Council, and the National Security Advisor Bolton. Attending the meeting was also Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland, myself, I believe Fiona Hill, and also Andriy Yermak. The purpose was really a counterpart visit. I thought that this would be the best opportunity, it was the first high level meeting that we were having in Washington, with a senior U.S. official, Ambassador Bolton after President Zelensky’s inauguration. I thought it’d be a great opportunity for the Ukrainians to make their case, that they are the new team in town. Real deal about fighting corruption. I was rather disappointed with the meeting. As it transpired, it struck me as down in the weeds, talking about a reform of national security structures in Ukraine, legislation that they were working on, and not the big picture and not the bilateral relationship. So, I was a bit disappointed by that.
Kurt Volker: (01:55:26)
At the end of the meeting, I do recall, having seen some of the other testimony, I believe in Ambassador Sondland did raise the point of investigations, in a generic way. This was after the meeting was already wrapping up, and I think all of us thought it was inappropriate, and the conversation did not pick up from there. The meeting was over. We all went outside, and we had a picture taken in front of the White House, and then all of us except Ambassador Bolton, went down to the wardroom to talk through followup. About, “Well, how do we follow up on this meeting, to keep the momentum in the relationship?” I think we broke up into several small groups. I remember having a conversation with Secretary Perry, and one of his assistants, about energy reform as part of that. I don’t recall other conversations following up on investigations, or Burisma.
Devin Nunes: (01:56:23)
And to the best of your knowledge, there certainly was no precondition discussed, right?
Kurt Volker: (01:56:31)
No, no. Again, the issue of the security assistance was one where I thought that this was really related to a general negative view about Ukraine. There was nothing specific ever communicated to me about it, or the reasons why it was held. We certainly didn’t want to talk about it with the Ukrainians. We wanted to fix it.
Devin Nunes: (01:56:54)
Okay. A couple weeks later, the July 25th call happened, and you were headed to Ukraine, during that time period?
Kurt Volker: (01:57:06)
Yes, I was actually already on my way to Ukraine, I think two days prior to that.
Devin Nunes: (01:57:12)
And you receive readouts both from the U.S. side and the Ukrainian side. Could you tell us about it?
Kurt Volker: (01:57:17)
Yes. So, I was not on the phone call. I had arrived in Ukraine, and I had had that lunch with Mr. Yermak that we saw on the day of the phone call. I had been pushing for the phone call, because I thought it was important to renew the personal connection between the two leaders, and to congratulate President Zelensky on the parliamentary election. The readout that I received from Mr. Yermak, and then also from the U.S. side, although I’m not exactly sure who it was from on the U.S. side, but there was a U.S. and a Ukrainian readout, were largely the same. That it was a good call, it was a congratulatory phone call for the President’s win in the parliamentary election. President Zelensky did reiterate his commitment to reform, and fighting corruption in Ukraine, and President Trump did reiterate his invitation to President Zelensky to come visit him in the White House. That’s exactly what I thought the phone call would be, so I was not surprised at getting that as the readout.
Devin Nunes: (01:58:16)
Did you ever have any discussions with Ambassador Taylor about this?
Kurt Volker: (01:58:19)
At that time. We were together, in Ukraine, at that time. We went the very next day to visit the conflict zone, and I’m sure he heard the same readout that I did.
Devin Nunes: (01:58:28)
You had a meeting with President Zelensky on the 26th?
Kurt Volker: (01:58:31)
Yes, we had a meeting the day after the phone call, on the 26th. In the morning, before heading out to the conflict zone.
Devin Nunes: (01:58:36)
Were any of these concerning? Elements that some witnesses have raised about the call, raised in the meeting with President Zelensky?
Kurt Volker: (01:58:42)
No, only the very bare bones readout that I had received. That was also how it was discussed in the meeting with President Zelensky.
Devin Nunes: (01:58:50)
So, to the extent there’s been assertions that President Zelensky was concerned about demands President Trump had made.
Kurt Volker: (01:58:59)
I don’t recall that.
Devin Nunes: (01:59:00)
You don’t recall that?
Kurt Volker: (01:59:02)
I do not recall being… Well, let me turn that around, and say he was very positive about the phone call.
Devin Nunes: (01:59:07)
Kurt Volker: (01:59:08)
I don’t recall him saying anything about demands, but he was very upbeat about the fact of the call.
Devin Nunes: (01:59:12)
Okay. There was no discussion, on the part of President Zelensky, on how to navigate the various…
Kurt Volker: (01:59:18)
I don’t recall that.
Devin Nunes: (01:59:19)
Concerns that people have articulated about the call.
Kurt Volker: (01:59:22)
I don’t remember that.
Devin Nunes: (01:59:28)
Mr. Zeldin asked you in the deposition that in no way, shape or form, in either readouts from the United States, or Ukraine, did you receive any indication whatsoever for anything that resembled a quid pro quo? Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:59:42)
Devin Nunes: (01:59:43)
And the same would go for this new allegation of bribery?
Kurt Volker: (01:59:50)
I’ve only seen an allegation of bribery in the last week.
Devin Nunes: (01:59:53)
Okay. It’s the same common set of facts. It’s just instead of quid pro quo, now it’s bribery.
Kurt Volker: (01:59:58)
I was never involved in anything that I considered to be bribery at all.
Devin Nunes: (02:00:03)
Kurt Volker: (02:00:04)
Devin Nunes: (02:00:05)
Kurt Volker: (02:00:09)
Mr. Castor, may I address two specific points?
Devin Nunes: (02:00:12)
Kurt Volker: (02:00:14)
One is I’m reminded that the meeting with Ambassador Bolton, and Mr. Danyliuk, took place on July 10th.
Devin Nunes: (02:00:21)
Kurt Volker: (02:00:22)
I did not become aware of the hold on security assistance until July 18th.
Devin Nunes: (02:00:26)
Kurt Volker: (02:00:27)
So, that is another reason why that did not come up.
Devin Nunes: (02:00:28)
Okay. At that point in time, you didn’t know that the potential pause in the security assistance was brewing?
Kurt Volker: (02:00:36)
I did not. No, I heard about it for the first time on the 18th of July.
Devin Nunes: (02:00:39)
Kurt Volker: (02:00:40)
May I make a second observation as well?
Devin Nunes: (02:00:41)
Kurt Volker: (02:00:42)
I do remember, having seen some of the testimony of Mr. Kent, a conversation in which he had asked me about the conspiracy theories that were out there, in Ukraine. I don’t remember what the date of this conversation was, and my view was, “Well, if there are things like that, then why not investigate them?” [inaudible 02:01:01], I don’t believe that there’s anything to them. If there is, the 2016 election interference is what I was thinking of, we would want to know about that, but I didn’t really believe there’s anything there to begin with.
Devin Nunes: (02:01:12)
You testified in your deposition to the extent that Ukrainians were going to investigate other Ukrainians for wrongdoing, that was perfectly appropriate in your mind?
Kurt Volker: (02:01:18)
Correct. That has been U.S. policy for years.
Devin Nunes: (02:01:21)
So, if certain Ukrainians involved with the Burisma company, if they-
Kurt Volker: (02:01:27)
Well, that, I think, is the plausible thing to look at there. As I said, I don’t find it plausible, or credible, that Vice President Biden would have been influenced in his duties, but whether individual Ukrainians in the society that we know Ukraine has been for decades, were trying to act in a corrupt way, or to buy influence, that’s plausible.
Devin Nunes: (02:01:50)
Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent, last Wednesday told us about there was an investigation, into Burisma, trying to recoup millions of taxpayer dollars, and the Ukrainians were pursuing an investigation, there was a bribe paid. Were you tracking that?
Kurt Volker: (02:02:09)
I was aware of those kinds of things. I couldn’t give you those kinds of details. I just know that there was a reputation around the company.
Devin Nunes: (02:02:17)
Okay. Subsequent to those facts, and the bribe being paid, the Burisma company wanted to improve their image, and added some folks to their board, including the President of Poland, including Hunter Biden. Are you familiar with that?
Kurt Volker: (02:02:34)
That’s what I understand.
Devin Nunes: (02:02:34)
To the extent the Ukrainians, that the folks affiliated with Burisma wanted to hire those people for their board, for protection purposes, so they could continue to engage in misdeeds. If that was a fact worth investigating, you certainly would be supportive of Ukrainians trying to get to the bottom of that, correct?
Kurt Volker: (02:02:56)
Well, I can’t speculate as to any of the specifics of what was motivating Burisma, or not. Ukrainian government authorities investigating possible corruption by Ukrainian citizens is a perfectly appropriate thing for them to do.
Devin Nunes: (02:03:09)
All right. Mr. Morrison, I want to turn our attention back to the July 25th call. You were in the room. Did anything concern you on the call?
Tim Morrison: (02:03:27)
Devin Nunes: (02:03:29)
After the call ended, you, like Colonel Vindman, one of your next steps was to engage the NSC lawyers, and your reasons for doing that were slightly different than Colonel Vindman’s. You articulated three concerns, and do you want to share them with us, or would you rather I do it?
Tim Morrison: (02:03:56)
So, I think I articulated two concerns. If I’m forgetting one, please remind me, but the two concerns I had were, one, I did not see representatives of NSC legal on the call, and so I wanted to make sure that the legal advisor and his deputy were aware of the call. I was also concerned about taking steps to protect the Memcon limited it’s disclosure, for fear of the consequences of it leaking.
Devin Nunes: (02:04:26)
You were concerned about it leaking, because you were worried about how it would play out in Washington’s polarized political environment, correct?
Tim Morrison: (02:04:34)
Devin Nunes: (02:04:35)
You were also worried how that would lead to the bipartisan support, here in Congress, towards Ukraine, right?
Tim Morrison: (02:04:45)
Devin Nunes: (02:04:47)
You were also concerned that it might affect the Ukrainians perception negatively?
Tim Morrison: (02:04:53)
Devin Nunes: (02:04:54)
In fact, all three of those things have played out, haven’t they?
Tim Morrison: (02:04:58)
Devin Nunes: (02:04:59)
You didn’t ask the lawyers to put it on the codeword system, correct?
Tim Morrison: (02:05:08)
I want to be precise about the lexicon here. I did not ask for it to be moved to a compartmented system.
Devin Nunes: (02:05:14)
Okay. You just wanted the transcript to be controlled?
Tim Morrison: (02:05:20)
I wanted access to be restricted.
Devin Nunes: (02:05:22)
Okay. When you learned that the transcript had been stored on the compartmented server, you believe that was a mistake, correct?
Tim Morrison: (02:05:36)
Well, it was represented to me that it was a mistake. I was trying to pull up that Memcon, because we were in the process of pulling together Ambassador Bolton’s materials, and the President’s materials, for what was a plan bilat between POTUS and President Zelensky. When I went to do that, I could not pull up the package in our system, and I did not understand why. I spoke with the NSC executive Secretariat Staff, asked them why, and they did their research, and they informed me it had been moved to the higher classification system, at the direction of John Eisenberg, whom I then asked why. If that was the judgment he made, that’s not necessarily mine to question, but I didn’t understand it. He essentially told me, “I gave no such direction.” He did his own inquiry, and he represented back to me that it was his understanding was it is an administrative error, that when he also gave direction to restrict access, the executive Secretariat staff understood that as an apprehension that there was something in the content of the Memcon that could not exist on the lower classification system.
Devin Nunes: (02:06:48)
So, to the best of your knowledge, there’s no malicious intent, in moving the transcript to the compartmented server?
Tim Morrison: (02:06:54)
Devin Nunes: (02:06:54)
To your knowledge, anybody on the NSC staff that needed access to the transcript for their official duties, always was able to access it, correct? people that had a need to know, and a need to access it.
Tim Morrison: (02:07:09)
Once it was moved to the compartmented system?
Devin Nunes: (02:07:10)
Tim Morrison: (02:07:11)
Devin Nunes: (02:07:12)
Okay. The Memcon of the July 25th call was, in your experience, prepared normally?
Tim Morrison: (02:07:22)
Devin Nunes: (02:07:24)
There isn’t an exact transcription of what’s said on the call, correct?
Tim Morrison: (02:07:29)
Devin Nunes: (02:07:30)
That there’s note-takers in the situation room, and then they prepare a draft, and it’s circulated among relevant parties?
Tim Morrison: (02:07:39)
Devin Nunes: (02:07:42)
You had responsibility for coordinating any edits?
Tim Morrison: (02:07:47)
Yes. We look at, shorthand, we’ll call it a transcript, but the memorandum of conversation, and we ensure that that transcription is as close to accurate as possible, given our requirements under the Presidential Records Act.
Devin Nunes: (02:08:04)
Okay. Colonel Vindman testified that he thought it was very accurate. Did you as well?
Tim Morrison: (02:08:11)
I viewed it as complete and accurate.
Devin Nunes: (02:08:13)
Okay. Colonel Vindman did articulate that he had a couple edits. He wanted Burisma inserted, I think it was on page three, or four, in place of “the company”, in one of the sections where President Zelensky was talking. Are you aware of that edit request?
Tim Morrison: (02:08:32)
I understand that he said in either this proceeding, or the deposition that he wanted that request, yes.
Devin Nunes: (02:08:38)
Okay. At the time, did you understand that he had asked for that?
Tim Morrison: (02:08:41)
I don’t recall that. It was my practice if I believed an edit accurately represented the call, I would accept it. If I didn’t hear it in the call, if it didn’t exist in my notes, I wouldn’t have made the edit.
Devin Nunes: (02:08:54)
Okay. Yeah. On page four, he wanted to swap out the word company for Burisma. When that edit from Colonel Vindman was not installed, did he give you any negative feedback? That it was crucial that that edit get in the document?
Tim Morrison: (02:09:16)
Not that I can recall.
Devin Nunes: (02:09:17)
Okay. Did he ever raise any concerns to you about the accuracy of the transcript?
Tim Morrison: (02:09:23)
Not that I can recall.
Devin Nunes: (02:09:26)
Did he ever raise any concerns to you generally about the call?
Tim Morrison: (02:09:30)
when we were discussing the track changes version of the Memcon, I believe he had some concerns about the call. I believe we both agreed we wanted that more full throated embrace of President Zelensky, and his reform agenda, and we didn’t get it.
Devin Nunes: (02:09:50)
Okay. You indicated in your deposition that when you took over the portfolio for Dr. Hill, July 15th, you were alerted to potential issues in Colonel Vindman’s judgment?
Tim Morrison: (02:10:13)
Devin Nunes: (02:10:15)
Did she relay anything specifically to you, why she thought that?
Tim Morrison: (02:10:21)
Not as such. It was more of a overarching statement from her, and her deputy, who became my deputy, that they had concerns about judgment.
Devin Nunes: (02:10:32)
Okay. Did any other NSC personnel raise concerns with you about Mr. Vindman?
Tim Morrison: (02:10:40)
Devin Nunes: (02:10:41)
Or I’m sorry, Colonel Vindman. What were some of those concerns that were brought to your attention?
Tim Morrison: (02:10:47)
Speaker 1: (02:10:49)
I’m sorry, we are not going to… I’m going to instruct him not to answer that. I’m going to instruct him not to answer, because I think that it’s beyond the scope of what you’re asking for. These concerns, Mr. Castor, predated any involvement in with Ukrainian sector assistance.
Devin Nunes: (02:11:11)
Well, during the deposition I asked you, Mr. Morrison, whether others raised the concern that Colonel Vindman may have leaked information.
Tim Morrison: (02:11:22)
You did ask that, yes.
Devin Nunes: (02:11:23)
Yeah, and your answer was?
Tim Morrison: (02:11:25)
Others had represented that, yes.
Devin Nunes: (02:11:27)
Okay. I asked you whether you were concerned Colonel Vindman did not keep you in the loop at all times, with his official duties?
Tim Morrison: (02:11:37)
Devin Nunes: (02:11:38)
In fact, when he went to the national security council lawyers following July 25th call, he did not first come to you. Is that correct?
Tim Morrison: (02:11:46)
Devin Nunes: (02:11:47)
And you were his supervisor in the chain of command, correct?
Tim Morrison: (02:11:52)
Devin Nunes: (02:11:53)
In hindsight, did you wish that he had come to you first, before going to the lawyers?
Tim Morrison: (02:11:58)
Devin Nunes: (02:11:59)
And why is that?
Tim Morrison: (02:12:01)
One, if he had concerns about something about the content of the call, that’s something I would expected to have been notified of. I also think, just as a matter of practice, since we both went to the lawyers, we didn’t necessarily both need to, and economy of effort may have prevailed.
Devin Nunes: (02:12:18)
Okay. At any point subsequently, did he become frustrated that he felt cut out of some of the Ukraine portfolio?
Tim Morrison: (02:12:27)
Devin Nunes: (02:12:28)
And what was the nature of his concerns?
Tim Morrison: (02:12:32)
Well, I think the easiest way to say it is he was concerned with respect to, for example, the Ukraine trip, that he did not go. He asked me why. It was my practice to have a number of the conversations with Ambassador Taylor one-on-one, and there were certain other matters.
Devin Nunes: (02:12:55)
Okay. And did ever get the sense that you resolved his concerns, or did they linger?
Tim Morrison: (02:13:03)
I explained to him my thinking, and that was that.
Devin Nunes: (02:13:08)
Okay. Before my time expires, Ambassador Volker, I want to turn quickly to what Ambassador Taylor describes as the irregular channel. He was a participant with you, and Ambassador Sondland hundreds of text messages, correct?
Kurt Volker: (02:13:31)
Devin Nunes: (02:13:33)
Did he ever raise concerns, about what was going on during the time period of the early August time period?
Kurt Volker: (02:13:44)
Only as you saw reflected in the text messages themselves, where he said, “Is this now a linkage, or are we doing this?” He had a concern about, just in general, Rudy Giuliani, which I think a lot of us had, but the issue is what do you do about it, about the role that he’s playing. As you note, we were in frequent contact, near daily contact throughout this entire period.
Devin Nunes: (02:14:14)
Did he ever engage you in a one-on-one telephone call, to articulate his concerns?
Kurt Volker: (02:14:19)
We were on many one-on-one telephone calls. He did not raise those concerns that way. No.
Devin Nunes: (02:14:23)
Okay. You’re a experienced diplomat, at one point in time Senate confirmed, Ambassador Sondland is the Ambassador to the European Union, secretary Perry is a Secretary of energy. Certainly not… Doesn’t sound like an irregular bunch. Did he ever articulate to you that he thought the three of you working on Ukraine policy was a problem?
Kurt Volker: (02:14:54)
No, he did not.
Devin Nunes: (02:14:55)
Were you surprised during his testimony, when he came in for the deposition, when he established these two tracks, that one was a regular channel that he was in charge of, and the other was a irregular channel?
Kurt Volker: (02:15:07)
Yes, and I don’t agree with his characterization of that, because I had been in my role for a couple of years. I had been the lead on U.S. Ukraine negotiations, and negotiating with Russia and the inter agency work, and the work with our allies. We have a Secretary of Energy, who is a cabinet official, and I think having support from various U.S. Officials for our strengthening, our engagement with Ukraine, I viewed as a very positive thing. If the concern is not us so much, then, because we’re all U.S. officials, but Mayor Giuliani, I don’t view that as a channel at all, because he’s not a representative of the U.S. government, he’s a private citizen. I viewed him as perhaps a useful barometer, in understanding what may be helpful communication from the Ukrainian government, but not someone in a position to represent the U.S. government at all.
Devin Nunes: (02:16:02)
Okay. Thank you.
Adam Schiff: (02:16:05)
Okay. Why don’t we take a five or 10 minute break? If I could ask the audience to allow the witnesses to leave the room first. We are in recess.
Adam Schiff: (00:00)
We’re now going to proceed to a 15 minute round by either chair in majority or ranking member of minority. Mr Goldman, you’re recognized for 15 minutes.
Thank you, Mr chairman. Ambassador Volker, I do want to just correct the record from the first round. You were right to point out, you asked if a quote that I represented you made in the deposition was your words. And I actually read the wrong part in the quote. What you actually said was, it creates a problem again where all of the things that we’re trying to do to advance the bilateral relationship, strengthen our support for Ukraine, strengthen the positioning against Russia, is now getting sucked into a domestic political debate in the US domestic political narrative that overshadows that. So you were right to point that out, and I apologize for the mistake. I want to go back to a couple of things that you said during the minorities round. Can you repeat again with the readout that you got of the July 25th call?
Kurt Volker: (01:06)
Yes. I received a readout from both Ukrainian colleague, Andrey Yermak, as well as from a US person. I don’t now remember whether it was my staffer or someone from the embassy or where. And the readout was that it was a good phone call. That it was a congratulatory phone call for the President’s win in the parliamentary election. That Presidents Zelensky did reiterate his commitment to fighting corruption and advancing reform in Ukraine. And that President Trump renewed his invitation for President Zelensky to come to the White House.
Okay. And I believe you said that readout was exactly as you expected the call to go. Is that right?
Kurt Volker: (01:45)
Exactly. That’s what we were trying to tee up.
Okay. I just want to show you once again the July 25th text that you wrote to Andrey Yermak, which was the message that you were relaying to him, so that he could prepare President Zelensky. And you’ll recall this, right, where you said, that this was the message. Good lunch. Thanks. Heard from White House. Assuming President Z convinces Trump, he will investigate quote, get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. That’s what you expected from the call, right?
Kurt Volker: (02:21)
Yeah, I expected that President Zelensky would be convincing in his statements and comments with President Trump. That he was exactly that, that he would investigate, get to the bottom of things that had happened in 2016. And that if he was strong and conveying who he is as a person and doing that, that President Trump would be convinced and renew the invitation to the White House.
Right. But you don’t mention corruption in this text, do you?
Kurt Volker: (02:49)
This is… I paraphrase-
The word corruption is not in this text.
Kurt Volker: (02:53)
The word corruption is not there. Investigating things that have happened in the past that would be corrupt, would be investigating corruption.
You say a couple of times in your opening statement, and you just said it again. That is, investigating things that happened in the past. You are aware of course that most investigations relate to things that happened in the past, right? Sorry?
Kurt Volker: (03:12)
Okay, so that doesn’t really move the needle, whether it’s current or past, in terms of the subject of the investigation, right?
Kurt Volker: (03:20)
Yeah, the subject of the investigation are things that happened in the past.
You also talked a little bit about the meeting that you had on July 26th with Presidents Zelensky and Ambassador Sondland in Kiev. Is that right?
Kurt Volker: (03:33)
On the 26th, we had a meeting with President Zelensky, yes.
And I believe you testified that the topic of investigations did not come up at all, is that right?
Kurt Volker: (03:46)
Yeah, I don’t recall them coming up. Just the general phone call.
You didn’t take notes of that call, of that meeting, right?
Kurt Volker: (03:52)
No I did not.
Right because you had, there were staffers there to do that?
Kurt Volker: (03:55)
And so if there are two staffers who took notes of that meeting and testified that the subject of either sensitive topics or investigations came up, are we better off taking their word for it than yours?
Kurt Volker: (04:09)
I have no reason to doubt their notes if they were notes taken contemporaneously at the meeting.
Okay. Another witness testified before us, Laura Cooper, about a meeting that she had with you on August 20th. Do you recall having that meeting with her? Because you didn’t mention it in your deposition?
Kurt Volker: (04:29)
Yes I did. I did mention that I had been making the rounds to weigh in on lifting the hold on security assistance. To do that with all of the inter agency players.
And she recalled with some specificity that meeting, which I believe was also based on her notes, that you described the statement that you were trying to get President Zelensky to make to, and I’ll quote what she said, disavow interference in US elections, and commit to the prosecution of individuals involved in election interference. And if he were to agree to do that, she testified, then you thought that it might help to lift the hold on security assistance. Is that your recollection of the conversation as well?
Kurt Volker: (05:14)
So how does yours differ?
Kurt Volker: (05:17)
I recall talking about the statement that we had discussed earlier, the one that had been in the subject of these exchanges between Mr. Yermak and myself. Myself, Ambassador Sondland and Rudy Giuliani. And then back to Yermak. So I discussed that this is an effort we are doing. That this could be helpful in getting a reset of the thinking of the President, the negative view of Ukraine that he had. And if we did that, I thought that would also be helpful, in unblocking whatever hold there was on security assistance. And if there’s this negative presumption about Ukraine, getting this stuff on track would be helpful.
All right, well so that’s a different interpretation. But you don’t doubt that what she testified is inaccurate, do you?
Kurt Volker: (06:02)
I believe she accurately reflected what she understood from the conversation.
Okay. You testified a little bit about the June 28th conference call that you had with Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Taylor. I’m not sure if Deputy Secretary Kent was on the line.
Kurt Volker: (06:19)
I don’t believe so.
And Secretary Perry, before you looped in President Zelensky. Am I right about the participants of that? Or was Secretary Perry not on it?
Kurt Volker: (06:29)
Yeah, I am pretty sure that Deputy Assistant Secretary kent was not on it. I don’t remember whether Secretary Perry was on it. And I don’t remember whether I stayed on for Presidents Zelensky joining the call or not.
Kurt Volker: (06:42)
There were two separate calls or the same call.
Were there any staff members or note takers on the call?
Kurt Volker: (06:47)
I don’t believe so.
Kurt Volker: (06:50)
We were having a call among ourselves to talk about what were the messages we thought we needed to convey.
And at that point we’ve had other testimony from people who did take notes, that there was a discussion about the investigations, or what you needed to do, what President Zelensky needed to do, in order to get the White House meeting? Do you recall that?
Kurt Volker: (07:12)
I recall seeing that in Ambassador Taylor’s testimony, and I believe there may have even been a text message to that effect. And again, it comes down to what are we talking about in terms of these investigations? Because what I certainly understood is we’re talking about Ukraine looking into and fighting corruption internally. And being convincing about this, presenting the new president and the new team as a change in Ukraine.
Well, you understood that the investigations were Burisma and the 2016 election, right?
Kurt Volker: (07:42)
Okay. And you interpreted those to be… You interpreted those to be okay because in theory they were looking into Ukrainians?
Kurt Volker: (07:51)
Okay. But we can agree, can we not, that the investigations, all the investigations that we’re talking about here today were Burisma and the 2016 election?
Kurt Volker: (08:01)
Okay. Now, and what you then amended your testimony today to say, is that in retrospect, if you did not realize that the purpose for Mr. Giuliani and President Trump to want the Burisma investigation was for political benefits in digging up dirt or getting some information on Vice President Biden. That’s what you learned subsequently, right?
Kurt Volker: (08:25)
It’s correct that I learned about the President’s interest in investigating Vice President Biden from the phone call transcript, which came much, much later. From Giuliani, I didn’t know that he was actively pursuing this. I did know that he raised this with me directly, and I had pushed back on it.
Well, you knew that Ambassador Sondland was pursuing this at the July 10th meeting when he raised these investigations himself.
Kurt Volker: (08:50)
Again, he didn’t specify Biden. He didn’t specify Burisma as I recall either. I understood it to be a generic comment. And something again, not appropriate for that meeting.
Right, I understand. But Biden wasn’t mentioned, but you do agree that when investigations are referenced in this context, it is Burisma and the 2016 election, no?
Kurt Volker: (09:12)
Yes, that’s what I understand.
Right. And on that July 10th call, when Ambassador Sondland raised the investigations, he did that in response to a question from the Ukrainians about the White House meeting. Isn’t that right?
Kurt Volker: (09:26)
Can you repeat the question? I didn’t catch that.
You said that Ambassador Sondland mentioned a specific investigations at the July 10th meeting in Ambassador Bolton’s office. And you said that you thought that was inappropriate.
Kurt Volker: (09:39)
Didn’t he make that comment in response to a question from the Ukrainian officials about when they could schedule the White House meeting?
Kurt Volker: (09:50)
That I’m not sure about. I remember the meeting essentially already being over, and then Ambassador Sondland bringing that up.
And in the July 2nd or third meeting in Toronto that you had with Presidents Zelensky, you also mentioned investigations to him, right?
Kurt Volker: (10:07)
And again, you were referring to the Burisma and the 2016-
Kurt Volker: (10:09)
I was thinking of Burisma in 2016.
Okay. And you understood that that’s what the Ukrainians interpreted, references to investigations to be related to Burisma and the 2016 election?
Kurt Volker: (10:20)
I don’t know specifically that time if we had talked to that specifically Burisma 2016 with President Zelensky. That was my assumption though, that they would have been thinking that too.
Now, Mr. Morrison, when did you have that conversation with Fiona Hill about Burisma and the parallel track involving Ambassador… Parallel process rather involving Ambassador Sondland and Rudy Giuliani. Do you recall?
We had a number of handoff discussions between one July and 15 July.
Okay. So in that period of time, you were certainly aware of this effort to promote this Burisma investigation that Ambassador Sondland and Rudy Giuliani were going about, or at least you had heard about it from Dr. Hill?
I had heard about it from Dr. Hill.
Okay. I want to pull up another excerpt from a recent Wall Street Journal article that quotes an email, from July 13th, that Ambassador Sondland sent to you. And he wrote to you, quote, “Sole purpose is for Zelensky to give POTUS assurances of new sheriff in town. Corruption ending, unbundling moving forward. And any hampered investigations will be allowed to move forward transparently.” And you responded, “Tracking.” What did you understand Ambassador Sondland to mean when he wrote to you “any hampered investigations will be allowed to move forward transparently”?
I don’t know that I had any understanding. These are emails? July 13 emails. I wasn’t even in the seat yet. But I knew that among the head of state meetings we were attempting to schedule, was one between the President and President Zelensky.
Right. But it was before this that Dr. Hill had told you about Burisma and Ambassador Sondland in particular, his desire for this parallel process to investigate Burisma, right?
So you had that association when you received his email, asking you about investigations, correct?
Because among the discussions I had with Dr. Hill were about Ambassador Sondland. I think she might’ve coined it the Gordon problem. And I decided to keep track of what Ambassador Sondland was doing. I didn’t necessarily always act on things Gordon suggested, that he believed were important. So he wanted to get a meeting. I understood that the President wanted to do, and had agreed to a meeting. And so I was tracking that we needed to schedule a meeting.
You were not endorsing the notion of President Zelensky’s sending a message about investigations. Is that your testimony?
That is my testimony.
Okay. Ambassador Volker, I’m going to jump ahead. After the aid was released, you went to the Yes conference, right, in Ukraine? And are you aware that Ambassador Taylor, who testified based on quite detailed notes, indicated that earlier, a few days before that Ambassador Sondland had told him that President Trump is a businessman. And so before he writes a check, he likes to see people pay up. Something to that effect. You’re aware of that?
Kurt Volker: (14:08)
I am familiar with that testimony.
And you’re also familiar that Ambassador Taylor said that you said something very similar to him, when you were in Ukraine for the Yes conference. Do you recall saying that to Ambassador Taylor?
Kurt Volker: (14:20)
Yes, I do. I was repeating what Gordon Sondland had said to me, to explain to Bill Taylor, what that understanding was.
And in what context did Ambassador Sondland say that to you?
Kurt Volker: (14:33)
I think we were talking about the release of the hold on security assistance. And he was saying that the President has, he’s already got a negative view of Ukraine. He sees a check on his desk that’s going to the Ukrainians, not sure about them. So he wants to hold onto it until he’s assured.
Right. And the pay up before he writes the check is to get the investigations that he wants. Isn’t that right?
Kurt Volker: (14:59)
That was not clear to me.
What did you think it meant?
Kurt Volker: (15:02)
I didn’t think that there was a pay up as you say. As we said, the language was similar. I had heard from Gordon that he sees this check, he’s not sure he wants it. He wants to make sure that he’s got a deal with the Ukrainians. I didn’t know specifically other than this, that generic formulation.
Mr Chairman, I yield back.
Adam Schiff: (15:20)
15 minutes to ranking member Nunes.
Parliamentary inquiry. Mr. Chair. Do you expect any more of these magical 15 minute of devotions that you come up with in the back?
Adam Schiff: (15:33)
I don’t know how magical they are. They’re prescribed by House Resolution 660. That we can have successive rounds of up to 45 minutes. So this is part of the prescribed procedure under the House Resolution.
Do you expect you’re going to have more this evening? Are you, or this is your last-
Adam Schiff: (15:50)
I do not expect more will be necessary.
Thank you gentleman. So for everyone watching, this is another example of how out of control this process has become, where the Democrats just magically give themselves additional minutes. Which they’re right, in the little special rule that they wrote, they can do. But you’d at least think that they’d have the decency to just tell us that you’re going to have 15 minutes more.
And I would say that you can go four hours. We can go five hours. We’ll give you all you want. You can keep digging if you want. The deeper the hole you dig, the more viewers will turn off, because people just aren’t buying the drug deal that you guys are trying to sell.
I would add that since we are getting into prime time, these are two witnesses that were your witnesses that you called in to depose. We still ask for witnesses that you did not depose, including the whistleblower, who you and others claimed not to know. Which we still need to get to bottom of that, because it is the most important material fact witness, to how this whole mess began in the first place.
Secondly, we’ve asked for the DNC operatives that were working with Ukrainians to dig up dirt for what you call, or what the left calls conspiracy theories. Which they are right, they are conspiracy theories of dirt that they dug up to spin their own conspiracy theories to attack the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. So I have no more questions for these witnesses. I know our members do. Mr Caster, you have a little bit of a cleanup here.
Thank you Mr. Nunes. I’ll try to be quick and yield some time back, so we don’t have to use every last minute.
Ambassador Volker, are you aware of a statement just last week from Foreign Minister Prystaiko? He said that no one ever told the Ukrainians, certainly not him, that there was any linkage between the security assistance funds and investigations.
Kurt Volker: (17:56)
I saw that statement, yes.
And do you know of the foreign minister?
Kurt Volker: (18:00)
And during times of relevant, did you ever have any discussions with him about the investigations and links?
Kurt Volker: (18:07)
Not about investigations with him. I believe I kept that discussion to being with Mr. Yermak. And we did discuss with Foreign Minister Prystaiko, and at the time he was diplomatic advisor security assistance, after it was raised, after August 29th. And I did discuss that with him.
The primary person you worked with was Mr. Yermak?
Kurt Volker: (18:30)
And Mr. Yermak also had some meetings with Ambassador Sondland. Did Mr. Yermak ever give you any feedback from his interactions with Ambassadors Sondland?
Kurt Volker: (18:41)
I can’t say whether he did or didn’t. We were in frequent contact and we were just talking about the issues as we went along.
The episode at Warsaw where apparently Ambassadors Sondland pulled Mr. Yermak aside. Did Mr. Yermak give you any feedback on that meeting?
Kurt Volker: (19:00)
I did not get any things specific after that. This was around I believe September 1st or second. And it was at that time that I had been, I think texted by Mr. Yermak, and was subsequent in touch with him and Prystaiko, where I told them both. And also the Defense Minister. I told them all, don’t worry, we know about this. We were trying to fix it. And I think I left the conversation at that.
And does the Ukrainian officials, to the best of your knowledge, they trusted you?
Kurt Volker: (19:31)
Very much so. We had a very close relationship.
And so when you made statements like that to them, do you think they believed you?
Kurt Volker: (19:37)
I think they believe me. I think they would also have other conversations, and they would hear things from other people. But I also think that they knew I was sincere with them.
And they also trusted Ambassador Taylor?
Kurt Volker: (19:48)
Just like to demystify a little bit of the whole Mayor Giuliani role here. You met with him I believe one time?
Kurt Volker: (19:57)
And you had some exchange, some text messages with him, correct?
Kurt Volker: (20:02)
Yes. Between, I guess it was the 10th of July and around the 13th of August.
And during your deposition we did an accounting of your communications with Mr. Giuliani. And it wasn’t that there weren’t that many. We sort of accounted for them all. And then Ambassador Sondland, when he came in, he didn’t have any one-on-one meetings with Mayor Giuliani to your knowledge, is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (20:31)
I don’t believe he did, but I don’t know.
And in fact, I think Ambassador Sondland testified that there were a couple of conference calls that he may have been on with you.
Kurt Volker: (20:41)
That is true.
Okay. Just getting back to the irregular channel that Ambassador Taylor coined in his deposition testimony. Did you ever have an opportunity to close the loop with him about any concerns whatsoever? Or was it all just these specific instances raised in the texts?
Kurt Volker: (21:08)
It’s only those specific instances.
Do you think Ambassador Taylor and your communications with him believe that Mr. Giuliani was in far greater communication with yourself, Secretary Perry and Ambassador Sondland?
Kurt Volker: (21:21)
I don’t know what he thought.
Okay. I think that’s all I had, Mr. Nunes. Do you?
I have nothing more. Would the gentleman allow us to use our magic minutes to yield to one of our members who’d like to go?
Adam Schiff: (21:34)
The House rules don’t permit that, Mr. Nunes.
We yield back.
Adam Schiff: (21:40)
We’ll now go to five minute member questions. I recognize myself for five minutes. Ambassador Volker, I want to ask you about something in your opening statement, with respect to the July 10th meeting. You testify, I participated in the July 10 meeting between National Security Advisor Bolton and then Ukrainian Chairman of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov. As I remember, the meeting was essentially over when Ambassador Sondland made a generic comment about investigations. I think all of us thought it was inappropriate. The conversation did not continue, and the meeting concluded.
Adam Schiff: (22:15)
Ambassador Volker, we asked you about that meeting during your deposition. And you told us nothing about this. I believe we asked you about why the meeting came to an end, and why you had earlier indicated I think to Ambassador Taylor that it did not go well. And your answer was that Danilov was in the weeds on National Security policy. Why didn’t you tell us about this?
Kurt Volker: (22:43)
Because that’s what I remembered from the meeting, what I provided in my October 3rd statement. As I said, I’ve learned other things, including seeing the statements from Alex Vindman and from Fiona Hill. And that reminded me that yes, at the very end of that meeting, as it was recounted in Colonel Vindman’s statement, I did remember that. Yes, that’s right. Gordon did bring that up, and that was it.
Adam Schiff: (23:08)
So at the time we depose you, and I think we were there for six, seven or eight hours, and we were asking you specifically about what you knew about these investigations. You didn’t remember that Gordon Sondland had brought this up in the July 10th meeting with Ukrainians, and Ambassador Bolton called an end to the meeting. Ambassador Bolton described that meeting as some drug deal that Sondland and Mulvaney cooked up. You had no recollection of that?
Kurt Volker: (23:35)
Right, so in terms of Gordon bringing it up, no, I did not remember that at the time of my October 3rd testimony. I read the account by Alex, and that jogged my memory. I said yes, that’s right. That did happen. I do not, still to this point, recall it being an abrupt end to the meeting. The meeting was essentially over. And we got up, we went out to the little circle in front of the White House. We took a photograph. It did not strike me as abrupt.
Adam Schiff: (24:02)
Ambassador Volker, you said in your written testimony today, I think all of us thought it was inappropriate. Now, if as you say, Ambassador Sondland only mentioned investigations in the Bolton meeting, and you don’t recall hearing him being more specific, although others have testified that he was in the War room. Why did you think it was inappropriate?
Kurt Volker: (24:28)
Yeah I thought it was some… Put it this way, it’s something of an eye roll moment, where you have a meeting, you’re trying to advance the substance of the bilateral relationship. We have the head of the National Security and Defense Council. It was a disappointing meeting because I don’t think that the Ukrainians got as much out of that in terms of their presentation as they could have. And then this comes up at the very end of the meeting. It’s like, this is not what we should be talking about.
Adam Schiff: (24:56)
But Ambassador, you’ve said that you think it was appropriate to ask the Ukrainians to do investigations of 2016 and Burisma, as long as Burisma didn’t mean the Bidens. Something you have now I think, understand you should have seen otherwise. But nonetheless, if it was appropriate, why are you saying today that all of us thought it was inappropriate?
Kurt Volker: (25:18)
Yeah, because it was not the place or the time to bring up that. This was a meeting between the National Security Advisor and the Chairman of the National Security Defense Council. First high level meeting we’re having between Ukraine and the United States after President Zelensky’s election.
Adam Schiff: (25:35)
Is part of the reason it was inappropriate also that it was brought up in the context of trying to get the White House meeting?
Kurt Volker: (25:43)
Possibly, although I don’t recall that being… I know this was the counsel’s question. I don’t remember the exact context of when that came up. I viewed the meeting as essentially having ended.
Adam Schiff: (25:55)
I think you said in your updated testimony that you do think it’s inappropriate and objectionable to seek, to get a foreign government to investigate a political rival. Am I right?
Kurt Volker: (26:10)
To investigate the Vice President of the United States or someone who was a US official. I don’t think we should be asking foreign governments to do that. I would also say that’s true of a political rival.
Adam Schiff: (26:21)
And you recognized when you got the call record, when you finally did see the call record, that’s what took place in that call, correct?
Kurt Volker: (26:28)
Adam Schiff: (26:29)
Mr. Morrison, Ambassador Volker thinks it’s inappropriate to ask a foreign head of state to investigate a US person, let alone a political rival. But you said you had no concern with that. Do you think that’s appropriate?
As a hypothetical matter, I do not.
Adam Schiff: (26:48)
Well, I’m not talking about a hypothetical matter. Read the transcript. In that transcript, does the President not ask Zelensky to look into the Bidens?
Mr. Chairman, I can only tell you what I was thinking at the time. That is not what I understood the President to be doing.
Adam Schiff: (27:06)
But nonetheless, this was the first and only time where you went from listening to a presidential call directly to the national security lawyers, is it not?
Yes, that’s correct.
Adam Schiff: (27:18)
And I think you’ve said that your concern was not that it was unlawful, but that it might leak. Is that right?
That is correct.
Adam Schiff: (27:26)
Now the problem with the leaking is that what would be leaking is a President asking a foreign head of state to investigate Mr. Biden? Isn’t that the problem?
I believe I stated I had three concerns about what the impact of a call leaking might be.
Adam Schiff: (27:45)
If it was a perfect call, would you have had a concern of it leaking?
No. Well, no, I would still have a concern about it leaking.
Adam Schiff: (27:51)
Okay. And would you have thought it was appropriate if President Trump had asked Zelensky to investigate John Kasich, or to investigate Nancy Pelosi, or to investigate Ambassador Volker? That’d be appropriate?
In those hypothetical cases, no. Not appropriate.
Adam Schiff: (28:18)
But you’re not sure about Joe Biden?
Sir, again, I can always speak to what I understood at the time. And why I acted the way I did at the time.
Adam Schiff: (28:35)
Finally, my colleagues asked about, well, doesn’t aid get held up for all kinds of reasons? Ambassador Volker, have you ever seen military aid held up because a President wanted his rival investigated?
Kurt Volker: (28:49)
No, I have not seen that.
Adam Schiff: (28:51)
You ever seen that, Mr. Williams? Mr. Morrison, I’m sorry?
Adam Schiff: (28:57)
I yield to the ranking member.
So you took two additional minutes. Are you giving our side seven minutes?
Adam Schiff: (29:03)
I recognize Mr. Turner.
Thank you. Ambassador Volker. Mr. Morrison. Good to see you again. I appreciate your service to your country and your service in government. Our country is safer today because of the work of both of you men. I want you to know that during all the testimony that we’ve had, no one has ever alleged that either of you have done anything inappropriate or improper. And everyone has spoken of both of you as having a high level of professionalism, and a high degree of ethical standards. Ambassador Volker, I appreciated in your opening statement, your comments of your work to focus on Russia as an invasion of Ukraine and occupation, and your work on legal defensive arms. That would include the Javelins would it not, Ambassador Volker?
Kurt Volker: (29:50)
Yes, that’s right.
And that made a big difference to the Ukrainians, did it not?
Kurt Volker: (29:51)
A very big difference.
Mr. Morrison, tell us about your military service.
Mr. Turner, I’m a US Naval…
Mr. Turner. I’m a US Naval Reserve Officer. I’m an intelligence officer.
Where did you go to law school?
George Washington University.
Now gentlemen, there’s been a lot of talk about a lot of people, and we’re going to pick up the pace here, because these are short periods of time that we have now for this portions of questions. A lot of people talking about their perceptions, their beliefs, their feelings even, what they heard and their understandings and their thoughts. Ambassador Taylor, Mr. Kent, Ambassador Yovanovitch, and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman all had conversations with each other, and with other people and all had a whole bunch of hearsay. But I can assure you this boils down to just one thing. This is an impeachment inquiry concerning the president of the United States.
So the only thing that matters besides all these people talking to each other and all their feelings and all of their thoughts and understandings, it really only comes down to what did the President of the United States intend, and what did he say and what did the Ukrainians understand or hear? Ambassador Volker, you’re one of the first people that we’ve had in these open public testimony that’s had conversations with both. So I get to ask you, you had a meeting with the President of United States, and you believe that the policy issues that he raised concerning Ukraine were valid, correct?
Kurt Volker: (31:17)
Did the President of United States ever say to you that he was not going to allow aid from the United States to go to the Ukraine unless there were investigations into Burisma, the Bidens or the 2016 elections?
Kurt Volker: (31:30)
No, he did not.
Did the Ukrainians ever tell you that they understood that they would not get a meeting with the President of the United States, a phone call with the President of United States, military aid or foreign aid from the United States unless they undertook investigations of Burisma, the Bidens or the 2016 elections?
Kurt Volker: (31:49)
No, they did not know.
Pretty much Ambassador Volker, you just took apart their entire case. I mean, if the President of United States does not believe or intend it, and the Ukrainians don’t understand it, and you’re the only one who actually stands in between them. Now I ask if Ambassador Volker, the three amigo thing or whatever that they’re trying to disparage you with, you’re not part of an irregular channel, right, Ambassador Volker, aren’t you the official channel?
Kurt Volker: (32:14)
That is correct.
Explain that. Explain how you’re the official channel and not an irregular channel.
Kurt Volker: (32:19)
I was appointed by the Secretary of State, Secretary Tillerson in July of 2017 to be the US Special Representative for Ukraine negotiations. That’s a role that’s different from Assistant Secretary of State or different from ambassador in Ukraine. That role is particularly focused on the diplomatic activities surrounding the efforts to reverse Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine. It is Minsk Agreement implementation. It is the Normandy process with France and Germany. It is support from NATO. It is support for sanctions from the European union. It’s the OSCE and the monitoring missions. It is the efforts of individual allies like Poland, like the UK, like Canada that are supporting Ukraine. It is work at a senior level in the inner agency with Secretary of Defense.
Excellent. Great descriptor. I’m going to cut you off there. Ambassador Volker, you are also one of the few people who had actually spoken to Giuliani, the so called irregular channel. Again, all these other people had feelings and understandings about what Giuliani was doing. Did Giuliani ever tell you that United States aid or a meeting with the President of the United States would not occur for the Ukrainians until they agreed to an investigation of Burisma, the Bidens, or the 2016 election?
Kurt Volker: (33:35)
No. Yeah. Everything I heard from Giuliani I took to be his opinion.
Excellent. So I would assume then that the Ukrainians never told you that Giuliani had told them that in order to get a meeting with the president, a phone call with the president, military aid or foreign aid from the United States, that they would have to do these investigations.
Kurt Volker: (33:54)
Okay. Mr. Morrison, you testified that you spoke to Ambassador Sondland, and he told you of a conversation that he had with the President of the United States. On page 128 of his testimony, he relates the content of a conversation that he had with the president, and he was asked about it. It’s the only one he relates, and he said, he was asked whether or not there was a quid pro quo. He said, I didn’t frame the question basically to the president that way as a link, I did not frame the question that way. I asked the open ended question, what do you want?
This is Mr. Sondland in his testimony asking this question to the President of the United States. And this is what he reports that the President of the United States. He said, “I want nothing. I don’t want to give them anything, I don’t want anything from them. I want Zelensky to do the right thing.” That’s what he, and he kept repeating. “No quid pro quo.” Over and over again. Mr. Morrison, do you have any reason to believe that Mr Sondland is not telling the truth as the content of his conversation with the President of the United States?
Now, do either of you have any information or evidence that anyone who has testified before this committee, either in the secret dungeon testimonies that have been released, or in these open testimonies has perjured themselves or his lied to this committee?
Kurt Volker: (35:11)
I have no reason to think that.
Mr. Morrison, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman reported to you, is that correct?
He did, sir.
Now you have a legal background. He said that he listened to the phone call, phone call which you said you saw nothing that had occurred illegally, and he said that he believed the President of the United States demanded to President Zelensky that these investigations move forward. Do you believe, because he only was telling us his opinion. Do you believe in your opinion that the President of United States demanded that President Zelensky undertake these investigations?
To both of you, Ukraine is an aspirant to the EU. Ambassador Sondland is the ambassador to the EU. Is the Ukraine in the ambassador’s portfolio? Ambassador Volker?
Kurt Volker: (36:06)
Yes. Also because the EU sanctions on Ukraine are incredibly important.
I agree, sir.
I yield back.
Adam Schiff: (36:17)
Mr. Himes: (36:19)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you gentlemen for your testimony today. President Trump has described his July 25th phone call with President Zelensky as quote perfect, and I think he’s done that on Twitter, not once, not twice, but by my count 11 times. It feels to me like this characterization of perfect is of a piece with the idea that we hear in defense of the president’s request to the Ukrainians, that that’s just normal course of business pursuing anti-corruption, and I’ve been concerned from the start that this is actually not about going after corruption, it is in fact about aiming corruption at the vice president. Mr. Morrison, you listened in on the call in the White House Situation Room. Did you hear the president mention the company CrowdStrike and the server?
I believe so, yes sir.
Mr. Himes: (37:11)
Did you hear President Trump mentioned the Bidens?
Mr. Himes: (37:16)
Did you hear President Trump in the length of that phone call use the word corruption?
No sir. Well, sir, I don’t believe he did.
Mr. Himes: (37:32)
Was the request that Ukraine investigate CrowdStrike and the Bidens consistent with what you understood to be official US policy towards combating corruption in Ukraine?
Sir, it was the first I heard of much of this.
Mr. Himes: (37:48)
In fact, in your deposition, you testified that you wanted to stay away from what you described as this quote, bucket of investigations. Why did you want to stay away from those issues?
That was what I was advised by Dr. Hill.
Mr. Himes: (38:03)
You also testified that the president’s call was not, and I’m quoting you here, the full-throated endorsement of the Ukraine reform agenda that I was hoping to hear. What did you mean by that?
Sir, what we, myself, Colonel Vindman, others, what we prepared in the package we provided the president was background on President Zelensky, background on his positions about reforming Ukraine, reforming its institutions, rooting out corruption. We were hoping, we recommended the president very clearly support what President Zelensky had run on and his own election, and what his servant of the people party had run on in its election where it received a majority mandate.
Mr. Himes: (38:51)
But that didn’t come up in the call, did it?
Mr. Himes: (38:53)
Are you aware of any other discussion in which the president actually raised those things with the new Ukrainian president?
Mr. Himes: (39:00)
Sir, it’s been some time since I refreshed myself on the discussion that took place at the UN General Assembly, so I hesitate to say did he ever raise it, but he did not raise it at the time of the 25 July phone call.
Mr. Himes: (39:15)
Okay. Switching gears a little bit, you strike me as a process guy, and it’s nagging at me because you characterized Ambassador Sondland’s linking in whatever way it happened of aid to an investigation as The Gordon Problem. You said it caused you to roll your eyes. Ambassador Volker said in the July 10th meeting thought it was inappropriate. John Bolton characterizes this as the drug deal, so it seems like everybody in the room understands that there’s a huge problem here. My understanding is that it would be normal course of business when you have an ambassador out there going rogue as apparently there was consensus Ambassador Sondland was doing, that either the National Security Advisor, John Bolton, or the Secretary of State might reign them in. Why didn’t that happen?
Sir, I can’t speak to that, but I would generally agree that ambassadors work for the Secretary of State and the president.
Mr. Himes: (40:21)
You don’t have any idea, you worked for him, you don’t have any idea why John Bolton would characterize what the ambassador was doing as a drug deal, but not reign him in?
Ambassadors don’t work for the National Security Advisor sir.
Mr. Himes: (40:34)
No, but John Bolton’s National Security Advisor, he presumably spends time with the Secretary of State. I’m just puzzled that everybody in the room is characterizing this as The Gordon Problem or inappropriate or a drug deal. And the Secretary of State does nothing.
Sir, I’m sorry. Was there a question?
Mr. Himes: (40:49)
Well, yeah, just, you don’t have any insight into that?
Mr. Himes: (40:53)
Ambassador Volker, you testified that you were troubled once you read the record of the president’s July 25th call, you testified quote that asking the president of Ukraine to work together with the attorney general to look into this, you can see as it now has happened, this becomes explosive in our domestic politics. And in your new testimony, you call this unacceptable. What specifically in that call to the Ukraine president do you find unacceptable or troubling?
Kurt Volker: (41:19)
It is the reference to Vice President Biden.
Mr. Himes: (41:23)
Thank you. I yield back the balance my time.
Adam Schiff: (41:25)
Mr. Conaway: (41:27)
Thank you Mr. Chairman. This morning we heard much about July 25th call in which president asked for a favor, at least in Lieutenant Colonel Denman’s mind, that was equivalent to a demand, an order, a requirement. And yet in the last part of the conversation between the two heads of state, President Trump talks about a prosecutor he’s particularly in favor of, and would like to see stay there. And Zelensky though says, Mr. President, no, since we’ve won the absolute majority in our parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate. Does that, to either one of you, does that sound like a Head of State who’s been cowed or bullied, and is under the thumb of the President of the United States?
Kurt Volker: (42:09)
Not at all.
Mr. Conaway: (42:10)
All right. The impact of the pause that occurred, the 55 day pause in the lethal assistance, or the security assistance, none of us had really understood exactly what happened during that timeframe. No one knew about it other than internal US folks until late August, and so the Russians would not necessarily have known about it. The potential impact, and I agree with on Russia’s interpretation of our support for Ukraine wasn’t known until those last 14 days, but the impact on the lethal aid that they already had, should Russia had tried to move the line of contact further West with their tanks, would the lethal assistance that we’d already given been available to them to push back on that?
Kurt Volker: (42:52)
Yes, it would.
Mr. Conaway: (42:52)
Mr. Morrison, comments?
Sir, I agree with that, but I would also add the hold, as I understood it applied to Ukraine security systems, UASI, UASI and FMF, it did not apply to FMS, and the javelins were provided under FMS.
Mr. Conaway: (43:10)
Okay. So the most lethal weapon that President Trump provided to the Ukrainians that President Obama and his national policy which he set was available to them, should the Russians have pushed their tanks west. The javelins?
Mr. Conaway: (43:26)
Throughout that process, even with the pause, even with all the stuff that was going on?
Mr. Conaway: (43:31)
Okay. Associated Press reporting that, Ambassador Volker, you mentioned it earlier, that the Russians in an act of war took two gunships, and a tug, and 24 sailors last November. And yet the Russians have now given the 24 sailors back in September, and the Associated Press is reporting today that the they’ve given the gunboats and the tug back, does that sound like Ukraine is inept at being able to negotiate with the Russians because they’re wounded in some way by our actions?
Kurt Volker: (44:02)
No, I would not say that the Ukrainians are inept.
Mr. Conaway: (44:06)
All right, thank you sir. Mr Chairman, I would like as a personal request, a request at you and or one of your lawyer members on the committee that are lawyers to put into the record the federal statute that provides for the absolute immunity or right to an immunity that you’ve exerted over and over and over. I don’t think it’s there, but if it is in fact a federal statute and or a brief that you can cite, put that into the record so that we all know that, and before you get mad and accuse me of wanting to out the whistleblower, you get upset every time somebody accuses you personally of knowing who the whistleblower is. I get upset every time you, anonymity, excuse me, anonymity every time you accuse me of simply, because I want to know the whistle blower, we want to know what’s going on, that we want to out that interviewer, that’s unfair for you to make that accusation, and I get just as mad.
Mr. Conaway: (44:57)
This is about leveling the playing field between our two teams. Your team knows the whistle blower, they have intimate knowledge of who he or she is, the IGIC, ICIG even even mentioned NDCA biases. Your team fully understands that, our team should fully understand that, it is simply leveling the playing field. And I know that you’ve overrun my request for a closed door subpoena. I understand that, but I do think that it’s important that you put into the record the basis on which you continue to assert this absolute right to anonymity. Excuse me, I misspoke earlier. Anonymity by the whistle blower. Also, the speaker on September the 23rd issued a, Dear Colleague, that’s a document that we all use to talk to each other. It’s went to 434 other members of Congress. It was intended to be the truth. It was intended to be straight forward.
Mr. Conaway: (45:49)
She says in that Dear Colleague that the whistleblower has by law, is required to testify to the House and the Senate intelligence committees. Now you’re defining the speaker in this regard, understand that’s between you and her, but if she’s correct, and you’re defining the law, if on the other hand she misled us into thinking something that was not true, then I think you need to tell the speaker that she needs to retract that Dear Colleague letter, at least set the record straight is the whistleblower required by law as the speaker said to testify to us or not, and what is this absolute right to anonymity that you question? With that I yield back.
Adam Schiff: (46:31)
Time of the gentleman has expired. I’d be happy to enter into the record the whistleblower statute that allows whistleblower to remain anonymous, as well as ranking member Nunes prior comments talking about the importance of anonymity for whistleblowers, and with that I recognize Ms. Sewell.
Ms. Sewell: (46:47)
Thank you Mr. Chairman. Ambassador Volker, it seems by early July it’s become pretty clear that Mr. Giuliani has become a major problem for the US/Ukraine relations. You previously testified that on July 2nd, you met with the Ukrainian president and his aide in Toronto. Is that right?
Kurt Volker: (47:08)
I had a bilateral meeting between the US and Ukrainian delegations, and then a policy meeting with the president and his chief of staff.
Ms. Sewell: (47:15)
There you discuss Mr. Giuliani’s quote negative view quote of Ukraine based on a conspiracy theory about the 2016 election, right?
Kurt Volker: (47:25)
I conveyed he was repeating a negative narrative about Ukraine based on accusations of the then Prosecutor General Lutsenko.
Ms. Sewell: (47:37)
Are you saying that you didn’t think that they were negative views?
Kurt Volker: (47:42)
No, no. That they were negative views.
Ms. Sewell: (47:44)
Okay, but that wasn’t your description.
Kurt Volker: (47:49)
I’m sorry. I’ve lost the question, if you could repeat.
Ms. Sewell: (47:51)
I was trying to get at who said the negative views, that you discussed negative views?
Kurt Volker: (47:56)
So the Prosecutor General of Ukraine was putting out this series of conspiracy theories that I believe were self-serving and inaccurate. Mr Giuliani had repeated these to me, so I believe that he was at least affected by those and believed those and was concerned about those.
Ms. Sewell: (48:15)
And believed that they were negative?
Kurt Volker: (48:16)
Believed that they were negative, and was conveying them to the president.
Ms. Sewell: (48:20)
So was it problematic that he believed that they were negative views? Was it true?
Kurt Volker: (48:26)
Yes, the whole thing was problematic.
Ms. Sewell: (48:29)
Ambassador Taylor testify that on July 2nd, you told Ukrainians that they needed to quote cooperate on investigations end quote, you’re now saying that you don’t recall saying those words? Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (48:41)
I don’t believe I said the words cooperate on investigations.
Ms. Sewell: (48:45)
Did you say investigations?
Kurt Volker: (48:47)
I believe I did, yes.
Ms. Sewell: (48:48)
And what did you mean by investigations?
Kurt Volker: (48:50)
I meant Burisma in 2016 was in my mind, but I wanted to keep it general, and that Ukraine in being convincing to Giuliani, and hopefully also to the president that they are serious about fighting corruption would engage in whatever investigations necessary to clean up the country.
Ms. Sewell: (49:09)
Now moving to July 10th, Ambassador Volker sent you a text message, you sent a text message to Giuliani, and I think it’s on the screen now. And you said, Mr. Mayor, could we meet for coffee or lunch in the next week or so? I’d like to update you on my conversations about Ukraine. I think we have an opportunity to get what you need. Did you say that? Is that an accurate-
Kurt Volker: (49:35)
That is an accurate text message.
Ms. Sewell: (49:37)
And what did you mean by what you need?
Kurt Volker: (49:38)
Contact with the actual government of Ukraine, the people who are now representing President Zelensky and his team.
Ms. Sewell: (49:45)
Later that day, you and Ambassador Sondland met with Ukraine officials at the White House. We heard from several witnesses that Ambassador Sondland told the Ukraines that they needed to cooperate with the quote unquote investigations in order to get the Oval Office meeting scheduled on the books. Were these investigations a part of the official US policy towards Ukraine?
Kurt Volker: (50:11)
US policy toward Ukraine was about fighting corruption, and Ukraine going after that-
Ms. Sewell: (50:17)
But was it specifically about these kinds of investigation, you said the investigation was Burisma-
Kurt Volker: (50:21)
Ms. Sewell: (50:21)
Kurt Volker: (50:22)
In order to fight corruption, you need to conduct investigations. You need to see what Ukrainian citizens have been up to and doing.
Ms. Sewell: (50:29)
But was that the purpose of that, or was it because the president, you knew that, well that the president wanted those investigations to be done as a condition of for them to actually have a meeting in the White House?
Kurt Volker: (50:45)
Well, first off, we have to be clear what we’re talking about in terms of investigations. We’re not talking about Vice President Biden. We’re not talking about some of the-
Ms. Sewell: (50:53)
Well Burisma is not, that has nothing to do with, you’re saying that-
Kurt Volker: (50:56)
I’m saying that whether Ukrainians, within the company of Burisma had acted in a corrupt way, or sought to buy influence, that’s a legitimate thing for Ukraine to investigate. And if Ukraine can make a statement about their intentions on fighting corruption domestically, that is helpful in order to convince President Trump ultimately that this is-
Ms. Sewell: (51:16)
With all due respect Ambassador Volker, we heard from two witnesses this morning that those investigations were not official US policy. Ambassador Volker. I don’t know if you understand what you were getting yourself into, but sitting here today, I trust you understand that pressuring Ukraine to involve itself in US domestic policy is just simply wrong. I yield back to the balance of my time.
Adam Schiff: (51:44)
I yield my time to Jim Jordan.
Mr. Jordan: (51:47)
I thank gentleman. Ambassador Volker, you were the Special Representative to Ukraine, is that right?
Kurt Volker: (51:52)
That is correct.
Mr. Jordan: (51:53)
And prior to that, in your diplomatic service, you worked at the NSC, you were a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, you were Ambassador to NATO, Senate confirmed Ambassador to NATO in your distinguished diplomatic career. So it may not bother you when you’re referred to as the irregular channel, but it bothers representative Turner, it bothers me. You were the special envoy to Ukraine. And in that role you said in your opening statement, you were the administration’s most outspoken public figure highlighting Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine and calling out Russia’s responsibility in the war. Is that right?
Kurt Volker: (52:25)
That is correct.
Mr. Jordan: (52:26)
And in that capacity, you strongly advocated for lifting the ban on sale of lethal defensive arms to Ukraine. Is that right?
Kurt Volker: (52:33)
That is correct.
Mr. Jordan: (52:34)
And President Trump did it, didn’t he?
Kurt Volker: (52:35)
That is correct.
Mr. Jordan: (52:36)
But in spite of that, President Trump was still skeptical of giving hard earned tax dollars to Ukraine, right?
Kurt Volker: (52:42)
Yes. You said that in your testimony as well, and the reason he’s skeptical is, let’s be honest, the guy doesn’t like foreign aid, right?
Mr. Jordan: (52:48)
That’s one reason. And then Ukraine’s history of corruption is another.
Mr. Jordan: (52:51)
One of the third most corrupt countries on the planet, and Europe isn’t doing enough, and oh, by the way, in the president’s mind, he did think Ukraine was trying to influence the 2016 election, because things happened. The Democrats want to deny it, but when the ambassador from Ukraine here to the United States writes an op ed on August 4th, 2016 criticizing then candidate Trump, that’s certainly trying to influence the election. When Mr. [inaudible 00:53:15], a key minister in their government says all kinds of negative things about candidate Trump, that certainly looks like it’s trying to influence the election and when Mr. Leschenko states in the Financial Times during the campaign, the majority of Ukrainian political figures want Hillary Clinton to win, that probably sticks in a candidates mind. I know we all run campaigns, and when people say bad things about us in the course of the campaign, we don’t necessarily think great things about them. But you were convinced Zelensky was the real deal, right?
Kurt Volker: (53:43)
That is correct.
Mr. Jordan: (53:44)
Because you spent a lot time with the guy. And guess what? When aid was frozen, you knew if you could get these two guys together, it would work out. When aid was frozen, what did you say? You told the Ukrainians don’t worry about it. Well you didn’t say it. You said don’t be alarmed.
Kurt Volker: (53:58)
Mr. Jordan: (53:58)
Kurt Volker: (53:59)
That is correct.
Mr. Jordan: (54:01)
And guess what happened, when aids frozen, and when it’s released, all kinds of interactions between President Zelensky and senior US officials. Right? Starts with a call. Starts with a call with President Trump and President Zelensky. Next day, you meet with President Zelensky in Ukraine. Then we have Ambassador Bolton meeting with him, then we have Vice President Pence meeting with him. Then we have US Senators Johnson and Murphy meeting with him. And guess what? In none of those meetings, not a single one, did security assistance dollars in exchange for an investigation, not once did they come up, did that conversation come up, is that right?
Kurt Volker: (54:44)
That is correct.
Mr. Jordan: (54:45)
Not once. No discussion of aid for investigations, and as you testified, you never believed aid for investigations was ever being talked about either, in any of these conversations.
Kurt Volker: (54:58)
That is correct.
Mr. Jordan: (54:59)
But what happened in those meetings? They all became convinced of the same thing you knew. They all saw the same darn thing. This guy was the real deal. He is a legitimate reformer, and they all came back. They all came back and told the president, Hey, Mr. President, this guy’s real. Go ahead and release the dollars. Oh, by the way, in that same timeframe, you know what else happened? Their parliament, their newly elected parliament, as Mr. Morrison testified to, stayed up all night to pass the reform measures, to get rid of the prosecutor, to put in the Supreme High Anti-Corruption Court, to get rid of this ability that no one in their Congress, in their parliament could ever be hit with a crime, I mean that’s Unbelievable. All that happens, and they come back and tell President Trump, hey, guess what, time to release the dollars. And he did it, right?
Kurt Volker: (55:54)
The dollars were released.
Mr. Jordan: (55:55)
Yeah, you did your job. You did your job, and you got to put up with all this because the Democrats are out to get this president. You did your job, just the way Mr. Turner described, you did your job over all these years. All these years, and the Democrats put you through this. You have served our country well the kind of diplomat we want serving. And here’s one of the saddest things about all this, what the Democrats are putting us through, you two guys who are here telling it straight, you’ve both decided you’re going to step out of government, because of what these guys are doing, and that’s the sad thing. People like ambassador Volker and Tim Morrison who have served our country so well are now stepping out of our government, because of what these guys are doing. And that’s why Mr. Turner got so fired up a few minutes ago, and why I’m so fired up to, because we appreciate what you guys did. I yield back.
Adam Schiff: (56:46)
Mr. Carson: (56:48)
Thank you Chairman Schiff. Ambassador Volker, I want to focus on the press statement that President Trump and Rudy Giuliani wanted Ukraine to make announcing investigations to benefit President Trump. On August 9th sir, Ambassador Sondland and you had this exchange, Ambassador Sondlund says, “Morrison ready to get dates as soon as Yermak confirms.” You reply, “Excellent! How did you sway him?” And Ambassador Sondland says, “Not sure I did. I think potus really wants the deliverable.” The deliverable here was a public announcement that Ukraine was going to conduct investigations into Burisma, and alleged 2016 legend interference by Ukraine. Is that correct, sir?
Kurt Volker: (57:37)
Thank you. I understood the deliverable to be the statement that we have been talking about.
Mr. Carson: (57:43)
On August 13th, you and Ambassador Sondland discussed a draft statement from Ukraine with Mr. Giuliani. Sir, why did you discuss the draft statement with Mr. Giuliani?
Kurt Volker: (57:52)
Because the idea of the statement had come up from Mr. Yermak’s meeting with Mr. Giuliani. Remember that Mr. Yermak asked me to connect him with Mr. Giuliani. I did. They had a meeting, and then they both called me afterwards. Mr. Giuliani said that he thought Ukraine should make a statement about fighting corruption. Mr Yermak said, and we will say also specifically Burisma in 2016, Mr. Yermak provided me a draft statement, and I wanted to be assured that this statement would actually correct the perception that Mr. Giuliani had of Ukraine, and what they stand for now, so that that would also be conveyed to President Trump and solve this problem that I had observed with our May 23rd meeting with the president. The problem being, that he’s getting a bad set of information, statement like this could potentially correct that.
Mr. Carson: (58:45)
So was Mr. Giuliani satisfied with this statement?
Kurt Volker: (58:47)
No, he was not.
Mr. Carson: (58:48)
Kurt Volker: (58:49)
He believed that it needed to say Burisma and 2016 specifically, or else it would not be credible, would not mean anything new.
Mr. Carson: (58:59)
So in fact, Mr. Giuliani wanted a statement that referenced Burisma and the 2016 elections explicitly, one that would benefit essentially President Trump. Mr Ambassador, here’s the text you sent to the Ukrainian official on August 13th, let’s put that up on the screen. You said, “Hi Andrey. Good talking. Following is the text with an insert at the end for the two key items.” Mr. Ambassador, those two key items were specific references to investigations of Burisma, and the 2016 elections. Isn’t that right, sir?
Kurt Volker: (59:38)
That is correct.
Mr. Carson: (59:39)
Did Mr. Giuliani, sir, dictate those two key items to you, sir?
Kurt Volker: (59:43)
Well, as you see, I had just had a conversation with Mr. Yarmak to describe to him the conversation that we had just had with Mr. Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani said that it would need to include these things for it to be convincing to him. I put them in, so we understood what he was talking about, and I shared it with Andre to say, this is what he is talking about.
Kurt Volker: (01:00:03)
… shared it with André to say, this is what he is talking about.
Mr. Carson: (01:00:04)
And you included them in the proposal to the Ukrainians?
Kurt Volker: (01:00:07)
I put it back in, just be clear to the Ukrainians, this is what the conversation was.
Mr. Carson: (01:00:13)
Mr. Ambassador, if you believe the statement that Mr. Giuliani dictated in August was not a good idea, sir, why were the Ukrainians still considering giving an interview with the same themes in September?
Kurt Volker: (01:00:26)
Well, if I may, Congressman, I conveyed this to the Ukrainians in order to be clear, so we knew what the conversation was about. This was following up on this prior conversation. The Ukrainians then said they had reasons not to do that, and they described those reasons. And I agreed with them, and we agreed to just scrap the statement.
Kurt Volker: (01:00:48)
From that point on, I didn’t have any further conversations about this statement, so I don’t know how it came up or why it came up that there would be a possibility of President Zelensky doing an interview with US media later saying something like this. And in the end, he didn’t do that either.
Mr. Carson: (01:01:06)
Thank you, sir. Mr. Morrison, you said that the president’s requests during the July 25th call were not consistent with US policy. I emphatically agree with you, sir. Yet these text messages show that Ambassador Volker spent much of August pressing Ukraine to meet those requests. We can only be grateful, I guess, if the president essentially got caught and Congress passed a law to ensure the funding was released in Ukraine before it was too late. I thank you both for your service. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Adam Schiff: (01:01:37)
Brad Wenstrup: (01:01:41)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Okay, gentlemen, thank you very much for being here. I want to start, if I can, with you, Mr. Morrison. In discussing the 7/25 phone call and the concerns that Lieutenant Colonel Vindman had, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman came to you with edits for the transcript. And you stated that you accepted all of his edits. Is that correct?
I would have accepted all of the edits that I believed were faithful to what was actually discussed.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:02:13)
Did he come to you with an edit that said that the word “demand” should be in there?
I don’t recall that specifically, sir, no.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:02:20)
He didn’t either. How soon after the phone call did he meet with you on that particular issue?
We got the draft, as was normal, fairly quickly after the call, that same day.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:02:34)
That same day. So today, he said, “I reported my concerns to Mr. Eisenberg. It is improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a US citizen and political opponent.” Now, he was going to Mr. Eisenberg with his concerns about the conversation, yet he did not, at any point on the edits, say that there should be a demand. And he didn’t do that, but he did say that he didn’t come to you with his concerns because you weren’t available. But that same day, he came to you with edits. Is that correct?
I believe that’s generally correct, yes, sir.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:03:15)
Okay. Well, he said you weren’t available, and you didn’t hear the president make a demand, did you?
Brad Wenstrup: (01:03:23)
So sometime between the call and today, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman must’ve been hearing some voices, and he heard “demand” at the time. But he didn’t hear it that day, and he didn’t make it an issue that day. But today, he does. I think that’s pretty bizarre. When Lieutenant Colonel Vindman went to legal, Mr. Eisenberg, do you know if he was advised not to speak to you?
I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of that, no, sir.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:03:54)
Do you know if he was advised to contact the IGIC?
No, sir. I have no firsthand knowledge of that.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:04:01)
So you don’t know what he was advised when he went to legal?
No, sir. I do not.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:04:05)
Thank you. I appreciate that. Mr. Volker, I want to tell you, I’ve really enjoyed your opening testimony today, taking us through that. I know it was kind of long, but I thought it was extremely well done. And I appreciate it. You talk about letter signed and sharing concerns about leadership in your assigned country, about agreeing with and sometimes disagreeing with the leadership of your own country when you felt it was appropriate. You’re the boots on the ground for the administration. Let’s face it. You’re part of that team that is there to serve the country in that way. And that all to me sounded like the works of a very good diplomat, and I want to thank you for that.
Kurt Volker: (01:04:43)
Thank you, sir.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:04:43)
It’s truly appreciated. And corruption was a concern, legitimately, in Ukraine and in many ways. And Mr. Jordan pointed out some of the things that were done by Ukrainians in plain sight … I might use that term, “in plain sight” … by putting op-eds in our newspapers. And it’s certainly more than one country can be trying to influence our elections. Would you agree with that?
Kurt Volker: (01:05:10)
I agree with that.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:05:12)
And we keep hearing that that whole thing about Ukrainians, that’s all been debunked. It was just the Russians. Well, that comes from an IC community that some of the people that have come up with those conclusions are some of the very same people that we’re going to find out, if we haven’t already, were deeply involved with this whole Russian collusion hoax.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:05:32)
But I want to say you did a great job. You vetted Zelensky’s intentions, what he intended to be as a president. Would you say that’s accurate?
Kurt Volker: (01:05:41)
Yes, that was, in fact, one of the key objectives of the presidential delegation at the inauguration, to take our own judgment and report back to the president.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:05:48)
And that’s what your job should be, and you became comfortable with this president, correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:05:52)
Yes, I did.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:05:53)
And you work to assure our president that you comfortable with this president.
Kurt Volker: (01:05:58)
Brad Wenstrup: (01:05:58)
Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:05:59)
Brad Wenstrup: (01:06:00)
And in some ways, you have to work sometimes through any means available. And that might include working with Rudy Giuliani if it could be helpful to you to get that message and advice to the president. Would that be correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:06:14)
I believe that the messages being conveyed by Mr. Giuliani were a problem because they were at variance with what our official message to the president was and not conveying that positive assessment that we all had. And so I thought it was important to try to step in and fix the problem.
Brad Wenstrup: (01:06:33)
And in that, I think, you termed that a useful barometer of where things were.
Kurt Volker: (01:06:37)
Brad Wenstrup: (01:06:38)
So those useful barometers, I think, can come in a lot of different fashions, like Dennis Rodman in North Korea or James Taylor in France singing You’ve Got a Friend, if they can help the cause. And in that situation, it’s not illegal. Good job, Ambassador. Thank you very much.
Kurt Volker: (01:06:52)
Brad Wenstrup: (01:06:52)
I yield back.
Adam Schiff: (01:06:54)
Jackie Speier: (01:06:57)
Mr. Chairman, thank you, and thank you both for your participation here today and for your service. I’m going to take us out some 30,000 feet for a minute and talk about cover-ups. But for the fact that the whistleblower came forward, we wouldn’t know anything about this. But for the fact that the inspector general of the CIA found it to be both urgent and credible, we wouldn’t know anything about it.
Jackie Speier: (01:07:26)
Mr. Morrison, you said that after you heard the call, you went directly to the attorneys in the National Security Council and recommended that they be limited access, and they were subsequently put into a special server. The White House has not released any documents whatsoever to this committee.
Jackie Speier: (01:07:48)
So to you, Mr. Volker, thank you. But for the fact that you, as a private citizen with your own personal phone and your text messages with Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Sondland and Mr. [Myak 01:08:02] and whomever else, but for those text messages that we’ve been putting up on the screen all day, we would have nothing, nothing. And this cover-up would be complete. That’s something we should think about. Now, on July 19th, you had breakfast with Rudy Giuliani at the Trump Hotel. Correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:08:30)
Jackie Speier: (01:08:31)
And in that conversation, at one point, he brought up Mr. Lutsenko, and you said that whatever Mr. Lutsenko is saying, that’s not credible. Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:08:42)
Jackie Speier: (01:08:43)
And then he brought up Mr. Biden, and I’m going to quote you here. “I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a person of integrity.” To Giuliani, “Simply not credible to me Joe Biden would be influenced in his duties as vice president by money or things for his son or anything like that.”
Jackie Speier: (01:09:04)
Now, we’ve had many discussions over the last few days about these investigations into Burisma and Biden and the 2016 CrowdStrike server. And you, in that conversation with Mr. Giuliani, basically debunked all of that. Now, at that time, at that breakfast, who else was with you at that breakfast?
Kurt Volker: (01:09:29)
There was someone that Mr. Giuliani brought along. I later learned that this was Lev Parnas, who we’ve learned a lot about since then.
Jackie Speier: (01:09:39)
So Mr. Lev Parnas was at that breakfast that Mr. Giuliani had with you, and we now know that Mr. Parnas has since been indicted for foreign campaign contributions to President Trump’s political action committee. Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:09:56)
Jackie Speier: (01:09:57)
All right. On May 23rd, you were in that discussion with the president, and at one point, he referred to Zelensky having terrible people around him. Who do you think he was calling terrible people around him?
Kurt Volker: (01:10:15)
There were two people that came to mind. One of them was a former investigative journalist and later a parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko. Serhiy Leshchenko is someone that, in many of these stories, is seen as bringing forth a black ledger relating to Paul Manafort’s activities in Ukraine. That was one person.
Kurt Volker: (01:10:37)
The other person I thought it could refer to was the person who was being named as President Zelensky’s chief of presidential administration, Andriy Bohdan. He was known as a lawyer for one of the main oligarchs in Ukraine, Ihor Kolomoyskyi, and there was a lot of controversy at the time about him being appointed to the administration.
Jackie Speier: (01:10:58)
Do you think of them as terrible people?
Kurt Volker: (01:11:00)
I don’t think either one of them is terrible people, no.
Jackie Speier: (01:11:03)
All right, thank you. Mr. Morrison, earlier in testimony that was elicited from our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, you indicated that others had represented to you that Colonel Vindman leaked. Do you remember saying that?
Jackie Speier: (01:11:21)
All right. Colonel Vindman, this morning under oath, said that he did not, does not leak. Now, would you therefore want to maybe rearrange your comments about the references you made to Colonel Vindman?
Jackie Speier: (01:11:41)
So even though under oath, he said that he has never leaked, you believe in people who said to you that he may have leaked?
Ma’am, I didn’t believe or disbelieve them. I’m merely relating what they told me.
Jackie Speier: (01:11:56)
Well, they told you, and so then you decided to continue to put that forward, even though you had no evidence.
No, ma’am. No, ma’am.
Jackie Speier: (01:12:05)
Thank you. I yield back.
Ma’am. I’m sorry. Chairman, if I could answer.
Adam Schiff: (01:12:09)
You may respond.
No, ma’am, that’s incorrect. They, Dr. Hill, Mr. Erath, others in the NSC, raised concerns about Alex. Those concerns were noted. I didn’t take them for face value. I treated them as representations of others. I was on alert, but I formed my own judgments. I took no action because of the statements of someone else that I couldn’t independently validate.
Adam Schiff: (01:12:36)
Chris Stewart: (01:12:38)
Thank you, gentlemen. Welcome to Impeachapalooza 2019, which is the Democratic plan to compel America to impeach president Donald J. Trump through the sheer force of boredom because it’s been a long day, and it turns out impeachment is very boring if you don’t have any compelling or any condemning evidence.
Chris Stewart: (01:12:59)
Good news and bad news … The good news is I’m going to be very, very brief. We’re going on 10-plus hours of this. I will yield back some of my time. The bad news is, most of my colleagues after me won’t, so we’ve still got some time to go.
Chris Stewart: (01:13:13)
Ambassador Volker, very quickly, do you think that someone should be immune from investigation of suspected ethical or criminal activity just because they are a candidate for office, even for office of the president of the United States?
Kurt Volker: (01:13:30)
I don’t think anyone should be above the law.
Chris Stewart: (01:13:31)
Well, of course not. That would be absurd to suggest that, and I was certain that’s how you would answer that question. What if some of these alleged ethical or criminal allegations occurred overseas, that occurred in another country? Would it be improper to seek the host country’s help, such as we do with Interpol or any other law enforcement agency?
Kurt Volker: (01:13:50)
There are channels for doing that for American citizens who may have committed crimes abroad.
Chris Stewart: (01:13:55)
Okay. And again, to seek the host nation’s, their government’s help is not unusual at all, [crosstalk 01:14:01]?
Kurt Volker: (01:14:01)
That is correct, and we often have treaties for that.
Chris Stewart: (01:14:04)
Thank you. Thank you. Again, that’s painfully obvious, and to me, that’s exactly … and the only thing that the president was doing here. Mr. Morrison, I want to refer just briefly to Lieutenant Colonel Vindman’s testimony where he described the six people … I believe it was five or six people … that were in the situation room listening to this phone call between the two presidents.
Chris Stewart: (01:14:23)
Colonel Vindman described these individuals as exceptional. He stated that there was no reason to question their integrity or professionalism. This was an exchange that he and I had in the closed-door testimony. Do you agree with the description of these national security staff as exceptional people?
Sir, they are patriots, yes.
Chris Stewart: (01:14:41)
People of great integrity and professionalism?
Chris Stewart: (01:14:45)
Do any of these … I’m sorry. Did any of these exceptional individuals, people of unquestioned integrity and professionalism, indicate to you that they had thought that the president of the United States engaged in any illegal or unethical behavior as a result of this phone call?
Not that I’m aware of, Congressman.
Chris Stewart: (01:15:05)
Did any of them suggest to you in any way that they thought the president was involved with bribery or any such thing associated with that?
Not that I’m aware of, Congressman.
Chris Stewart: (01:15:16)
It only leaves two possible explanations. Either these individuals of what we’ve described as great integrity … Either that’s not true, which I don’t believe, or they just interpreted an ambiguous conversation very differently than did Colonel Vindman.
Chris Stewart: (01:15:31)
And I have one last thing just as an aside. As an Air Force officer, I’ve never understood why President Obama was against providing lethal aid to the Ukraine. Ambassador, do you have some insight into why they refuse to do that?
Kurt Volker: (01:15:43)
I would only point to the statements from the administration at the time. There was a perception that our allies would oppose it, that Germany would oppose it. There was a perception that Germany should be in the lead. There was a perception that it could be provocative to Russia or escalate the conflict. As I’ve said extensively at the time and as special representative, I don’t agree with those arguments. And I believe that the record has borne out that providing those lethal defensive arms was actually very important.
Chris Stewart: (01:16:10)
I agree with you, Ambassador. I think that you got it right, and I think President Trump got it right. And with that, I yield back.
Adam Schiff: (01:16:18)
Mike Quigley: (01:16:20)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ambassador, I want to direct your attention to a meeting you had with Ambassador Taylor and Mr. Yermak September 14th in Kiev. Do you recall this meeting, sir?
Kurt Volker: (01:16:34)
I believe we had dinner. It was around the time of the YES conference.
Mike Quigley: (01:16:37)
Okay. And do you remember discussing with Mr. Yermak Ukraine’s intent to investigate their former president, Mr. Poroshenko?
Kurt Volker: (01:16:48)
I remember raising the issue of the possibility of prosecutions.
Mike Quigley: (01:16:52)
They brought it up. You raised it, and they talk about their intention.
Kurt Volker: (01:16:57)
I believe … Excuse me, Congressman. I’m sorry. To be clear, there was a lot of talk in Kiev at that time about whether the new team would be prosecuting the former president. And I had met with President Poroshenko. I met with others in the opposition as well. And I wanted to call Mr. Yermak’s attention to the potential problems with this.
Kurt Volker: (01:17:22)
I’m very familiar with other examples of countries in the region that have gone for prosecutions of the former government, and these have created deep divisions in society. And so I cited President Zelensky’s inauguration speech … I’m sorry … his National Day speech from August 24th that was all about unifying the country. And I cautioned Mr. Yermak to say that pursuing of President Poroshenko risks deepening the divisions in the country, exactly the opposite of what President Zelensky has said he wants to do.
Mike Quigley: (01:17:59)
So it’s fair to describe it as you discouraged him from such actions.
Kurt Volker: (01:18:03)
Yeah, I discouraged him. I raised concerns about what the potential impact would be.
Mike Quigley: (01:18:08)
And what was Mr. Yermak’s response?
Kurt Volker: (01:18:11)
I believe, and I’m refreshed in this by seeing the testimony of others.
Mike Quigley: (01:18:15)
Kurt Volker: (01:18:16)
Mr. Taylor’s testimony.
Mike Quigley: (01:18:17)
Ambassador Taylor and Mr. Kent.
Kurt Volker: (01:18:19)
Right, and I believe, based on that testimony, that Mr. Yermak said, “Well, what, you mean like asking us to investigate Clinton and Biden?”
Mike Quigley: (01:18:27)
So it was something along the lines of, “It’s okay for you to ask us to investigate in the manner in which you are, these so-called investigations, but you don’t want us to investigate our own president.” Is that a fair way to describe this?
Kurt Volker: (01:18:44)
Well, I didn’t quite understand what he was referring to because, to my knowledge, we weren’t asking to investigate Clinton or Biden. And so I was kind of puzzled by the remark, and that’s why I didn’t respond.
Mike Quigley: (01:18:56)
Did you go and investigate what he might’ve meant or ask anybody?
Kurt Volker: (01:18:59)
No, I took it something of a deflection from the point I was making about unifying Ukraine.
Mike Quigley: (01:19:06)
But in all this time, I mean, Mr. Giuliani in this time, in that May to September, he mentioned the Biden investigation. He mentioned Biden over 50 times and 20-something times in relation to Ukraine. None of that stirred your curiosity? You’ve just now finally come to this point?
Kurt Volker: (01:19:26)
Yeah. As I testified, I met with Mr. Giuliani once. And he did bring up Vice President Biden, and I pushed back on that. And I maintained a very clear distinction that Ukraine investigating its own citizens and corruption would be fine. Going beyond that to say, “We’re going to investigate the vice president,” is not fine.
Mike Quigley: (01:19:44)
Did you have any discussions with anyone in the State Department or anywhere else in the administration about concerns about the investigation into Poroshenko?
Kurt Volker: (01:19:53)
Yes, so I know that I raised this with Ambassador Taylor in advance of that. We had been in some of the same meetings, some of the country team there. I don’t remember whether I had raised it with George Kent or Phil Reeker or not. I may well have done, but it was something that we had discussed as part of our meetings in Kiev at that time.
Mike Quigley: (01:20:15)
I yield to the chairman.
Adam Schiff: (01:20:17)
So Ambassador, when you had this conversation and you urged Ukrainians not to investigate or prosecute the former President Poroshenko, their response was, “Oh, you mean like you’re asking us to investigate the Clintons and the Bidens?” That was their response?
Kurt Volker: (01:20:32)
That’s what I recall now from seeing Ambassador Taylor’s testimony, yes.
Adam Schiff: (01:20:36)
And you didn’t understand that at the time, but then at the time, had you read the call record?
Kurt Volker: (01:20:42)
Adam Schiff: (01:20:43)
Now that you’ve read the call record, that makes a little more sense, doesn’t it?
Kurt Volker: (01:20:48)
Adam Schiff: (01:20:48)
I was curious about something you said earlier when you said that the 2016 conspiracy theory of Lutsenko had no merit, but you didn’t see any harm in Ukraine investigating it if they want to investigate it. Is that right?
Kurt Volker: (01:21:02)
Adam Schiff: (01:21:04)
Don’t they have enough legitimate corruption to investigate without spending time investigating a debunk conspiracy theory?
Kurt Volker: (01:21:12)
There is all kinds of corruption to investigate in Ukraine.
Adam Schiff: (01:21:15)
But nonetheless, you proposed that they go ahead and do this investigation of something you thought without merit because this was part of an effort to fix the problem that Giuliani was creating?
Kurt Volker: (01:21:24)
I did not propose it.
Adam Schiff: (01:21:26)
Well, I think you said you were okay with it or you amended statements-
Kurt Volker: (01:21:30)
I did, yes.
Adam Schiff: (01:21:30)
… as we’ve seen, to include it because, well, if it would help fix the Giuliani problem, was that the thinking?
Kurt Volker: (01:21:37)
Yes, that’s correct. If it threads the needle between what is reasonable for Ukraine to do and if it resets the negative perceptions held by Mr. Giuliani and then the president, then why not?
Adam Schiff: (01:21:49)
This was part of what you described in your opening statement as your effort to, when you see a problem, to fix it. Is it clear to now, Ambassador Volker, based on the September 25th call, that you were not able to fix it?
Kurt Volker: (01:22:02)
Based on the transcript that was released on the 25th, I can see now that there was a lot else going on that was about Vice President Biden than I knew at the time. And the efforts that I was making were clearly not in the context of what had already been discussed by the president on July 25th.
Adam Schiff: (01:22:21)
So it’s fair to say you were not able to fix the Giuliani problem.
Kurt Volker: (01:22:25)
Adam Schiff: (01:22:29)
Elise Stefanik: (01:22:31)
Thank you, Ambassador Volker and Mr. Morrison, for your years of service and your professional expertise and leadership on national security issues. And I want to particularly thank Mr. Morrison for his great work on the House Armed Services Committee on which I serve.
Elise Stefanik: (01:22:45)
I wanted to start with a July 25th call between President Trump and President Zelensky. Mr. Morrison, you were on that call, and there was no mention of withholding aid on the call, correct?
That is correct, Councilwoman.
Elise Stefanik: (01:22:56)
And there was no quid pro quo, correct?
Elise Stefanik: (01:22:59)
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:01)
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:04)
And Ambassador Volker, I presume you got a readout of the call. Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:23:10)
A very terse readout, but yes.
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:12)
In this terse readout of the call, Ambassador, from the US participants, was there any reference to withholding aid?
Kurt Volker: (01:23:19)
No, there was not.
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:19)
Any reference to bribery?
Kurt Volker: (01:23:21)
No, there was not.
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:22)
Any reference to quid pro quo?
Kurt Volker: (01:23:23)
No, there was not.
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:24)
Any reference to extortion?
Kurt Volker: (01:23:27)
No, there was not.
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:27)
And I presume you also got feedback from your Ukrainian counterparts as to how the call went. Did they mention the withholding of aid?
Kurt Volker: (01:23:34)
No, they did not.
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:35)
Did they mention any quid pro quo?
Kurt Volker: (01:23:37)
No, they did not.
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:37)
And did they mention any bribery?
Kurt Volker: (01:23:40)
No, they did not.
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:41)
And in fact, the day after the call, you met with President Zelensky. This would be on July 26th.
Kurt Volker: (01:23:47)
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:47)
And in that meeting, he made no mention of quid pro quo.
Kurt Volker: (01:23:51)
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:51)
He made no mention of withholding the aid.
Kurt Volker: (01:23:53)
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:54)
He made no mention of bribery.
Kurt Volker: (01:23:55)
Elise Stefanik: (01:23:56)
So the fact is, the Ukrainians were not even aware of this hold on aid. Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:24:01)
Elise Stefanik: (01:24:02)
And in the coming weeks, you were in touch with Ukrainians as part of your official duties, and this included talking to Ukrainians over the phone, in person, on text. And the Ukrainians never brought up an investigation into the Bidens. Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:24:16)
Elise Stefanik: (01:24:17)
They never brought up the withholding of the aid.
Kurt Volker: (01:24:20)
Elise Stefanik: (01:24:21)
They never brought up quid pro quo or bribery.
Kurt Volker: (01:24:24)
Let me bring up the aid. They did bring that up after the Politico article appeared on [crosstalk 00:24:28].
Elise Stefanik: (01:24:28)
I’m going to get to that, but until the Politico article, they did not bring it up.
Kurt Volker: (01:24:32)
Until then, no.
Elise Stefanik: (01:24:33)
And you said in your closed-door deposition, quote, “It never came up in conversation with them, and I believe they had trust in me that they would have asked if that was really what they were worried about.” Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:24:45)
That is correct.
Elise Stefanik: (01:24:45)
And as you pointed out, the Ukrainians never even knew their foreign aid was on pause until the article was published in Politico in August.
Kurt Volker: (01:24:53)
Elise Stefanik: (01:24:54)
So they didn’t know during the call.
Kurt Volker: (01:24:56)
Elise Stefanik: (01:24:57)
And in fact, you had to correct Chairman Schiff on this timeline in the closed-door deposition. The chairman of this committee asked you, quote, “When they became aware that military assistance was being withheld for a reason you couldn’t explain, no one could explain, weren’t they under even greater pressure to give the president what he asked for on the call?”
Elise Stefanik: (01:25:17)
And you answered, Ambassador Volker, quote, “To my knowledge, the news about a hold on security assistance did not get into Ukrainian government circles as indicated to me by the current foreign minister, then diplomatic advisor, until the end of August.” Is that your testimony?
Kurt Volker: (01:25:33)
Yes, it is.
Elise Stefanik: (01:25:34)
And Chairman Schiff also got the facts wrong again when he asked you this, quote, “At the point they learned their aid was paused, wouldn’t that give them added urgency to meet the president’s request on the Bidens?” And you answered, Ambassador Volker, quote, “I think the Ukrainians felt like they are going in the right direction, and they had not done anything. They had not done anything on an investigation,” end quote. Isn’t it the case, Ambassador Volker, at one point, Chairman Schiff said to you when you were truthfully testifying, quote, “Ambassador, you’re making this much more complicated than it has to be,” end quote. It’s page 127 from the deposition. Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:26:14)
I remember that.
Elise Stefanik: (01:26:16)
But the truth is, the facts are indeed not complicated, and I’m going to close out with two questions for the both of you. Did Ukraine open investigation into the Bidens? Mr. Morrison.
Not to my knowledge, ma’am.
Elise Stefanik: (01:26:28)
Kurt Volker: (01:26:29)
Not to my knowledge either.
Elise Stefanik: (01:26:31)
Did either of you ever have any evidence of quid pro quo? Mr. Morrison.
Elise Stefanik: (01:26:36)
Kurt Volker: (01:26:37)
I did not.
Elise Stefanik: (01:26:38)
Any evidence of bribery?
Kurt Volker: (01:26:40)
Elise Stefanik: (01:26:42)
Any evidence of treason?
Kurt Volker: (01:26:44)
No evidence of treason.
Elise Stefanik: (01:26:46)
With that, I yield back.
Adam Schiff: (01:26:47)
Eric Swalwell: (01:26:51)
Thank you. Mr. Morrison, did Ambassador Bolton want the security aid hold lifted?
Yes, Congressman, he did.
Eric Swalwell: (01:27:02)
You testified that Ambassador Bolton had a one-on-one meeting with President Trump in late August related to Ukraine security assistance. Is that right?
Sir, can you point to where I testified to that?
Eric Swalwell: (01:27:13)
On page 266, you said, “Ambassador Bolton had a one-on-one meeting with President Trump in late August 2019, but the president was not yet ready to approve the release of the assistance.” Do you remember that?
Sir, this is 226?
Eric Swalwell: (01:27:26)
Yes, 266 and 268. But I’m asking you, did that happen, or did it not?
Sir, I just want to be … I want to be clear characterizing it. Okay. Yes, sir. I see. Yes.
Eric Swalwell: (01:27:44)
And you testified to that. What was the outcome of that meeting between Ambassador Bolton and President Trump?
Ambassador Bolton did not yet believe the president was ready to approve the assistance.
Eric Swalwell: (01:27:54)
Did Ambassador Bolton inform you of any reason for the ongoing hold that stemmed from this meeting?
Eric Swalwell: (01:28:03)
Mr. Morrison, do you consider yourself loyal to the president?
Eric Swalwell: (01:28:11)
And the president executes the foreign policy of the United States. Is that right?
Well, sir, I would say he decides-
Eric Swalwell: (01:28:18)
He sets the foreign policy.
He sets it. Yes, sir.
Eric Swalwell: (01:28:20)
And as a staffer on the National Security Council and even someone who serves in the military, it’s your job to faithfully execute the foreign policy priorities of the president. Is that right?
My oath is to obey all lawful orders.
Eric Swalwell: (01:28:35)
On July 25, you listened to the president of the United States talk to the president of Ukraine. Is that correct?
July 25th, yes, sir.
Eric Swalwell: (01:28:41)
And regardless of what you had prepared as far as talking points for that call for the president, you heard the president of the United States ask the president of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Is that correct?
Yes, sir. He made a request.
Eric Swalwell: (01:28:57)
And after the July 25 call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president, fair to say that you talked to your Ukrainian counterparts a number of times?
Eric Swalwell: (01:29:09)
How many times, when you talk to your Ukrainian counterparts, did you ask them to investigate the Bidens?
Eric Swalwell: (01:29:17)
Sir, it was not a policy objective that I was aware of.
Eric Swalwell: (01:29:24)
But with all due respect, Mr. Morrison, you’re not in the White House to carry out your policy objectives. You just testified that the president sets the foreign policy objectives for the United States. And the one call that you listened to between the president of the United States and the president of Ukraine, the president of the United States’ priorities were to investigate the Bidens. And I’m asking you, sir, why didn’t you follow up on the president’s priorities when you talked to the Ukrainians?
Sir, I did not understand it as a policy objective.
Eric Swalwell: (01:29:58)
Mr. Morrison, I know that you put that conversation in the server because-
Eric Swalwell: (01:30:03)
I know that you put that conversation in the server because as you said, you feared the political consequences and some other reasons that you gave, but you also chose to defy the President’s request to not come here as others have, like Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Bolton, and you have come here and you’ve been truthful and I appreciate that. And Mr. Morrison, whether you acknowledge it publicly or not, I believe that you knew that what the President asked the Ukrainians to do was wrong.
Eric Swalwell: (01:30:31)
And as you just described, your duty is to follow the foreign policy priorities of the President, but to also only follow something that is a lawful order. And I don’t think you believe that was a lawful order and that’s why you did not follow up on those priorities.
Eric Swalwell: (01:30:47)
Mr. Volker, we’ve heard a lot today about this president being such an anti-corruption president. He really cared about fighting corruption. Is Russia a corrupt country?
Kurt Volker: (01:31:02)
We’re talking about President Zelinsky?
Eric Swalwell: (01:31:04)
No, President Trump.
Kurt Volker: (01:31:04)
Eric Swalwell: (01:31:05)
Is Russia a corrupt country?
Kurt Volker: (01:31:06)
Yes it is.
Eric Swalwell: (01:31:08)
And President Trump has met a number of times in person with President Putin, is that right?
Kurt Volker: (01:31:13)
Yes, a few times.
Eric Swalwell: (01:31:14)
And he’s had a number of phone calls with President Putin, is that right?
Kurt Volker: (01:31:17)
Eric Swalwell: (01:31:18)
Is Turkey a corrupt country?
Kurt Volker: (01:31:19)
Yes, I believe so.
Eric Swalwell: (01:31:21)
And just last week, despite their corruption at the White House, President Erdogan had an audience with the President of the United States, is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:31:28)
Yes, he did.
Eric Swalwell: (01:31:29)
Finally, Mr. Giuliani on May 9th told the New York Times, President Trump basically knows what I’m doing as his lawyer. Are you familiar with that statement to the New York Times?
Kurt Volker: (01:31:43)
No, I’m not.
Eric Swalwell: (01:31:44)
But you agree as someone who has a lawyer sitting next to you that a lawyer acts on a client’s behalf and only on a client’s behalf, is that right?
Kurt Volker: (01:31:53)
I believe that a lawyer acts on his client’s behalf. I’m not sure about only on a client’s behalf, because I think as I understood Mayor Giuliani in this case, he was doing a lot that I considered to be on his own. I did not believe he was always instructed.
Eric Swalwell: (01:32:08)
And when he said, we’re not meddling in an election or meddling in an investigation, he didn’t say I, he said we. Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:32:16)
I am taking that from the statement.
Eric Swalwell: (01:32:19)
Chairman Schiff: (01:32:20)
Mr. Hurd: (01:32:22)
Mr. Morrison, my colleague from California suggests he knows your opinions and your thoughts better than you do. Do you have anything? He didn’t give you the opportunity to respond. Do you have a response or want to give a response?
No, sir. I heard the President make a request. I received no direction at any time to attempt to weed a policy process different from what I laid out in my deposition. I was directed by Dr. Copperman to launch an inter agency process to ensure a unity of opinion in the inter agency as to the importance of continuing security sector assistance. And that’s what I did. I acted upon the direction I was given.
Mr. Hurd: (01:33:04)
Good copy. While we’re with you Mr. Morrison. Thanks for your testimony, your clear and sober testimony today. Did you participate in or overhear any conversations about how political information collected by Ukraine on the Bidens would be used for political gain?
Mr. Hurd: (01:33:22)
Ambassador Volker, same question. Did you participate in or overhear any conversations about how potential information collected by Ukraine on the Bidens would be used for political gain?
Kurt Volker: (01:33:34)
No, I did not.
Mr. Hurd: (01:33:35)
There’s been a lot of discussions about a text exchange you had with Mr. [Yermack 01:33:41] on August 12th that talked about this proposed statement, and Mayor Giuliani provided some feedback on what he thought needed to be included in that. Did Mayor Giuliani get feedback from the President on what should go into that proposed statement?
Kurt Volker: (01:33:57)
I have no reason to think that he had discussed it with the President.
Mr. Hurd: (01:34:04)
Based on your recollection, Ambassador Volker, who within the Zelinsky regime has Mayor Giuliani interacted with? Now in addition to Mr. Yermack, which we’ve already talked about, and also the former Attorney General, Mr. [Lushanko 01:34:19].
Kurt Volker: (01:34:19)
Yeah, I don’t know who else he would have interacted [inaudible 01:34:22], having claimed that he met [inaudible 01:34:24] predecessor as Prosecutor General Mr. Lushanko.
Mr. Hurd: (01:34:26)
Yeah, but that’s not within-
Kurt Volker: (01:34:27)
That’s not under the Zelinsky government.
Mr. Hurd: (01:34:30)
The current regime in which we’re talking about.
Kurt Volker: (01:34:32)
I don’t know who else he would’ve met with.
Mr. Hurd: (01:34:34)
In as few words as possible, what was your understanding of Ambassador Sondland’s role in Ukraine?
Kurt Volker: (01:34:41)
He cared about Ukraine. He wanted to see U.S. support for Ukraine increased. He wanted to see European union support for Ukraine increased, including maintenance of sanctions, and he wanted to be helpful.
Mr. Hurd: (01:34:54)
Was Ambassador Sondland having conversations with senior Zelinsky officials without letting other people know?
Kurt Volker: (01:35:00)
I don’t believe that he was not letting people know. I think he may have had some conversations, but I think he was just acting, and I think we circled back quite frequently with myself, Ambassador Taylor and others.
Mr. Hurd: (01:35:14)
Can you say that you have a clear understanding of what Ambassador Sondland and Mayor Giuliani were doing in all their interactions with Ukrainian officials?
Kurt Volker: (01:35:24)
I can’t say that I had a clear understanding. I thought that Ambassador Sondland and I were working on the same objective, which is getting a meeting between President Zelinsky and President Trump, and that a statement as I understood it that mentioned Burisma in 2016 would be potentially helpful. I didn’t know anything more about their interactions or what their thoughts were.
Mr. Hurd: (01:35:47)
If you didn’t have a clear understanding as the special representative of Ukraine, do you think the Ukrainians had a clear understanding?
Kurt Volker: (01:35:54)
No, I don’t.
Mr. Hurd: (01:35:56)
You thought there was a difference between Burisma and Biden in the 2016 elections, is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:36:01)
That is correct.
Mr. Hurd: (01:36:01)
As you testified earlier. Do you think the Ukrainians had similar understanding?
Kurt Volker: (01:36:05)
Yes, I do.
Mr. Hurd: (01:36:08)
There’s also a perception that when Ambassador Yovanovitch, who we’ve all, her 33 years of being an awesome ambassador, that when she left Kiev that the U.S. position on corruption would weaken. That’s kind of a narrative that’s floating around. Who was the person that took over for her in the interim, who was the charge after-
Kurt Volker: (01:36:30)
Immediately after Masha was Joe Pennington.
Mr. Hurd: (01:36:34)
Was this individual strong or weak on corruption?
Kurt Volker: (01:36:38)
I would say in line with all the rest of our policy.
Mr. Hurd: (01:36:42)
And after that individual who was that person replaced with?
Kurt Volker: (01:36:45)
Then that was Bill Taylor.
Mr. Hurd: (01:36:46)
Who you suggested for that position, correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:36:48)
Mr. Hurd: (01:36:48)
Was Ambassador Taylor strong or weak on corruption?
Kurt Volker: (01:36:52)
Mr. Hurd: (01:36:53)
Mr. Morrison in my last 23 minutes, who sets official U.S. policy?
Sir, the President.
Mr. Hurd: (01:37:01)
Not some other staffer within the NSC process?
Sir, the NSC staff exists to ensure the President has a full array of options for his decision.
Mr. Hurd: (01:37:12)
Thank you. I yield back.
Chairman Schiff: (01:37:14)
Mr. Castro: (01:37:16)
Thank you, chairman. Thank you gentlemen, for your testimony today. Is it correct to say that both you gentlemen were either appointed or hired by the White House, by the Trump administration?
Kurt Volker: (01:37:28)
In my case by Secretary Tillerson.
Mr. Castro: (01:37:30)
But part of the Trump administration.
Kurt Volker: (01:37:32)
Yes, serving in the same administration.
Mr. Castro: (01:37:34)
Sure. Ambassador Volker, you previously testified that Ambassador Gordon Sondland, “I just know that he had a relationship with President Trump that I did not have”. In fact, in one text message dated July 26th you wrote to Ambassador Sondland, “Great photo Gordon, can you get this to POTUS without intermediaries?”. July 26th was the same day that Ambassador Sondland spoke to the President from a restaurant in Kiev, is that right?
Kurt Volker: (01:38:07)
I’m sorry, the date again?
Mr. Castro: (01:38:08)
Kurt Volker: (01:38:10)
Yes, I know that to be correct now.
Mr. Castro: (01:38:13)
Were you aware of that call?
Kurt Volker: (01:38:14)
No, I was not.
Mr. Castro: (01:38:16)
Well this committee certainly is aware of it now as we all are. Were you aware that Ambassador Sondland had a direct line to the President?
Kurt Volker: (01:38:24)
He claimed that he spoke to the President frequently.
Mr. Castro: (01:38:26)
Did you have reason to doubt that?
Kurt Volker: (01:38:28)
Ambassador Sondland’s a big personality and sometimes says things that might be a bit bigger than life, but I-
Mr. Castro: (01:38:37)
But he too, he was a political appointee. He was handpicked by the President or somebody in the President’s administration to serve in his position.
Kurt Volker: (01:38:44)
Right, and I believe that he could speak with the President.
Mr. Castro: (01:38:46)
He had also been a large donor to one of President Trump’s campaign committees. Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (01:38:52)
I have learned that yes.
Mr. Castro: (01:38:54)
Mr. Morrison, you stated during your testimony that when you met Ambassador Sondland for the first time, he represented that, “His mandate from the President was to go make deals”. And in fact you testified that between July 25th and September 11th of this year, you heard or learned that Ambassador Sondland and President Trump spoke on several occasions. Is it accurate that every time you checked you were able to confirm that Ambassador Sondland had in fact spoken to the President?
Mr. Castro: (01:39:26)
Mr. Morrison, you also testified that Ambassador Sondland emailed you and several White House staff to say that he briefed President Trump in advance of his July 25th call with the Ukrainian president. Is that correct?
Mr. Castro: (01:39:39)
Did Ambassador Sondland and tell you what he briefed the President on?
It was, he sent me an email, sir. It was a very succinct, it was a list of three items. It was a very succinct item with respect to Ukraine. I briefed the President on the call.
Mr. Castro: (01:39:55)
And you testified that you personally confirmed that Ambassador Sondland and President Trump had spoken before the July 25th call.
That is correct Congressman.
Mr. Castro: (01:40:05)
And presumably the White House situation room keeps a record of those calls.
Sir, that is how I was able to confirm it.
Mr. Castro: (01:40:14)
Okay. You separately testify that your staff prepared a briefing memo with suggested points for the President to raise on July 25th. Points that were consistent with U.S. policy, is that correct?
Mr. Castro: (01:40:26)
But the President didn’t use those points, did he?
No sir, he did not.
Mr. Castro: (01:40:30)
So I guess, let me get this straight. You prepared materials for the President, your materials did not include references to Biden or the 2016 election, is that right?
Mr. Castro: (01:40:42)
And then Ambassador Sondland, the guy who is the Gordon problem, the guy who’s got a direct link to the President, the guy who’s talking about making deals briefed President Trump, is that right?
Mr. Castro: (01:40:57)
And then President Trump raised the 2016 election, and Vice President Biden and his son to the Ukrainian president after he was briefed by Ambassador Sondland. Is that right?
Mr. Castro: (01:41:12)
It sounds like Ambassador Sondland and the President were on the same page. They both were working to benefit the President’s personal political interest even when that undermined U.S. foreign policy. I want to ask you in the short time that I have both you gentlemen who served the United States government, whether, putting President Trump aside, whether you believe that it’s proper for any president now or later to ask a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen, and specifically a U.S. citizen that could be a political rival. Ambassador?
Kurt Volker: (01:41:52)
I don’t believe it is appropriate for the President to do that. If we have law enforcement concerns with a U.S. citizen, generally there are appropriate channels for that.
Mr. Castro: (01:42:02)
I agree with Ambassador Volker sir.
Mr. Castro: (01:42:06)
Thank you chairman. I yield back.
Chairman Schiff: (01:42:09)
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:42:11)
Thank you chairman. Gentleman, I appreciate both of you being here today. I know it’s been a long day for you. Mr. Morrison I’m going to try and summarize some of what we’ve heard to shorten this. You were on the July 25th call, Colonel Vindman was on the July 25th call, correct?
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:42:30)
And I will tell you that he testified earlier today that he heard what he thought was a demand on that call that was improper and felt that he had a duty to report that. I think we’ve established already that he did not discuss or report any of that to you, correct?
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:42:50)
But you did have a discussion with Colonel Vindman about other concerns that he had with the call, and I believe you said the fidelity of the translation, and the fact that you both shared a discussion about there not being a full throated embrace of the Ukrainian reform agenda. Is that fair?
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:43:09)
Okay. But with respect to his concern about something improper, specifically at no point did he come to you and say, I heard something that I thought was improper and was a crime.
Sir, I have no recollection of him doing that.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:43:27)
No bribe, no extortion, no quid pro quo. All the things that Miss Stefanik asked you?
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:43:32)
All right. And as you were listening, did you hear President Trump make a demand of anything that would constitute a crime?
Sir, I’ve been trying to stay on the safe side of making legal conclusions, but no sir, I did not hear him make any sort of demand.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:43:49)
You have a law degree?
I do, sir.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:43:51)
So you’re at least generally familiar with bribery and extortion, generally.
I’m not a lawyer for the United States, sir.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:43:58)
All right. But is it fair to say that as you were listening to the call, you weren’t thinking, wow, the President is bribing the President of Ukraine? That never crossed your mind.
It did not, sir.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:44:09)
Or that he was extorting the President of the Ukraine.
It did not, sir.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:44:13)
Or doing anything improper?
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:44:15)
All right, and have you heard or read in the media where President Zelinsky agrees with you, and said repeatedly and consistently that he didn’t hear any demand, he didn’t hear any conditions, he didn’t feel any pressure, he didn’t experience anything improper or corrupt on the call?
Sir, I attended the [bylat 01:44:32] in New York at the UN General Assembly and he made clear at the time in front of the press that he felt no pressure.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:44:38)
So did anyone on the national security council after this call express to you that some crime, bribery, extortion, quid pro quo, anything had occurred?
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:44:54)
I want to ask you, Mr. Morrison, about the whistleblower complaint. I don’t want to ask you to speculate as to the identity, but I want to ask you about the accusations that started this as to their veracity. First of all, the whistleblower who apparently was not on the call advised the ICIG that he or she was concerned that the President’s conduct constituted under Title 50 USC Section 30.33, “A serious problem, abuse or violation of law or executive order”. Again, to be clear, you didn’t hear a violation of law or executive order as you listened to the call.
Sir, I made no judgment about any illegal conduct occurring.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:45:45)
The whistleblower also reported in starting this inquiry, asserted that President Trump, “sought to pressure the Ukrainian leadership to take actions to help the President’s 2020 reelection bid”. President Trump does not mention 2020 during the call, does he?
No sir, I don’t believe he did.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:46:07)
President Trump doesn’t mention his reelection bid during the call does he?
Sir, I don’t believe he did.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:46:14)
And you did not hear President Trump pressure or have a demand of any kind as we’ve already established, correct?
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:46:21)
A whistleblower like Colonel Vindman also uses the word demand.
Did you say whistleblower like Colonel Vindman? I don’t think that’s a fact that’s in evidence.
Chairman Schiff: (01:46:35)
Counsel you should use a microphone.
Thank you, I’m sorry. And all due respect Congressman. I believe you just said a whistleblower like Colonel Vindman.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:46:42)
No, I said, I’m sorry.
That’s not in evidence.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:46:45)
Yeah, the whistleblower, like Colonel Vindman, also uses the word demand. On page four, the whistleblower asserted, “Ambassador Volker and Sondland purportedly provided advice to Ukrainian leadership about how to navigate the demands the President had made of Mr. Zelinsky”. Again, there were no demands from your perspective, Mr. Morrison.
That is correct, sir.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:47:08)
All right, so speculations about the whistleblower aside with regard to motivations, the fact is that the whistleblower was wrong about many of the facts as well, correct?
Sir, I’m not intimately familiar with the whistleblower complaint, but I did not hear a demand in that call.
Mr. Ratcliffe: (01:47:28)
I yield back.
Chairman Schiff: (01:47:28)
The time for the gentleman has expired. Mr. Heck.
Mr. Heck: (01:47:35)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ambassador Volker, I want to thank you for being here today and I frankly found some of your opening statement to be not just genuine but downright eloquent. In particular I noted the passages about pushing back on Russian aggression and supporting the development of a strong, resilient, democratic and prosperous Ukraine. One that overcomes a legacy of corruption and that this is critically important for U.S. national security.
Mr. Heck: (01:48:05)
Some of us believe that we’re not pushing back strongly enough on Russia. Some of us believe we’re not being supportive enough of the Ukraine, but one of our challenges is to go home to the people for whom we work and help explain to them why it is in our national security interest. You have an audience like you’ll never have again to look into the camera and tell the American public why it is important to support Ukraine, why it should matter to them if the biggest issue in their life is getting their kids off to school, paying their bills and the like. Sir.
Kurt Volker: (01:48:40)
Thank you so much Congressman. I agree with you completely that we are not pushing back hard enough on Russia and that we owe Ukraine a great deal of support.
Mr. Heck: (01:48:50)
Why does it matter?
Kurt Volker: (01:48:54)
Russia is trying to upend security in Europe. It’s trying to reassert its domination of neighboring countries, whether it’s Georgia or Ukraine or the Baltic States. It has led to war in Europe. The war in Ukraine has left more people dead in Europe in a European war than anything since the Balkans. More people displaced by a war in Europe since anything since World War II. These are people who stand up for freedom, for democracy, they want reform, they want to see their country be successful, like Germany, like Sweden, like us. And they are fighting a war of aggression against them, designed to hold them back. And if we want to live in a world of freedom for the United States, we ought to be supporting freedom for people around the world.
Mr. Heck: (01:49:42)
Thank you for that. So we’re here in part because under cover of a concern for general corruption, some of us believe there wasn’t. In fact, there was something quite nefarious as the alternative that there wasn’t a concern about general corruption. But reviewing the record on that, sir, is it not true that in March of this year, the department of defense certified Ukraine as having been sufficient, have made sufficient progress to continue to receive military assistance?
Kurt Volker: (01:50:10)
I don’t know the details of that, but I believe that to be correct.
Mr. Heck: (01:50:13)
Is it not true that on April 21st President Zelinsky, when an overwhelming mandate was 73% of the vote based largely on his effort and advocacy for anti-corruption.
Kurt Volker: (01:50:22)
That is correct.
Mr. Heck: (01:50:23)
Is it not true that this mandate was affirmed and expanded on July 21st when his party won one party control again on the basis of anti-corruption?
Kurt Volker: (01:50:30)
That is correct.
Mr. Heck: (01:50:32)
In fact, subsequently he enacted sweeping reforms to combat anti-corruption, did he not?
Kurt Volker: (01:50:38)
Yes he has.
Mr. Heck: (01:50:39)
And is it not true that everybody on the ground thought, or was filled with optimism that Ukraine was getting serious about combating corruption?
Kurt Volker: (01:50:48)
That is correct.
Mr. Heck: (01:50:49)
Ambassador Volker, did you know that one of the very first anti-corruption measures passed in the Ukraine was a law to provide for the impeachment of the President?
Kurt Volker: (01:51:00)
I did not know that.
Mr. Heck: (01:51:01)
It’s true, because he thought we should start with himself. I raise this because my friends on the other side of the aisle keep characterizing this impeachment inquiry as inherently wrong because, and I’m quoting them, “it will overturn an election, over and over it will overturn an election”. Well impeachment is an anti-corruption tool and for my friends on the other side of the aisle, yes, it does overturn an election. By definition it overturns an election. I don’t know if they’ve got a problem with our constitution and its provisions for impeachment, but I recommend they reread the relevant passages in article one, sections two and three and some of the history about how we got there. Look, none of us wants to be here despite what’s being said. None of us came to this easily. I didn’t. Where a call for the rest of my life, the 48 hours I spent at our family cabin literally plunged in self reflection and literally prayerful deliberation about this whole matter.
Mr. Heck: (01:52:05)
Collectively, we are going to have to grapple with this very grave decision. It’s waiting and it’s going to get hard, and it’s hard in proportion to its importance to our great Republic. A Republic, if we can keep it. I yield back Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Schiff: (01:52:32)
Mr. Jordan: (01:52:33)
Thank you Mr. Chairman. Ambassador Volker in the now famous call transcript, the bottom of page three president Trump said this, “I heard you had a prosecutor and he was shut down and that’s really unfair”. Just for clarification, do you believe President Trump was talking about Lutsenko or Shoken?
Kurt Volker: (01:52:48)
Mr. Jordan: (01:52:49)
Shoken, all right, thank you so much. That’s what I thought as well. Mr. Morrison, you testified in your deposition that you had issues with Colonel Vindman’s judgment. Is that right?
It is sir.
Mr. Jordan: (01:52:59)
And you said specifically that you had concerns with Colonel Vindman exercising, “appropriate judgment as to whom he said what”, is that right?
It is sir.
Mr. Jordan: (01:53:07)
You testified that Dr. Hill, your predecessor at NSC told you that she had concerns about Colonel Vindman’s judgment. Is that right?
It is sir.
Mr. Jordan: (01:53:15)
And you testified that Colonel Vindman did not always adhere to the chain of command, is that right?
I believe so, yes sir.
Mr. Jordan: (01:53:21)
You testified that you were aware of issues with Colonel Vindman trying to access information outside his lane. Is that correct?
Sir, I believe I stated that I was aware that there were those who were concerned about that yesterday.
Mr. Jordan: (01:53:31)
Okay, thank you. You testify that Colonel Vindman was not included on certain trips, is that right?
Mr. Jordan: (01:53:36)
And you testified that colleagues express concerns to you about Colonel Vindman leaking information. Is that right?
Mr. Jordan: (01:53:46)
Now when I asked Colonel Vindman why he didn’t go to you with his concerns about the call, even though you, his boss, had no concerns about anything being, I think your language was nothing improper, nothing illegal on the call. I asked Colonel Vindman earlier this morning why he didn’t go to you and instead went and talked to the lawyers, his brother, Secretary Kent, and one other person that he wouldn’t tell us and Chairman Schiff wouldn’t allow him to tell us. When I asked him why he did that, he indicated that the lawyers had instructed him to do that and he tried to get ahold of you. Is that fair?
Sir, I watched part of the proceedings this morning. I heard him say that. Yes sir.
Mr. Jordan: (01:54:26)
Okay. Well, one thing that Chairman Schiff brought up at the end of this morning’s hearing, he said, he pointed out that you, Colonel Vindman’s boss, also went to the lawyers, but your reason for going to the lawyers was a little different, wasn’t it?
Mr. Jordan: (01:54:40)
Yeah. I think you had a few things that Mr. Caster and you talked about earlier in today’s hearing, but I think at the top of your list was you were concerned about the contents of the call leaking out. Is that fair?
Mr. Jordan: (01:54:56)
And that’s exactly what happened, isn’t it?
Sir, I don’t know that the contents leaked out. There was a whistleblower complaint. The President chose to declassify the memcon.
Mr. Jordan: (01:55:12)
Well, it seems to me you were prophetic, Mr. Morrison, because you said in your statement today, “as I stated during my deposition, I feared at the time of the call on July 25th how the disclosure of the contents of the call would play in Washington’s political climate. My fears have been realized”. It seems to me you saw what might happen and it sure enough did, fair to say?
Mr. Jordan: (01:55:40)
And we get all this and that’s the part that gets me, we get all this, these hearings, these weeks, basement and the bunker in the basement of the Capitol and four facts that we keep coming back to have never changed. Will never change. We’ve heard from both of you today. I confirmed these fundamental facts.
Mr. Jordan: (01:56:03)
We’ve got the call transcript as you’ve both said, no linkage to security assistance dollars and investigations in the call transcript. We’ve got the two individuals who were on the call, they’ve both said no linkage, no pressure, no pushing. We’ve got the fact that the Ukrainians didn’t even know aid had been withheld until August 29th and most importantly the Ukrainians did nothing as far as starting, promising to start, announcing they were going to start investigation, did nothing and the aid got released. And I believe it got released because of what we’ve been talking about. The good work of Ambassador Volker and others. I believe that’s why it happened and yet here we are. And you called it all. You saw this coming, that’s why you went to the lawyers. That’s why the concern was there and that’s the part that’s most troubling. I yield back Mr. Chairman. I yield to the gentleman from Ohio.
Mr. Turner: (01:57:03)
Ambassador Volker on Daily Mail they currently have this headline. It says Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker walks back his closed door testimony and says he “has now learned there was a link between U.S. military aid and a Biden probe”. That’s not your testimony today, is it?
Kurt Volker: (01:57:21)
I don’t believe that’s in my testimony.
Mr. Turner: (01:57:23)
Thank you, I yield back.
Chairman Schiff: (01:57:27)
Mr. Welch: (01:57:30)
Thank you. Just following up on Mr. Jordan. Easiest way to avoid investigation is to not do anything wrong. I want to talk a little bit about why we’re here. Official government actions can’t be traded for help in a political campaign. Let me give an analogy and ask each of you if you agree. Could a mayor of a city withhold funding for the police department budget unless the police chief agreed to open up an investigation on a political rival. Mr. Morrison?
In that hypothetical, no I don’t think he should do that.
Mr. Welch: (01:58:12)
Yeah. And Ambassador Volker, I’m sure you agree?
Kurt Volker: (01:58:16)
Mr. Welch: (01:58:17)
And the same would be true if it were a governor withholding the budget request of the state police unless the state police agreed to conduct an investigation on a political rival. You would agree?
Kurt Volker: (01:58:29)
Mr. Welch: (01:58:31)
In your view is it any different for a member of Congress? Of course not, right? Would you agree that the President has the same obligation as the Mayor, as the Governor, as the member of Congress to not withhold aid unless he gets an investigation into a political rival? Mr. Morrison?
Yes sir. I would agree with that hypothetical.
Kurt Volker: (01:58:58)
I would agree.
Mr. Welch: (01:58:59)
Thanks. And we’re having a debate here, both sides as to how to read what’s plainly before us, the presidential phone call where the President ignored the work of the advisors and the national security council of talking points, and instead chose to talk about the Bidens and talk about Hunter Biden and asked for an investigation. So we are just going to have to debate that. But isn’t the principle that no person, including the President is above the law, absolutely essential and worth the effort to make certain that we continue to guarantee? Ambassador Morrison.
Sir, I haven’t been promoted-
Mr. Welch: (01:59:46)
I’m sorry, Ambassador Volker. I’m sorry. Pardon me.
Kurt Volker: (01:59:49)
Mr. Welch: (01:59:50)
Yeah, and Mr. Morrison?
Sir the rule of law is central to our democracy.
Mr. Welch: (01:59:55)
It’s so true. And you know, we’ve had some discussions and challenge from the other side that the President has …
Mr. Welch: (02:00:03)
Challenge from the other side that the President has authority in foreign policy to do what he likes. And in fact, he does. A recent president, by President Trump to take our troops out of Syria and allow the Turkish forces to go in literally meant that some Kurdish families went to bed Saturday night and woke up Sunday morning, packed their kids and fled for their lives. A lot of people, including both sides of the aisle totally disagreed with that, but the President has the authority to do it, impulsive as that decision may have been, unwise as it may have been, as threatening to our national security.
Mr. Welch: (02:00:48)
We’re not talking about that here. And Ambassador Volker, I’ve listened to your testimony and I take it and thank you for making efforts to try to advance what had been a bi-partisan Ukraine policy, help Ukraine get rid of corruption, help resist Russian aggression. But what you came to learn painfully is that there was a sidebar Ukraine policy with Giuliani as the advocate and it appears Ambassador Sondland is very much involved. Is that correct?
Kurt Volker: (02:01:22)
I don’t know everything about that, sir.
Mr. Welch: (02:01:24)
You don’t, but as you have been involved and with the benefit of hindsight, while you were working on what you thought was stopping aggression and eliminating corruption, there was a side deal here to get investigations going, correct?
Kurt Volker: (02:01:39)
Yeah. So, yes, sir. My objective was purely focused on support for Ukraine. National security and I now have learned through other testimony about the President’s statement, about investigating Biden, and other conversations that I did not know about.
Mr. Welch: (02:01:56)
Right, and thank you for that and thank you for your candor about Vice President’s Biden integrity and service. But the bottom line here is that at the end of the day, we’re going to have to make a judgment about what the President was up to with respect to that request for the favor and how it repudiated the policy that was the bi-partisan effort in Ukraine and raises questions about he in that hypothetical example I gave of the mayor, held himself to be above the law. I yield back.
Adam Schiff: (02:02:34)
Sean Patrick M.: (02:02:35)
Gentlemen, thank you for being here. Ambassador Volker, I was struck by your opening statement. You moved a long way from the testimony you presented to us in October and I know you gave a reason for that, which is that you were in the dark about a lot of these things. Is that fair to say?
Kurt Volker: (02:02:57)
That is one thing that I learned a lot our of the testimony of others.
Sean Patrick M.: (02:03:00)
You learned a lot. You learned a lot, and what you said on page eight, I’m referring to your statement that you gave this morning… Excuse me, this afternoon. “That I did not know,” this is quoting, “I did not know that President Trump or others had raised Vice President Biden with the Ukrainians or had conflated the investigation of possible Ukrainian corruption with investigation of the former Vice President Biden.” Right?
Kurt Volker: (02:03:23)
Sean Patrick M.: (02:03:24)
You didn’t know Burisma meant Biden, that’s what you’re saying?
Kurt Volker: (02:03:26)
Right, I had separated the two.
Sean Patrick M.: (02:03:28)
I got it. Well, you didn’t know, right? I mean, you were… Well, do we have to go through it, sir? I mean, you were there on May 23rd for the meeting with the President when he said, “Talk to Rudy,” and Rudy sure cared about the investigations, which you now know meant Biden, right? But you missed it on May 23rd, right?
Kurt Volker: (02:03:45)
No, sir. I understood at the time that Hunter Biden, Vice President Biden’s son, had been a board member of Burisma.
Sean Patrick M.: (02:03:54)
I understand, but you didn’t read that as a request to investigate the Bidens at that time?
Kurt Volker: (02:03:58)
Sean Patrick M.: (02:03:58)
That’s all I’m saying.
Kurt Volker: (02:03:59)
Sean Patrick M.: (02:03:59)
And on July 10th, you were in not one but two meetings in the White House where Ambassador Sondland raised the investigations, but you didn’t know it was about the Bidens, that’s your testimony, right? At the time?
Kurt Volker: (02:04:09)
That’s right. I did not think he was talking about anything specific.
Sean Patrick M.: (02:04:11)
Right. You heard him say investigations, you thought it was inappropriate, and the Chairman asked you about that, but you said, “Oh, it’s because I didn’t know it was the Bidens, I just thought it was inappropriate,” and then I guess when they were in the war room and Ambassador Sondland raised Burisma and the Bidens in 2016, you missed that too, as I understand it?
Kurt Volker: (02:04:28)
That is correct.
Sean Patrick M.: (02:04:29)
Right, and then of curse on July 18th, you knew aid was withheld, and then in August, you spent a good part of the time with this statement with Rudy Giuliani, right? I mean, you were the guy making the changes and interacting with the Ukrainians. You were putting in Rudy’s changes, which included a call for investigating Burisma and the 2016 elections, which you now know meant Bidens, right? You didn’t know at at the time, right? But now we know it, right? And then on September 1st, you were in Warsaw. I mean, you were at every point in this. You were in Warsaw and you were there when Ambassador Sondland told Andrey Yermak that he was not going to get security assistance, he wasn’t going to get a White House meeting unless there was the investigation and I understand you missed that, you were out of the loop then?
Kurt Volker: (02:05:14)
That’s not correct, sir. So I was not in Warsaw at these meetings.
Sean Patrick M.: (02:05:17)
Oh, excuse me, you were not in Warsaw, but you heard about it right after from Sondland, is that right?
Kurt Volker: (02:05:21)
No, that’s not quite correct either. It was sometime later.
Sean Patrick M.: (02:05:24)
I got it. So, but now we know, right? Now you know what it meant, and you said, “In retrospect, I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections.”
Kurt Volker: (02:05:35)
Right, that is correct, and [crosstalk 02:05:37]-
Sean Patrick M.: (02:05:37)
What are the objections you would have raised, sir?
Kurt Volker: (02:05:41)
What I would have raised is that people are conflating investigating the Bidens with investigating this Ukrainian company, Burisma-
Sean Patrick M.: (02:05:46)
But would you have objected to the President asking for an investigation of the Bidens? As you sit here now, you said, “I would have raised my own objections.”
Kurt Volker: (02:05:55)
Sean Patrick M.: (02:05:56)
If you knew it was the Bidens?
Kurt Volker: (02:05:57)
If I knew we were talking about investigating Vice President Biden and asking the Ukrainians to do that-
Sean Patrick M.: (02:06:02)
And his son.
Kurt Volker: (02:06:03)
… that would be inappropriate and I would have objected to that.
Sean Patrick M.: (02:06:06)
Right. And so if you had heard him ask for it on the call, and you said, “In retrospect, Ukrainians clearly would have been… It would have been confusing,” right?
Kurt Volker: (02:06:14)
Sean Patrick M.: (02:06:15)
Is confusing the right word, sir? I mean, it would have put them in the position of having to do something inappropriate, right?
Kurt Volker: (02:06:20)
Sean Patrick M.: (02:06:20)
Investigate the Bidens?
Kurt Volker: (02:06:21)
I think confusing’s the right word because they were clearly hearing something different from the President in one conversation and different from me as a US Special Representative, different from Bill Taylor on the [crosstalk 02:06:33]-
Sean Patrick M.: (02:06:33)
Well maybe sir, they understood that investigating Burisma and investigating 2016 in fact meant the Bidens even though you didn’t? I mean, at the time you were talking to Yermak and putting those changes in the statement, he had talked to Sondland, right? At the same time. And so the point being that they were put in an impossible position. They were being asked to do something inappropriate, and you now know that, right? And you would have raised your own objections?
Kurt Volker: (02:06:59)
Well, I know they were asked in the phone call to do that, in the conversations that I had with the Ukrainians, we were not asking them to do that. And even at that point, the Ukrainians, perhaps with the knowledge of this phone call, which I did not have knowledge of at the time, is that we just don’t want to go there.
Sean Patrick M.: (02:07:15)
Right, so in retrospect though, you would have raised objections. You would have said it was inappropriate-
Kurt Volker: (02:07:20)
Sean Patrick M.: (02:07:22)
… to do this?
Kurt Volker: (02:07:22)
Sean Patrick M.: (02:07:23)
And Mr. Morrison, can I just ask you, sir, so I’m stuck on this issue of you didn’t see anything wrong with the call, but you went straight to NSC legal to report it. Is that your testimony to us today?
Kurt Volker: (02:07:35)
Sean Patrick M.: (02:07:37)
Thank you, sir. Yield back.
Adam Schiff: (02:07:39)
Val Demings: (02:07:41)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Morrison, and to both of you, thank you so much for your service. Thanks for being here, it’s been a long day. Mr. Morrison, just to follow up on the question from my colleague, you responded earlier to a series of questions about the call and basically saw nothing wrong with it, yet you skipped your chain of command to go to legal counsel to find out, I guess to find out what to do because you were concerned about the political fall out, not about anything being inappropriate or wrong with the call? Is that correct?
Ma’am, I don’t agree with the premise, no.
Val Demings: (02:08:19)
Okay, could you tell me why you felt the need? You saw nothing basically wrong with the call, yet you skipped your chain of command to go to counsel, because of what? What was the reason for that?
Again, I don’t agree with the premise, ma’am. I don’t think I did skip my chain of command. If I had seen something wrong, I would have-
Val Demings: (02:08:41)
And who’s your direct report?
The Deputy National Security Advisor.
Val Demings: (02:08:46)
And the name of the person?
Dr. Charles Cupperman, at the time.
Val Demings: (02:08:49)
Okay, Dr. Cupperman. Did you speak with him before you spoke with legal counsel?
No. No, ma’am.
Val Demings: (02:08:54)
But you don’t feel you skipped your chain of command in doing so, going directly to counsel?
Ma’am, if I may, I viewed my engagement with the NSC legal advisor as one largely focused on administrative matters. I was interested in locking down the transcript, that’s an administrative matter. I was interested in making sure that the legal advisor was aware of the call, because I didn’t see anybody from the legal advisor’s office [crosstalk 02:09:20]-
Val Demings: (02:09:20)
And why were you so concerned about the legal advisor being aware of this call that you saw nothing basically wrong with the substance or content of the call?
Because I did not see anybody from the legal advisor’s office in the listening room and I wanted to make sure somebody from the legal advisor’s office was aware and I wanted to make sure it was a senior person.
Val Demings: (02:09:41)
And what is it that you wanted them to be aware of, specifically?
I wanted them to be aware of the call, because I wanted to know what had transpired.
Val Demings: (02:09:52)
What concerned you to the point where you wanted them to know what had transpired that you went directly to legal counsel to inform them of?
My equivalent, the head of NSC legal, was and is John Eisenberg. He was my equivalent in that position. I wouldn’t go to somebody subordinate to him, I would go to him to express my concerns [crosstalk 02:10:14].
Val Demings: (02:10:14)
Didn’t you testify earlier that you were concerned about the political fall out based on the political climate in DC? Is that-
Yes, ma’am. Yes, ma’am.
Val Demings: (02:10:24)
Okay, all right. And so how long have you supervised Lieutenant Colonel Vindman?
Ma’am, approximately… Well, I guess not approximately. July 15 to October 31 or so.
Val Demings: (02:10:36)
Okay. All right, thank you. Ambassador Volker, you testified that you believe that Congressional pressure helped unfreeze the security assistance being released. Do you still stand by that testimony today?
Kurt Volker: (02:10:51)
I believe it was important. I met with the staff members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I then saw the letter that several Senators signed and sent to Chief of Staff Mulvaney, and I was briefed about the possibility of some phone calls from some senior members of the Senate as well.
Val Demings: (02:11:08)
Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I yield my remaining time to you.
Adam Schiff: (02:11:11)
I thank the gentlewoman for yielding. Ambassador Volker, just wanted to follow up on a couple of questions about Ukrainians not being aware of the aid being withheld. You’re aware, I’m sure, of the testimony of Colonel Vindman that in fact, he was contacted by someone within the Ukrainian Embassy who was concerned about the whole prior to it becoming public?
Kurt Volker: (02:11:36)
I was not aware of that, but I take that.
Adam Schiff: (02:11:39)
Are you aware of Ms. Croft’s testimony and transcripts that have been released that in fact, Ukrainians found out quite quickly after the hold was placed in July, that she was impressed with Ukrainian trade craft, and that the Ukrainians had a reason to keep it silent and not make it public?
Kurt Volker: (02:11:55)
I saw that in her testimony.
Adam Schiff: (02:11:57)
You don’t have any reason to question whether in fact that testimony was accurate, do you?
Kurt Volker: (02:12:01)
No, I don’t.
Adam Schiff: (02:12:02)
So the Ukrainians did find out before it was public, at least according to these two witnesses, but nevertheless, the Ukrainians certainly found out it was public when it was published in the newspaper, right?
Kurt Volker: (02:12:15)
That is correct, on August 29th.
Adam Schiff: (02:12:17)
And at the time they found out from the newspaper, they still hadn’t had the White House meeting and they still didn’t have the aid, and at that point, they had already had the conversation with the President in which he asked them to investigate the Bidens, correct?
Kurt Volker: (02:12:36)
That is correct.
Adam Schiff: (02:12:42)
Raja K.: (02:12:47)
Good evening to both of you, and thank you for your service. Ambassador Volker, on page seven of your opening statement today, you said since events surrounding your earlier testimony, October 3rd, “A great deal of additional information, perspectives have come to light. I have learned many things that I did not know at the time or the events in question.” Correct?
Kurt Volker: (02:13:12)
Yes, that is correct.
Raja K.: (02:13:13)
That includes conversations that occurred as well as meetings that occurred of which you weren’t a part, correct?
Kurt Volker: (02:13:19)
Raja K.: (02:13:21)
Sir, you obviously were not a part of the July 25th call, isn’t that right?
Kurt Volker: (02:13:27)
That is correct.
Raja K.: (02:13:29)
You were not aware that Ambassador Sondland, according to your opening statement, had a call with President Trump on July 26th, correct?
Kurt Volker: (02:13:37)
That is correct.
Raja K.: (02:13:38)
On September 1st, you weren’t present for the sidebar meeting between Ambassador Sondland and Special Advisor Yermak, isn’t that right?
Kurt Volker: (02:13:48)
That is correct.
Raja K.: (02:13:50)
And you certainly weren’t part of the phone call between Ambassador Taylor and Ambassador Sondland in which Ambassador Sondland, according to multiple people now, said that everything, a White House meeting as well as military aid were dependent on public announcements of investigations. Isn’t that right?
Kurt Volker: (02:14:14)
That is correct.
Raja K.: (02:14:15)
And certainly sir, you weren’t part of the phone call on September 7th between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump, in which President Trump insisted that President Zelensky go to a mic and publicly announce investigations of President Trump’s domestic rivals, isn’t that right?
Kurt Volker: (02:14:32)
That is correct.
Raja K.: (02:14:33)
And certainly, you weren’t part of the September 8th phone call between Ambassador Sondland and Ambassador… I’m sorry, President Trump, where President Trump again insists that these announcements have to happen, isn’t that right?
Kurt Volker: (02:14:49)
That is correct.
Raja K.: (02:14:50)
Sir, you say that you weren’t a witness to any kind of quid pro quo or conditionality between military assistance and investigations, what someone called missiles for misinformation today, isn’t that right?
Kurt Volker: (02:15:05)
That is correct.
Raja K.: (02:15:06)
But sir, you weren’t present for many, if not all of the phone calls and conversations where these alleged instances of quid pro quo occurred, isn’t that right?
Kurt Volker: (02:15:18)
That is correct.
Raja K.: (02:15:20)
Sir, let me turn your attention to another topic that’s come up today. Or actually, it came up last Friday. You have high regard for Ambassador Yovanovitch, correct?
Kurt Volker: (02:15:33)
Yes, I do.
Raja K.: (02:15:35)
I presume that you were aware that as the Ambassador was testifying, President Trump actually tweeted very disparaging remarks about her, right?
Kurt Volker: (02:15:44)
Yes, I saw that moment.
Raja K.: (02:15:46)
And I presume that you disapprove of those types of tweets, correct?
Kurt Volker: (02:15:49)
Yes, I don’t think that’s appropriate.
Raja K.: (02:15:51)
You’ve supervised many, many people over the years during your career in the foreign service, right?
Kurt Volker: (02:15:58)
Yes, I have.
Raja K.: (02:15:59)
And you would never do that to one of your direct reports or anybody who worked in your organization, right?
Kurt Volker: (02:16:05)
No, I would not.
Raja K.: (02:16:06)
It’s just wrong?
Kurt Volker: (02:16:07)
Yeah, I believe that even when you feel like you need to criticize, criticism is private, praise is public.
Raja K.: (02:16:15)
And I also believe that you’re a man of honor and you would not attack a veteran, you would not attack someone who is currently serving in the military who’s doing their duty, correct?
Kurt Volker: (02:16:28)
I respect the service of our members in uniform.
Raja K.: (02:16:30)
In fact, there’s a certain man that we both admire, the late Senator John McCain.
Kurt Volker: (02:16:37)
Raja K.: (02:16:38)
Who unfortunately was attacked, not only when he was live but after he died by the current President, isn’t that right?
Kurt Volker: (02:16:45)
That is true.
Raja K.: (02:16:47)
And I presume that you would disapprove of all of those attacks on John McCain, right?
Kurt Volker: (02:16:52)
Yes, I knew John McCain very, very well for a very long time. He’s an honorable man and very much a war hero for this country.
Raja K.: (02:17:01)
Well, today sir, as Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was testifying, our President used the official Twitter account of the office of the President to attack Lieutenant Colonel Vindman’s credibility.
Kurt Volker: (02:17:18)
Raja K.: (02:17:19)
I presume you don’t approve of those types of tweets either, do you?
Kurt Volker: (02:17:23)
I was not aware of that, and as with Ambassador Yovanovitch, not appropriate.
Raja K.: (02:17:28)
Thank you, sir.
Kurt Volker: (02:17:29)
Raja K.: (02:17:29)
Thank you for your service, and thank you, Mr. Morrison, for yours as well.
Adam Schiff: (02:17:34)
That concludes the member questioning, I now recognize ranking member for any closing comments he has.
Thank you. As the first day of this week’s impeachment TV marathon draws to a close, I’d like to remind the American people what we’re watching. The public hearings are the culmination of three years of incessant Democrat efforts to find a crime to impeach the President. First, they tried to manufacture evidence that the President colluded with Russia. To accomplish this task, the DNC and the Clinton Campaign worked with a former British spy, Christopher Steele. Steele assembled a dossier of false information, alleging the Trump Campaign colluded with Russia.
That dossier was largely assembled from Russian and Ukrainian sources that the Democrat contractors worked with. Next, they primed their hopes on the work of Robert Mueller. Mueller spent two years and millions of taxpayer dollars seeking evidence of a crime that we know wasn’t committed. Mueller’s failure was a devastating blow to Democrats, who clearly hoped his work to be the basis for the removal of the President. Today, we are witnessing the Ukraine hoax, the direct-to-TV sequel to the Russia collusion hoax. The plot of the Ukraine hoax is hard to follow. It shifts from day to day. First, the Democrats claim they had evidence of quid pro quo, then extortion and witness intimidation. Now, Democrats are pinning their hopes on bribery. Like any good Hollywood production, Democrats needed a screen test before releasing their latest attack on the President. They leveraged the secrecy of the House Intelligence Committee to interview a cast of characters in preparation for these public hearings.
With the media’s enthusiastic support, they built a narrative abased on selectively leaked testimony. Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats on this committee are seeking the truth, they would want to know the answers to the following questions that they refuse to ask. To what extent did the whistleblower coordinate with the Democrats on this committee, and/or his staff? What is the full extent of Ukraine’s election meddling against the Trump Campaign in 2016? Why did Burisma hire Hunter Biden, and what did he do for them, and did his position impact any US government actions under the Obama administration?
The American people were promised a grave and somber impeachment inquiry, instead they got the salacious spy screen comedy that they’ve been working on for three years. Good night, see you in the morning.
Adam Schiff: (02:20:23)
I thank the gentleman, and I thank you both for your testimony today. I would highlight a couple things about what we’ve heard this afternoon. First, Ambassador Volker, your written testimony in which you say, “In hindsight, I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption involving the Ukrainian company Burisma as equivalent to investigating former Vice President Biden. I saw them as very different; the former being appropriate and unremarkable, the latter being unacceptable. In retrospect,” you said, “I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections.”
Adam Schiff: (02:21:11)
Ambassador, we appreciate your willingness to amend your earlier testimony in light of what you now know. I think you’ve made it very clear that knowing what you do today, that in fact the President sought an investigation of his political rival, Vice President Biden, that you would not have countenanced any effort to encourage the Ukrainians to engage in such conduct. I appreciate also that you were able to debunk, I hope for the last time, the idea that Joe Biden did something wrong when he, in accordance with US policy, sought to replace a corrupt prosecutor, something that not only the US State Department wanted, not only the European Union wanted, and not only the IMF wanted, but was the consensus position of the United States’ national security infrastructure.
Adam Schiff: (02:22:06)
You didn’t get a lot of questions about that today as other witnesses did because I think you effectively said, “That was all nonsense.” We appreciate your candor about that. Mr. Morrison, I think what is most remarkable about your testimony is the acknowledgement that immediately after the Vice President met with President Zelensky in Warsaw, you witnessed Gordon Sondland meeting with Andrey Yermak, a top advisor to President Zelensky. And then immediately thereafter, Sondland told you that he had informed the Ukrainians that if they wanted that $400 million in military aid, they were going to have to do those investigations that the President wanted. You were later informed and this is also significant as you’ve testified here today, that the Ambassador Sondland had a subsequent conversation with President Trump and informed you that it wasn’t going to be enough for the Ukrainian Prosecutor General to announce the investigations the President wanted.
Adam Schiff: (02:23:07)
President Zelensky had to do it himself if he wanted to get that aid, let alone the meeting in the White House. Now, you’ve been asked to opine on the meaning of the term bribery, although you weren’t asked to opine on the meaning of the terms high crimes and misdemeanors. But bribery for those watching at home is the conditioning of official acts in exchange for something of personal value. The official acts we’re talking about here are a White House meeting that President Zelensky desperately sought and as you have acknowledged Ambassador Volker, was deeply important to this country at war with Russia, to show the United States had this new president’s back. That meeting was important. That meeting is an official act. The military assistance is even more significant, because Ukrainians are dying every day in their war with Russia.
Adam Schiff: (02:24:09)
So the withholding of military assistance to get these investigations which you now have acknowledged, Ambassador Volker, was wrong for the President to request, the idea of withholding that military aid to get these political investigations should be anathema, repugnant to every American because it means the sacrifice not just of Ukrainian national security, but American national security for the interests of the President personally and politically. Now, my Republican colleagues, all they seem to be upset about with this is not that the President sought an investigation of his political rival, not that he withheld a White House meeting and $400 million in aid we all passed on a bi-partisan basis to pressure Ukraine to do those investigations. Their objection is he got caught. Their objection is that someone blew the whistle, and they would like this whistleblower identified, and the President wants this whistleblower punished. That’s their objection, not that the President engaged in this conduct but that he got caught. Their defense is, “Well, he ended up releasing the aid.” Yes, after he got caught! That doesn’t make this any less odious. Americans may be watching this and asking, “Why should the United States care about Ukraine? Why should we care about Ukraine?” And this was the import, I think of the conversation, the now infamous conversation in that Kiev restaurant with Gordon Sondland holding the phone away from his head because the President was talking so loud. What does the President ask in that call the day after the now infamous call he had with Zelensky? What does he ask on that cell phone call?
Adam Schiff: (02:25:54)
Not whether the Rada had passed some new anti-corruption reform, no. Are the Ukrainians going to do the investigation, meaning into Biden? And Sondland’s answer is, “They’re going to do it, they’ll do essentially anything the President wants.” Well, what’s more telling is the conversation, I think that Sondland has with the Foreign Service Officer Holmes afterwards, in which the President says basically, “Donald Trump doesn’t give an explitave about Ukraine.” He cares about the big things, and Mr. Holmes says, “Well, Ukraine’s at war with the Russians, that’s kind of a big thing.” And Sondland’s answer is, “No, no. He cares about big things that affect his personal interests.”
Adam Schiff: (02:26:43)
This is why Americans should care about this. And Americans should care about what happens to our allies who are dying, but America should care about their own national security and their own president and their own Constitution. And they will need to ask themselves as we will have to ask ourselves in Congress, are we prepared to accept that a President of the United States can leverage official acts, military assistance, White House meetings to get an investigation of a political rival. Are we prepared to say, “Well, I guess that’s just what we expect out of the President of the United States.” I don’t think we want to go there. I don’t think our founding fathers would have wanted us to go there.
Adam Schiff: (02:27:28)
Indeed, I think when the founding fathers provided a remedy, that remedy being impeachment, they had the very concern that a President of the United States may betray the national security interests of the country for personal interests. They put that remedy in the Constitution, not because they wanted to willy-nilly overturn elections. No, because they wanted a powerful anti-corruption mechanism when that corruption came from the highest office in the land. We are adjourned. I ask the audience to please allow the witnesses to leave the room before they exit.