'Corrupt and terrible people': Volcker told what Trump thinks about Ukraine
The House of Representatives of the US Congress released transcripts of testimony of former State Department spokesman for Ukraine Kurt Walker and US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland. They were heard as part of the impeachment process of US President Donald Trump. Writes about it with the BBC.
The reason for the beginning of the impeachment was the July telephone conversation between the presidents of the United States and Ukraine, during which Trump allegedly put pressure on Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, demanding that he initiate an investigation against the Burisma company, whose board of directors included Hunter Biden, the son of Trump's political opponent Joe Biden.
The testimony of Kurt Walker and Gordon Sondland is set out on several hundred pages.
Walker: Giuliani wanted Zelensky to remember Burisma
Kurt Walker confirmed at the hearing that US President Donald Trump spoke out negatively about Ukrainians when 23 on May 2019 in the White House discussed the possibility of Vladimir Zelensky’s visit to the United States.
“It was a long ... statement that“ they are all corrupt, they are all terrible people ”and“ I don’t want to waste time on this. ” And also said, "They tried to dump me," Walker said.
He added that he was trying to convince Trump that Vladimir Zelensky promised to overcome those things that irritate the US president. But Trump remained unconvinced and noted that he had heard completely different things from his lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
During a meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Andriy Bogdan in Toronto on July 3, 2019, Walker informed them that Rudy Giuliani was spreading "a negative narrative about Ukraine."
“I explained that I believe there is a negative narrative about Ukraine that counteracts all the good things that Zelenskiy does ... and that reinforces Rudy Giuliani. This is a negative factor for Ukraine's image in the United States and the further development of bilateral relations, ”he said.
“The negative narrative about Ukraine promoted by Mr. Giuliani was a problem. In my opinion, this hindered our ability to build relationships, ”added Kurt Volcker.
However, according to the ex-diplomat, Ukrainian officials “asked to join” Giuliani to the communication, because they believed that through him they would be able to convey alternative information to Trump.
That is why, according to Walker, he organized a telephone conversation between Rudi Giuliani and Zelensky's assistant Andrei Ermak on 22 on July, at which an agreement was reached on their meeting in Madrid in August.
Following the meeting, Andriy Yermak sent Volker a draft statement by the President of Ukraine on combating corruption, but he did not include references to the Burisma case and the son of Joe Biden.
Rudi Giuliani's reaction to this project was negative and he said that he needed to be redone.
“We spoke to Rudy and I said,“ So, according to you at the end of the same statement, you just need to insert Burisma and 2016, and you think that would be more correct? ” He nodded in the affirmative, - said Kurt Walker.
He added that he first asked Andrei Yermak to include Burisma and the mention of the investigation regarding the interference with the elections. Zelensky’s assistant asked him to find out if the US State Department had ever made an official request to investigate these cases and it turned out that there had never been such a request.
“Ermak said, I think, it is quite appropriate that giving an answer to an official request is one thing. If there is no official request, then this is a completely different matter. I agreed with him and advised him not to do anything, ”Volcker said.
According to him, the statement “died” because Ukrainian officials did not want to include a mention of Burisma and an investigation into Ukraine's interference in the US election process.
At a congressional hearing, Kurt Walker announced that he had learned about the freezing of defense assistance to Ukraine on 18 in July and had long tried to find out the reason for this decision from State Department and Pentagon officials, but no one knew about it.
Also, Kurt Volcker warned Rudy Giuliani that the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko “is not trustworthy”.
“Lutsenko is not trustworthy. Don't listen to what he says, ”Volker warned Giuliani when he was about to travel to Ukraine to raise the issue of the Biden investigation.
Walker also noted that he believes that at the time of his post as vice president, Joe Biden demanded the dismissal of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Shokin.
Sondland: military aid to Ukraine “probably” depended on Biden investigation
US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland revised his testimony during an investigation in Congress that could lead to the impeachment of Donald Trump.
Gordon Sondland said at a congressional hearing that he remembers telling a Ukrainian official that US military assistance "probably" depends on the political investigation that Mr Trump was seeking.
Mr. Sondland previously denied any politically motivated freeze on aid.
Donald Trump has denied freezing 400 million dollars in aid to force Ukraine to advance an investigation against his rival Joe Biden.
On the subject: Trump returned duty free regime for goods from Ukraine
On Tuesday, November 5, a transcript of Mr Sondland's testimony was published.
Mr. Sondland, who is the founder of the Provenance Hotels chain of hotels and the Trump campaign donor, became the EU ambassador in June 2018, providing an appendix to the three-page readings.
In the appendix, Mr. Sondland says that he remembers the conversation from September 1 with Andrei Ermak, Zelensky’s assistant.
“I remember now that I spoke separately with Mr. Yermak, where I said that the resumption of US assistance is unlikely to happen until Ukraine makes a public anti-corruption statement that we have been discussing for many weeks,” said Mr. Sondland.
Viewing Mr. Sondland’s testimony is significant, as he previously denied any assumptions about the connection between US aid and political investigations during the investigation.
William Taylor, acting US ambassador to Ukraine, repeatedly asked Mr. Sondland in text messages if it was a quid pro quo, which means “exchange of services” in Latin.
"We are now saying that the security assistance and the meeting at the White House for the President of Ukraine are due to investigations?" William Taylor asked Sondland.
He replied on September 9: “Bill, I think you are wrong about President Trump's intentions. The President was absolutely precise: "no quid pro quo in any form."
Why did Sondland change his testimony?
“Ambassador Gordon Sondland played a key role in secret negotiations between the US administration and the government of Volodymyr Zelenskiy. On October 3, he testified at closed hearings in Congress for several hours, "the Russian service writes. with the BBC.
It was his speech that became the main argument for representatives of the White House and Republicans on Capitol Hill, speaking in defense of President Trump. In his testimony, Ambassador Sondland consistently denied that the administration used a quid pro quo in negotiations with Kiev officials, and stated that the White House has never linked the issue of providing military assistance to Ukraine with the investigation into former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
On the subject: Poll: more than half of voters support Trump's impeachment
At the end of last week, Democrats announced they are ready to publish transcripts of speeches by former and current administration officials, including a transcript of the speech of the ambassador to the EU. On Monday afternoon, November 3, Sondland unexpectedly announced that he would like to change his testimony and submitted to Congress “multipage amendments” to the transcript of the previous speech.
According to observers, the reason for this step was the testimony of other witnesses who, in their speeches in Congress, directly denied Sondland's statements. The Democrats in Congress considered these contradictions so serious that they announced the possibility of officially accusing the diplomat of perjury. The ambassador himself, however, referred to the fact that he had decided to make amendments and hand over to the legislators a new version of his testimony after he “refreshed his memory” and “held extensive meetings” with representatives of the administration.
What did Sondland say?
In the new version of his speech, the ambassador announced that the quid pro quo principle was the main one in negotiations with representatives of the Ukrainian authorities. According to him, he personally informed a senior Kiev official that Washington, in all likelihood, he will not resume the provision of military assistance until Kiev agrees to announce the start of an investigation into political opponents of the US president.
According to documents submitted by Sondland to Congress, Vladimir Zelensky expressed his concern to the suspension of military assistance to US Vice President Mike Pence during a meeting in Warsaw on September 1 this year.
After that, the ambassador himself reminded the Advisor to the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak that the provision of assistance will be related to the fulfillment of the wishes of President Trump.
It follows from the documents provided by the ambassador that President Donald Trump spoke extremely negatively about Ukraine in private conversations, claiming that the Kiev authorities organized interference in the U.S. elections in 2016, trying to help Democratic representative Hillary Clinton.
Sondland himself considers the “author” of this theory to be the personal lawyer of US President Rudolph Giuliani. Former State Department officials, including ex-ambassador to Ukraine Mary Yovanovitch and former US special envoy Kurt Volcker, also said that it was Giuliani who shaped the administration's policy toward Kiev.
“It was clear to all of us that Mr. Giuliani was the key figure in the change in the president’s attitude toward Ukraine,” Sondland said in his testimony.
The ambassador said he was “disappointed” that President Trump personally ordered that Giuliani be included in the negotiation process with Ukrainian officials. He also stressed that he considered the attempts of the president's personal lawyer to convince official Kiev to start an investigation against Joe Biden as illegal.
According to the new version of Sondland's testimony, he personally "always believed that the suspension of military aid to Ukraine was the wrong decision." The ambassador clarified that, according to the original plan, an official statement about the start of an investigation against Trump's political opponents could have been made by the attorney general of Ukraine. Later, the administration decided that this statement should be made personally by President Zelensky.
How did the White House react?
The US administration called the new statements of the ambassador to the European Union yet another proof that there was no question of any quid pro quo in the negotiations between Trump and Zelensky.
“Ambassador Sondland explicitly states that he“ did not know (and still does not know) when, why and by whose order the aid was suspended. ” He also said that he "assumes" there was a reason for this, but cannot name any reliable source for such an assumption, "White House spokesman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
As ForumDaily wrote earlier:
- Congressmen became interested in a telephone conversation between Zelensky and Trump as part of an investigation into whether Trump and his lawyer Rudolf Giuliani tried put pressure on Ukraine in order to help Trump's election campaign in 2020 year.
- Democrats announce formal request for US impeachment, which was triggered by a conversation between Ukrainian and American leaders.
- US Department of State published conversation transcript President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky and President of the United States Donald Trump.
- An anonymous informant stated in his complaint that in the United States tried to hide the content of the conversation Trump and Zelensky.
- US House of Representatives 31 October approved the resolution according to which the investigation into the possibility of impeachment US President Donald Trump goes to the public stage.
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