2. The President Put Giuliani and the Three Amigos in Charge of Ukraine Issues
After President Trump recalled Ambassador Yovanovitch, his personal agent, Rudy Giuliani, intensified the President 's campaign to pressure Ukraine 's newly-elected president to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election. President Trump directed his own political appointees to coordinate with Mr. Giuliani on Ukraine, while National Security Council officials expressed alarm over the efforts to pursue a" domestic political errand'' for the political benefit of the President. Officials at the highest levels of the White House and Trump Administration were aware of the President 's scheme.
On April 21, 2019, the day that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was elected as president of Ukraine, President Trump called to congratulate him. After a positive call-- in which Mr. Zelensky complimented President Trump and requested that President Trump attend his inauguration-- President Trump instructed Vice President Mike Pence to lead the U.S. delegation to the inauguration. However, on May 13-- before the inauguration date was even set-- President Trump instructed Vice President Pence not to attend.
Rudy Giuliani also announced a plan to visit Ukraine in mid-May 2019-- not on official U.S. government business, but instead to pursue on behalf of his client, President Trump, the debunked conspiracy theories about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and discredited claims about the Bidens. After public scrutiny in response to his announced visit, Mr. Giuliani cancelled his trip and alleged that President-elect Zelensky was surrounded by" enemies of the President.''
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and Ambassador Kurt Volker, Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, ultimately led the U.S. delegation to President Zelensky 's inauguration. Upon returning to Washington, D.C., the three U.S. officials-- who dubbed themselves the" Three Amigos''-- debriefed the President in the Oval Office and encouraged him to engage with President Zelensky. Instead of accepting their advice, President Trump complained that Ukraine is" a terrible place, all corrupt, terrible people,'' and asserted that Ukraine" tried to take me down in 2016.'' The President instructed the" Three Amigos'' to" talk to Rudy'' and coordinate with him on Ukraine matters. They followed the President 's orders.
Dr. Fiona Hill, Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, would later observe that Ambassador Sondland" was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we[ the NSC staff] were being involved in national security foreign policy, and those two things had just diverged.
A Political Newcomer Won Ukraine 's Presidential Election on an Anti-Corruption Platform
On April 21, popular comedian and television actor, Volodymyr Zelensky, won a landslide victory in Ukraine 's presidential election, earning the support of 73 percent of voters and unseating the incumbent Petro Poroshenko. Mr. Zelensky, who had no prior political experience, told voters a week before his victory:" I 'm not a politician. I 'm just a simple person who came to break the system.'' Five years earlier, in late 2013, Ukrainians had gathered in Kyiv and rallied against the corrupt government of former President Viktor Yanukovych, eventually forcing him to flee to the safety of Vladimir Putin 's Russia. Mr. Zelensky 's victory in April 2019 reaffirmed the Ukrainian people 's strong desire to overcome an entrenched system of corruption and pursue closer partnership with the West.
Following the election results, at 4:29 p.m. Eastern Time, President Trump was connected by telephone to President-elect Zelensky and congratulated him" on a job well done... a fantastic election.'' He declared," I have no doubt you will be a fantastic president.''
According to a call record released publicly by the White House, President Trump did not openly express doubts about the newly-elected leader. And contrary to a public readout of the call originally issued by the White House, President Trump did not mention corruption in Ukraine, despite the NSC staff preparing talking points on that topic. Indeed," corruption'' was not mentioned once during the April 21 conversation, according to the official call record.
In the call, President-elect Zelensky lauded President Trump as" a great example'' and invited him to visit Ukraine for his upcoming inauguration-- a gesture that President Trump called" very nice.'' President Trump told Mr. Zelensky:
I 'll look into that, and well-- give us the date and, at a very minimum, we 'll have a great representative. Or more than one from the United States will be with you on that great day. So, we will have somebody, at a minimum, at a very, very high level, and they will be with you.
Mr. Zelensky persisted." Words can not describe our country,'' he went on," so it would be best for you to see it yourself. So, if you can come, that would be great. So again, I invite you to come.'' President Trump responded," Well, I agree with you about your country and I look forward to it.'' In a nod to his past experience working with Ukraine as a businessman, President Trump added," When I owned Miss Universe... Ukraine was always very well represented.''
President Trump then invited Mr. Zelensky to the White House to meet, saying:" When you 're settled in and ready, I 'd like to invite you to the White House. We 'll have a lot of things to talk about, but we 're with you all the way.'' Mr. Zelensky promptly accepted the President 's invitation, adding that the" whole team and I are looking forward to that visit.''
Mr. Zelensky then reiterated his interest in President Trump attending his inauguration, saying," it will be absolutely fantastic if you could come and be with us.'' President Trump promised to let the Ukrainian leader know" very soon'' and added that he would see Mr. Zelensky" very soon, regardless.''
Shortly after the April 21 call, Jennifer Williams, Special Advisor to the Vice President for Europe and Russia, learned that President Trump asked Vice President Pence to attend Mr. Zelensky 's inauguration. Ms. Williams testified that in a separate phone call between Vice President Pence and President-elect Zelensky two days later," the Vice President accepted that invitation from President Zelensky, and looked forward to being able to attend... if the dates worked out.'' Ms. Williams and her colleagues began planning for the Vice President 's trip to Kyiv.
Rudy Giuliani and his Associates Coordinated Efforts to Secure and Promote the Investigations with Ukrainian President Zelensky
As previously explained in Chapter 1, Mr. Giuliani, acting on behalf of President Trump, had for months engaged corrupt current and former Ukrainian officials, including Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko. The April election of Mr. Zelensky, however, raised the possibility that Mr. Lutsenko might lose his job as Prosecutor General once Mr. Zelensky took power. In the immediate aftermath of President-elect Zelensky 's election, Mr. Giuliani continued publicly to project confidence that Ukraine would deliver on investigations related to the Bidens. On April 24-- before Ambassador Yovanovitch received calls abruptly summoning her back to Washington-- Mr. Giuliani stated in an interview on Fox and Friends that viewers should,
[ K] eep your eye on Ukraine... I think you 'd get some interesting information about Joe Biden from Ukraine. About his son, Hunter Biden. About a company he was on the board of for years, which may be one of the most crooked companies in Ukraine.
Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Giuliani was taking steps to engage the new Ukrainian leader and his aides.
The day before, on April 23, the same day that Vice President Pence confirmed his plans to attend President-elect Zelensky 's inauguration, Mr. Giuliani dispatched his own delegation-- consisting of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman-- to meet with Ihor Kolomoisky, a wealthy Ukrainian with ties to President-elect Zelensky. Instead of going to Kyiv, they booked tickets to Israel, where they met with Mr. Kolomoisky.
Mr. Kolomoisky owned Ukraine 's largest bank until 2016, when Ukrainian nationalized the failing financial institution. Although he denied allegations of committing any crimes, Mr. Kolomoisky subsequently left Ukraine for Israel, where he remained until President Zelensky assumed power. Mr. Kolomoisky confirmed to the New York Times that he met with Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman in late April 2019. He claimed they sought his assistance in facilitating a meeting between Mr. Giuliani and President-elect Zelensky, and he told them," you 've ended up in the wrong place,'' and declined to arrange the requested meeting.
Mr. Giuliani was not deterred.
During the time surrounding Ambassador Yovanovitch 's recall, Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Parnas connected over a flurry of calls around a planned trip to Ukraine by Mr. Giuliani, which he would eventually cancel after growing public scrutiny. As previously described in Chapter 1, call records obtained by the Committees show a series of contacts on April 23 and 24 between Mr. Giuliani, the White House, Mr. Parnas, and John Solomon, among others.
On April 25, 2019, former Vice President Biden publicly announced his campaign for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States and launched his effort to unseat President Trump in the 2020 election.
That evening, Mr. Solomon published a new opinion piece in The Hill entitled," How the Obama White House Engaged Ukraine to Give Russia Collusion Narrative an Early Boost.'' Like Mr. Solomon 's previous work, this April 25 piece repeated unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Meanwhile, in Kyiv, David Holmes, Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy, learned on April 25 that Mr. Giuliani had reached out to Mr. Zelensky 's campaign chair, Ivan Bakanov, seeking a channel to the newly-elected leader. Mr. Bakanov told Mr. Holmes" that he had been contacted by, quote, someone named Giuliani, who said he was an advisor to the Vice President, unquote.'' Mr. Holmes clarified that Mr. Bakanov was" speaking in Russian'' and that he did not" know what he[ Bakanov] meant'' by his reference to the Vice President," but that 's what he[ Bakanov] said.'' Regardless of Mr. Bakanov 's apparent confusion as to who Mr. Giuliani represented, Mr. Holmes explained that by this point in time, Ukrainian officials seemed to think that Mr. Giuliani" was a significant person in terms of managing their relationship with the United States.''
At 7:14 p.m. Eastern Time on April 25, Mr. Giuliani once again received a call from an unknown" -1'' number, which lasted four minutes and 40 seconds. Minutes later, Mr. Giuliani held a brief 36 second call with Sean Hannity, a Fox News opinion host.
On the night of April 25, President Trump called into Mr. Hannity 's prime time Fox News show. In response to a question about Mr. Solomon 's recent publication, President Trump said:
It sounds like big stuff. It sounds very interesting with Ukraine. I just spoke to the new president a little while ago, two days ago, and congratulated him on an incredible race. Incredible run. A big surprise victory. That 's 75 percent of the vote. But that sounds like big, big stuff. I 'm not surprised.
As Mr. Holmes later learned on July 26 from Ambassador Sondland, President Trump did not care about Ukraine, he cared about this" big stuff''-- such as the investigation into Vice President Biden.
In the same Fox News interview, Mr. Hannity asked President Trump whether America needed to see the purported evidence possessed by the unnamed Ukrainians noted in Mr. Solomon 's piece. The President replied, invoking Attorney General William P. Barr:
Well, I think we do. And, frankly, we have a great new attorney general who has done an unbelievable job in a very short period of time. And he is very smart and tough and I would certainly defer to him. I would imagine he would want to see this. People have been saying this whole-- the concept of Ukraine, they have been talking about it actually for a long time. You know that, and I would certainly defer to the attorney general. And we 'll see what he says about it. He calls them straight. That 's one thing I can tell you.
Ukraine 's current Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka, who assumed his new position in late August 2019, told the Financial Times in late November 2019 that Attorney General Barr had made no contact regarding a potential investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by former Vice President Biden. In an apparent reference to President Trump 's demand for Ukrainian interference in U.S. elections, Mr. Ryaboshapka stated:" It 's critically important for the west not to pull us into some conflicts between their ruling elites, but to continue to support so that we can cross the point of no return.''
President Trump Promoted False Information About Former Vice President Joe Biden
In early May, Mr. Giuliani continued his outreach to President-elect Zelensky and promoted the need for Ukrainian investigations into former Vice President Biden that served President Trump 's political needs.
On May 2, at 6:21 a.m. Eastern Time, President Trump a link to an article in the New York Times, which assessed that Mr. Giuliani 's efforts underscored" the Trump campaign 's concern about the electoral threat from the former vice president 's presidential campaign'' and noted that" Mr. Giuliani 's involvement raises questions about whether Mr. Trump is endorsing an effort to push a foreign government to proceed with a case that could hurt a political opponent at home.''
Later that evening, in an interview with Fox News at the White House, President Trump referenced the false allegations about the firing of a corrupt former Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, that Mr. Giuliani had been promoting. He was asked," Should the former vice president explain himself on his feeling in Ukraine and whether there was a conflict... with his son 's business interests? '' President Trump replied:
I 'm hearing it 's a major scandal, major problem. Very bad things happened, and we 'll see what that is. They even have him on tape, talking about it. They have Joe Biden on tape talking about the prosecutor. And I 've seen that tape. A lot of people are talking about that tape, but that 's up to them. They have to solve that problem.
" The tape'' President Trump referenced in his interview was a publicly available video of former Vice President Biden speaking in January 2018 at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations( CFR), a nonpartisan think-tank focused on foreign policy matters. During an interview with the CFR president, Vice President Biden detailed how the United States-- consistent with the policy of its European allies and the International Monetary Fund( IMF)-- withheld$ 1 billion in loan guarantees until the Ukrainian government acceded to uniform American and international demands to fire the corrupt prosecutor.
By late 2015, Ukrainians were agitating for Mr. Shokin 's removal, and in March 2016, Ukraine 's parliament voted to dismiss the prosecutor general. Multiple witnesses testified that Mr. Shokin 's dismissal in 2016 made it more-- not less-- likely that Ukrainian might investigate any allegations or wrongdoing at Burisma or other allegedly corrupt companies. Nonetheless, President Trump and his supporters sought to perpetuate the false narrative that Mr. Shokin should not have been removed from office and that Vice President Biden had acted corruptly in carrying out U.S. policy.
Rudy Giuliani Was" Meddling in an Investigation'' on Behalf of President Trump
On May 7, 2019, Christopher Wray, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies regarding foreign interference in U.S. elections:
My view is that, if any public official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation-state or anybody acting on behalf of a nation-state about influencing or interfering with our election, then that is something that the FBI would want to know about.
Mr. Giuliani nonetheless pressed forward with his plan to personally convey to President elect Zelensky, on behalf of his client President Trump, the importance of opening investigations that would assist President Trump 's reelection campaign.
On the morning of May 8, Mr. Giuliani called the White House Switchboard and connected for six minutes and 26 seconds with someone at the White House. That same day, Mr. Giuliani also connected with Mr. Solomon for almost six minutes, with Mr. Parnas, and with Derek Harvey, a member of Representative Nunes ' staff on the Intelligence Committee.
During a meeting that same day, Ukraine Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov disclosed to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent that Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman would soon visit Kyiv" and that they were coming with their associate, the Mayor Giuliani.'' Minister Avakov confided to Mr. Kent that" Mayor Giuliani had reached out to him and invited him to come and meet the group of them in Florida'' in February 2019. Although he declined that offer, Minister Avakov indicated that he intended to accept their new invitation to meet in Kyiv.
The next day, on May 9, The New York Times publicized Mr. Giuliani 's plan to visit Ukraine. Mr. Giuliani confirmed that he planned to meet with President Zelensky and press the Ukrainians to pursue investigations that President Trump promoted only days earlier on Fox News. The New York Times described Mr. Giuliani 's planned trip as:
[ P] art of a monthslong effort by the former New York mayor and a small group of Trump allies working to build interest in the Ukrainian inquiries. Their motivation is to... undermine the case against Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump 's imprisoned former campaign chairman; and potentially to damage Mr. Biden, the early front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Mr. Giuliani claimed," We 're not meddling in an election, we 're meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do.''
Only a few days after Director Wray 's public about foreign interference in U.S. elections, Mr. Giuliani acknowledged that"[ s] omebody could say it 's improper'' to pressure Ukraine to open investigations that would benefit President Trump. But, Mr. Giuliani argued:
[ T] his is n't foreign policy-- I 'm asking them to do an investigation that they 're doing already, and that other people are telling them to stop. And I 'm going to give them reasons why they should n't stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.
Mr. Giuliani 's" client'' was President Trump, as Mr. Giuliani repeatedly stated publicly. According to Mr. Giuliani, the President fully supported putting pressure on Ukraine to open investigations that would benefit his 2020 reelection campaign. Mr. Giuliani emphasized that President Trump" basically knows what I 'm doing, sure, as his lawyer.'' Underscoring his commitment to pressuring Ukraine until it opened the investigations President Trump promoted on Fox News, Mr. Giuliani told The Washington Post that he would" make sure that nothing scuttles the investigation that I want.''
On May 9, following public revelation of his trip by the New York Times, Mr. Giuliani connected in quick succession with Mr. Solomon and then Mr. Parnas for several minutes at a time. Mr. Giuliani then made brief connections with the White House Switchboard and Situation Room several times, before connecting at 1:43 p.m. Eastern Time with someone at the White House for over four minutes. He connected, separately, thereafter with Mr. Parnas several times in the afternoon and into the evening.
That evening, Mr. Giuliani :
If you doubt there is media bias and corruption then when Democrats conspiring with Ukrainian officials comes out remember much of the press, except for Fox, the Hill, and NYT, has suppressed it. If it involved @realDonaldTrump or his son it would have been front page news for weeks.
Shortly thereafter, on the night of May 9, he made an appearance on Fox News and reiterated that his trip to Ukraine was intended to further the President 's personal and political interests by pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens:
It 's a big story. It 's a dramatic story. And I guarantee you, Joe Biden will not get to election day without this being investigated, not because I want to see him investigated. This is collateral to what I was doing.
The next morning, on May 10, amidst the press coverage of his trip, Mr. Giuliani :
Explain to me why Biden should n't be investigated if his son got millions from a Russian loving crooked Ukrainian oligarch while He was VP and point man for Ukraine. Ukrainians are investigating and your fellow Dems are interfering. Election is 17 months away. Let 's answer it now
He then had another flurry of calls with Mr. Parnas. Shortly after 2:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Mr. Giuliani also spoke with Ambassador Volker on the phone. Ambassador Volker had learned that Mr. Giuliani intended to travel to Ukraine" to pursue these allegations that Lutsenko had made, and he was going to investigate these things''-- specifically, the debunked story that Vice President Biden had improperly pressured Ukraine to fire a corrupt prosecutor general, as well as the Russian-backed conspiracy that the Ukrainians interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. Ambassador Volker testified that he had a simple warning for Mr. Giuliani: Prosecutor General Lutsenko" is not credible. Do n't listen to what he is saying.'' Call records obtained by the Committees reveal that their call lasted more than 30 minutes.
Call records also show that around midday on May 10, Mr. Giuliani began trading aborted calls with Kashyap" Kash'' Patel, an official at the National Security Council who previously served on Ranking Member Devin Nunes ' staff on the Intelligence Committee. Mr. Patel successfully connected with Mr. Giuliani less than an hour after Mr. Giuliani 's call with Ambassador Volker. Beginning at 3:23 p.m., Eastern Time, Mr. Patel and Mr. Giuliani spoke for over 25 minutes. Five minutes after Mr. Patel and Mr. Giuliani disconnected, an unidentified" -1'' number connected with Mr. Giuliani for over 17 minutes. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Giuliani spoke with Mr. Parnas for approximately 12 minutes.
That same afternoon, President Trump conducted a 15-minute long phone interview with Politico. In response to a question about Mr. Giuliani 's upcoming visit to Kyiv, the President replied," I have not spoken to him at any great length, but I will... I will speak to him about it before he leaves.''
Recently, when asked what Mr. Giuliani was doing in Ukraine on his behalf, the President responded:" Well, you have to ask that to Rudy, but Rudy, I do n't, I do n't even know. I know he was going to go to Ukraine, and I think he canceled a trip.'' Prior to that, on October 2, the President publicly stated;" And just so you know, we 've been investigating, on a personal basis-- through Rudy and others, lawyers-- corruption in the 2016 election.'' On October 4, the President publicly stated:" If we feel there 's corruption, like I feel there was in the 2016 campaign-- there was tremendous corruption against me-- if we feel there 's corruption, we have a right to go to a foreign country.''
By the evening of May 10, Mr. Giuliani appeared to have concerns about the incoming Ukrainian president. He appeared on Fox News and announced," I 'm not going to go'' to Ukraine" because I think I 'm walking into a group of people that are enemies of the President.'' In a text message to Politico, Mr. Giuliani alleged the original offer for a meeting with Mr. Zelensky was a" set up'' orchestrated by" several vocal critics'' of President Trump who were advising President-elect Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani declared that President-elect Zelensky" is in[ the] hands of avowed enemies of Pres[ ident] Trump.''
Like Mr. Giuliani, President Trump would express hostility toward Ukraine in the days and weeks to come.
Russian President Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Orban Counseled President Trump on Ukraine
In early May, Mr. Giuliani was not the only person who conveyed his skepticism of Ukraine to President Trump. The President reportedly discussed Ukraine with Russian President Vladimir Putin when they spoke by phone on May 3. President Trump posted on Twitter that he"[ h] ad a long and very good conversation with President Putin of Russia'' and discussed" even the` Russian Hoax '''-- an apparent reference to the unanimous finding by the U.S. that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the aim of assisting President Trump 's candidacy. Mr. Kent subsequently heard from Dr. Hill, the NSC 's Senior Director for Europe and Russia, that President Putin also expressed negative views about Ukraine to President Trump. He testified that President Putin 's motivation in undercutting President-elect Zelensky was" very clear'':
He denies the existence of Ukraine as a nation and a country, as he told President Bush in Bucharest in 2008. He invaded and occupied 7 percent of Ukraine 's territory and he 's led to the death of 13,000 Ukrainians on Ukrainian territory since 2014 as a result of aggression. So that 's his agenda, the agenda of creating a greater Russia and ensuring that Ukraine does not survive independently.
On May 13, President Trump met one-on-one for an hour with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. President Trump offered the leader a warm reception in the Oval Office and claimed Prime Minister Orban had" done a tremendous job in so many different ways. Highly respected. Respected all over Europe.'' The European Union and many European leaders, however, have widely condemned Mr. Orban for undermining Hungary 's democratic institutions and promoting anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
Mr. Kent explained to the Committees that Prime Minister Orban 's" animus towards Ukraine is well-known, documented, and has lasted now two years.'' Due to a dispute over the rights of 130,000 ethnic Hungarians who live in Ukraine, Kent noted that Prime Minister Orban" blocked all meetings in NATO with Ukraine at the ministerial level or above,'' undercutting U.S. and European efforts to support Ukraine in its war against Russia. Nonetheless, President Trump told reporters prior to his meeting with Prime Minister Orban to not" forget they 're a member of NATO, and a very good member of NATO.''
on what Dr. Hill with him following the May 3 call and May 13 meeting, Mr. Kent said he understood President Trump 's discussions about Ukraine with President Putin and Prime Minister Orban" as being similar in tone and approach.'' He explained that" both leaders'' had" extensively talked Ukraine down, said it was corrupt, said Zelensky was in the thrall of oligarchs'' the effect of which was" negatively shaping a picture of Ukraine, and even President Zelensky personally.'' The veteran State Department diplomat concluded,"[ T] hose two world leaders[ Putin and Orban], along with former Mayor Giuliani, their communications with President Trump shaped the President 's view of Ukraine and Zelensky, and would account for the change from a very positive first call on April 21 to his negative assessment of Ukraine.''
President Trump Instructs Vice President Pence Not to Attend President Zelensky 's Inauguration
On Monday, May 13, at approximately 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time, Ms. Williams received a call from an assistant to the Vice President 's chief of staff. President Trump, the assistant relayed, had" decided that the Vice President would not attend the inauguration in Ukraine,'' despite the fact that Vice President Pence previously had accepted the invitation. Ms. Williams was never given a reason for the change in President Trump 's decision.
Mr. Holmes later testified that:
[ The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv had] gone back and forth with NSC staff about proposing a list of potential members of the delegation. It was initially quite a long list. We had asked who would be the senior[ U.S.] member of that delegation. We were told that Vice President Pence was likely to be that senior member, it was not yet fully agreed to. And so we were anticipating that to be the case. And then the Giuliani event happened, and then we heard that he was not going to play that role.
Asked to clarify what he meant by" the Giuliani event,'' Mr. Holmes replied," the interview basically saying that he had planned to travel to Ukraine, but he canceled his trip because there were, quote, unquote, enemies of the U.S. President in Zelensky 's orbit.''
One of the individuals around President-elect Zelensky whom Mr. Giuliani publicly criticized was the oligarch Mr. Kolomoisky, who had refused to set up a meeting between Mr. Giuliani and President Zelensky. On May 18, Mr. Giuliani complained on Twitter that the oligarch" returned from a long exile and immediately threatened and defamed two Americans, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. They are my clients and I have advised them to press charges.''
Mr. Kolomoisky responded to Mr. Giuliani in a televised interview and declared," Look, there is Giuliani, and two clowns, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were engaging in nonsense. They are Giuliani 's clients.'' He added:" They came here and told us that they would organize a meeting with Zelensky. They allegedly struck a deal with[ Prosecutor-General Yuriy] Lutsenko about the fate of this criminal case-- Burisma,[ former Vice President] Biden, meddling in the U.S. election and so on.'' He warned that a" big scandal may break out, and not only in Ukraine, but in the United States. That is, it may turn out to be a clear conspiracy against Biden.''
Despite Ukraine 's significance to U.S. national security as a bulwark against Russian aggression and the renewed opportunity that President Zelensky 's administration offered for bringing Ukraine closer to the United States and Europe, President Trump did not ask Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, or National Security Advisor John Bolton to lead the delegation to President Zelensky 's inauguration. Instead, according to Mr. Holmes, the White House" ultimately whittled back an initial proposed list for the official delegation to the inauguration from over a dozen individuals to just five.''
Topping that list was Secretary Perry. Accompanying him were Ambassador Sondland, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Ambassador Volker, and NSC Director for Ukraine Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Acting Deputy Chief of Mission( Charg頼span class="sentence-223 noun" id="d'affaire">d'Affaires) of U.S. Embassy Kyiv Joseph Pennington joined the delegation, in place of outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. U.S. Senator Ron Johnson also attended the inauguration and joined several meetings with the presidential delegation. When asked if this delegation was" a good group,'' Mr. Holmes replied that it" was not as senior a delegation as we[ the U.S. embassy] might have expected.''
Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and Ambassador Sondland subsequently began to refer to themselves as the" Three Amigos.'' During the delegation 's meeting with President Zelensky, Mr. Holmes recounted that" Secretary Perry passed President Zelensky a list of, quote,` people he trusts ' from whom Zelensky could seek advice on energy sector reform, which was the topic of subsequent meetings between Secretary Perry and key Ukrainian energy sector contacts, from which Embassy personnel were excluded by Secretary Perry 's staff.''
Mr. Holmes assessed that the delegation 's visit proceeded smoothly, although" at one point during a preliminary meeting of the inaugural delegation, someone in the group wondered aloud about why Mr. Giuliani was so active in the media with respect to Ukraine.'' Ambassador Sondland responded:" Dammit, Rudy. Every time Rudy gets involved he goes and effs everything up.'' Mr. Holmes added:" He used the` F' word.''
By the time of the inauguration, Mr. Holmes assessed that President Zelensky and the Ukrainians were already starting to feel pressure to conduct political investigations related to former Vice President Biden. Lt. Col. Vindman also was concerned about the potentially negative consequences of Mr. Giuliani 's political efforts on behalf of President Trump-- both for U.S. national security and also Ukraine 's longstanding history of bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress.
During the U.S. delegation 's meeting with President Zelensky on the margins of the inauguration, Lt. Col. Vindman was the last person to speak. He" offered two pieces of advice'' to President Zelensky. First, he advised the new leader," be particularly cautious with regards to Russia, and its desire to provoke Ukraine.'' And second, Lt. Col. Vindman warned," stay out of U.S. domestic... politics.'' Referencing the activities of Mr. Giuliani, Lt. Col Vindman explained:
[ I] n the March and April timeframe, it became clear that there were-- there were actors in the U.S., public actors, nongovernmental actors that were promoting the idea of investigations and 2016 Ukrainian interference. And it was consistent with U.S. policy to advise any country, all the countries in my portfolio, any country in the world, to not participate in U.S. domestic politics. So I was passing the same advice consistent with U.S. policy.
U.S. Officials Briefed President Trump About their Positive Impressions of Ukraine
Ambassadors Volker and Sondland left Kyiv with" a very favorable impression'' of the new Ukrainian leader. They believed it was important that President Trump" personally engage with the President of Ukraine in order to demonstrate full U.S. support for him,'' including by inviting him to Washington for a meeting in the Oval Office. It was agreed that the delegation would request a meeting with President Trump and personally convey their advice. They were granted time with President Trump on May 23.
According to Mr. Kent, the delegation was able to secure the Oval Office meeting shortly after the return from Kyiv because of Ambassador Sondland 's" connections'' to Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and President Trump. Christopher Anderson, Special Advisor to Ambassador Kurt Volker, also attributed the delegation 's ability to quickly confirm a meeting with President Trump to Ambassador Sondland 's" connections to the White House.''
At the May 23 meeting, Ambassadors Sondland and Volker were joined by Secretary Perry, Senator Johnson, and Dr. Charles M. Kupperman, the Deputy National Security Advisor. Mr. Mulvaney may have also participated.
Lt. Col. Vindman, who had represented the White House at President Zelensky 's inauguration, did not participate in the meeting. Dr. Hill directed him not to join, because she had learned that" there was some confusion'' from the President" over who the director for Ukraine is.'' Specifically, Dr. Hill testified that around the time of the May 23 debriefing in the Oval Office, she" became aware by chance and accident'' that President Trump had requested to speak with the NSC 's Ukraine director about unspecified" materials.'' A member of the NSC executive secretary 's staff stated that in response to the President 's request," we might be reaching out to Kash.''
Dr. Hill testified that she understood the staff to be referring to Mr. Patel, who then served as a director in the NSC 's directorate of International Organizations and Alliances, not the directorate of Europe and Russia. She subsequently consulted with Dr. Kupperman and sought to clarify if Mr. Patel" had some special... Ambassador Sondland-like representational role on Ukraine'' that she had not been informed about, but" could n't elicit any information about that.'' All Dr. Kupperman said was that he would look into the matter. Dr. Hill also testified that she never saw or learned more about the Ukraine-related" materials'' that the President believed he had received from Mr. Patel, who maintained a close relationship with Ranking Member Nunes after leaving his staff to join the NSC.
President Trump Put the Three Amigos in Charge of the United States ' Ukraine Relationship and Directed Them to" Talk to Rudy'' About Ukraine
According to witness testimony, the May 23 debriefing with the President in the Oval Office proved consequential for two reasons. President Trump Ambassador Sondland, Secretary Perry, and Ambassador Volker to lead engagement with the President Zelensky 's new administration in Ukraine. He instructed them, however, to talk to and coordinate with his personal attorney, Mr. Giuliani.
Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Volker, Secretary Perry, and Senator Johnson" took turns'' making their case" that this is a new crowd, it 's a new President'' in Ukraine who was" committed to doing the right things,'' including fighting corruption. According to Ambassador Sondland, the group" emphasized the strategic importance of Ukraine'' and the value to the United States of strengthening the relationship with President Zelensky. They recommended that President Trump once again call President Zelensky and follow through on his April 21 invitation for President Zelensky to meet with him in the Oval Office.
President Trump reacted negatively to the positive assessment of Ukraine. Ambassador Volker recalled that President Trump said Ukraine is" a terrible place, all corrupt, terrible people'' and was" just dumping on Ukraine.'' This echoed Mr. Giuliani 's public statements about Ukraine during early May.
According to both Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, President Trump also alleged, without offering any evidence, that Ukraine" tried to take me down'' in the 2016 election. The President emphasized that he" did n't believe'' the delegation 's positive assessment of the new Ukrainian president, and added" that 's not what I hear'' from Mr. Giuliani. President Trump said that Mr. Giuliani" knows all of these things'' and knows that President Zelensky has" some bad people around him.'' Rather than committing to an Oval Office meeting with the Ukrainian leader, President Trump directed the delegation to"[ t] alk to Rudy, talk to Rudy.''
Ambassador Sondland testified that the" Three Amigos'' saw the writing on the wall and concluded" that if we did not talk to Rudy, nothing would move forward on Ukraine.'' He continued:
[ B] ased on the President 's direction we were faced with a choice. We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening U.S.-Ukrainian ties... or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President 's concerns. We chose the latter path.
Ambassador Volker reached a similar conclusion. He believed" 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.'' Ultimately, however, the" problem'' posed by the President 's instruction to coordinate regarding Ukraine with his personal attorney persisted and would become more acute.
After the May 23 meeting, Ambassador Sondland stayed behind with President Trump and personally confirmed that the Three Amigos" would be working on the Ukraine file.''
Multiple witnesses testified about this shift in personnel in charge of the Ukraine relationship. Mr. Kent recalled that, after the Oval Office meeting, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland, and Ambassador Volker began" asserting that, going forward, they would be the drivers of the relationship with Ukraine.'' Catherine Croft, Special Advisor to Ambassador Kurt Volker, recalled that" Sondland, Volker, and sort of Perry, as a troika, or as the Three Amigos, had been sort of tasked with Ukraine policy'' by President Trump. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale testified about his understanding of the meeting,"[ I] t was clear that the President, from the readout I had received, the President had tasked that group, members of that delegation to pursue these objectives: the meeting, and the policy goals that I outlined earlier. So I was, you know, knowing I was aware that Ambassador Volker and Ambassador Sondland would be doing that.''
On a June 10 conference call with the Three Amigos," Secretary Perry laid out for Ambassador Bolton the notion that'' they" would assist Ambassador Taylor on Ukraine and be there to support'' him as the U.S.-Ukraine relationship" move[ ed] forward.''
This de facto change in was never officially communicated to other officials, including Dr. Hill, who had responsibility for Ukraine at the National Security Council.
U.S. Officials Collaborated with Rudy Giuliani to Advance the President 's Political Agenda
Ambassador Sondland testified that in the weeks and months after the May 23 Oval Office meeting," everyone was in the loop'' regarding Mr. Giuliani 's role in advancing the President 's scheme regarding Ukraine. The" Three Amigos'' did as the President ordered and began communicating with Mr. Giuliani. E-mail messages described to the Committees by Ambassador Sondland showed that he informed Mr. Mulvaney, Ambassador Bolton, and Secretaries Pompeo and Perry, as well as their immediate staffs, of his Ukraine-related efforts on behalf of the President.
According to Ambassador Sondland, Secretary Perry agreed to reach out to Mr. Giuliani first" given their prior relationship.'' Secretary Perry discussed with Mr. Giuliani the political concerns that President Trump articulated in the May 23 meeting.
Dr. Hill testified that Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, and Secretary Perry" gave us every impression that they were meeting with Rudy Giuliani at this point, and Rudy Giuliani was also saying on the television, and indeed has said subsequently, that he was closely coordinating with the State Department.'' These meetings ran counter to Ambassador Bolton 's repeated declarations that" nobody should be meeting with Giuliani''
Like Dr. Hill, Ambassador Bolton also closely tracked Mr. Giuliani 's activities on behalf of the President. According to Dr. Hill, Ambassador Bolton closely monitored Mr. Giuliani 's public statements and repeatedly referred to Mr. Giuliani as a" hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up.'' During a meeting on June 13, Ambassador Bolton made clear that he supported more engagement with Ukraine by senior White House officials but warned that" Mr. Giuliani was a key voice with the President on Ukraine.'' According to Ambassador Bolton, Mr. Giuliani 's influence" could be an obstacle to increased White House engagement.'' Ambassador Bolton joked that" every time Ukraine is mentioned, Giuliani pops up.''
Ambassador Bolton also reportedly joined Dr. Hill in warning Ambassador Volker against contacting Mr. Giuliani. Dr. Hill was particularly concerned about engagement with Mr. Giuliani because" the more you engage with someone who is spreading untruths, the more validity you give to those untruths.'' She further testified that she also discussed Mr. Giuliani 's activities with Dr. Kupperman, specifically her concern that" Ukraine was going to be played by Giuliani in some way as part of the campaign.''
On June 18, Ambassador Volker, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Ambassador Philip T. Reeker, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland, and State Department Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl participated in a meeting at the Department of Energy to follow up to the May 23 Oval Office meeting. Ambassador Bill Taylor, Charg頤'Affaires for U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, who had arrived in Ukraine just the day before, participated by phone from Kyiv. The group agreed that a meeting between President Trump and President Zelensky would be valuable. However, Ambassadors Volker and Sondland subsequently relayed to Ambassador Taylor that President Trump" wanted to hear from Zelensky before scheduling the meeting in the Oval Office.'' Ambassador Taylor testified that he did not understand, at that time, what the President wanted to hear from his Ukrainian counterpart. However, Ambassador Volker 's assistant, Mr. Anderson, recalled" vague discussions'' about addressing" Mr. Giuliani 's continued calls for a corruption investigation.''
The quid pro quo-- conditioning the Oval Office meeting that President Trump first offered the Ukrainian leader during their April 21 call on the Ukrainians ' pursuit of investigations that would benefit President Trump politically-- was beginning to take shape. As Ambassador Sondland testified, the conditions put on the White House meeting and on Ukraine 's continued engagement with the White House would get" more insidious'' with the passage of time.
President Trump Invited Foreign Interference in the 2020 Election
As U.S. officials debated how to meet the President 's demands as articulated by Mr. Giuliani, President Trump publicly disclosed on June 12 in an Oval Office interview with ABC News ' anchor George Stephanopoulos that there was" nothing wrong with listening'' to a foreign power who offered political dirt on an opponent. The President added," I think I 'd want to hear it.''
Mr. Stephanopoulos then pressed the President directly," You want that kind of interference in our elections? '' to which President Trump replied," It 's not an interference, they have information. I think I 'd take it.'' President Trump also made clear that he did not think a foreign power offering damaging information on an opponent was necessarily wrong, and said only that he would" maybe'' contact the FBI" if I thought there was something wrong.''
President Trump 's willingness to accept foreign interference in a U.S. election during his interview with Mr. Stephanopoulos was consistent with and interviews by Mr. Giuliani at this time. For example, on June 21, Mr. Giuliani :
New Pres of Ukraine still silent on investigation of Ukrainian interference in 2016 election and alleged Biden bribery of Pres Poroshenko. Time for leadership and investigate both if you want to purge how Ukraine was abused by Hillary and Obama people.
On June 18, Dr. Hill met with Ambassador Sondland at the White House. She" asked him quite bluntly'' what his role was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied that" he was in charge of Ukraine.'' Dr. Hill was taken aback and a bit irritated. She prodded Ambassador Sondland again and asked," Who put you in charge of Ukraine? '' Dr. Hill testified:" And, you know, I 'll admit, I was a bit rude. And that 's when he told me the President, which shut me up.''
Dr. Hill tried to impress upon Ambassador Sondland the" importance of coordinating'' with other national security officials in the conduct of Ukraine policy, including the NSC staff and the State Department. Ambassador Sondland" retorted'' that he was" coordinating with the President'' and Mr. Mulvaney," filling in'' Ambassador Bolton, and talking to State Department Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl. Ambassador Sondland asked:" Who else did he have to inform? ''
Dr. Hill stated that, in hindsight, with the benefit of the sworn testimony by others during the impeachment inquiry and seeing documents displayed by witnesses, she realized that she and Ambassador Sondland were working on two fundamentally different tasks. Dr. Hill testified:
But it struck me when yesterday, when you put up on the screen Ambassador Sondland 's emails and who was on these emails, and he said, These are the people who need to know, that he was absolutely right. Because he was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy, and those two things had just diverged. So he was correct. And I had not put my finger on that at the moment, but I was irritated with him and angry with him that he was n't fully coordinating. And I did say to him, Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up. And here we are.
Reflecting on her June 18 conversation with Ambassador Sondland, Dr. Hill concluded:
Ambassador Sondland is not wrong that he had been given a different remit than we had been. And it was at that moment that I started to realize how those things had diverged. And I realized, in fact, that I was n't really being fair to Ambassador Sondland, because he was carrying out what he thought he had been instructed to carry out, and we were doing something that we thought was just as-- or perhaps even more important, but it was n't in the same channel.