Trump Wanted Nothing Less Than Zelensky To Say ‘Investigations’, ‘Biden’ And ‘Clinton’, George Kent Told Congress

Last month, George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told impeachment investigators that Rudy Giuliani lobbied the State department to grant Viktor Shokin a visa in January.

Kent also told Congress he tried to warn Obama officials about the bad optics surrounding Hunter Biden’s business interests in Ukraine, only to be ignored.

All in all, the story that emerged from accounts of his testimony was consistent with the picture painted by the parade of officials who spoke to lawmakers in October. Irrespective of the bad optics around Biden’s decision to preserve his business interest in Ukraine while his father was overseeing US policy towards the country years ago, Giuliani’s shadow campaign was a source of extreme consternation for all parties involved, even Trump donor-turned EU ambassador Gordon Sondland.

George Kent To Congress: Giuliani Wanted Visa For Viktor Shokin

On Thursday, the House committees released the transcript of Kent’s deposition and, much like transcripts of testimony from Marie Yovanovitch, Sondland, Kurt Volker and Bill Taylor, it underscores just how nefarious the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy (as conducted primarily behind the scenes by Giuliani) really was.

“On May 14, Rudy Giuliani told Ukrainian journalists that [Marie Yovanovitch] was recalled because she was part of… efforts against the President. Were you aware of Mr. Giuliani’s statement at the time?”, lawmakers inquired of Kent, who said that although he wasn’t specifically aware of that, he “did see an interview that [Giuliani] gave with a Ukrainian publication… that expressed a variant of that opinion”.

Asked what his reaction was, Kent said this:

Mr. Giuliani, at that point, had been carrying on a campaign for several months full of lies and incorrect information about Ambassador Yovanovitch, so this was a continuation of his campaign of lies. I believe that Mr. Giuliani, as a U.S. citizen, has First Amendment rights to say whatever he wants, but he’s a private citizen. His assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period.

And yet, those lies (which now jailed Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman had a role in perpetuating) were used as an excuse to remove Yovanovitch. Despite calls from State department officials to come to her rescue in the face of what was clearly a baseless smear campaign, Mike Pompeo refused.

Below are some additional excerpts from the Kent transcript which, again, serve to further corroborate everything the public already knows – namely that this was an overtly illegal campaign to enlist the fledgling Volodymyr Zelensky government in the service of Trump’s reelection bid.

Ambassador Volker had a private discussion with President Zelensky “to underscore the importance of the messaging that Zelensky needed to provide to President Trump about his willingness to be cooperative.” (Page 242-244)

Q: Was there any discussion in that meeting in Toronto on July 2 about the investigations that Rudy Giuliani had been promoting? A: There was not a discussion in the full format of everyone on both sides of the table. However, prior to the meeting, Ambassador Volker told me that he would need to have a private meeting separately with the President, that he would pull him aside. And he explained to me that the purpose of that private conversation was to underscore the importance of the messaging that Zelensky needed to provide to President Trump about his willingness to be cooperative. And that happened–as the meeting broke up, he announced that he needed to have a private meeting. He went around to the Ukrainian side of the table and pulled Zelensky, his chief of staff, Bohdan, and the translator. I was standing about 10 feet [out] of the way, introducing myself to Andriy Yermak and talking to him. So that was–Volker had several minutes with Zelensky, his chief of staff and the interpreter.

Ambassador Volker said “he planned to start reaching out to” Rudy Giuliani because “it was clear that the former mayor had influence on the President in terms of the way the President thought of Ukraine.” (Page 246-247)

I do not recall whether the follow-on conversation I had with Kurt about this was in Toronto, or whether it was subsequently at the State Department. But he did tell me that he planned to start reaching out to the former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. And when I asked him why, he said that it was clear that the former mayor had influence on the President in terms of the way the President thought of Ukraine. And I think by that moment in time, that was self-evident to anyone who was working on the issues, and therefore, it made sense to try to engage the mayor. When I raised with Kurt, I said, about what? Because former Mayor Giuliani has a track record of, you know, asking for a visa for a corrupt former prosecutor. He attacked Masha, and he’s tweeting that the new President needs to investigate Biden and the 2016 campaign. And Kurt’s reaction, or response to me at that was, well, if there’s nothing there, what does it matter? And if there is something there, it should be investigated. My response to him was asking another country to investigate a prosecution for political reasons undermines our advocacy of the rule of law.

There was “great confusion” during a call on July 18, 2019, when an OMB official announced that “the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, at the direction of the President had put a hold on all security assistance to the Ukraine.” (Page 303-304, 310)

A: It was described as a hold, not a freeze. There was a representative of the Office of Management and Budget. I was at the State Department in a secure video conference. I did not recognize the face. And I believe the individual representing OMB at the time was not normally the person who did. It was the summer vacation cycles. And he just stated to the rest of the those [sic] participants, either in person or video screens, that the head of the Office of Management and Budget who was the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, at the direction of the President had put a hold on all security assistance to the Ukraine.

Q: Mulvaney had put a hold at the direction of the President. Is that what you heard? A: That is what the representative of the Office of Management and Budget stated in the sub-PCC on July 18th, yes.

Q: Was there any discussion following that announcement? A: There was great confusion among the rest of us because we didn’t understand why that had happened. …

Q: Did OMB provide any reasoning beyond simply it was at the direction of the President? A: Not to my recollection, no.

After the call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky on July 25, 2019, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was “uncomfortable” and said “he could not share the majority of what was discussed because of the very sensitive nature of what was discussed.” (Page 163-165)

Q: What did he tell you to the best of your recollection? A: It was different than any read-out call that I had received. He felt–I could hear it in his voice and his hesitancy that he felt uncomfortable. He actually said that he could not share the majority of what was discussed because of the very sensitive nature of what was discussed. He first described the atmospherics and compared it to the previous call, which was April 21st. That had been a short, bubbly, positive, congratulatory call from someone who had just won an election with 73 percent. He said this one was much more, the tone was cooler, reserved. That President Zelensky tried to turn on the charm, and he is a comedian and a communicator, but that the dynamics didn’t click in the way that they had on April 21st. Again, he did not share the majority of what was said. I learned the majority of the content after reading the declassified read-out. He did share several points. He mentioned that the characterization of the Ambassador as bad news. And then he paused, and said, and then the conversation went into the direction of some of the most extreme narratives that have been discussed publicly.

With respect to President Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Biden, Mr. Kent stated: “I do not believe the U.S. should ask other countries to engage in politically associated investigations and prosecutions.” (Page 112-114, 158)

Q: I want to ask you actually about what the President said, because he didn’t talk generically about corruption. He asked for a favor involving an investigation into CrowdStrike and that conspiracy theory and for an investigation into the Bidens. Is it appropriate for the President of the United States in the context of an ally seeking military support to ask that ally to investigate his political rival? A: The first time I had detailed knowledge of that narrative was after the White House declassified the transcript that was prepared–not transcript, the record of conversation that was prepared by staff at the White House. As a general principle, I do not believe the U.S. should ask other countries to engage in politically associated investigations and prosecutions.

Q: Particularly those that may interfere with the U.S. election? A: As a general principle, I don’t think that as a matter of policy the U.S. should do that period, because I have spent much of my career trying to improve the rule of law. And in countries like Ukraine and Georgia, both of which want to join NATO, both of which have enjoyed billions of dollars of assistance from Congress, there is an outstanding issue about people in office in those countries using selectively politically motivated prosecutions to go after their opponents. And that’s wrong for the rule of law regardless of what country that happens.

After Ambassador Volker raised with a senior aide to President Zelensky that President Trump and Rudy Giuliani were interested in initiating investigations, Mr. Kent said, “that’s wrong, and we shouldn’t be doing that as a matter of U.S. policy.” (Page 262-263)

Frankly, what a private citizen tweets is an exercise in one way of First Amendment rights, but when you have U.S. Government employees, or in this case, a special U.S. Government employee potentially seemingly to align to that view, that’s when it became real for me and a matter of concern. And that was, as I said, I said the 15th or the 16th, because the next day, I had a conversation with Chargé Taylor in which he amplified the same theme. And he indicated that Special Representative Volker had been engaging Andriy Yermak; that the President and his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, were interested in the initiation of investigations; and that Yermak was very uncomfortable when this was raised with him, and suggested that if that were the case, if that were really the position of the United States, it should be done officially and put in writing, essentially what I described to Catherine the day before, which is the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty option. And I told Bill Taylor, that’s wrong, and we shouldn’t be doing that as a matter of U.S. policy.

In September 2019, according to Ambassador Sondland, “POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton.” (Page 267-268, 274-275)

A: I came back after Labor Day. The next communication or data point that I can recall was a WhatsApp message that Chargé Taylor sent me on September 7, which would have been, I think, the Saturday after Labor Day.

Q: And what did that WhatsApp message say? A: Chargé Taylor indicated that he had talked to Tim Morrison, who is the senior director for Europe, who replaced Fiona Hill. And Tim indicated that he had talked to Gordon. And Gordon had told him, Tim, and Tim told Bill Taylor, that he, Gordon, had talked to the President, POTUS in sort of shorthand, and POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton. …

Q: Okay. Moments ago you referenced the name Clinton? A: What I said– Q: Could you just go through that again? A: Right. Q: I haven’t heard that name lately. A: That was a message–that was described in the shorthand of the desire to have– this was the Gordon Sondland messaging of what the Ukrainians need to say in shorthand 2016. And in shorthand, it was suggested that the Ukrainians needed– Zelensky needed to go to a microphone and basically there needed to be three words in the message, and that was the shorthand. Q: Clinton was shorthand for 2016? A: 2016, yes.


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3 thoughts on “Trump Wanted Nothing Less Than Zelensky To Say ‘Investigations’, ‘Biden’ And ‘Clinton’, George Kent Told Congress

  1. Wait:

    Let’s go back a few months and reset and think outside the box:

    Trump and his supporters allege Mr Biden abused his power to pressure Ukraine to back away from a criminal investigation that could

    Ok, so you have the FBI, DOJ, State Dept, INL and tools like the MLAT and the Ukraine govt to investigate crime, right?

    Ok, if you’re trump and have God-like power, where you can kill anyone and do anything anywhere, why didn’t he use his powers to force a criminal investigation in public? Instead, dickhead is playing games in the shadows doing shit that basically looks like something stupid in a bad (poorly written) gangster movie.

    Nonetheless, with trump superpowers, how was he or the GOP going to go forward with a Ukrainian criminal investigation — and what would be the crimes and the process to prosecute Biden? I think this is the heart of the matter here, i.e.,it seems like whatever laws trump would use against Biden can also be used against any president, e.g., corruption, bribes, money laundering, extortion, conspiracy, obstruction, abuse, etc., etc — literally, what’s good for the goose has to be good for the gander — doesn’t that make sense?

    Re: today @ Bloomberg:

    President Donald Trump “wanted nothing less than [Ukrainian President Volodimyr] Zelensky to go to microphone and say ‘investigations, Biden and Clinton,’” a State Department official told congressional investigators conducting an impeachment probe.

    The account of George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, was released as a transcript Thursday. It further underscored how specific the Trump administration’s alleged demands of the Ukrainian government were.

  2. I fully admit that I’m way behind and confused about anything related to the Ukraine, but this was an entertaining rabbit hole to look at — who knew that a Russian/Ukrainian mobster would be interested in data mining? This crap is like a comic book filled with insane evil people

    Is a Ukrainian Oligarch Helping Trump Smear Biden to Evade U.S. Corruption Charges?

    October 17 2019, 1:50 p.m.

    While Giuliani and Firtash have both denied any direct collaboration, since July, the oligarch’s legal team has included two veteran Republican operatives, Victoria Toensing and her husband Joe diGenova, who also represent Trump. As Chris Wallace of Fox News reported recently, Toensing and diGenova have been “working with Giuliani to get oppo research on Biden.”

    Not that it matters at all, but: “Firtash is also cited as having part ownership of SCL Group and thus Cambridge Analytica through various shell companies, by the U.S. documentary Active Measures”

    Prior notes: A few weeks earlier, Trump had tweeted, somewhat cryptically, “Soon you’ll be calling me Mr. Brexit.” Political observers had indeed noticed some striking similarities between Trump’s agenda and that of the right-wing Brexit movement. But few had noticed the connection with Trump’s recent hiring of a marketing company named Cambridge Analytica.

    Trump’s striking inconsistencies, his much-criticized fickleness, and the resulting array of contradictory messages, suddenly turned out to be his great asset: a different message for every voter. The notion that Trump acted like a perfectly opportunistic algorithm following audience reactions is something the mathematician Cathy O’Neil observed in August 2016.

    The embedded Cambridge Analytica team, apparently only a dozen people, received $100,000 from Trump in July, $250,000 in August, and $5 million in September. According to Nix, the company earned over $15 million overall. (The company is incorporated in the US, where laws regarding the release of personal data are more lax than in European Union countries. Whereas European privacy laws require a person to “opt in” to a release of data, those in the US permit data to be released unless a user “opts out.”)

    Mercer has a coveted seat on the Trump transition team’s 16-member executive committee. Her work, which she does mostly from home, includes collaborating with conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society – to which she has steered a combined $4.7 million or more – to recruit appointees for positions at the undersecretary level and below, according to a transition team source.

    For example, Mercer was seen as frowning on the possibility of fired Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski being tapped as chairman of the Republican National Committee, according to three people close to the Trump transition. They said Mercer was displeased with Lewandowski’s unwillingness early in Trump’s campaign to pay for the services of a data company called Cambridge Analytica, which is owned largely by her family.

    An operative familiar with Mercer’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica and interactions with Trump’s team said “it’s not about the money at all. She doesn’t want to make money, she doesn’t care about money. It’s all about controlling the apparatus of the Republican Party to enforce ideological purity.” (like teaming up with mobsters)

    ==> Fast Forward a Few Years to 2019: Last summer, as some former employees of Cambridge and SCL scattered to a handful of successor firms, the companies were fully acquired by a holding company called Emerdata Limited. The company was incorporated in the U.K. in 2017 by former directors of Cambridge Analytica and members of the Mercer family, who provided the initial funding for Analytica four years earlier. Describing its business as “data processing, hosting, and related activities,” Emerdata acquired most of the SCL companies prior to their bankruptcies, Wheatland said. The purpose was to bring them under a single ownership structure for the purpose of refinancing them, he said.

    Some former Cambridge Analytica data experts now work for a new firm, the Texas-based behavioral-science marketing company Data Propria. The company was founded by Matt Oczkowski, a political strategist who served as Cambridge’s head of product during the Trump campaign. Earlier this year, Oczkowski was also tapped to lead the operations of Parscale Digital, a data firm launched by Brad Parscale, who ran digital media for Trump in 2016 and is managing the President’s re-election campaign.

    Parscale Digital and Data Propria are both subsidiaries of CloudCommerce, a company in which Parscale holds significant stock and a board seat. Last year, campaign finance experts expressed concern that Parscale firms were receiving funding from a pro-Trump super PAC in advance of Trump’s 2020 campaign, testing rules meant to keep campaigns from coordinating with outside groups.

    ==> Why not: nother issue raised by Data Propria’s work on Trump’s re-election effort is the firm’s financial links to Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager.

    Parscale is a part owner of Data Propria’s parent company, a publicly traded firm called Cloud Commerce that bought his digital marketing business in August. Over the last year, Cloud Commerce has largely rebuilt itself around Parscale’s former company, now rebranded Parscale Digital. Parscale sits on Cloud Commerce’s board of directors and provides the company with the majority of its $2.9 million in revenue, according to the company’s most recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

    By working with a Cloud Commerce subsidiary, the Trump campaign could be helping Parscale profit beyond his $15,000 monthly campaign retainer and the commissions he has been collecting on Trump’s digital advertising spending.

    While Parscale’s personal business still works for the campaign, it’s unclear how that work may be changing now that he has become Trump’s official campaign manager.

    Under one contract between Parscale and Cloud Commerce, he receives a 5 percent cut of every dollar collected by Parscale Digital – which is largely composed of the web marketing business Parscale sold to Cloud Commerce last year. In SEC filings, Cloud Commerce has estimated that Parscale’s cut of those revenues, excluding pass through payments, would total between $850,000 and $1.3 million. Parscale Digital would not be directly receiving funds from the RNC or the campaign.

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