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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Sondland: "Everyone Was in the Loop" on Ukraine Response. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired November 20, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
QUIGLEY: Well, they were collecting it and passing it on to State or DOD, is that correct?
COOPER: I'm sorry, sir, could you repeat that?
QUIGLEY: They were -- you said your department was collecting it. Were -- they weren't passing that on to you, they were passing it on to -- to the State Department or the Department of Defense?
COOPER: Sir, I -- this is what they reported to me. I have not seen the documents that have been collected. I only know those documents that I have produced, or that my staff has brought to my attention, or that I have received.
So no, I do not know what has happened with the documents that have been collected.
QUIGLEY: Same general question to you, sir.
HALE: I requested and -- and was granted access to documents that I either originated or that had been sent to me that were relevant to the pertinent matters of this investigation during a finite time period. I don't have, really, information about what else is going on in terms of other documents that I did not produce or that I did not receive.
I do know (ph)...
QUIGLEY: Were (ph) you...
HALE: ... I -- there was a move to gather them and I understood generally, indirectly and informally, that they have been gathered. That's the extent of my knowledge. It's not my area of responsibility.
QUIGLEY: ... Yes. But did they pass them on to you, or did they pass them on to the -- the administration in -- somehow?
HALE: The only documents I received, sir, were those within the parameters I described, what I requested, which was those -- and given were the documents that either I produced or that were sent to me relevant to the matters we're discussing today.
QUIGLEY: Thank you. I yield back to the chairman.
SCHIFF: Ms. Stefanik?
STEFANIK: Thank you to both of our witnesses for your service today.
Ms. Cooper, I wanted to start with you. You spoke eloquently of the threat of Russia, when it illegally annexed Crimea, how that's a threat not only to Ukraine, but it's also a threat to Europe and the United States, a national security challenge.
And I sit on the House Armed Services Committee. We know that the most important support for Ukraine in terms of lethal defensive aid is in the forms of Javelins. Would you agree with that?
COOPER: Yes, ma'am.
STEFANIK: In which administration were those Javelins made available to Ukraine?
COOPER: This administration, the Trump administration.
STEFANIK: And not the Obama administration?
COOPER: That is correct.
STEFANIK: Both of you, have you ever spoken with the president about Ukraine aid?
HALE: No, I have not.
COOPER: No, ma'am.
STEFANIK: Under Secretary Hale, you testified that you had no direct knowledge of any nefarious motivations to withhold aid to Ukraine, correct?
STEFANIK: And to your knowledge, you testified, that there were no strings attached to the aid, correct? That's page 184 of your deposition.
HALE: I had no such knowledge.
STEFANIK: And more specifically, you testified that you had no knowledge of Ukraine aid being held up for investigations. Is that correct?
STEFANIK: During the temporary hold of security assistance -- this was until Ambassador Taylor sent you the cable -- you had never even heard the words Burisma or Biden, correct?
HALE: Well, in the context of what we're discussing, correct. STEFANIK: Great. You testified that on page 96.
And ultimately, as we know, the aid was released to Ukraine, correct?
HALE: Yes, I read that.
STEFANIK: Now, let's talk about the context broadly of this hold. You testify that it's not just Ukraine, that there were, in fact, other countries whose security assistance was on hold, quote, "The aid package to Lebanon was also being held in the same fashion." Correct?
STEFANIK: And foreign held was held from Northern Triangle countries of South America, correct?
HALE: Of Central America, correct.
STEFANIK: Central America.
And you also testified that, when you served as ambassador to Pakistan, security assistance was also held for their failure to conform to our concerns regarding terrorists and other issues on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
STEFANIK: You know, basically, let's broadly talk about the context of all of these holds on aid. When we talk about aid, I always think about -- these are hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Would you agree with that?
STEFANIK: And isn't it correct that this administration, the Trump administration, has been conducting a foreign assistance review to reestablish norms that guide the assistance as we provide aid overseas?
HALE: That's correct.
STEFANIK: You testified that this review had been going on for quite a while. And the administration did not want to take a business-as-usual approach to foreign assistance, a feeling that, once a country has received a certain assistance package, it's something that continues forever.
And you continued, the program had to be evaluated that they were actually worthy beneficiaries of our assistance, that our program made sense, that we avoid nation-building strategies, and that we provide assistance that countries that are -- that are lost in terms of our policy to our adversaries. Is that correct?
HALE: That's correct.
STEFANIK: And you testified that you warmly welcomed this assistance review?
STEFANIK: And again, just -- just to get this on record and for the millions of Americans viewing, security assistance was, in fact, released to Ukraine? I know I've already asked this, but this is a really important point.
STEFANIK: Thank you.
I yield back.
SCHIFF: Mr. Swalwell?
SWALWELL: Ms. Cooper, your testimony today destroys two of the pillars of the president's defense and one justification for his conduct.
First pillar, no harm, no foul. The Ukrainians didn't know that the hold was in place, so it didn't really hurt them.
Second pillar, this president was a real champion of anti-corruption. That he cared about corruption in Ukraine.
So I want to go through your new testimony today. It's your testimony now that after an employee came forward to you, you believe you have some evidence that the Ukrainians first inquired about security assistance to someone in your office on July 25 of this year. Is that right?
COOPER: That's correct.
SWALWELL: July 25 is also the day that President Trump officially talked to President Zelensky, where investigations of the Bidens were brought up. Is that right?
COOPER: Sir, I only know what has been reported publicly on this.
SWALWELL: And that was reported, is that right?
COOPER: That's correct.
SWALWELL: Second, this president, as a champion of anti-corruption, your testimony today is that on May 23, you certified that as far as it related to your duties, Ukraine had met the corruption concerns for the aid to be released. Is that right?
COOPER: Sir, the Defense Department certified.
SWALWELL: And after that date, inexplicably, the president of the United States puts a hold on security assistance. Is that right?
COOPER: That was what I heard in July, yes. SWALWELL: Now, this anti-corruption president, who cares so much about rooting out corruption in Ukraine, did he ever call you after he put the hold, to say, Ms. Cooper, what's going on in Ukraine?
COOPER: No, sir.
SWALWELL: Ambassador Hale, did he ever call you to ask about an update on Ukraine corruption?
HALE: No, sir.
SWALWELL: To your knowledge, did he ever call your boss, Secretary Pompeo?
HALE: I don't know.
SWALWELL: Ms. Cooper, did he ever call the many bosses that you've had at the Department of Defense?
COOPER: I don't know, sir...
SWALWELL: The secretaries or acting secretaries?
COOPER: ... I -- I don't know, sir.
SWALWELL: Now, as to the justification. The justification is that the Obama administration only provided blankets so the Ukrainians should be grateful, even after being shaken down, that the Trump administration provided more.
But the truth, Ms. Cooper, is that under the Obama administration and the European Reassurance Initiative, $175 million were provided from U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Ukrainians. Is that right?
COOPER: Sir, I don't have that figure. The figure that we typically use is to say we've provided $1.6 billion, to date. And I...
SWALWELL: And we...
COOPER: ... You know, but I don't have the breakdown in front of me.
SWALWELL: And the Obama administration also trained five military battalions of the Ukrainians, is that correct?
COOPER: Again, I don't have the figures in front of me. But yes, the training program began in the Obama administration and -- and we did train many forces.
SWALWELL: And under the Obama administration-founded Ukrainian Security Assistance Initiative, provided to the Ukrainians were armored Humvees, tactical drones, night vision devices, armored vests and medical equipment. Is that correct?
COOPER: Those all sound like pieces of equipment that were provided in the Obama administration to my recollection.
SWALWELL: You'd agree that's a lot more than blankets, right?
COOPER: Yes, sir.
SWALWELL: Ambassador Hale, the aid that was withheld to Lebanon and Pakistan, those were for legitimate foreign policy objectives. Is that right?
HALE: I would say that's true, the assistance to Pakistan. I've not heard an explanation for the current hold on the Lebanese program.
SWALWELL: And you would agree that withholding aid to investigate a political opponent is not a legitimate foreign policy objective, is that right?
SWALWELL: So I guess we can agree that even Bernie Madoff made charitable contributions but it doesn't make him a good guy. Ms. Cooper, your testimony today demonstrates the power of coming forward and defying lawless orders from the President.
Because you came forward and testified, we learned this new information, which destroys a central defense that the Republicans have put forward. Because Ambassador Taylor came forward, one of his employees learned this defense from the Republicans that all we had was hearsay evidence. And Mr. Holmes said actually, I heard the President of the United States tell Ambassador Sondland where are we with the investigations?
Your courage has aided this investigation despite the President's continued obstruction. And I yield back.
SCHIFF: Mr. Hurd?
HURD: Thank you, Chairman. Ambassador Hale, you're in essence the number three guy at the State Department. Is that correct?
HURD: You represent roughly 70,000 folks or you - you ...
HALE: I wouldn't say I represent them, I'm part of them, I'm one of them, yes.
HURD: Well you - well you are part of a pretty fantastic workforce that I've been proud to be able to serve alongside. We - we shared time together in - in Pakistan. And so thank them, I know they often times don't get the pats on the back or the accolades for what they do for our national security but there's some of us that do recognize that and - and appreciate that.
Did anybody raise issues to you, Ambassador Hale, about investigations, the Bidens or Burisma?
HALE: No, sir.
HURD: Thank you. Ms. Cooper, you have a great staff. I don't think my staff would have read my 115 page deposition and gave me feedback so I give them - give them gold stars. You said you - in your - in your deposition and you just confirmed with my colleague from - from California that you certified on 23 May that the Ukraine aid for the - the review of the - their - their defense industry and the Department of Defense, you know, was - passed the corruption test. Is that correct?
COOPER: Sir, I think the wording was more along the lines of progress has been made or sufficient progress has been made. It didn't - it didn't reference any kind of an anti-corruption test, per se.
HURD: Did this change or was there a reevaluation with a new President coming in? Because President Zelensky was inaugurated in office two days before that date, did that have an impact on how he was going to continue some of those - some of those pieces? Was that taken into account in this review?
COOPER: Not prior to May 23rd, no, sir.
HURD: So the review was basically done on the previous - the efforts done by the previous Poroshenko administration?
COOPER: Yes, sir, although it's important to note that the review related most specifically to the Ministry of Defense.
HURD: Sure, sure, but there were ultimately changes under the - under the Zelensky regime, is that correct?
COOPER: Yes, sir, there's a new Minister of Defense.
HURD: Can you explain - I know FMF, Foreign Military Financing, is State Department's but can you explain the difference between FMF and USAI funding and - and also how the Ukrainians get lethal aid?
COOPER: I'm sorry, could you repeat the last part of that - also how the Ukrainians ...
HURD: Actually get lethal aid, because is lethal aid covered under one of these two buckets?
COOPER: So there are three separate pieces to our overall ability to provide equipment to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The first is the Foreign Military Finance system, which is a State Department authority and countries around the world have this authority. That authority is used for some of the training and equipment.
There's also the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, that's a DOD authority. Unlike the State authority, the DOD authority is only a one year authority.
And then third, there's opportunity for defense sales. And that is something that we're working with the Ukrainians on now so that they can actually purchase U.S. equipment. But the Javelin specifically was provided under FMF initially and now the Ukrainians are interested in the purchase of Javelin.
HURD: And there wasn't a hold put on purchasing of equipment. Is that correct?
COOPER: Not to my understanding, no.
HURD: Can I ask you a non-impeachment inquiry question, Ms. Cooper?
COOPER: A non-what?
HURD: A non-impeachment inquiry question?
COOPER: Sir, my time is yours.
HURD: What can we be doing to help the Ukrainians defend against Russian electronic warfare - what more can we be doing to help the Ukrainians defend against electronic warfare by the Russians?
COOPER: Well what I can say in an open hearing is that there actually is some electronic warfare detection equipment that is included in the USAI package. So there - there's a piece of capability that we're already working to provide them.
I think this specific topic, though, is more suitable for a closed door session.
HURD: That's a good copy. Thanks for both of your all's service to our country and Chairman, I yield back.
SCHIFF: Mr. Castro?
CASTRO: Thank you, Chairman, and thank you all for your testimony today. I want us to make an important distinction here because a few of my colleagues have rattled off countries where we've actually held up aid.
There is a big distinction between holding up aid for a legitimate policy reason - foreign policy reason and holding up aid because it's part of a shakedown because it's in the service of a President who asked for a political favor of a country to go investigate a political rival. I think that's important for us to note.
But I want to ask you - Ms. Cooper, you said that the money was cleared to go by the DOD on May 23rd, is that right?
COOPER: That's correct.
CASTRO: And it didn't get released until September 11th?
COOPER: Yes, I should just clarify the - the second half of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative was notified to Congress on I believe it was May 23rd and then there was a - a waiting period for congressional approval and then after that point, so in kind of mid- June roughly, it was available for ...
CASTRO: So perhaps 90 days or so - 95 days, something like that?
COOPER: I - yes, I don't have a calendar in front of me but that sounds right.
CASTRO: Well, you both testified that the hold on security assistance was not in the national security interests of the United States, and that the hold might embolden Russia. We've heard the same from numerous other witnesses that have come before us. But this was not the only issue with the hold, right? We understand that people within the United States government had significant concerns about the legality of the hold as it relates to the Impoundment Control Act. This is because the money had been authorized by Congress and signed into law by President Trump.
Ms. Cooper, the July meetings, were there any discussions about whether the hold could be implemented in a legal fashion?
COOPER: So in the July 26th meeting, my leadership raised the question of how the president's guidance could be implemented, and proffered that perhaps a reprogramming action would be the way to do this, but that more research would need to be done.
So then after that discussion, we had a lower-level discussion at my level on the 31st of July...
CASTRO: All right. Let me ask you about that July 31st meeting. Based on your conversations with colleagues at the DOD, at the July 31st interagency meeting, did you share your understanding of the legal mechanisms that were available at that time?
COOPER: Yes, sir.
CASTRO: And what were they?
COOPER: I expressed that it was my understanding that there were two ways that we would be able to implement presidential guidance to stop obligating the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and the first option would be for the president to do a recision. And the second is a reprogramming action that the Department of Defense would do...
CASTRO: And both of those would require congressional notice?
COOPER: Yes, sir...
CASTRO: There would be an extra step that the president would have to take to notify Congress. As far as you know, was there ever any notice that was sent out to Congress?
COOPER: Sir, I did express that -- that I believed it would require a notice to Congress...
CASTRO: Right. COOPER: ... and that then there was no such notice to my knowledge, or preparation of such a notice, to my knowledge.
CASTRO: And as far as you know, there was never any official recision or reprogramming of that money?
COOPER: No, sir, not to my knowledge.
CASTRO: Instead, what happened was OMB devised an alternative solution involving creative footnotes to implement the hold. And there came a time in August when the Department of Defense no longer supported these unusual footnotes because of concerns that there might not be sufficient time for DOD to obligate the funds before the end of the fiscal year, in violation of the Impoundment Control Act.
So despite DOD's concerns in mid-August about the Impoundment Control Act and OMB's footnotes, the hold nevertheless continued through September 11th, even after -- now as an aside -- this is even after the whistleblower had come forward. Is that right?
COOPER: It is correct that the hold was released on September 11th, yes.
CASTRO: Well, I know I and many of us here share DOD's concerns about the legality of the hold. And I want to thank you, Ms. Cooper, for voicing DOD's concerns to the White House and pursuing the national security interests of the United States.
I yield back.
SCHIFF: Mr. Ratcliffe?
RATCLIFFE: I thank the chairman.
Ms. Cooper, based on the new e-mails that you mentioned in your opening and then subsequent declarations by some of my Democratic colleagues that those e-mails were evidence that Ukrainians were aware of a military hold on July 25th, there's now reporting out there saying that Pentagon official reveals Ukrainians asked about stalled security aid.
It's -- it's being widely reported that Ukraine asked about the hold on military aid on July 25th. That's not what I heard from you. Is that correct?
COOPER: Sir, my exact words were that one e-mail said that the Ukrainian embassy and the House Foreign Affairs Committee are asking about security assistance...
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: ... and then the second e-mail was, the Hill knows about the FMF situation to an extent and so does the Ukrainian embassy. Those are the exact words.
RATCLIFFE: And what do security assistance and FMF situation in these e-mails mean?
COOPER: I don't want to speculate on what it means.
RATCLIFFE: Right. They don't necessarily mean "hold," correct?
COOPER: Not necessarily.
RATCLIFFE: And isn't it true that around the same time, OMB put a hold on 15 State Department and USAID accounts including FMF?
COOPER: I don't know that specific detail.
RATCLIFFE: But you can't say one way or another whether the inquiries in these e-mails were about the hold. Is that fair?
COOPER: I cannot say for certain.
RATCLIFFE: All right. And you can't say one way or another whether the Ukrainians knew about the hold before August 28th, 2019 when it was reported in Politico, correct?
COOPER: Sir, I can just tell you that it's the recollection of my staff that they likely knew. But no, I do not have a certain data point to offer you.
RATCLIFFE: Well, it's not unusual, is it, Ms. Cooper, for foreign countries to inquire about foreign aid that they're expecting from the United States, is it?
COOPER: Sir, in my experience with the Ukrainians, they typically would call about specific things, not just generally checking in on their assistance package.
RATCLIFFE: Are you aware that President Zelensky on October 10th, in response to questions from more than 300 reporters over the course of the afternoon, stated that he was not aware and had no knowledge of a hold on security assistance during the time of his July 25th phone call with President Trump?
COOPER: I believe I saw that media reporting, yes.
RATCLIFFE: I yield back.
SCHIFF: Mr. Heck?
HECK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I thank you both for being here this evening.
Ambassador Hale, last week, the country watched as President Trump attacked and intimidated your colleague. He attempted to intimidate your colleague Ambassador Yovanovitch, who's of course a witness to this proceeding. And subsequently, Secretary Pompeo declined to condemn that attack.
Bluntly put, I think Secretaries -- Secretary Pompeo's silence is nothing less than a betrayal of the men and the women whom he swore an oath to lead. And it's -- it's a betrayal that has long-term consequences to attracting and retaining workforce, to their morale, to their effectiveness and to their overall strength.
So, Ambassador Hale, I want to give you an opportunity to now do what Secretary Pompeo did not do. Either in March of 2019, when the vicious smear campaign kind of got kicked into high gear and you, sir, rightfully pressed for a strong statement in support of her; or last week, when the president and his son attacked her -- attacked her again.
I am offering you the opportunity to reaffirm to this committee and the millions of Americans, hopefully, who are watching, that Marie Yovanovitch is a dedicated and courageous patriot, and that she served with grace and dignity even in the face of that orchestrated and unsubstantiated smear attack against her.
Ambassador Hale, I'm giving you the opportunity to demonstrate leadership, I'm giving you the opportunity to send a clear and resounding message to the men and women who serve in dangerous foreign posts throughout the globe, that what happened to Marie Yovanovitch was wrong.
Ambassador Hale, the floor is yours.
HALE: Thank you Congressman. Excuse me -- I endorse entirely your description of Ambassador Yovanovitch. I only met her when I took this job, but immediately I understood that we had an exceptional officer doing exceptional work at a very critical embassy in Kiev.
And during my visits to Kiev I was very impressed by what she was doing there to the extent that I asked her if she'd be willing to stay, if that was a possibility because we had a gap coming up.
I support and believe in the institution and the people of the State Department -- I am one of them, I have been for 35 years. All of us are committed to America's national security and we are the best group of diplomats anywhere in the world. And that support extends to all state officers who've testified before this Committee.
If I may, I'd like to read a letter that the Undersecretary for Management wrote on November 18 to the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in response to a communication from him.
A number of Department employees have testified before the House of Representatives during its inquiry regarding Ukraine. No employee has faced any adverse action by the Department for testimony before Congress on this matter. The Department will not discipline any Department employee for appearing before Congress in response to a subpoena. The Department has also proactively established a program to provide financial assistance with respect to private council legal fees incurred by Department employees.
There's additional information, but that's the essence of the message --
HECK: Ambassador Hale, then therefore are you saying Marie Yovanovitch is a dedicated and courageous patriot?
HALE: I endorse what you say exactly --
HECK: And that she served with grace and dignity in the face of this smear campaign?
HALE: Yes, she did.
HECK: And that what happened to her was wrong?
HALE: I believe that she should have been able to stay at post and continued to do the outstanding work that she's doing --
HECK: And what happened to her was wrong.
HALE: That's right.
HECK: Thank you, sir. Thank you for clarifying the record, because I wasn't sure where it was that she could go to set the record straight -- if it wasn't you, sir, or (ph) where she could go to get her good name and reputation back -- if it wasn't you, sir. Indeed I want to encourage you in the strongest terms possible, stand your ground.
America's security, and strength, and prosperity is predicated in no small part on the professionalism of our foreign services core, and they need to know that you, as the highest ranking professional diplomat in the entire State Department, have their back, sir. Thank you for having Ambassador Yovanovitch's back this evening. And with that, Mr. Chair, I yield back.
SCHIFF: Mr. Jordan.
JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ms. Cooper, the -- who -- why did the Office of Management and Budget put a hold on the funds?
COOPER: Sir, the only information that I received was from the Office of Management and Budget that they were operating at the direction of the president and they reported that he had concerns about corruption, that is all that I knew.
JORDAN: Right, and you put that in your testimony. The president had directed the Office of Management and Budget to hold the funds because of his concerns about corruption in Ukraine, a very legitimate reason, do you agree?
COOPER: That is the statement that the president reportedly made as reported to me by the Office of Management and Budget.
JORDAN: And then you said in your testimony that based on recommendations from me and other key DoD advisors, the Department of Defense in coordination with Department of State certified in May of 2019 that Ukraine had taken the steps necessary and you certified the release of the dollars, is that accurate?
COOPER: That is correct, sir.
JORDAN: But there was -- you know, there was a small change in Ukraine in the spring of 2019, wasn't there?
COOPER: Yes, sir.
JORDAN: Yeah, and can you elaborate on what that change was?
COOPER: The government of -- well President Zelensky was elected to government.
JORDAN: Yeah, you've got a brand new guy coming in. In fact, he had just been -- I believe, sworn in the day you approved the dollars. Was it May 23, I think he was sworn in on -- I guess it was a couple of days before. But there's sort of a change in circumstances that it seemed to me would warrant at least maybe a second look.
And that's exactly what played out for a short time -- less than two months, 55 days. The -- our government evaluated the new situation pretty radical change, you've got a new government. In fact, the previous one -- we're heard all kinds of things from the Democrats about the prosecutor general and the Poroshenko regime -- Mr. Lutsenko and how bad he was.
So it took a while for that to -- that all to happen. New president's sworn in, two months later the new Congress comes in, it takes them a while to -- it's not until September 5 that they get rid of this prosecutor and just a few days later the aid actually gets released. But the Democrats got all kinds of other things they want to talk about. But the way this played out seems to me, as logical as you can do it.
And particularly when you put it in the broader framework of where this president is on concern about foreign aid -- his deep rooted concern in the corruption issue in Ukraine, the experience he had with high ranking Ukrainian officials criticizing him and supporting Secretary Clinton in the 2016 election -- put all that together, it sort of -- I think shows why it played out the way it did. With that I would yield back, Mr. Chairman.
SCHIFF: Mr. Welch.
WELCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Undersecretary Hale, I want to go back to your support and affirmation of Ambassador Yovanovitch. What I understand -- and by the way, thank you for that. I know that our military leaves nobody on the -- no soldier on the battlefield, and I think those who are in leadership positions in the State Department and our Intelligence Community have that bond of loyalty to each other and it's very reassuring that you represent that.
You first, as I understand it -- got information about her situation in March. By early March, Secretary Pompeo had mentioned that some time in the fall he'd received a letter from a former member of Congress with complaints about the Ambassador, correct?
WELCH: And that member of Congress was --
HALE: Congressman Sessions.
WELCH: And did you see that there was any basis to the claims of disloyalty?
HALE: No, I did not, nor did the Secretary of State.
WELCH: Right. And you visited Kiev, and you discussed in fact, extending Ambassador Yovanovitch's terms until -- to remain at her post, right?
HALE: It was a personal idea of mine, yes.
WELCH: Obviously an indication that you valued her continued service there. And you also stated to the Ukrainian press that Ambassador Yovanovitch represents the president of the United States here in the Ukraine, in America stands behind her statesmen (ph), so obviously trying to give her some public support, correct?
WELCH: And yet weeks later, the president and Mr. Giuliani unleashed what can only be characterized as an ugly smear campaign to Alistair (ph). What was your reaction to the news articles in late march in which corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor attacked the ambassador?
HALE: We were concerned, we put out a statement that some of these allegations were and all right fabrication as they were related to the Do Not Prosecute list, and we began to discuss what we would do to deal with this matter.
WELCH: And then the problems continued per Ambassador Yovanovitch. And as I understand, she emailed you on March 24th and indicated that quote, "the tempo of social media and other criticisms were such that she felt she could no longer function unless there was a strong statement of defense of her in the State Department." Is that correct?
WELCH: And this message -- Secretary Pompeo was aware of her situation, is that correct?
HALE: Yes, I briefed him the next day.
WELCH: And he's the ultimate authority decade issued a statement of support, correct?
WELCH: But he never, ever did issue a statement, right?
HALE: We did not issue a statement at the time.
WELCH: But the fact, you testified around the same time that the secretary did not render assistance to a long serving and highly respected ambassador. He made two phone calls to Rudy Giuliani. Is that right?
HALE: That's correct. I've seen the record that he made those phone calls.
WELCH: One on March 28th and again the next day on March 29th.
HALE: I saw the record of that yes.
WELCH: Right, so we don't know what he said to Rudy Giuliani, but we have a pretty good idea what Rudy Giuliani said to him, get rid of Yovanovitch. She was gone and the state never came forward, right?
WELCH: And when she was recalled and wanted to find out what happened, Secretary Pompeo would not meet with her?
HALE: I was out of the country at the time I can't comment on that.
WELCH: And then Mr. Brechbuhl who was next in line didn't meet with her?
HALE: I don't know this.
WELCH: It came from (ph) you to the news.
HALE: It went to the deputy secretary, I believe held the meeting. I was in foreign travel at the time.
WELCH: Well, it would be interesting if we could have Secretary Pompeo be here to tell us what his conversations were with Rudy Giuliani, the person who was fermented the discontent about an ambassador who was fighting corruption. I want to thank you and I want to that Ms. Cooper for your service.
SCHIFF: Mr. Maloney.
MALONEY: Ms. Cooper, Secretary Hale. Ms. Cooper, thank you for working late on a Wednesday.
The last time we attempted to hear your testimony, the Republicans were good enough to bring pizza down at the SCIF.
But kidding aside, I know we detained you for about five hours that day, so on behalf of the committee , thank you for your forbearance, we do appreciate your patience with this. Quick question. For you, and I think one question for you Secretary Hale. Ms. Cooper, was DOD able to put all these security system funds into contract before the end of the fiscal year?
COOPER: No sir.
MALONEY: And how much were they not able to obligate? What was left unobligated?
COOPER: I believe the figure was 35 million. We were able to actually obligate 88 percent total.
MALONEY: And I think you mentioned that you were able because of legislation the Congress passed, continuing resolution, to do that, is that right?
COOPER: So the remainder, we are in the process of obligation right now...
MALONEY: Excuse me, remainder.
COOPER: ...because of the provision in the continuing resolution.
MALONEY: Right. So but for literally an act of Congress, you couldn't have spent all the money?
COOPER: If we have not received the provision and the continuing resolution, we would've obligated 88 percent but not the full amount.
MALONEY: Right, which of course would be a violation of law, to not spend money that congress appropriated.
COOPER: Sir, I am not a lawyer but that is my understanding.
MALONEY: Sure. Thank you. Secretary Hale, where were you born?
HALE: Ann Arbor, Michigan.
MALONEY: And is your family from Ireland?
HALE: No sir.
MALONEY: I'm sorry, strike it. Another question. With respect to Secretary Yovanovitch, you served as ambassador to, I believe three countries?
HALE: Jordan, Lebanon and Pakistan.
MALONEY: Pakistan, Lebanon. And while you were ambassador to those three countries, did anyone ever ask you to issue a support praising personally the president of United States?
MALONEY: How would you have viewed such a request?
HALE: It would depend on the situation, sir.
S MALONEY: Someone said -- say you went to someone and you were having a problem with your job and you said how can I do better and they say you should publish something personally praising the president flattering to him. Would that strike you as unusual?
MALONEY: If someone told you to go big or go home, would that change your mind?
HALE: I don't quite understand.
MALONEY: Well, that's what Ambassador Yovanovitch was treated to when she went Ambassador Sondland seeking advice. And she declined to do so, I believe she said it would strike her as too political. Is that consistent with the approach you might take?
HALE: I thought (ph) that sounds sensible, yes.
MALONEY: Thank you. I yield the remainder of my time back to the chairman. Thank you both for being here.
SCHIFF: Ms. Demings.
DEMINGS: Ambassador Hale, Ms. Cooper, thank you both for being with us. Just a quick question before I get into some questions about Ambassador Sondland who we heard from today. I want to ask both of you, if President Trump withheld critical military aid from Ukraine because high-ranking officials who supported the president's political opponent, would you consider that an official acceptable appropriate action by the president of the United States? Ambassador Hale?
HALE: It's not what I would advise.
DEMINGS: Ms. Cooper?
COOPER: No, that does not sound appropriate.
DEMINGS: Ambassador Hale, you testified that you were aware Ambassador Sondland was involving himself in matters that, and I quote, "went beyond the normal writ (ph) of an ambassador to the European union," unquote. As you understood it, who authorized Ambassador Sondland to work on Ukraine?
HALE: I have no firsthand knowledge of that. I received a readout from a meeting that the president of the United States had with the delegation on May 23rd, in which, the briefing I received anyway, indicated that the president wanted members of that delegation, which included Ambassador Sondland to carry forward the policies that discussed in that meeting.
DEMINGS: So that incurred in a meeting in the oval office on May 23rd, is where you heard that information from the readout?
HALE: A written readout from that, yes.
DEMINGS: You testified and I quote, "it was clear that the members of that inaugural (ph) delegation were empowered by the president," is what you testified. You also said, and I quote, as a practical matter it would Ambassador Volker and Ambassador Sondland, presumably working with Taylor who would be the ones really doing the continually effort here. Did you understand the Ambassador Sondland had direct access to the president?
HALE: I, in the few occasions in which I'd had conversations with Ambassador Sondland, he often would let it know that he was in direct contact with the president. That's all I knew.
DEMINGS: So you received that information directly from Ambassador Sondland that he had direct contact with the president.
HALE: In previous occasions, yes. Not -- that's not related to this particular matter.
DEMINGS: Is there anything about Ambassador Sondland's role that struck you as problematic?
HALE: Based on what I knew at the time I was satisfied that this delegation was what the president wanted to have, you know, continue to pursue these policies. And I saw that Ambassador Vokland (ph), who was a professional, had been a Foreign Service officer and ambassador of distinction and steeped in Ukrainian affairs was part of that group. So I had no great concerns.
DEMINGS: So what you knew at the time you were OK with his role. But did your opinion change about his appropriateness of his role?
HALE: As I testified, I was not aware of these various activities related to negotiations over investigations, preconditions related to that. I just wasn't aware of it so I had no reason to be making any kind of judgment one way or the other.
DEMINGS: Have you reviewed the text messages between Ambassador Sondland and Volker?
HALE: I've seen some of them that were reported in the media.
DEMINGS: Were you surprised by anything in those messages that you heard reported or personally witnessed or observed?
HALE: I was surprised by what I saw in those reports in the media.
DEMINGS: I want to insure I understand your testimony, Ambassador Hale. You believed Ambassador Sondland was empowered by the president according to what you found out from the May 23rd meeting to work on Ukraine policy and you said quote, none of that really struck you as problematic because of the time differences there of what you knew. Is that correct?
HALE: Based on what I knew, yes.
DEMINGS: OK. You are the undersecretary for political affairs. You testified that in that capacity you are responsible for the management of the United States bilateral relations with, and I quote, every country in the world that we recognize for the management of our policies towards those countries as well as our relationship for policies as they relate to multi-lateral organizations. Does that include U.S. policy and relations with Ukraine?
HALE: It does. But when we have a special envoy who reports directly to the secretary related to a country or an issue that special envoy will take the day to day responsibilities.
DEMINGS: How about U.S. policy and relations with the European Union?
HALE: Yes, I am.
DEMINGS: But you were not aware fully of Ambassador Sondland's activities on behalf of President Trump?
HALE: That's correct.
DEMINGS: OK. Thank you. Mr. Chair, I yield back.
SCHIFF: Mr. Krishnamoorthi.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Good evening. Thank you so much for being here. Undersecretary Hale, you and your colleagues testified that you've gathered official records at the State Department with the understanding that they would be provided to Congress, right?
HALE: I was not involved in the decision making or I have no responsibilities related to gathering documents. I understood that it was underway and I certainly received the documents that I described earlier.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I see. In terms of the materials that were collected, do they include electronic files and emails for instance?
HALE: I can only speak to the documents that were made available to me and it did include emails.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And paper documents as well?
HALE: And paper documents.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Would tape recordings potentially be among the files that are gathered?
HALE: I really couldn't speculate on that.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: But you can't rule out that possibility?
HALE: I don't -- I don't know if tape recordings, but I -- so I can't really comment on that.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And are you familiar with -- from whom the documents had been collected, like the individual custodians?
HALE: I don't know that, sir.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: You're aware that despite a dually authorized congressional subpoena has been served on the State Department, we have yet to receive even a single document, correct?
HALE: I -- I understand that, yes.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Ms. Cooper, in the interagency process, did anyone in any committee potentially bring up the lack of allied funding as a reason for why there should be hold on military assistance to Ukraine?
COOPER: I can only speak to the three meetings that I attended. The PCC DHSG (ph) and then PCC. And I have no recollection of the issue of outlied (ph) burden sharing coming up at that point.
I did provide information in my deposition about what I thought was a completely separate query that I received in mid June from the secretary of defenses front office. And one of the questions there just asked a question about the degree to which allies were contributing to Ukraine security assistance, just to be very clear.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: OK. But after the hold was put in place on July 18th, you didn't -- you haven't heard any concerns about a lack of allied funding as a reason for why the hold should be in place.
COOPER: In those meetings that I attended, I did not hear that or I do not recall hearing that as a reason. The only reason that I heard was the president's views on corruption. No further information.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Got it. Same question to you Undersecretary Hale.
HALE: Could you repeat the question, sir?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I assume you didn't hear about a lack of allied funding as a -- as a reason for the hold put in -- being put in place after July 18th.
HALE: No, I never heard a reason for the hold.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: You never -- I -- I assume neither of you heard any reason whatsoever for why the hold was in place, except for the fact that OMB put it in place at the direction of the president, right? HALE: That's -- that's correct.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And I -- I assume, you know, one of my colleagues brought up the idea that the hold was put in place to assess whether or not President Zelensky was legit. I assume that was not a -- a reason that was offered either.
COOPER: No, sir. I never heard that as a reason.
HALE: I heard no reason.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Undersecretary Hale, what is the importance of a world leader having a meeting at the White House?
HALE: Well, really, just case by case. But particularly for a new leader it's an extremely important opportunity to demonstrate the strength of our relationship for building of that relationship at a personal lever -- leadership level to demonstrate common goals.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: How about in the case of President Zelensky, how important was it for him to have this meeting at the White House with President Trump?
HALE: Well, I never talked to President Zelensky about that myself. I met him before he became president. I met with President Poroshenko and the two leading candidates.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: But as a expert on these matters, is it fair to say that a -- a new world leader such as President Zelensky having a meeting at the White House with President Trump is extremely important for his image that he projects especially toward folks like Russia?
HALE: Well, an Oval Office meeting is incredible for any foreign leader. Let me just state that general principle. And for a Ukrainian president, it is indeed what you just said, to demonstrate that the bond between the United States and Ukraine is strong and that there is continuity in our policies and that we are going to continue to work together on our policy goals, including countering Iran -- Russian aggression and intimidation of Ukraine.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you so much. I yield back.
SCHIFF: That concludes the member questioning. Mr. Nunes, do you have any concluding remarks?
NUNES: I thank the gentleman. What have we learned from the Democrats impeachment inquiry? They promised the country a fair hearing. What have they delivered? The impeachment version of three-card monte, a notorious short card con trick where the mark, in this case President Trump and the American public, stands no chance of winning.
Democrats promised the whistleblower's testimony. In fact, they told us that we need to speak with the whistleblower. And then we learned that the whistleblower coordinated with the Democratic staff before alerting the Intelligence Community's Inspector General. To hide their con, the Democrats pound the table and gaslight the country, telling us that the whistleblower's entitled to an imaginary statutory right of anonymity. They accuse us of trying to out the whistleblower, knowing that they're the only ones who know who he is.
They say that if the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law's against you, argue the facts. And if both are against you, pound the table and yell like hell. It seems at law school these days, it's teaching their students a fourth tactic -- if the facts and the law are against you, simply rig the game and hope your audience is too stupid to catch your duplicity.
This is not an impeachment inquiry, it's an impeachment inquisition. In the Middle Ages, the inquisitor was free to act on his own and bring suit against any person who was even vaguely the subject of the lowest rumor and the accused was denied any right to confront their accusers.
Incredibly or maybe not so much, given the Democrats track record, an inquisition victim had more rights than the Democrats are giving the President. After all, inquisition victims had the right to know their accuser's name.
For those of you at home, it's time to change the channel, turn down the volume or hide the kids, put them to bed. Now I yield to Mr. Schiff for story time hour.
SCHIFF: I thank the gentleman, as always, for his remarks.
I want to -- I'll be brief this evening, it's been a long day and I said most of what I wanted to say earlier in the day, but I did want to end this evening -- and first of all, thank you both for your testimony and your long service to the country. We are grateful that you answered the lawful process of a congressional subpoena.
I wanted to share a few reflections on two words that have come up a lot in the course of these hearings and those words are corruption and anti-corruption. We are supposed to believe, I -- I imagine, listening to my colleagues, that Donald Trump is a great anti-corruption fighter, that his only concern about Ukraine was that it would fight corruption. But let's look at that argument. Let's look at the President's words and look -- let's look at his deeds.
Ambassador Yovanovitch was an anti-corruption champion. No one has contradicted that that has come forward to testify here. She was a champion. And on the day she is at a meeting acknowledging in Ukraine another anti-corruption champion, a woman who had acid thrown in her face and died a painful death after months, she is called back to Washington because of a vicious smear campaign by the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, among others. She is recalled. That is not anti-corruption, that is corruption. And one of the people responsible for this smear campaign, in addition to Mr. Giuliani -- and it is a long and sordid list of those who were involved -- is a man named Lutsenko, someone who the minority's own witness acknowledges has a poor reputation as self-serving and corrupt.
And what do we see about Mr. Lutsenko and his predecessor, Mr. Shokin? What does the President have to say about one of these corrupt former prosecutors? He praises them. He says they were treated very unfairly. That's not anti-corruption, that's corruption.
And when Ambassador Sondland testified today that there was unquestionably a quid pro quo and everybody knew it, conditioning a White House meeting that Ukraine desperately wanted to show its friend and foe alike it had the support of the President of the United States, when that was conditioned -- that official act was conditioned on the receipt of things of value to the President -- political investigations -- that was not anti-corruption, that was corruption.
And when Ambassador Sondland testified today that he could put two and two together and so can we, that the -- there was also a quid pro quo on the military aid, that aid was not going to be released unless they did a public statement -- Ukraine did a public statement of these political investigations the President wanted, that's not anti- corruption, that is corruption.
And let's look at the President's words on that phone call -- that infamous phone call on July 25th. Does he ask President Zelensky how is that reform coming in the Rada? What are you doing to root out corruption? What about that new anti-corruption court? Of course not -- of course not.
Are we really to believe that was his priority?
No, what does he ask? I want you to do us a favor -- a -- a favor, investigate this crazy 2016 server conspiracy, that the server's somewhere in Ukraine, and more ominously, investigate the Bidens. That's not anti-corruption, that is corruption.
And the next day, when he's on the phone to Ambassador Sondland in that outdoor restaurant in Kiev, what does he want to know about? Does he want to know how Zelensky is going to fight corruption? Of course not. The only thing he brings up in that call is the investigation he wants into the Bidens. That's not anti-corruption, that is corruption.
Every now and then, there's a conversation that really says all you need to know. And sometimes it doesn't seem all that significant, but I'll tell you, this one really struck me and it was a conversation that Ambassador Volker related in his testimony.
And it was conversation just this past September, when he's talking to Andriy Yermak, top advisor to President Zelensky.
And he's advising him -- as indeed he should -- you know, you may not want to go through with an investigation or prosecution of former President Poroshenko. Engaging in political investigations is really not a good idea.
And you know what Yermak says? Oh, you mean like you want us to of the Bidens and the Clintons?
Well, there's a word for that, too, and it's not corruption or anti- corruption. It's called hypocrisy. And this is the problem here. We do have an anti-corruption policy around the world. And the great men and women in your Department, Under Secretary Hale, and in your Department, Ms. Cooper, they carry that message around the world that the United States is devoted to the rule of law.
But when they see a president of the United States, who is not devoted to the rule of law, who is not devoted to anti-corruption but, instead demonstrates -- in word and deed -- corruption, they are forced to ask themselves: what does America stand for anymore?
That concludes this evening's hearing. I will ask the witnesses to excuse themselves.
Members should remain; we have a business matter to take up.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You've been listening to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff at the end of a pivotal day in the House Impeachment inquiry and perhaps in the Trump presidency.
State Department official David Hale and Pentagon official Laura Cooper just wrapping up her testimony casting doubt on the key defense of the president.
And this morning, into much of the afternoon, the big one, Gordon Sondland, the ambassador of the European Union, testifying that there was an effort to squeeze Ukraine for help in dirtying up 2020 presidential rival Joe Biden in exchange for meeting with the president, and he said he later came to believe hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen military aid.
There was, he said, a quid pro quo. It was pursed he said at -- pursued, I should say, at the president's direction using Rudy Giuliani as point man and with the complicity, acquiescence or knowledge of some of the president's top cabinet officials.
Our legal political team has taken Acela north to be with us tonight in New York. Elie Honig is here, David Axelrod, Gloria Borger, Anne Milgram, Kerstin Powers and Scott Jennings.
Appreciate you all being with us.
Gloria, what stood out today? It was a long and incredibly important day.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It was. I mean, to summarize Sondland, I think what I would say was his statement was, everyone was in the loop, twice. He said it twice.
COOPER: Which he -- right, and he named names of who that everyone was.
BORGER: And he named names and it was every name, including the secretary of state, clearly, the president of the United States, clearly, Rudy Giuliani, who directed everything. John Bolton knew about it. I mean, you name it, everybody -- everybody knew what was going on.
So that's sort of -- did I summarize the morning pretty well? It was a lot of hours of testimony.
And then this evening, you know, we have this Pentagon official saying that the timeline now of when the Ukrainians knew about the holdup of aid has suddenly moved forward. And that's important because, you know, the Republicans have been saying that there couldn't be any wrongdoing if the Ukrainians were aware that the aid was held up. Well suddenly this evening, we discover that the timeline has shifted.