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THE SITUATION ROOM
House Judiciary Committee Holds Evidence Hearing on Trump Impeachment. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired December 9, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Now, it looked like President Trump might get away with his Ukraine shakedown. After all, most Americans didn't know anything about it. And the few who learned of it, would be too afraid, too intimidated to cross the most powerful man on Earth.
President Trump could rest easy. But if Donald Trump misjudged the American character, the Framers of our Constitution did not. I count 17 honorable public servants who came forward to testify over the intimidation and disparagement of the President, and is that right, Mr. Goldman?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE DEMOCRATIC COUNSEL: Yes, there were 17.
RASKIN: And I counted dozens of State Department and national security officials who served Republican and Democratic Presidents alike over decades who came to testify. In fact, four of President Trump's own national security council staffers, Hill, Vindman, Morrison and Maguire came forward to report Trump's scheme to NSC lawyers as soon as they learned of it, didn't they, Mr. Goldman?
GOLDMAN: Morrison and Vindman went to the lawyers as soon as they learned it, yes.
RASKIN: They went to the lawyers and that moved me a lot, because my father was a staffer on the National Security Council under President Kennedy. And he said the most important thing you can bring to work with you every day is your conscience. And he devoted his career to the idea that people must speak truth to power when power becomes a clear and present danger to democracy and to the people.
So I want to talk about two of the many honorable government witnesses who went under oath and stood up for the truth. Mr. Goldman, who is Dr. Fiona Hill?
GOLDMAN: Dr. Fiona Hill was the Senior Director for the Europe and Russia Directorate at the National Security Council until July of this year.
RASKIN: And she was President Trump's Senior Adviser on Russia?
RASKIN: Her family had fled both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia?
GOLDMAN: I think her family actually came from England. That was Marie Yovanovitch who had--
RASKIN: That was Ambassador Yovanovitch. Dr. Hill voiced her concerns to the NSC's lawyers on July 10 and July 11th, long before anyone on this Committee knew about it. Why did she go to report what she had learned? What motivated her?
GOLDMAN: She was concerned that Ambassador Sondland and Mick Mulvaney were entering into essentially a transaction whereby the Ukrainians would open up these investigations for President Trump's political interests in return for getting the White House meeting that President Trump had offered.
RASKIN: And I want to talk about Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent who served as a career Foreign Service Officer for more than 27 years under five different Presidents, Democrats and Republicans alike.
And he wrote or updated notes to file on four different occasions to record his grave contemporaneous concerns about the President's conduct. Mr. Goldman, what were the events that led Mr. Kent to draft these notes to his file?
GOLDMAN: There were several. There was a conversation at the end of June where several American officials had indicated to President Zelensky that he needed to go forward with these investigations. There was one on august 16th, I recall, that he talked about.
But you bring up a very important point, which is, all of these State Department witnesses, in particular, and frankly almost all of the witnesses other than Ambassador Sondland, took unbelievable meticulous notes.
I would have dreamed for a witness like that as a prosecutor. And it makes for a very clear and compelling record and clear and compelling evidence that's based on contemporaneous notes.
RASKIN: So do we have Mr. Kent's notes in this process?
GOLDMAN: We have no State Department records, including these memos to file, the notes, the Ambassador Taylor's first-person cable, these e- mails. There are so many documents that - the few that we have gotten have been so helpful to the investigations.
RASKIN: Why do we not have them?
GOLDMAN: The State Department refused to provide them, notwithstanding our subpoena, under the President's direction.
RASKIN: In authoritarian societies like Putin's Russia or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, people are terrified to speak out about the crimes of their political leaders. But in United States a lot of people are not afraid even though President Trump has tried to intimidate or silence them. And he is trying to make our country more like Russia, and we can be thankful that you found a lot of heroes who stood up for the truth in our constitution. I yield back.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): The gentleman yields back. Ms. Lesko.
REP. DEBBIE LESKO (R-AZ): Thank You, Mr. Chairman. My first two questions are for the American people. America, are you sick and tired yet of this impeachment sham? And America, would you like Congress to get back to work and actually get something done? As I should would.
Mr. Castor, the rest of the questions are for you. And I would like yes or no answers if possible. Mr. Castor, my first question is important.
Did any of the Democrats' fact witnesses establish that the President had committed bribery, extortion, or a high crime or misdemeanor?
STEVE CASTOR, INTELLIGENCE & JUDICIARY COMMITTEES GOP COUNSEL: Good heavens, no.
LESKO: Mr. Castor, the Deputy Assistant to the President of the National Security, Mr. Morrison, listened in on the phone call. He testified that he was not concerned that anything discussed on the phone call was illegal or improper, is that correct?
CASTOR: Yes, he was worried about leaks.
LESKO: Several Democrats witnesses testified that it is fairly common for foreign aid to be paused for various reasons, including concerns that the country is corrupt and taxpayer dollars may be misspent. Ambassador Volker testified that this hold on security assistance to Ukraine was not significant, is that correct?
CASTOR: Yes, a number of witnesses also said the same thing.
LESKO: Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, testified that in Ukraine - and I quote - "corruption is not just prevalent, but frankly, is the system," is that correct?
CASTOR: Yes, all the witnesses confirmed the environment is very corrupt.
LESKO: Mr. Castor, Ukraine energy company Burisma Holdings had a reputation in Ukraine as a corrupt company, is that correct?
CASTOR: Big time.
LESKO: According to "The New York Times," Hunter Biden was part of a broad effort by Burisma to bring in well-connected Democrats during a period when the company was facing investigations, is that correct?
CASTOR: Yes, "The New Yorker" also had an extensive report on that as well. LESKO: Obama's Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, George Kent,
testified that he raised concerns directly to Vice President Biden's office about Hunter Biden's services on Burisma's Board, is that correct? Yes or no.
LESKO: Mr. Castor, in the July 25th call President Trump referenced Joe Biden bragging about how he stopped the prosecution. We all saw that video earlier today where Joe Biden bragged about how he told Ukraine, "If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money." Mr. Castor, is this the same prosecutor that looked into Burisma?
CASTOR: It is.
LESKO: In a similar scheme, Obama Assistant Attorney General said and I quote, "Awarding prestigious employment opportunities to unqualified individuals in order to influence government officials is corruption, plain and simple."
Mr. Castor, here is another key question. Given that, one, Burisma had a reputation of being a corrupt company. Two, Obama's own State Department was concerned about Hunter Biden serving on Burisma's Board at the same time that Vice President Biden was acting as the point person to Ukraine.
And three, Obama's Assistant Attorney General said in a similar scheme that corruption - that there was corruption, plain and simple, do you think then it is understandable, reasonable and acceptable for President Trump to ask the Ukrainian President to look into the Hunter Biden/Burisma potential corruption scheme?
LESKO: Mr. Castor, there are four indisputable facts that will never change that prove there is no impeachable offense. There was no quid pro quo on the July 25th call. Ukraine leadership did not know the aid was held up at the time of the July 25th telephone call. Ukraine received the White House meeting, phone call and aid even though, four, Ukraine didn't initiate any investigations. Do you agree?
CASTOR: Ukraine received a meeting with Vice President Pence in Warsaw and a meeting, not at the White House, but at the - in New York at the United Nations.
LESKO: Mr. Castor, did Mr. Turley testify in the past hearing that this impeachment inquiry has not passed Chairman Nadler's three- pronged test?
CASTOR: He did.
LESKO: Thank you. I yield back.
REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): Thank you, the gentle woman from Washington is recognized. REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Thank you. Mr. Goldman, let's focus on
the Republican claim that President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine, because he was supposedly concerned about corruption rather than the fact that he abused his office for personal gain.
And let me be clear, we actually do not have to read the President's mind on this.
As your report notes, on Page 10 ten and as we will see on television, he told us himself exactly what his intent was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call? Exactly.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I would think that, if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the Bidens. It's a very simple answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JAYAPAL: So the first and best witness about the President's corrupt intent was Donald Trump. There is also plenty of corroborating evidence so let's just review some of the basic facts that we've already established.
First, President Trump does not even mention the word corruption during either of his calls with President Zelensky, and he disregards all of the talking points that were prepared for him on corruption by the National Security Council.
Second, investigations of the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election were not supported by official U.S. policy. And third, Congress authorized military aid to Ukraine.
Ukraine passed all the checks that the United States established to ensure that it was taking appropriate actions to fight corruption, and there was anonymous consensus among the State Department, Department of Defense and National Security Council that the President should release the military aid that Ukraine critically needed to fight Russian aggression.
So, Mr. Goldman, between the time that President Trump put a hold on the aid to Ukraine and then released the aid, the President never conducted an actual review or corruption assessment on Ukraine, did he?
GOLDMAN: That's correct. There was no witness testified that there was any review or investigation of any sort related to the Ukraine aid.
JAYAPAL: And isn't it also true that had Defense Department determined not to conduct a review because Ukraine after the President froze the military aid because Ukraine had already met all of the corruption benchmarks in May of 2019?
GOLDMAN: Yes, and everyone involved in Ukraine policy believed that they were on the right path, and President Zelensky, in particular.
JAYAPAL: In addition to Ukraine having satisfied all the relevant corruption assessments prior to U.S. military aid being withheld, there is significant witness testimony that both the State Department and the Ukrainian embassy actually advised that a White House meeting with President Zelensky would help further an anti-corruption agenda, correct?
GOLDMAN: Both the anti-corruption agenda and the aggression - fighting the aggression from Russia.
JAYAPAL: In fact, President Trump's budget actually cut funding for fighting corruption in Ukraine. Now, Mr. Castor argues that President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine because he was skeptical of foreign assistance in general. But in both 2017 and 2018, didn't President Trump release military aid for Ukraine without any complaints about corruption?
GOLDMAN: That's correct.
JAYAPAL: So Mr. Goldman, the President was perfectly fine giving military aid to Ukraine in 2017 and 2018, but somehow not in 2019, so what changed?
GOLDMAN: Joe Biden starting running for President.
JAYAPAL: Vice President Biden started running so--
GOLDMAN: And I would add the Mueller report came out, which did not - even though it did not charge the President, it implicated the President and his campaign in welcoming the assistance from Russia and utilizing it.
JAYAPAL: And the sequence of events and all the corroborating evidence makes it crystal clear that President Trump didn't care about corruption at all. In fact, as he told us himself on national television, he simply cared about his own politically motivated investigations into his political rival.
And you saw the clip where Ambassador Sondland picked up the phone, called President Trump and then Mr. Holmes asked him what the President thought about Ukraine and quickly what was Mr. Sondland's answer?
GOLDMAN: Mr. Sondland said the President does not give a bleep about Ukraine. He only cares about the big stuff, meaning the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing. And by the way, just to add, that is a direct evidence conversation between President Trump and Ambassador Sondland on that day and there are many that we have not talked about on the minority side.
JAYAPAL: So we know what President Trump was interested in based on his words, his actions, and witness testimony. The President of the United States wanted Ukraine to announce an investigation into a political rival for his own personal political benefit to interfere in our election, and he was willing to use U.S. military aid, which is taxpayer dollars, and an essential White House meeting as his leverage. That is unacceptable and a grave abuse of power. I yield back.
REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): The gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized for five minutes.
REP. GUY RESCHENTHALER (R-PA): Thank you, madam Chairwoman. In the Navy we had a saying, bluff, which is bottom-line upfront. Let me give everybody the bottom-line.
We're here because Democrats are terrified that President Trump is going to win re-election. That's really what this call comes down to. Let me get into the specifics.
We're here dealing with impeachment because Democrats don't want to talk about the red hot Trump economy. They don't want to talk about the fact that we have the lowest unemployment rates in 50 years.
We are dealing with impeachment because Democrats don't want to talk about how the President has worked to protect American companies from Chinese aggression, how he's renegotiated trade deals that benefit American workers, how he's eliminated burdensome regulations that hurt the economy and that help job creators.
Congressional Democrats don't want to be reminded that the American people, that the Democratic agenda includes such laughable ideas like banning airplanes, giving illegal immigrants taxpayer-funded health care and taking private health insurance away from the American people. That's really why we're here.
This whole process is just a distraction. It's an attempt to hide the far left radical agenda. So let's talk about the facts. Schiff's report claims the administration froze military aid for Ukraine without explanation. Yet the facts are that President Trump gave more military aid to Ukraine than President Obama. President Obama gave Ukraine well wishes and blankets. President Trump gave the Ukrainians Javelin Missiles, that's the difference, and those are the facts.
Let's go over some more facts. House Democrats want to claim it's a conspiracy that Ukrainian officials attempted to interfere with the 2016 election. Yet, Ukrainians attempts to interfere with the 2016 election are well documented by "POLITICO", by "Financial Times" and "The Hill." There was an attempt to influence our elections, and that's troubling and that's why President Trump brought it to the attention of President Zelensky. Again, those are the facts.
At the end of the day, those facts don't seem to matter to my Democrat colleagues. House Democrats don't care that President Zelensky has repeatedly said there was no pressure. It's not important that the call script was the best evidence we have. It is the best evidence we have. It's the actual primary document. That transcript shows there was no quid pro quo, no bribery. I got to remember we're calling it bribery after an old Latin phrase didn't poll well or test well in a Democrat focus group. My Democrat colleagues seem to really care about focus groups and polling. Unfortunately, again, they don't care about the facts.
Because the fact is that Democrats were calling for impeachment before this investigation even began. Representative Talib said in January, I don't even think we were sworn in yet, she said in January, "Impeach the mother." Representative Green said in May - and I quote - "I'm concerned that if we don't impeach this President, he will get re- elected."
These proceedings, this entire process is nothing more than a political hit job. Well, unlike my Democrat colleagues, I actually do care about the facts, which is why I'm troubled that our Committee did not hear from a single fact witness this entire time.
We should be here hearing from Hunter Biden. We should be hearing from Schiff's staff. We know that Schiff's staff coordinated with the whistleblower, and again, we need to hear from the whistleblower.
Last week I offered a motion to subpoena the whistleblower to testify in executive session, meaning that he or she could testify behind closed doors. My Democrat colleagues voted my motion down in a partisan fashion. Mr. Castor, can you walk us through the inaccuracies in the whistleblower's complaint?
CASTOR: The first thing about the complaint that troubles us is that it's clearly from an outsider who received information secondhand. The information presented in the complaint is clearly distorted and it's from a person who is - it seems to be making a case like an advocate about what happened on the call.
The whistleblower references a number of individuals inside the White House and at the State Department that he or she has spoken to, to form the basis of the complaint. We have not been able to piece together all those people and talking to all those people is important.
And there's a lot of - I'm running out of time here, but there's a reference to Lutsenko in the whistleblower complaint where witnesses have told us it's likely V. Shokin. Vindman and Morrison's testimony about why they went to talk to the lawyers, very different reasons. Mr. Brechbuhl--
REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): The gentleman's time has expired.
CASTOR: I don't believe he was on the call.
REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): I recognize the gentle woman from Florida for five minutes.
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Mr. Goldman, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, I saw significant firsthand evidence that President Trump conditioned our military aid on Ukraine announcing investigations into the 2016 election and the Bidens and betrayed our national security interests in the process.
For example, Ambassador Sondland told us that once the Ukrainians found out about the aid being withheld, it was made and I quote, abundantly clear to them that if they wanted the aid, and I quote, "they were going to have to make these statements."
Mr. Goldman, beginning on and around the 25th of July call through September, would you agree that consistent with the testimony we just reviewed Ukraine was made aware that to receive our military aid and the White House visit that they were going to have to make a statement announcing the investigations?
GOLDMAN: Not only were they made aware, but they were made aware either by President Trump's proxy, Rudy Giuliani, or from President Trump himself through Ambassador Sondland who spoke to President Zelensky and Andriy Yermak on September 7th and told them what President Trump had confirmed to him that the aid was conditioned on the investigations.
DEMINGS: And by the end of August, President Zelensky did, in fact, commit to making that statement on CNN, is that correct?
GOLDMAN: That's right. Finally, President Zelensky relented after months of trying to not get involved in what he called the domestic U.S. political process and ultimately recognizing that he had no choice to break the stalemate, as Ambassador Sondland told them, that he ultimately agreed to go on television before the - before President Trump got caught and released the aid.
DEMINGS: I'd like to direct your attention to the screen in front of you which displays, again, a "Washington Post" article from September 5th. The headline says, "Trump tries to force Ukraine to meddle in the 2020 elections."
And the article reports that President Trump ism and I quote, "Attempting to force Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. Mr. Trump is not just soliciting Ukraine's help with his Presidential campaign; he is using United States military aid the country desperately needs in an attempt to extort it."
So am I correct, Mr. Goldman, that by September 25th allegations that President Trump was using military aid to pressure Ukraine to announce investigation was being widely reported?
GOLDMAN: I'm sorry, by what date?
DEMINGS: September 5th.
GOLDMAN: Yes, well, widely reported - certainly, the aid being withheld was widely reported. DEMINGS: And by September 9th, our investigative committees formally
announced a congressional investigation into the President of these issues - to the President about these issues. And Mr. Goldman, what day did President Trump release the military aid?
GOLDMAN: Two days after the investigations were announced and two days after the IG, the Inspector General, told the Intelligence Committee that there was a complaint that was being withheld.
DEMINGS: So then am I correct that as the timeline on the screen in front of you shows, it wasn't until after the whistleblower complaint, after the "Washington Post" report, and after Congress launched the investigations that President Trump finally released the aid?
GOLDMAN: That's right. And I would just add one thing briefly to the Congressman's point, that it is true that President Trump has given more military assistance than President Obama. And so one would wonder if he does support military assistance so much, why then is he holding it up for more than two months?
DEMINGS: And matter of fact, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman testified that people at the NSC, in fact, discussed that Congress' investigation, "might have the effect of releasing the hold on Ukraine's military aid, because it would be potentially politically challenging to justify the aid," is that correct?
GOLDMAN: That was the testimony, yes.
DEMINGS: In other words, the aid was released after the President got caught. And what makes me angry is that this President - President Trump, thinks he can get away with it. But he got caught and he tried to cover it up. But we won't let him do that.
And we thank god, Mr. Goldman, for the true courageous public servants who came forward in spite of intimidation and obstruction from the White House.
You see, everybody counts, but everybody is accountable, up to and including, the President of the United States. Thank you. And I yield back.
REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): Thank you. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Correa - I'm sorry, California.
REP. LOU CORREA (D-CA): Thank you, Madam Chair. Mr. Goldman, my colleagues keep talking about the fact that the President apparently said and I quote, "no quid pro quo" on September 7th in a call with Ambassador Sondland. Mr. Goldman, did you receive testimony about this September 7th call?
GOLDMAN: Yes. We received testimony from three witnesses about it and it gets a little complicated. But that was a consistent refrain through all the witnesses, is that the President did say no quid pro quo. CORREA: Let's try to clarify it. Ambassador Sondland described that
call to Mr. Morrison that same day, correct?
GOLDMAN: that's correct.
CORREA: And Mr. Morrison then reported it to Ambassador Taylor, correct?
GOLDMAN: That's correct, yes.
CORREA: And both Mr. Morrison and Ambassador Taylor took notes of those discussions.
GOLDMAN: They did.
CORREA: Were those notes produced to the Committee?
GOLDMAN: They were not produced to us, but the witnesses said that they relied on their notes to provide their testimony.
CORREA: That set of notes was blocked consistent with the President's direction?
CORREA: And in his recitation to Mr. Morrison, Ambassador Sondland said that President Trump himself brought up the words "quid pro quo."
GOLDMAN: That's right. Ambassador Sondland also said that too, yes.
CORREA: Mr. Goldman, what did the Committee make of this fact?
GOLDMAN: Well, it was quite odd that the President would volunteer in response to nothing about a quid pro quo that there was no quid pro quo. But I think--
CORREA: Go ahead.
GOLDMAN: Well, I was just going to say, what's even more important is that what he said immediately after that, which is effectively conduct that amounts to a quid pro quo. He said there's no quid pro quo, but you have to go to the microphone and make this announcement--
CORREA: Let's talk about that. What did the Committee make of the fact that according to Ambassador Taylor and Mr. Morrison, right after President Trump said no quid pro quo, President Trump then told Ambassador Sondland that Ukrainian President Zelensky would have to go to the microphone and announce the investigations of Biden and the 2016 election interference and that President Zelensky should want to do that himself?
GOLDMAN: That's right. We had a number of different accounts of this and I think this is--
CORREA: They're up on the board here. GOLDMAN: Right, I see that, yes. Ambassador Taylor said that Mr.
Morrison said something similar. Their understanding of that conversation is that there was a clear directive that there was a quid pro quo, factually from the conduct, from the actions.
We've talked a lot today about the words and that Zelensky said no pressure and Trump said no pressure and no quid pro quo. But as an investigator, as a prosecutor, you need to look at the actions to understand what those words mean. And that's why this call, in particular, is so important.
CORREA: Let's go further. As we've discussed multiple individuals reacted with concern to President Trump's call with Ambassador Sondland. Do you recall Mr. Morrison's reaction?
GOLDMAN: Mr. Morrison said that he was shocked, I think, and that--
CORREA: Sinking feeling?
GOLDMAN: Sinking feeling, correct. And then he went and talked to the lawyers at the direction of Ambassador Bolton.
CORREA: Correct. And Mr. Goldman, Ambassador Taylor also testified that he concluded that the military aid was conditioned on Zelensky announcing the investigations and he testified that this was "illogical, crazy and wrong," is that right?
GOLDMAN: That's what Ambassador Taylor testified to, yes.
CORREA: My colleagues have also pointed out that on September 9th a text message from Sondland reflecting that the President has been crystal clear that there is no quid pro quo. Mr. Goldman, am I correct that Ambassador Sondland has now testified that prior to sending his texts, he himself came to believe that the aid was conditioned on the announcement of investigations?
GOLDMAN: Yes. Ambassador Sondland's subsequent public testimony revealed at least two things that were precisely false, that were not true in that text message, including that there was no quid pro quo of any kind when he testified and we saw the video earlier that there absolutely assuredly was as it related to the White House meeting.
CORREA: And this September 7th call and the September 9th text occurred after the press reports -- that is after the press reports -- President Trump was conditioning military aid on investigations of his political rival...
CORREA: Is that correct?
GOLDMAN: Yes. And it also -- this text occurred after Ambassador Sondland relayed President Trump's message to President Zelensky. CORREA: Mr. Goldman, did the investigative committee received any other evidence relevant to the credibility of the president's assertion that there was no quid pro quo?
GOLDMAN: We received a lot of evidence and all of the evidence points to the fact that there was a quid pro quo.
CORREA: Thank you. I yield.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, I have a unanimous consent request. Or Madam Chairman.
SCANLON: Can you please hold it until after I do my questions? Thank you.
(UNKNOWN): Just -- it's just -- it will be very, very brief. It's just unanimous consent.
SCANLON: I recognize myself for five minutes.
Mr. Goldman, you talked about actions speaking louder than words. So, I want to focus on why it was an abuse of power for President Trump to use the American government to pressure the Ukraine president to benefit his reelection campaign.
Let's look at what the president said in his July 25th call to the president of Ukraine. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman listened to the president's call and testified that when President Trump asked Ukraine for a favor, it wasn't a friendly request. It was really a demand.
I'm going to direct your attention to the slide about Lieutenant Colonel Vindman's testimony. Why did he say the president's favor was a demand?
GOLDMAN: He said because the power disparity between the United States as the greatest power in the world and Ukraine which is so dependent on the United States not just for the military assistance but for all of its support, made such a request, effectively a demand, because President Zelensky could not, in reality say no.
SCANLON: Am I correct that this vast power disparity exists in part because Ukraine has been at war with Russia since Russia invaded five years ago, and over 13,000 of the Ukraine people have died, is that correct?
GOLDMAN: Yes. And not only does the U.S. provide 10 percent of their military budget, but the United States is a critical ally in rallying other countries to support Ukraine.
Europe actually gives four or five -- the European Union gives, I think, gives four times as much money as the United States, overall, to Ukraine.
SCANLON: So, President Trump knew that the Ukrainian president's back was against the wall and President Zelensky needed U.S. validation and support, is that right? GOLDMAN: Yes.
SCANLON: Now, according to the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine and I've -- we have Ambassador Taylor's testimony up there, it wasn't until after Ambassador Sondland told the Ukrainians that there would be a, quote, "stalemate," end quote, on the aid, that Zelensky agreed to announce the investigations that President Trump was demanding, correct?
GOLDMAN: That's right, yes.
CORREA: OK. And furthermore, the Committee heard testimony that the Ukrainians felt they had, quote, "no choice but to comply with President Trump's demands," correct?
GOLDMAN: That's right, yes. Even after the aid was released.
CORREA: OK. In fact, when asked in front of President Trump in September whether he felt pressured, President Zelensky said, quote, "I'm sorry but I don't want to be involved to Democratic open elections, elections of the USA," end quote. Is that right?
GOLDMAN: That sounds right if you're reading the quote, yes.
SCANLON: OK. Now, the president and some of his defenders here have tried to excuse his misconduct by pointing to statements from the Ukraine president that he was not under pressure to give in to President Trump's demand. Did your investigative committees consider those statements by President Zelensky?
GOLDMAN: We did. And we found that the statements of what is effectively an extortion victim are not particularly relevant to the actual truth of the matter because President Zelensky cannot, in reality, for the same reasons that he's -- he interpreted the request to be a demand, he can't go out and say that he did feel pressure because that would potentially upset President Trump and they're so dependent on the relationship with President Trump and the United States.
SCANLON: One could almost say it's similar to a hostage, testifying under duress.
GOLDMAN: It is certainly a -- duress would be a good word.
SCANLON: So, when the president made these statements and up to and including today, his country was still under attack by Russia, still hadn't gotten a meeting at the White House, and still needed aid from the United States, correct?
GOLDMAN: That's right is, and David Holmes testified very, I think, persuasively about the importance of the White House meeting and of the relationship to Ukraine even after the aid was lifted, including pointing to today when President Putin and President Zelensky met to discuss the war in the east. SCANLON: SO, the evidence is clear that President Trump knew he had the power to force Ukraine's hand and took advantage of that desperation and abuse the powers of his office by using our taxpayer dollars, basically, to get what he wanted, right?
GOLDMAN: Yes. And what's really important here, and I think it has to be clarified, is that the president -- the evidence showed that the president directly said to Ambassador Sondland that there was a quid pro quo with the security assistance. And there's been some debate and some discussion about that, but that is one thing that the evidence shows, based on the Morrison testimony, the Taylor testimony, the Sondland testimony, and the texts. So, that's very important to understand that whatever we want to say about hearsay or whatever, that is direct evidence.
SCANLON: And that is precisely the kind of betrayal that our founders sought to prevent.
I yield back to myself and I'll recognize the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Cline.
(UNKNOWN): Madam Chair, you indicated to me that you would allow me to make my uniform consent after you had asked your questions. So, I'd ask for uniform consent -- excuse me, unanimous consent to introduce two letters...
NADLER: The gentleman will suspend. The gentleman -- who is seeking unanimous consent? What are you consider -- for what are you seeking unanimous consent?
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, I have two letters addressed to you on December 4, 2019 and one December 5, 2019.
NADLER: Without objection.
(UNKNOWN): Thank you.
NADLER: The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Cline.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, I have brief parliamentary inquiry regarding scheduling.
NADLER: The gentleman from Virginia is recognized.
CLINE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Last week I expressed concern regarding the deeply flawed and partisan process the Democrat majority has been undertaking during this impeachment inquiry.
Mr. chairman, I'm particularly reminded of your quote, "there must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment substantially supported by one of our major political parties and largely opposed by the other." Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy, would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come and will call on to question the very legitimacy of our political institutions."
You made that statement back in 1998. Now. I'm glad we're moving on to presenting the, quote-unquote, "evidence" gathered in this report, not to hear from direct fact witnesses but a 300-page report that's built largely on hearsay, opinion, and speculation.
I'm especially outraged that the purported author of it, Chairman Schiff, is not here to answer our questions today. Now, that we have the report and can discuss the facts within or the lack thereof, there are four facts that will never change. Both President Trump and President Zelensky say there was no pressure. Second, the call transcript shows no conditionality between aid and an investigation. Three, Ukrainians were not aware that aid was withheld when the president spoke. And fourth, Ukraine didn't open an investigation but still received the aid and a meeting with President Trump.
I want to move on to the idea of hearsay and the fact that this report contains so much of it and relies on so much of it.
Mr. Castor, did the Democrats' impeachment report rely on hearsay to support their assertions?
CASTOR: Yes, it did.
CLINE: How many times were you able to find assertions based on hearsay?
CASTOR: We went through and counted over 50 instances of key facts.
CLINE: Can you give us some examples of the hearsay being relied on by the majority to make their case?
CASTOR: One of the -- a lot of the information, for example, that Ambassador Taylor was communicating, he very diligently recorded notes about what some of the various officials told him. But it was about -- it was one and two steps removed from the actual facts and that's the problem with hearsay is that it's a whisper down the lane situation.
And if some of the people that are doing the whispering have a -- are predisposed to not like President Trump, then what they're whispering down the lane becomes even more distorted.
CLINE: Did you also find instances where the Democrats' report used witnesses' speculations and presumptions
CASTOR: In the biggest one, of course. And this has sort of become the big daddy of the hearing is Sondland presuming that the aid was tied to the investigations because as he engaged in a back and forth with Mr. Turner, nobody on the planet told him that that was the case.
CLINE: Mr. Castor, I want to move on to foreign policy and the idea that somehow, the president was abusing foreign policy. Repeatedly, witnesses came before the Intelligence Committee and talked about how the president was operating outside the bounds of the process or using norms.
The president sets foreign policy, correct?
CLINE: And from where does he derive that power?
CASTOR: The constitution.
CLINE: Article 2 Section 2, in fact.
CASTOR: The people, yes.
CLINE: Can you give us examples of these members of the foreign policy establishment who took issue with the president's foreign policy direction and choices
CASTOR: Well, for example, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman testified that when he was listening to that call, he had prepared talking points and a call package and he was visibly, just completely deflated when he realized that his call notes weren't being referenced by the president.
And a lot of the inner agency officials, I think, became very sad that the president didn't revere their policy-making apparatus.
CLINE: Is it safe to say there's another reason the president is skeptical of relying on some of these individuals to carry out his foreign policy goals like rooting out corruption in Ukraine?
CASTOR: I think the president is skeptical of the inter-agency bureaucracy.
CLINE: Is that maybe why he, instead, relied on Secretary Perry and Ambassador Volker and Ambassador Sondland and others?
CASTOR: Correct. And by the way, all three of those officials are not that far outside of the chain of the U.S. government.
CLINE: Would it be appropriate in any investigation of corruption in the Ukraine to exempt or remove, say, a political supporter?
CASTOR: Certainly would be.
CLINE: Would it be inappropriate to remove a political opponent?
CASTOR: That's correct. Yes.
CLINE: Would it be inappropriate to remove the son of a political opponent from any investigation involving Ukrainian...
CASTOR: Absolutely. I mean, this all goes to the heart of bias.
CLINE: Thank you for those answers.
Mr. Chairman, I go back to what you said this morning about the facts being undisputed. I would argue that the facts, in fact, are disputed. And what you contend are facts are, in fact, not. They are witness presumptions, hearsay, and speculation.
And the facts here are, in fact, that this is the shortest impeachment in U.S. history, based on the thinnest of evidentiary records and on the narrowest grounds. Mr. Chairman, this impeachment process is a farce and a stain on Committee and on the House of Representatives, and I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back.
GARCIA: Thank you, Mr. chairman.
As we just heard, the president and his supporters have claimed that the investigating committees are relying on hearsay and that they have failed to obtain firsthand accounts of the president's conduct. Now, I'm a former judge and you, Mr. Goldman, a former prosecutor. We know what direct evidence is.
Mr. Goldman, my Republican colleagues have suggested there is no direct evidence, is that true?
GOLDMAN: No. There's a direct evidence and a lot of the evidence that they say is hearsay is actually not hearsay.
GARCIA: Indeed, it is not true. Now, I don't want to relive a law school evidence class. Instead, I'd like to go over some examples with you, and please tell me if they're direct or indirect evidence.
Ambassador Sondland and Mr. Volker both testified that on May 23, 2019, President Trump told him to, quote, "Talk to Rudy about Ukraine." Is that direct evidence?
GOLDMAN: Yes, technically. Well, not technically, but yes.
GARCIA: Thank you.
And then we have the memorandum of the 20 -- July 25th call between President Trump and President Zelensky. Is that direct evidence?
GOLDMAN: Yes, that is.
GARCIA: So, there is direct evidence that President Trump asked President Zelensky to look into these investigations and directed both President Zelensky and U.S. officials to talk to his personal attorney about those investigations, correct?
GOLDMAN: Yes. And if I could just jump in here, on the 20 -- July 25th call, because these four facts that we keep hearing about that are not in dispute are -- three of them are completely wrong.
So, one of them happens to be that there's no quid pro quo mentioned in the July 25th call. There is absolutely a quid pro quo when President Zelensky says I also wanted to thank you for your invitation to visit the United States, specifically Washington D.C. And then he says, on the other hand, I also want to ensure you that we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation.
That is the quid pro quo that President Zelensky was informed of before the call. So, that's wrong. It's also wrong that no Ukrainians knew about the aid being withheld at the time of the call even though that doesn't even matter. But -- and then finally, there was no White House meeting ever provided, so the third or fourth fact.
So, I do think that that needs to be clarified, particularly, as we're focusing on what direct evidence is.
GARCIA: Well, let's get some more examples. We also heard the testimony of three individuals who participated in the July 25 call. Is their testimony direct evidence of what happened during that call?
GOLDMAN: Yes, although I would say the call record is better evidence than their...
GARCIA: And day after that call, David Holmes testified that on July 26th, he overheard the president ask Ambassador Sondland whether President Zelensky was, quote, "going to do the investigation?" is that direct evidence
GOLDMAN: That is direct evidence.
GARCIA: And after the July 25 call record was released, the president got on the White House lawn, and again, declared that Ukraine should investigate a potential political opponent's family, the Bidens. Is that direct evidence?
GOLDMAN: Yes, it is.
GARCIA: His own words.
Now, that seems to me like that's a lot of direct evidence. Mr. Goldman, was there other direct evidence that the Committee relied on in addition to these?
GOLDMAN: Well, there's a lot of evidence that I would call direct evidence because it's not hearsay. If any of the people involved in the scheme are talking to each other and they rely what someone else said, that is not hearsay. That would be in court, a co-conspirator statement, and that would be admissible.
So, let's not get too far afield on direct evidence...
GARCIA: Right. We don't want to relive that evidence class...
GOLDMAN: I understand, but it is important because anything Mr. Giuliani said, anything Ambassador Sondland says, anything -- any of these people say is not hearsay and would be permitted under the federal rules of evidence. Of course, we don't follow the federal rules of evidence here which is even more lenient. But that's an important point.
GARCIA: Right. Well, is there anything wrong, Mr. Goldman, withdrawing inferences from circumstances?
GOLDMAN: Courts tell juries to draw inferences every single day in every single courtroom. That is how you determine what the evidence shows.
So when Ambassador Sondland draws inferences from the fact that there's no explanation for the aid, the fact that the white house meeting has already been held up because of the investigations and determines that that's the reason why the security assistance is also held up, that is a natural logical inference that every jury draws across the country.
GARCIA: Well, I agree with you. I'm just disappointed that rather than respond to the serious factual, direct, and undisputed evidence before us, my colleagues continue to make unfounded arguments about the process.
What President Trump did here was wrong. It's unconstitutional. And if anyone else did this, they would be held accountable.
I urge all my colleagues to face this evidence and uphold the oaths each of us have taken to protect our constitution. Our democracy depends on ensuring that no one, not even the president, is above the law. I yield back.
NADLER: The gentlelady yields back.
NEGUSE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And as we approach the ninth hour of this hearing, I want to thank both Mr. Goldman and Mr. Castor for being here today and for your testimony.
There's been a lot of discussion about whether or not the facts of this matter are contested. I believe they are not contested, and so I'd like to level set here and give you both an opportunity to address some of the facts that I believe are not in dispute.
And I want to begin by addressing something that I think we all know for certain, and that's that Russia interfered in our 2016 election.
So, Mr. Goldman, after two years of investigation, special counsel concluded that Russia interfered in our elections, in quote, "sweeping in systemic fashion. Is that right?"
GOLDMAN: Yes. Right.
NEGUSE: Mr. Castor, is that right?
NEGUSE: And, Mr. Goldman, am I correct that zero intelligence agencies have publicly stated that Ukraine attacked our elections in 2016, is that right?
GOLDMAN: That's right. I don't even think the minority is alleging that the Ukrainian government systematically, in any meaningful way interfered. I think this is just based on a couple of news articles.
NEGUSE: Mr. Castor, correct?
CASTOR: The president had a good faith belief there were some significant Ukrainian officials...
NEGUSE: I hear you and you've said that previously. I guess, I'm asking you...
CASTOR: Well, I haven't said that the Ukrainian government...
NEGUSE: And there are no intelligence agencies in the United States that publicly stated that Ukraine has attacked our elections, right? That's- you're not testifying that that's the case?
CASTOR: I'm not. Right. Correct.
NEGUSE: OK. And in fact, President Trump's Former Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, said that the idea of Ukraine, for example, hacking the DNC server was, quote, "not only a conspiracy theory, it is completely debunked." That's President Trump's homeland security adviser that said those words that you see on the screen to my right.
Is that right, Mr. Goldman?
GOLDMAN: Yes, I saw that interview.
NEGUSE: Mr. Castor, you saw that interview?
CASTOR: I'm aware of it.
NEGUSE: In fact, isn't it true that none of the witnesses that appeared before your Committee testified in support of the theory that Ukraine somehow interfered in our elections.
Is that right, Mr. Goldman?
GOLDMAN: That is absolutely correct.
NEGUSE: Mr. Castor?
CASTOR: That's correct but it -- again...
NEGUSE: Thank you. No witnesses has testified in support of -- reclaim my time. No witnesses testified in support of that theory before your committee.
Mr. Goldman, isn't it also true that your Committee, in fact, received testimony indicating that there is evidence that Russia is, in part, perpetrating this false theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 elections because Russia wants to deflect blame for its own involvement?
GOLDMAN: That is correct. We had evidence of that and I think that it's very important to emphasize what is evidence and what is pure media reports or speculation because there is no evidence in our investigation that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.
NEGUSE: And in fact, I'd like to put some of the testimony that I believe you might be referencing, Mr. Goldman, on the screen in front of you, both for Mr. Holmes, as well as Dr. Fiona Hill.
And I will quote from her testimony, "I am very confident, based on all the analysis that has been done, and again, I don't want to start getting into intelligence matters, that the Ukraine government did not interfere in our election in 2016. This is a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves."
You recall the testimony, Mr. Goldman?
GOLDMAN: I do. I also recall her testifying that in addition to the Ukrainian officials who made a couple of disparaging comments about President Trump, there are officials from countries all over the world who also made disparaging comments about President Trump, and as Dr. Hill said, their military assistance was not put on hold.
NEGUSE: So, given your testimony and given yours as well, Mr. Castor, it strikes me that there are, in fact, four uncontested facts.
First, Russia attacked our 2016 elections. Several intelligence agencies have independently confirmed that this is true. Second, Ukraine did not interfere in our 2016 elections. There's absolutely no evidence that this baseless -- of this baseless conspiracy theory.
Third, there is evidence that Russia perpetrated the allegation that Ukraine interfered in our 2016 elections. And finally, that Russia benefits from the U.S. investigating Ukraine which was made clear through public testimony before your committee.
So, Mr. Goldman, is it fair to say that the intelligence community agrees with these for conclusions?
GOLDMAN: The intelligence community definitely agrees with one and two. Dr. Hill testified to three, as well as, there's a public statement from Mr. Putin, and yes, certainly the witnesses emphasized, four, that Russia benefits from this. And we saw, in my opening statement, President Putin's comments that it's good now that Ukraine is all the talk.
NEGUSE: And if that is the case, it begs the question, why would President Trump perpetuate this conspiracy theory already disproven by the entirety of the intelligence community that actually helps our adversary, a country that is attacking our elections in real time?
With that, I yield.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. Mr. Steube...
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, brief parliamentary inquiry about schedule.
NADLER: The gentleman -- Mr. Steube has already been recognized. He has the time.
STEUBE: Sir, are you going to recognize him after for his parliamentary inquiry after my question?
NADLER: I will make an announcement about the schedule shortly.
STEUBE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I've never seen a more partisan spectacle than what I've missed here today. Democrats want the rules to apply when it benefits them and not to apply when Republicans invoke them. Nine hours ago now, Mr. Berke, a hired gun for the government's got three minutes to spread his partisan rhetoric, and then 45 minutes to cross examine witnesses. That's 70 minutes more than most of the members of this committee, who've been elected by their districts to serve in the United States Congress.
And Mr. Berke is an unelected New York lawyer specifically brought in by the Democrats to give his opinion. A politically biased consultant who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal elections to the likes of ActBlue, Hillary Clinton, Obama, and Biden.
Mr. Berke gave over 5,000 alone to Hillary Clinton for her Presidential race. No wonder why he has an axe to grind. Mr. Berke is a white collar criminal defense lawyer who brags on his website of getting New York financial brokers deferred prosecution for tax fraud and fund managers off for insider trading charges.
And Mr. Berke was able to say whatever he wanted to say without swearing an oath to his testimony that it would be truthful so he could sit before this Committee, not as a fact witness, and directly lie to the American people without any threat of criminal prosecution.
Makes sense. He's a white-collar criminal defense lawyer. I'm sure he did not want to incriminate himself. This is the same Mr. Berke who authored a series of reports as early as October 2017, two years ago, on his opinion as to whether President Trump obstructed justice, and colluded with Russia. He also represented Mayor Bill de Blasio in a federal investigation of de Blasio's fund-raising activities.
For my fellow Americans and Floridians watching this charade, this is who was sitting at the top of the dais, next to the chairman, acting like a member of this Committee. A partisan New York lawyer with written bias against President Trump who gave thousands to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
And all of the spectacle, all of it, not a single fact witness has appeared in front of this Committee. We have been denied a minority hearing day which I asked for the last hearing. All we have had testify are partisan lawyers giving their opinions. So, let's talk about the fact that we do have before us.
We heard from Mueller. No evidence of the Trump campaign colluded or conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election. No obstruction of justice.
After denying the president to call witnesses in closed-door secret proceedings and denying Republicans from calling all their witnesses in closed-door proceedings, denying the president's counsel to cross- examine witnesses in the Intel hearing, the facts are this, Sondland stated, when questioned, did the president tell you about any pre- conditions for anything? His answer, no. For the aid to be refused? No. For a White House meeting? No. Ambassador Sondland also testified that President Trump wanted nothing from Ukraine.
Tim Morrison, when questioned, and there was no quid pro quo, answered? Correct. The aid was released, four facts never changed. Both President Trump and President Zelensky say there was no pressure, the call transcript shows no conditionality between aid and investigation, no quid pro quo. Ukrainians were not aware that the aid was withheld when the president spoke. Ukraine did not open investigation, but still received aid and a meeting with the president Trump.
Mr. Castor, has any Committee heard from the whistleblower, either in closed or hearings or in open hearings?
STEUBE: Did Chairman Schiff state that he would call the whistleblower to testify?
CASTOR: He did.
STEUBE: Has it happened?
CASTOR: It has not.
STEUBE: Is it going to occur?
CASTOR: I hope so.
STEUBE: Have other countries aid also been held up?
STEUBE: Mr. Goldman, on October 2nd, the New York Times reported that the whistleblower, quote, "approach a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns about Mr. Trump." Is that accurate?
GOLDMAN: I'm sorry? Say that again?
STEUBE: On October 2nd, the New York Times reported that the whistleblower approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concern about Mr. Trump. Is that accurate? GOLDMAN: I think the whistleblower's concerns about the president Trump are from the threats that...
STEUBE: No. That's not what I'm asking...
STEUBE: Did the whistleblower approach a House Intelligence -- let me ask you a different way. Have you had any communications with the whistleblower?
GOLDMAN: As I've said earlier in response to questions from her colleagues, I'm not going to get into any...
STEUBE: So, you're refusing to answer whether you've communicated with the whistleblower?
GOLDMAN: The whistleblower is not relevant to this report...
STEUBE: He's the whole basis of the beginning of this investigation. He is absolutely relevant...
GOLDMAN: Well, he's not...
STEUBE: ... to this Committee and to the American people.
GOLDMAN: He's not relied upon. The whistleblower's complaints, for the reasons that Mr. Castor said, are not included. His allegations are not included in our report because the evidence has been outstripped and surpassed by the 17 witnesses that we've had come in to testify directly about the conduct that the whistleblower blew the whistle about.
STEUBE: So, as you sit here today, do you know the identity of the whistleblower
GOLDMAN: Sir, I'm not going to talk to you about the identity of the whistleblower...
STEUBE: Because you're also refusing to answer whether you've had communications...
STEUBE: That's not my time, not yours. You're refusing to answer whether you had communication with the whistleblower, has any other staff in the intel community had communication with the whistleblower?
GOLDMAN: Sir, in the intelligence community...
STEUBE: And you're refusing to answer that question. And unfortunately, the American people want to know those answers and unfortunately, my time has expired.
GOLDMAN: Congress has -- Congress has the right to...
NADLER: I'm the chairman...
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, point of order, Mr. Chairman.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, I have unanimous consent...
NADLER: The gentleman will suspend -- the time of the gentleman -- the gentleman -- the time of the gentleman has expired.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, I have unanimous consent.
NADLER: Would -- the gentleman will state his unanimous consent request.
(UNKNOWN): Yes. Mr. Chairman, I ask for admission of the document entitled "Ukrainian Efforts to Sabotage Trump Backfire" dated January 11th, 2017.
NADLER: We'll -- give it to our stuff, we'll take a look at it and we'll make -- and we'll...
(UNKNOWN): Should I make a motion to insert instead, Mr. Chairman?
NADLER: I want to -- before I recognize Ms. McBath, I want to announce that, with respect to scheduling, that this hearing will proceed until the votes are called. It may end before votes are called, which would be nice. If it does not end before votes are called, then we will recess for the votes and we'll reconvene here as soon as the votes on the floor are over.
It's going to be a close call. We'll see. I will further announce that I'm not prepared to say anything further about the schedule of the Committee beyond today's hearing.
DEUTCH: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: Who's seeking -- who has a ..
DEUTCH: Mr. Chairman, point of order?
NADLER: Who seeks recognition for a point of order?
DEUTCH: I do, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: Who's I?
(UNKNOWN): To your right, Mr. Chairman.
DEUTCH: Over here.
NADLER: The -- for whatever purposes, Mr. (inaudible) is recognized.
[18:00:00] DEUTCH: To ask -- I wanted to confirm. A point of order is the rules of decorum and I don't believe the gentleman from Florida meant to violate them and I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. But more than once he referred to a New York lawyer --