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Day 3 of Public Impeachment Hearings Underway; Lt. Col. Vindman and Jennifer Williams, Special Advisor for Europe and Russia Face Questioning in Impeachment Hearing. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired November 19, 2019 - 10:00   ET



SCHIFF: -- the call, to expect this issue to come up. What -- what led you to that conclusion?

VINDMAN: It seemed unlikely that he would be familiar with a -- with a single company in the context of a call that had -- that was on the broader bilateral relationship. And he -- and it seemed to me that he was either tracking this issue because it was in the press or he was otherwise prepped.

SCHIFF: Mr. Goldman?

GOLDMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good morning to both of you.

On July 25th at approximately 9 a.m. you both were sitting in the Situation Room, probably not too much further away than you are right now, and you were preparing for a long-awaited phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky.

Now Colonel Vindman, in advance of this phone call did you prepare talking points as you did for the April 21st call?

VINDMAN: Yes, I did.

GOLDMAN: What were those talking points based upon?

VINDMAN: They were -- so this is not in the public record and -- and I -- I can't comment too deeply but what is -- the areas that we've consistently talked to -- talked about in public is cooperation on supporting his reform agenda, anti-corruption efforts, and helping President Zelensky implement his plans to end Russia's war against Ukraine.

GOLDMAN: In other words, they're based on official U.S. policy?

VINDMAN: Correct.

GOLDMAN: And is there a process to determine official U.S. policy?

VINDMAN: Yes, that is -- my job is to coordinate U.S. policy. So throughout the preceding year that I had been on staff, I had undertaken an effort to make sure we had a cohesive, coherent U.S. policy.

GOLDMAN: And as you listened to the call, did you observe whether President Trump was following the talking points based on the official U.S. policy?

VINDMAN: Counsel, the -- the president could choose to use the talking points or not, he's the president. But they were not consistent with what I provided, yes.

GOLDMAN: Let's take a look at a couple of excerpts from this -- this call. And right after President Zelensky thanked President Trump for the United States' support in the area of defense, President Trump asks President Zelensky for a favor, and then raises this theory of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

He says in the highlighted portion, "I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say CrowdStrike. I guess you have one of your wealthy people. The server, they say Ukraine has it."

Now, Colonel Vindman, was this statement based on the official talking points that you had prepared?


GOLDMAN: And was this statement related to the 2016 Ukraine interference in the 2016 election part of the official U.S. policy?

VINDMAN: No, it was not.

GOLDMAN: Now, at the time of this July 25 call, Colonel Vindman, were you aware of a theory that Ukraine had intervened or interfered in the 2016 U.S. election?


GOLDMAN: Are you aware of any credible evidence to support this theory?

VINDMAN: I am not.

GOLDMAN: Are you also aware that Vladimir Putin had promoted this theory of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election?

VINDMAN: I am well aware of that fact.

GOLDMAN: And ultimately, which country did U.S. intelligence services determine to have interfered in the 2016 election?

VINDMAN: It is the consensus of the entire Intelligence Community that the Russians interfered in U.S. elections in 2016.

GOLDMAN: Let's go to another excerpt from this call, where President Trump asked President Zelensky to investigate his political opponent, Vice President Joe Biden.

Here, President Trump says, "The other thing. There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it. It sounds horrible to me," he said.

Again, Colonel Vindman, was this included in your talking points?

VINDMAN: It was not.

GOLDMAN: Is such a request to investigate a political opponent consistent with official U.S. policy?


VINDMAN: It is -- was not consistent with the policy as I understood it.

GOLDMAN: Now, are you aware of any credible allegations or evidence to support this notion that Vice President Biden did something wrong or against U.S. policy with regard to Ukraine?

VINDMAN: I am not.

GOLDMAN: Ms. Williams, are you familiar with any credible evidence to support this theory against Vice President Biden?

WILLIAMS: No, I'm not.

GOLDMAN: Now, Ms. Williams, prior to the July 25th call, approximately how many calls between president -- the president of the United States and foreign leaders had you listened to?

WILLIAMS: I would say roughly a dozen.

GOLDMAN: Had you ever heard a call like this?

WILLIAMS: As I testified before, I believe what I found unusual or different about this call was the president's reference to specific investigations and that struck me as different than other calls I had listened to.

GOLDMAN: You testified that you thought it was political in nature. What did -- why did you think that?

WILLIAMS: I thought that the references to specific individuals and investigations such as former Vice President Biden and his son struck me as political in nature given that the former vice president is a political opponent of the president.

GOLDMAN: And so you thought that it could potentially be designed to assist President Trump's reelection effort?

WILLIAMS: I can't speak to what the president's motivation was in referencing it but I just noted that the reference to Biden sounded political to me.

GOLDMAN: Colonel Vindman, you -- you said in your deposition that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the political benefits of the president's demands. For those of us who are not rocket scientists, can you explain what you meant by that?

VINDMAN: So my understanding is that -- that it was -- the connection to investigating to a political opponent was inappropriate and improper. I made that connection as soon as the president brought up the Biden investigation.

GOLDMAN: Colonel Vindman, you testified that the president -- President Trump's request for a favor from President Zelensky would be considered as a demand to President Zelensky.

After this call, did you ever call from any Ukrainians, either in the United States or Ukraine, about any pressure that they felt to do these investigations that President Trump demanded?

VINDMAN: Not that I can recall.

GOLDMAN: Did you have any discussions with officials at the embassy here -- the Ukrainian Embassy here in Washington, D.C.?

VINDMAN: Yes, I did.

GOLDMAN: Did you discuss at all the demand for investigations with them?

VINDMAN: I did not.

GOLDMAN: Did you discuss at all, at any point, their concerns about the hold on security assistance?

VINDMAN: To the best of my recollection, in the August timeframe, the Ukrainian Embassy started to become aware of the hold on security assistance and they were asking if I had any comment on that of if I could substantiate that.

GOLDMAN: And that was before it went -- became public -- is that right?


GOLDMAN: And what did you respond?

VINDMAN: I believe I said that I -- I don't recall, frankly. I don't recall what I said, but I believe it may have been something along the lines of I'm not aware of it.

GOLDMAN: You testified that one of your concerns about the request for investigations related to U.S. domestic politics was that Ukraine may lose bipartisan support. Why was that a concern of yours?

VINDMAN: Ukraine is in a war with -- with Russia and the security assistance that we provide Ukraine is significant. Absent that security assistance, and maybe even more importantly the signal of support for Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, that would likely encourage Russia to pursue -- to potentially escalate to pursue further aggression, undermining -- further undermining Ukrainian sovereignty, European security, and U.S. security.

GOLDMAN: So in other words, Ukraine is heavily dependent on United States' support, both diplomatically, financially and also militarily?

VINDMAN: Correct.

GOLDMAN: Colonel Vindman, what languages do you speak?

VINDMAN: I speak Russian and Ukrainian and a little bit of English.



GOLDMAN: You -- do you know what -- do you recall what language President Zelensky spoke on this July 25th phone call?

VINDMAN: I know he made a valiant effort to speak English. He had been practicing up his English, but he also spoke Ukrainian.

GOLDMAN: I want to look at the third excerpt from the July 25th call, and Chairman Schiff addressed this with you in his questioning, and you see in the highlighted portion, it says specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue, is that the portion of the call record that, Colonel Vindman, you though President Zelensky actually said Burisma?

VINDMAN: Correct.

GOLDMAN: And you testified earlier that his use of -- or his understanding that when President Trump mentioned the Biden's that that referred to the company Burisma sounded to you like he was prepped or prepared for this call. Is that right?

VINDMAN: That is correct.

GOLDMAN: I want to go to the next slide if we could, which is actually a text message that neither of you is on, but this is from Ambassador Kurt Volker to Andriy Yermak. And Colonel Vindman, who's Andriy Yermak?

VINDMAN: Andriy Yermak is a senior adviser within the presidential administration -- Ukrainian presidential administration. He's a senior adviser to President Zelensky.

GOLDMAN: Now, this text message is less than half hour before the call on July 25th. And since neither of you are on it, I'll read it.

It says from -- from Ambassador Volker, "Good lunch -- thanks. Heard from White House -- assuming President Z convinces Trump he will investigate," quote, "get to the bottom of what happened," unquote, "in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck. See you tomorrow -- Kurt."

Now, is this the sort of thing that you're referring to when you say that it sounded like President Zelensky was prepared for this call?

VINDMAN: That -- that -- this would be consistent, yes.

GOLDMAN: Now, turning to the fourth excerpt from the July 25th call where Ukraine's President Zelensky links the White House meeting to the investigations that President Trump requests.

President Zelensky says, "I also wanted to thank you for your invitation to visit the United States, specifically Washington, D.C. On the other hand, I also wanted to ensure you that we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation."

Colonel Vindman, when President Zelensky says "on the other hand," would you agree that he's acknowledging a linkage between the White House visit that he mentions in the first sentence and the investigations that he mentions in the second sentence?

VINDMAN: It could be taken that way, but I'm not sure if I -- it seems like a reasonable conclusion.

GOLDMAN: And if that is the case, that would be consistent with the text message that Ambassador Volker sent to Andriy Yermak right before the call, is that right?

VINDMAN: Seemingly so.

GOLDMAN: Now, you've testified in your deposition that a White House visit -- an Oval Office visit is very important to President Zelensky. Why is that?

VINDMAN: The show of support for President Zelensky, still a brand new president, frankly, a new politician on the Ukrainian political scene, looking to establish his bona fides as a regional and maybe even a world leader would want to have a meeting with the United States, the most powerful country in the world and Ukraine's most significant benefactor, in order to be able to implement his agenda.

GOLDMAN: It would provide him with some additional legitimacy at home?


GOLDMAN: So just to summarize, in this July 25th call between the president's of the United States and Ukraine, President Trump demanded a favor of President Zelensky to conduct investigations that both of you acknowledge were for President Trumps political interest, not the national interest and in return for his promise of a much-desired White House meeting for President Zelensky.

Colonel Vindman, is that an accurate summary of the exceptions that we just looked at?


GOLDMAN: Ms. Williams?


GOLDMAN: Colonel Vindman, you immediately reported this call to the NSC lawyers. Why did you do that?


VINDMAN: So at this point, I had already been tracking this, initially what I would describe as alternative narrative, false narrative. And I was certainly aware of the fact that it was starting to reverberate and gain traction.

The fact that it, in the July 10th call, ended up being pronounced by a public official, Ambassador Sondland, had me alerted to this. And I was -- subsequent to that report, I was invited to follow-up with other concerns to Mr. Eisenberg.

GOLDMAN: And we're going to discuss that July 10th meeting in a moment. But when you say alternative, false narratives, are you referring to the two investigations that President Trump referenced in the call?


GOLDMAN: Now, at some point, did you also discuss how the written summary of the call records should be handed with the NSC lawyers?

VINDMAN: There was -- following the report, there was a discussion in the legal shop on the best way to manage the transcript, yes.

GOLDMAN: What did you understand they concluded?

VINDMAN: My understanding is that this was viewed as a sensitive transcript and to avoid leaks. And if I recall, the term "properly," or something along the lines of "preserve the integrity of the transcript," it should be segregated to a smaller group of folks.

GOLDMAN: To preserve the integrity of the transcript? What did -- what did that mean?

VINDMAN: I'm not sure I -- I mean, it seems like a legal term. I'm not an attorney. But it was -- I didn't take it as anything nefarious. I just understood that they wanted to keep it into -- in a smaller group.

GOLDMAN: If there was real interest in preserving the integrity of the transcripts, don't you think they would have accepted your correction that Burisma should have been included?

VINDMAN: Not necessarily. The way these edits occur, they go through, like everything else, a approval process. I made my contribution. It was cleared by Mr. Morrison. Then when I returned it, you know, sometimes that doesn't happen. There are -- are administrative errors. I think, in this case, I didn't see -- didn't -- when I first saw the transcript without the two substantive items that I had attempted to include, I didn't see that as nefarious. I just saw it as, OK, no big deal. You know, these might be meaningful, but it's not that big a deal.

GOLDMAN: You said two substantive issues. What was the other one?

VINDMAN: There was a reference in a -- in a section -- one second.

Yeah, on page four, the top paragraph -- let me find the right spot.




"You can look into it, ellipses (ph) -- there are videos," is what I recall.


VINDMAN: Or "there are recordings" -- "recordings."

GOLDMAN: Instead of an ellipses, there should -- it should have said, to what you heard, that "there are recordings"?

VINDMAN: Correct.

GOLDMAN: Did you ultimately learn where the call record was put?

VINDMAN: I understood that it was being segregated into a separate system, a separate secure system.

GOLDMAN: Why -- why would it be put on a separate secure system?

VINDMAN: This is definitely not unprecedented. But at times, if you want to limit access to a smaller group of folks, you put it on a secure system to ensure that a smaller group of people with access to the secure system have it.

GOLDMAN: But can't you also limit the number of people who can access it on the regular system?

VINDMAN: You can do that. But to the best of my recollection, the decision was made, frankly, on the fly, after my -- after the fact I -- after I conveyed my concerns to Mr. Eisenberg, Mr. Ellis came in. He hadn't heard the entire conversation. And when it was mentioned that it was sensitive, it was, kind of, an on-the-fly decision to just segregate it in this other system.

GOLDMAN: Mr. Eisenberg and Mr. Ellis are the NSC lawyers?

VINDMAN: Correct. GOLDMAN: But it was your understanding that it was not a mistake to put it on the highly classified system, is that right?

VINDMAN: I'm not sure I understand.

GOLDMAN: Was it intended to be put on the highly classified system by the lawyers or was it a mistake that it was put there?

VINDMAN: I think it was intended. But, again, it was intended to prevent leaks and to limit access.

GOLDMAN: Now, you testified, both of you, about the April 21st call, a little earlier.

And, Colonel Vindman, you indicated that you did include in your talking points the idea of Ukraine rooting out corruption, but that President Trump did not mention corruption.


I want to go to the White House readout from the April 21st call. And at the -- I'm not going to read the whole thing. But do you see the highlighted portion, where it says "root out corruption?"


GOLDMAN: So, in the end, this readout was false, is that right?

VINDMAN: That's -- that's -- maybe that's a bit of -- it's not entirely accurate. But I'm not sure if I would describe it as false. It was consistent with U.S. policy. And these items are used as messaging tools also.

So a statement that goes out, in addition to, you know, reading out the meeting itself, is also a messaging platform to indicate what is important with regards to U.S. policy.

GOLDMAN: So it is a part of U.S. official policy that Ukraine should root out corruption, even if President Trump did not mention it in that 21st -- April 21st phone call, is that right?

VINDMAN: Certainly.

GOLDMAN: And he also did not mention it in the July 25th phone call, is that right?

VINDMAN: Correct.

GOLDMAN: So even though it was included in his talking points for the April 21st call and presumably even though you can't talk about it for the July 21st call, it was not included in either, is that right?

VINDMAN: For the -- the April 21st call...

GOLDMAN: He did not mention it in either, rather?

VINDMAN: Correct.

GOLDMAN: So when the president says now that he held up security assistance because he was concerned about rooting out corruption in Ukraine, that concern was not expressed in the two phone conversations that he had with President Zelensky earlier this year, is that right?

VINDMAN: Correct.

GOLDMAN: Now, Ms. Williams, you testified that -- earlier -- that after this April 21st call, President Trump asked Vice President Pence to attend President Zelensky's inauguration, is that right?

WILLIAMS: That's correct.

GOLDMAN: And that, on May 13th, you were just informed by the chief of staff's office that Vice President Pence should not -- will not be going, per request of the president, is that right?

WILLIAMS: That's what I was informed, yes.

GOLDMAN: And you didn't know what had changed from April 21st to May 13th, is that right?

WILLIAMS: No, not in terms of that decision.

GOLDMAN: Well, Colonel Vindman, since you in particular are a little bit more, perhaps, than Ms Williams, who has a broader portfolio, focuses on Ukraine, I want to ask you if you were aware of the following things that happened from April 21st to May 13th.

Were you aware that Ambassador Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled from Ukraine in that time?


GOLDMAN: Were you aware that President Trump...

VINDMAN: I'm sorry -- to correct it, so she was recalled prior -- let me see. So she -- the notification occurred towards the end of April and she was finally recalled in the May time frame, I think May 20th, if I recall correctly.

GOLDMAN: So she learned about it after April 21st, on April 24th, is that right?

VINDMAN: Correct.

GOLDMAN: And were you aware that President Trump had a telephone call with President Putin during this time period in early May?


GOLDMAN: And were you aware that Rudy Giuliani had planned a trip to go to Ukraine to pressure the Ukrainians to initiate the two investigations that President Trump mentioned on the July 25th call, in this time period? VINDMAN: I was aware that he was traveling there and that he was -- he had been promoting the idea of these investigations.

GOLDMAN: I want to move now to that July 10th meeting that you referenced, Colonel Vindman. What exactly did Ambassador Sondland say when the Ukrainian officials raised the idea of a White House meeting?

VINDMAN: As I recall, he referred to specific investigations that Ukrainians would have to deliver in order to get these meetings.

GOLDMAN: And what happened to...

VINDMAN: The White House meeting.

GOLDMAN: And what happened to the broader meeting after he made that reference?

VINDMAN: Ambassador Bolton very abruptly ended the meeting.

GOLDMAN: And did -- how did -- did you have any conversations with Ambassador Bolton about this meeting?

VINDMAN: No, I did not.

GOLDMAN: Did you follow Ambassador Sondland and the others to the Ward Room for a meeting follow-up?

VINDMAN: There was a photo opportunity that we leveraged in order to demonstrate U.S. support, so the White House visit demonstrating U.S. support for Ukraine and the new national security advisor who is a technocrat. And then, after that we went down into a short post- meeting huddle or debrief.


GOLDMAN: Were the investigations, the specific investigations that Ambassador Sondland referenced in the larger meeting also discussed in the Ward Room meeting?

VINDMAN: They were.

GOLDMAN: And what did Ambassador Sondland say?

VINDMAN: Ambassador Sondland referred to investigations into the Bidens, Burisma, and 2016.

GOLDMAN: How did you respond, if at all?

VINDMAN: I -- I said that these requests to conduct these meetings was inappropriate, these investigations was inappropriate and had nothing to do with national security policy.

GOLDMAN: Was Ambassador Volker in this meeting as well?

VINDMAN: I don't recall specifically. I believe he was there for at least a portion of the time. I don't recall if he was there for that -- the whole meeting.

GOLDMAN: Was -- was this statement made in front of the Ukrainian officials?

VINDMAN: I -- I believe there was some discussion prior to the Ukrainians leaving. When it was apparent there was some discord between the senior folks, Ambassador Sondland and other White House staff, myself, they were asked to step out. So I don't recall if they were there for the entire discussion.

GOLDMAN: The senior White House staff that you're referring to, does that include Fiona Hill, your immediate supervisor at the time?

VINDMAN: Correct.

GOLDMAN: Now, you said you also reported this incident to the NSC lawyers, is that right?

VINDMAN: Correct.

GOLDMAN: And what was their response?

VINDMAN: John Eisenberg said that he -- he took -- he took notes while I was talking and he said he would look into it.

GOLDMAN: Why did you report this meeting and this conversation to the NSC lawyers?

VINDMAN: Because it was inappropriate. And following the meeting, I had a short conversation following the post-meeting meeting in the Ward Room, I had a short conversation with Ambassador -- correction -- Dr. Hill and we discussed the idea of needing to report this.

GOLDMAN: So am I correct, Colonel Vindman, that at least no later than that July 10th meeting the Ukrainians had understood or at least heard that the Oval Office meeting that they so desperately wanted was conditioned on the specific investigations into Burisma and the 2016 election?

VINDMAN: That was the first time I was aware of the Ukrainians being approached directly by a government official.

GOLDMAN: And directly linking the White House meeting to the investigations?

VINDMAN: Correct.

GOLDMAN: Ms. Williams, you testified that in your opening statement that you attended the September 1 meeting between Vice President Pence and President Zelensky in Warsaw. Is that right?

WILLIAMS: That's correct.

GOLDMAN: What was the first thing that President Zelensky asked Vice President Pence about at that meeting? WILLIAMS: President Zelensky asked the vice president about the status of security assistance for Ukraine because he had seen the Politico article and other news reporting that the security assistance was being held.

GOLDMAN: And you testified in your deposition that in that conversation President Zelensky emphasized that the military assistance, the security assistance was not just important to assist Ukraine in fighting a war against Russia but that it was also symbolic in nature. What did you -- what did you understand him to mean by that?

WILLIAMS: President Zelensky explained that more than -- or just equally with the financial and physical value of the assistance that it was the symbolic nature of that assistance that really was the show of U.S. support for Ukraine and for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. And I think he was -- he was stressing that to the vice president to really underscore the need for the security assistance to be released.

GOLDMAN: And that if the United States was holding the security assistance, is it also true then that Russia could see that as a sign of weakening U.S. support for Ukraine and take advantage of that?

WILLIAMS: I believe that's what President Zelensky was indicating, that any signal or sign that U.S. support was wavering would be construed by Russia as, potentially, an opportunity for them to strengthen their own hand in Ukraine.

GOLDMAN: Did Vice President Pence provide a reason for the hold on security assistance to the Ukrainian President in that meeting?

WILLIAMS: The vice president did not specifically discuss the reason behind the hold, but he did reassure President Zelensky of the strongest U.S. unwavering support for Ukraine, and they talked about the need for European countries to -- to step up and provide more assistance to Ukraine as well.

[10:30:00] GOLDMAN: Did Vice President Pence report back to President Trump on that meeting, to your knowledge?

WILLIAMS: The vice president conveyed to President Zelensky that he would follow up with President Trump that evening and convey to President Trump what he had heard from President Zelensky with regard to his efforts to implement reforms in Ukraine.

I am aware that the vice president spoke to President Trump that evening but I was not privy to the conversation.

GOLDMAN: Are you also aware, however, that the security assistance hold was not lifted for another 10 days after this meeting?

WILLIAMS: That's correct.

GOLDMAN: And am I correct that you didn't learn the reason why the hold was lifted? WILLIAMS: That's correct.

GOLDMAN: Colonel Vindman, you didn't learn a reason why the hold was lifted either, is that right?

VINDMAN: Correct.

GOLDMAN: Colonel Vindman, are you aware that the committees launched an investigation into Ukraine matters on September 9th, two days before the hold was lifted?

VINDMAN: I am aware and I was aware.

GOLDMAN: And on September 10th the Intelligence Committee requested the whistleblower complaint from the Department of National Intelligence. Are you aware of that?

VINDMAN: I don't believe I was aware of that.

GOLDMAN: Were you aware that the White House was aware of this whistleblower complaint prior to that date?

VINDMAN: The first I heard of the whistleblower complaint is, I believe, when the news broke. I was only aware of the -- the committees investigating the hold on security assistance.

GOLDMAN: So is it accurate to say, Colonel Vindman, that whatever reason that was provided for the hold, including the administrative policies, which -- well, which would support the hold -- support the security assistance. Is that right to your understanding?

VINDMAN: I'm sorry. I didn't -- I didn't understand that. Can you...

GOLDMAN: I was just asking that the administrative policies of President Trump support -- supported this security assistance. Is that -- is that your understanding?

VINDMAN: So the -- the -- the interagency policy was to support security assistance for Ukraine.

GOLDMAN: Thank you. I yield back.

SCHIFF: I now recognize Ranking Member Nunes or minority counsel for 45 minutes.

NUNES: Thank you.

Ms. Williams, welcome. I want to just establish a few basic facts about your knowledge of Ukraine, Burisma, and the role of -- of the Bidens.

WILLIAMS: Yes, sir.

NUNES: You spend an extraordinary amount of your time on Ukraine, correct? WILLIAMS: Ukraine is one of the countries in my portfolio. I would not say an extraordinary amount of time. But certainly, the vice president has engaged on Ukraine policy quite a bit in the -- my eight months.

NUNES: And it's in your portfolio?

WILLIAMS: That's correct.

NUNES: First off, were you aware in September 2015 then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt publicly called for an investigation in this -- into Zlochevsky, the President of Burisma. Were you aware of these public statements?

WILLIAMS: No, not at the time.

NUNES: You are today, though?

WILLIAMS: I have since heard them, yes.

NUNES: Did you know of anti-Trump efforts by various Ukrainian officials as well as Alexandra Chalupa a DNC consultant?

WILLIAMS: No, I was not aware.

NUNES: Did you know about the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kent's concerns about potential conflict of interest into Hunter Biden sitting on the board of Burisma?

WILLIAMS: I did not work on Ukraine policy during that timeframe. So I've become aware of it...

NUNES: In the last year or so.

WILLIAMS: I've become aware of it through Mr. Kent's testimony, through this process.

NUNES: Did you know that financial records show a Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma, routed more than $3 million to American accounts tied to Hunter Biden?

WILLIAMS: No, I was not aware.

NUNES: Until?

WILLIAMS: Until...

NUNES: You prepared for this hearing?

WILLIAMS: Until others have been testifying in more detail on those issues. That's correct.

NUNES: You've been following it more closely?

WILLIAMS: Correct.

NUNES: Did you know that Burisma's American legal representatives met with Ukrainian officials, just days after Vice President Biden forced the firing of the country's chief prosecutor?

WILLIAMS: Again, sir, I was not working on Ukraine policy during that time. So...


NUNES: None of these are trick questions. I'm just trying to get through them.


WILLIAMS: I understand.

NUNES: Did you know that Burisma lawyers pressured the State Department in February 2016 after the raid, a month before the firing of Shokin, and that they invoked Hunter Biden's name as a reason to intervene?

WILLIAMS: I was not aware.

NUNES: Did you know that Joe Biden called Ukrainian President Poroshenko at least three times in February 2016 after the president and owner of Burisma's home was raided on February 2nd by the state prosecutor's office?


WILLIAMS: Not at the time; again, I've become aware of that through this proceeding.

NUNES: Thank you, Ms. Williams.

Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, I'm going to ask you same questions. Just to establish some basic facts about your knowledge about Ukraine, Burisma, and the role of the Bidens.

In September 2015, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt publicly called for an investigation into Zlochevsky, the president of Burisma. Were you aware of these public statements?

VINDMAN: I wasn't aware of them at the time.

NUNES: When did you become aware of them?

VINDMAN: During the course of the testimony and the depositions after this impeachment inquiry began.

NUNES: Did you know of anti-Trump efforts by various Ukrainian government officials as well as Alexandra Chalupa, a DNC Consultant?

VINDMAN: I'm not aware of any -- any -- any of these interference efforts.

NUNES: Did you know about Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kent's concerns about potential conflict of interest with Hunter Biden sitting on the board of Burisma? VINDMAN: Only -- the only thing I'm aware of is -- pertains to his deposition.

NUNES: Did you know that financial records show a Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma routing more than $3 million to the American accounts tied to Hunter Biden?

VINDMAN: I'm not aware of this -- this fact.

NUNES: Until recently?

VINDMAN: I guess -- I didn't independently look into it. I'm just not aware of, you know, what kind of payments Mr. Biden may have received. This is not something I'm aware of.

NUNES: Did you know Burisma's American legal representatives met with Ukrainian officials, just days after Vice President Biden forced the firing of the country's chief prosecutor?

VINDMAN: I'm not aware of these meetings.

NUNES: Did you know that Burisma lawyers pressured the State Department in February 2016 after the raid and a month before the firing of Shokin, that they invoked Hunter Biden's name as a reason to intervene?

VINDMAN: I'm not aware of these facts.

NUNES: Did you know that Joe Biden called Ukrainian President Poroshenko at least three times in February 2016 after the president and owner of Burisma's home was raided on February 2nd by the state prosecutor's office?

VINDMAN: I'm aware of the fact that President Biden -- or Vice President Biden was very engaged on Ukraine and had numerous engagements. That's what I'm aware of.

NUNES: Ms. Williams and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, as you may or may not know this committee has spent nearly three years conducting various investigations starting with the Russia collusion hoax, FISA abuse, Democratic hysteria over the lack of collusion in the Mueller report, and now this impeachment charade.

One of the most concerning things regarding all of these investigations is the amount of classified or otherwise sensitive information I read in the press that derived either from this committee or sources in the administration.

To be clear, I'm not accusing either one of you of leaking information. However, given that you are the first witnesses who actually have some firsthand knowledge of the president's call by listening in on July 25th, it's imperative to the American public's understanding of the events that we get a quick matters out of the -- few matters out of the way first.

Ms. Williams, let me just go to you first. For the purposes of the following questions, I'm only asking about the time period between from July 25th to September 25th.


NUNES: Did you discuss the July 25th phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky or any matters associated with the phone call with any members of the press?


NUNES: To be clear you never discussed these matters with The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, CNN, or any other media outlet?

WILLIAMS: No, I did not.


NUNES: Did you ask or encourage any individual to share the substance of the July 25th phone call or any matter associated with the call with any member of the press?

WILLIAMS: I did not.

NUNES: Do you know of any individual who discussed the substance of the July 25th phone call or matter associated with the call with any member of the press?

WILLIAMS: No, I do not.

NUNES: Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, the same questions for you. Did you discuss the July 25th phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky or any matter associated with the phone call with any member of the press?

VINDMAN: I did not.

NUNES: Just to be clear, you did not discuss this with The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, CNN, or any other media outlet?

VINDMAN: I did not.

NUNES: Did you ask or encourage any individual to share the substance of the July 25th phone call or any matter associated with the call with any member of the press?

VINDMAN: I did not.

NUNES: Do you know of any individual who discussed the substance of the July 25th phone call or any matter associated with the call with any member of the press?

VINDMAN: We have an NSC press shop and they field any of these types of questions, I do not engage with the press at all.

NUNES: Let me ask the question again. Do you know of any individual who discussed the substance of the July 25th phone call or any matter associated with the call with any member of the press? VINDMAN: We have an NSC press shop whose job is to -- to engage on any of these types of questions. I am not aware, but it is possible and likely that the press show would have had -- would field these types of questions.

NUNES: Right. But the question is...


VINDMAN: After -- I'm sorry.

NUNES: Do you know -- do you -- the question is do you know any individual -- do you personally know any individual who discussed the substance of the July 25th phone call or any matter associated with the call with any member of the press?

VINDMAN: Thank you, ranking member, for clarifying. I do not.

NUNES: (OFF-MIKE) Thank you.

Ms. Williams, did you discuss July 25th phone call with anyone outside the White House on July 25th or July 26th? And if so, with whom?

WILLIAMS: No, I did not discuss the call with anyone outside or inside the White House.

NUNES: Ms. Williams, during your time on the NSC, have you ever accessed a colleague's work computer without their prior authorization or approval?

WILLIAMS: I have not. And just to clarify, I'm in the Office of the Vice President, so not on the NSC.

NUNES: Right. But representing the vice president?

WILLIAMS: No. I have not, no.

NUNES: Thank you for that clarification.

Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, did you discuss the July 25th phone call with anyone outside the White House on July 25th or the 26th? And if so, with whom?

VINDMAN: Yes, I did. My core function is to coordinate U.S. government policy, interagency policy. And I spoke to two individuals with regards to providing a -- some sort of read-out of the call.

NUNES: Two individuals that were not in the White House?

VINDMAN: Not in the White House, cleared U.S. government officials with the -- with appropriate need to know.

NUNES: And what agencies were these officials with?

VINDMAN: Department of State, Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent who is responsible for the portfolio Eastern Europe including Ukraine, and a individual from the office of -- an individual in the Intelligence Community.

NUNES: What -- as you know, the Intelligence Community has 17 different agencies. What agency was this individual from?

SCHIFF: If I could interject here. We don't want to use these proceedings...


NUNES: It's our -- it's our time, Mr. Chair.

SCHIFF: I know. But we need to protect the whistleblower.


SCHIFF: If -- please stop.

I want to make sure that there's no effort to out the whistleblower through these -- these proceedings.

If the witness has a good-faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistleblower, that is not the purpose that we are here for and I want to advise the witness accordingly.

NUNES: Mr. Vindman, you testified in your deposition that you did not know the whistleblower.

VINDMAN: Ranking Member, it's Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, please.

NUNES: Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, you testified in the deposition that you did not know who the whistleblower was -- or is.

VINDMAN: I do not know who the whistleblower is. That is correct...


NUNES: So how is it possible for you to name these people and then out the whistleblower?

VINDMAN: Per the advice of my counsel, I've -- I've been advised not to answer specific questions about members of the Intelligence Community.

NUNES: This is -- are you aware that this is the Intelligence Committee that's conducting an impeachment hearing?

VINDMAN: Of course, I am.

NUNES: Wouldn't the appropriate place for you to come to to testify would be the Intelligence Committee about someone within the Intelligence Community?

VINDMAN: Ranking Member, per the advice of my counsel and the instructions from the chairman, I've been advised not to provide any specifics on who I have spoken to with -- inside the Intelligence Community. What I can offer is that these were properly cleared individuals -- or was a properly cleared individual with a need to know.

NUNES: Well, this is -- I mean, you can really, you can plead the Fifth. But you're here to answer questions and you're here under subpoena. So you can either answer the question or you can plead the Fifth.


(UNKNOWN): Excuse me. On behalf of my client, we are following the rule of the committee, the rule of the chair with regard to this issue.

And this does not call for an answer that is invoking the Fifth or any theoretical issue like that. We're following the ruling of the chair.

NUNES: What -- counselor, what ruling is that?

SCHIFF: If I could interject. The counsel is correct. The whistleblower has the right -- the statutory right to anonymity, these proceedings will not be used to out the whistleblower.

(UNKNOWN): And I've advised my client accordingly, and he's going to follow the ruling of the chair. If there is an alternative or you want to work something out with the chair, that's up to you, Mr. Nunes.

NUNES: Well, we've attempted to subpoena the whistleblower to sit for a deposition. The chair has tabled that motion and then has been unwilling to recognize those motions over the last few days of this impeachment inquisition process.

With that, I'll go to Mr. Castor.

CASTOR: Thank you, Ranking Member Nunes.

The call transcript as -- as published on September 25th is complete and accurate, will both of you attest to that? Ms. Williams?

WILLIAMS: I didn't take a word for word...

CASTOR: Of course.

WILLIAMS: ... accounting. When I first saw the publicly released version, it looks substantively correct to me.

CASTOR: And Colonel Vindman?

VINDMAN: I think, I certainly would describe it as substantively correct or (ph)...


CASTOR: I think, in your testimony in your deposition, you said very accurate?

VINDMAN: Correct.

CASTOR: OK. And you flagged a couple edits, Colonel Vindman. I think you had Burisma on page -- on page 4...


CASTOR: ... where President Zelensky was -- was talking about the company mentioned in the issue.

VINDMAN: I'm sorry, could you say that question again?

CASTOR: I believe in your testimony, you explained that you offered an edit that on page 4 of the transcript that was ultimately published you thought President Zelensky mentioned the word Burisma.

VINDMAN: I had it in my notes. I know that's what he said, yes.

CASTOR: OK. And Ms. Williams -- and that was on page 4, correct?

VINDMAN: Correct. Correct.

CASTOR: And, Ms. Williams, I believe after your deposition, you went back and checked your notes and you had President Zelensky using the term Burisma as well. Is that correct?

WILLIAMS: That's correct.

CASTOR: But -- but that came up on a different part of the transcript than what Colonel Vindman was relating to, correct?

WILLIAMS: Yes, I believe so.

CASTOR: Yours came up on page 5 and it would've been in substitution for the word case?

WILLIAMS: That's right. That's where I have it in my notes.

CASTOR: OK. Colonel Vindman, we've had some discussion earlier today and also your deposition about whether the president had a demand for President Zelensky.

And you know, I suggested to you in the deposition that the president's words are, in fact, ambiguous. And -- and he uses -- he uses some phrases that certainly could be characterized as hedging. On page 3, in the first paragraph, he talks about, "whatever you can do," he talks about, "if that's possible."

On page 4, he mentions "if you could speak to him" -- talking about the attorney general, Rudy Giuliani.

And then, at the end of the first paragraph on page 4, he says "whatever you can do."

The president also says, you know, "if you can look into it."

And -- and I asked you during your deposition whether you saw or acknowledged the fact that certain people could read that to be ambiguous?

VINDMAN: And I said correct, yes.

CASTOR: And I believe you said, "I think people want to hear what they have already preconceived." Is that what you testified?

(UNKNOWN): Actually, if I could ask for just a page cite.

CASTOR: 256.

(UNKNOWN): 256?


(UNKNOWN): And a line? Thank you. Just a minute, please.

CASTOR: And...

(UNKNOWN): Just a minute.

OK. OK. We got the page.

CASTOR: OK. And then you went on to say, "Yeah" -- you agreed with me. You said, "Yeah, I guess you could interpret it different ways." Is that correct?



Turning attention to the preparation of the transcripts, that followed the ordinary process, correct?

VINDMAN: I -- so I think it followed the appropriate process in terms of making sure that eventually it came around for -- for clearances, for accuracy. But it was in a different system, so...

CASTOR: Well, I'll get to that in a second. That relates to the storage of it.

You had some concerns; Mr. Morrison articulated his concerns about if the transcript was leaked out. And I think both you and Mr. Morrison agreed that it needed to be protected?

(UNKNOWN): Just a correction. I don't think it was Mr. Morrison. It was Mr. Eisenberg. Right?

CASTOR: Mr. Morrison testified at his deposition.


(UNKNOWN): OK. We don't have that in front of us. If you can give us that, we'll take a look.

VINDMAN: Yeah, I think, in this, I could say for myself, I -- there were the -- concerns about leaks seemed valid. And I wasn't particularly critical. I thought this was sensitive and was not going to question the attorney's judgment on that.

CASTOR: And even on the code word (ph) server, you had access to it?


CASTOR: So at no point in time during the course of your official duties were you denied access to this information...

VINDMAN: Correct.

CASTOR: ... is that correct?

VINDMAN: Ms. Williams, I want to turn to you for a moment. And you testified that you believe the transcript is -- is complete and accurate, other than the one issue you mentioned?

WILLIAMS: Substantively -- substantively accurate, yes.

CASTOR: Now, did you express any concerns to anyone in your office about what you heard on the call?

WILLIAMS: My supervisor was in listening on the call as well, so because he had heard the same information, I did not feel a need to have a further conversation with him about it.

CASTOR: And you never had any concerns with anyone else in the vice president's office?

WILLIAMS: I did not discuss the call further with anyone in the vice president's office.

CASTOR: OK. So you didn't flag it for the chief of staff or the vice president's counsel or anyone of that sort?

WILLIAMS: Again, my -- my immediate supervisor, Lieutenant General Kellogg, was in the room with me.

CASTOR: Right. And after the call, did you and General Kellogg ever discuss the contents of the call?

WILLIAMS: We did not, no.

CASTOR: OK. Now, in the run-up to the meeting in Warsaw, the vice president was meeting with President Zelensky September 1st in Warsaw. You were involved with the preparation of the vice president's briefing materials?


CASTOR: And did you flag for the vice president this -- this, you know, parts of the call that had concerned you?

WILLIAMS: No, we did not include the call transcript in the trip briefing book. We don't normally include previous calls in trip briefing books. CASTOR: So I'm just wondering, if the -- if the concerns were so significant, how come nobody on the vice president's staff at least alerted him to the issue that President Zelensky might be on edge about something that had been mentioned on the 7/25 call?

WILLIAMS: Again, my -- my supervisor had been in the call with me, and I ensured that the vice president had access to the transcript in the moment on that day. As we were preparing for the September meeting with President Zelensky, the more immediate issue at hand was, two days prior, the news had broken about the hold on the security assistance. So we were much more focused on the discussion that was likely to occur about the hold on security assistance for that meeting.

CASTOR: And to your recollection, you were in the meeting with President Zelensky and Vice President Pence?


CASTOR: And Burisma didn't come up, or the Bidens, or any of these investigations?

WILLIAMS: No. No, it did not.

CASTOR: Colonel Vindman, you -- you testified that the president has well-standing -- or long-standing concerns about corruption in Ukraine, correct?

VINDMAN: I don't -- I don't recall, but there are concerns; there are broad concerns about corruption, yes.

CASTOR: But you would agree that, if we're -- if the U.S. is giving, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars to a foreign nation that has a corruption problem, that that's certainly something that the U.S. government officials and the president would want to be concerned about?


CASTOR: And if -- if a foreign country has a problem with oligarchs taking money, taking U.S. taxpayer dollars, that's -- that's something that the president ought to be concern about in advance of dispensing the aid?


CASTOR: And I believe you did testify that corruption is endemic in Ukraine?

VINDMAN: Correct.

CASTOR: Are you also aware of the president's skepticism of foreign aid generally?


CASTOR: And it's something that he's made part of his priorities, to make sure that U.S. foreign aid is spent wisely?

VINDMAN: That is correct.

CASTOR: And -- and you're also aware the president has concerns about burden-sharing among our allies?


CASTOR: And with respect to Ukraine, he was -- he was very interested and engaged in seeing if there was a possibility for our European allies to step up and contribute more?

VINDMAN: Yes, I think that would be in the context of military assistance. In terms of burden-sharing, the -- the European Union provides over $15 billion.


VINDMAN: Has provided since 2014.

CASTOR: OK. But you are aware of the president's concern of burden- sharing, right?

VINDMAN: Yes, I am.

CASTOR: OK. Turning our attention specifically to the company of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky, the co-founder of Burisma -- it's one of Ukraine's largest natural gas producers, correct?

VINDMAN: That is my understanding, yes.

CASTOR: And it's been subject to numerous investigations over the years?

VINDMAN: I'm -- I'm not aware of -- I guess I couldn't point to specific investigations, but there is a what I would call a -- a pattern of questionable dealings and questions about corruption.


CASTOR: Zlochevsky had served as the minister of ecology during President Yanukovych's tenure?

VINDMAN: I came to learn that is correct, yes.

CASTOR: And are you aware -- and George Kent testified, a little bit, about this last week, that under the Obama administration, the U.S. government encouraged Ukraine to investigate whether Zlochevsky used his government position to -- to grant himself or Burisma exploration licenses? Are you aware of that?

VINDMAN: I would -- I would defer to George Kent. He's a fount of knowledge on Ukraine, much deeper knowledge than I -- I have. And if he -- if he -- if he attested to that, then I'd take his word for it.

CASTOR: OK. And he testified that the U.S., along with the United Kingdom, was engaged in trying recoup about $23 million in taxpayer dollars from Zlochevsky and the Burisma entity?

VINDMAN: I understand he testified that, yes, correct.


And Mr. Kent also testified that the investigation was moving along and then all of a sudden there was a -- a bribe paid and the investigation went away. Did you -- did you hear him mention that?

VINDMAN: I heard him mention that. These are -- these are events that occurred before my time, so, frankly, beyond what he said, I don't -- I don't know much more.

CASTOR: Fair enough.

Right around the time the bribe was paid, the company saw -- sought to bolster their board. Are you aware that they -- they tapped some luminaries for their corporate board?

VINDMAN: Certainly, I learned that at some point, yes.

CASTOR: Including the president of Poland, I believe?


CASTOR: And Hunter Biden?

VINDMAN: Yes, I came to learn that was well.

CASTOR: And are you aware of any specific experience Hunter Biden has in the Ukrainian corporate governance world?

VINDMAN: I -- I don't know much about Mr. Hunter Biden.

CASTOR: And we talked a little bit about -- at your deposition about whether Mr. Biden was qualified to serve on this board, and I believe you acknowledged that apparently he was not, in fact, qualified?

VINDMAN: As far as I can tell, he didn't seem to be. But like I said, I don't know his qualifications.


Ms. Williams, I want to turn our attention to the -- the inaugural trip.


CASTOR: At one point the vice president and the vice president's office was focusing on attending that, correct?

WILLIAMS: That's right.

CASTOR: And it was -- it's somewhat complicated, because as I understand that the White House doesn't that president and the vice president to be out of the country at the same time? WILLIAMS: Yes, that's correct.

CASTOR: And during that timeframe, the president was in Japan. I believe he was in Japan May 24th to 28th, and then he returned to Europe for the D-Day ceremonies June 2nd to 7th. And I think -- I think you told us that there was a window you provided of four days at the end of May, that if the vice president was going to attend the inauguration, it had to be the 29th, 30th, 31st or 1st?

WILLIAMS: Our embassy in Kyiv had been in discussions with the Ukrainian, with -- with President Zelensky's team, and as we had learned, obviously, the Ukrainian parliament was not going to come back into session until mid-May, and so we wouldn't know formally what the date would be. But we understood that the initial thinking was that the -- they were looking at dates at the end of May, and so honing in on that timeframe, we were aware of President Trump's plan to travel on either end.

And so, that's why we advised the Ukrainians that if Vice President Pence were to be able to participate, the only really available days would be May 30th, May 31st or June 1st.


And before the vice president travels to a foreign nation, you have to send the Secret Service, do advance work, book hotels, and it's -- it's a relatively involved preparation experience, right?

WILLIAMS: That's correct.

CASTOR: And did you -- do you know if the Secret Service every deployed, booked hotels or anything of that sort?

WILLIAMS: My understanding is that our advance team was looking into those preparations, including hotel availability, and we were trying to determine when it would be appropriate to send out Secret Service and other advance personnel in order to lay groundwork for a trip. But because we weren't sure yet when the date would be, we hesitated to send those -- those officials out.


But ultimately the Secret Service, as I understand it, did not deploy?

WILLIAMS: I don't believe they did, no.


And the -- the -- President Zelensky's inauguration was May 20th, if I'm not mistaken.

WILLIAMS: Yes, that's correct.

CASTOR: And you had about four days notice?

WILLIAMS: In the end, the Ukrainian parliament decided on May 16th to set the date for May 20th, that's correct.


So you would acknowledge that that made it quite difficult for the vice president and the whole operation to mobilize and get over to Ukraine, correct?

WILLIAMS: It would have been, but we had already stopped the trip planning at that point.

CASTOR: And when did that happen?

WILLIAMS: Stopping the trip planning?


WILLIAMS: On May 13th.


And how did you hear about that?

WILLIAMS: I was called by -- by a colleague in the -- my -- the vice president's chief of staff's office and --