House impeachment investigators on Thursday released the transcript from career official in the State Department George Kent.
In his Oct.15 testimony before House investigators, Kent testified he was told to "lay low" on Ukraine policy as the Trump administration, and the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, were interacting with Ukraine outside of traditional foreign policy channels.
Kent was described by those who heard his testimony to have told investigators the White House picked “three amigos” — diplomats Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry — to run Ukraine policy, NPR reported.
The "amigos," according to the deputy assistant Secretary of State, were considered more politically reliable to help execute that policy — along with Trump's personal lawyer, Giuliani — than other professional national security and diplomatic staffers, NPR reported.
In a statement from the House Intelligence Committee chair, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., acting chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Kent’s testimony was described as “strongly” corroborating the testimony of other witnesses.
“Kent affirms that he and his colleagues recognized the impropriety of pressuring Ukrainian officials to undertake politically-motivated investigations to help President Trump’s reelection prospects in 2020,” the statement said.
“Mr. Kent not only affirms testimony released this week by the Committees, but he also describes his contemporaneous documentation of conversations and events,” the statement added.
In excerpts, tweeted out by Schiff, Kent said he shared concerns expressed by former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch that she was ousted as a result of a pressure campaign by Rudy Giuliani and his associates that was based on unsubstantiated allegations.
"I fully share the concerns in Ambassador Yovanovitch's statement on Friday expressing her incredulity that the U.S. Government chose to move an ambassador based, as best she tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives, at an especially challenging time in our bilateral elections with a newly elected Ukrainian President," he told investigators.
Kent says on Aug. 16, he sought to memorialize conversations he had with top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor and special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker because of his concerns about politically motivated investigations.
"And so after having had these two conversations, I wrote a note to the file saying that I had concerns that there was an effort to initiate politically motivated prosecutions that were injurious to the rule of 1aw, both in Ukraine and the U.S," he said.
Kent also testified that after a conversation with President Trump, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland was under the impression that Trump wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to use the words "Biden" and "Clinton" when announcing investigations into Burisma and the 2016 election.
"POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelenskiy to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton," he testified. Then when asked in return for what, Kent testified: "That was not clear to me."
Giuliani, is central to the inquiry and he has been mentioned frequently in testimony by State Department diplomats who have painted a picture of the former New York City mayor running a shadow U.S. policy toward Ukraine to pressure it to investigate former vice president Biden and his son, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
Kent mentioned Giuliani 73 times in his testimony to lawmakers which was given behind closed doors session on Oct. 15 but only released on Thursday.
Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was abruptly pulled from her post in May. Kent said Giuliani conducted a smear campaign against the envoy.
"His assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period," Kent testified.
"Mr. Giuliani, at that point, had been carrying on a campaign for several months full of lies and incorrect information Ambassador Yovanovitch, so this was a continuation of his campaign of lies," Kent said.
For nearly a year, Giuliani has pursued unsubstantiated allegations that Biden pushed to fire a Ukrainian prosecutor to stop him from investigating Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company, where Biden's son Hunter served as the director.
House investigators are pushing out key transcripts from hours of closed-door interviews in the impeachment inquiry as they prepare for public sessions with witnesses next week.
Kent, Yovanovitch and diplomat William Taylor, are expected to appear in the public sessions.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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