Volodymyr Zelensky

November 15, 2019 – John Solomon asks 15 questions of former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

After nearly two years of reporting on Ukraine issues, here are 15 questions I think could be most illuminating to everyday Americans if the ambassador answered them.

U.S. Embassy Kiev (Credit: public domain)

Ambassador Yovanovitch, at any time while you served in Ukraine did any officials in Kiev ever express concern to you that President Trump might be withholding foreign aid assistance to get political investigations started? Did President Trump ever ask you as America’s top representative in Kiev to pressure Ukrainians to start an investigation about Burisma Holdings or the Bidens?

What was the Ukrainians’ perception of President Trump after he allowed lethal aid to go to Ukraine in 2018?

In the spring and summer of 2019, did you ever become aware of any U.S. intelligence or U.S. treasury concerns raised about incoming Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and his affiliation or proximity to certain oligarchs? Did any of those concerns involve what the IMF might do if a certain oligarch who supported Zelensky returned to power and regained influence over Ukraine’s national bank?

Back in May 2018, then-House Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggesting you might have made comments unflattering or unsupportive of the president and should be recalled. Setting aside that Sessions is a Republican and might even have donors interested in Ukraine policy, were you ever questioned about his concerns? At any time have you or your embassy staff made comments that could be viewed as unsupportive or critical of President Trump and his policies?

John Solomon reported at The Hill and your colleagues have since confirmed in testimony that the State Department helped fund a nonprofit called the Anti-Corruption Action Centre of Ukraine that also was funded by George Soros’ main charity. That nonprofit, also known as AnTac, was identified in a 2014 Soros foundation strategy document as critical to reshaping Ukraine to Mr. Soros’ vision. Can you explain what role your embassy played in funding this group and why State funds would flow to it? And did anyone consider the perception of mingling tax dollars with those donated by Soros, a liberal ideologue who spent millions in 2016 trying to elect Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump?

In March 2019, Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko gave an on-the-record, videotaped interview to The Hill alleging that during a 2016 meeting you discussed a list of names of Ukrainian nationals and groups you did not want to see Ukrainian prosecutors target. Your supporters have since suggested he recanted that story. Did you or your staff ever do anything to confirm he had recanted or changed his story, such as talk to him, or did you just rely on press reports?

Now that both the New York Times and The Hill have confirmed that Lutsenko stands by his account and has not recanted, how do you respond to his concerns? And setting aside the use of the word “list,” is it possible that during that 2016 meeting with Mr. Lutsenko you discussed the names of certain Ukrainians you did not want to see prosecuted, investigated or harassed?

Your colleagues, in particular Mr. George Kent, have confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that the U.S. embassy in Kiev did, in fact, exert pressure on the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office not to prosecute certain Ukrainian activists and officials. These efforts included a letter Mr. Kent signed urging Ukrainian prosecutors to back off an investigation of the aforementioned group AnTac as well as engaged in conversations about certain Ukrainians like Parliamentary member Sergey Leschenko, journalist Vitali Shabunin and NABU director Artem Sytnyk. Why was the US. Embassy involved in exerting such pressure and did any of these actions run afoul of the Geneva Convention’s requirement that foreign diplomats avoid becoming involved in the internal affairs of their host country?

Marie Yovanovitch (Credit: U.S. Embassy, Ukraine)

On March 5 of this year, you gave a speech in which you called for the replacement of Ukraine’s top anti-corruption prosecutor. That speech occurred in the middle of the Ukrainian presidential election and obviously raised concerns among some Ukrainians of internal interference prohibited by the Geneva Convention. In fact, one of your bosses, Under Secretary David Hale, got questioned about those concerns when he arrived in country a few days later. Why did you think it was appropriate to give advice to Ukrainians on an internal personnel matter and did you consider then or now the potential concerns your comments might raise about meddling in the Ukrainian election or the country’s internal affairs?

If the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States suddenly urged us to fire Attorney General Bill Bar or our FBI director, would you think that was appropriate?

At any time since December 2015, did you or your embassy ever have any contact with Vice President Joe Biden, his office or his son Hunter Biden concerning Burisma Holdings or an investigation into its owner Mykola Zlochevsky?

At any time since you were appointed ambassador to Ukraine, did you or your embassy have any contact with the following Burisma figures: Hunter Biden, Devon Archer, lawyer John Buretta, Blue Star strategies representatives Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, or former Ukrainian embassy official Andrii Telizhenko?

John Solomon obtained documents showing Burisma representatives were pressuring the State Department in February 2016 to help end the corruption allegations against the company and were invoking Hunter Biden’s name as part of their effort. Did you ever subsequently learn of these contacts and did anyone at State — including but not limited to Secretary Kerry, Undersecretary Novelli, Deputy Secretary Blinken or Assistant Secretary Nuland — ever raise Burisma with you?

What was your embassy’s assessment of the corruption allegations around Burisma and why the company may have hired Hunter Biden as a board member in 2014?

In spring 2019 your embassy reportedly began monitoring briefly the social media communications of certain people viewed as supportive of President Trump and gathering analytics about them. Who were those people? Why was this done? Why did it stop? And did anyone in the State Department chain of command ever suggest targeting Americans with State resources might be improper or illegal? (John Solomon, 11/15/2019)  (Archive)

October 31, 2019 – NSC official Tim Morrison, tells Schiff nothing illegal took place In Trump call to Ukrainian president

Tim Morrison,(r), National Security Council’s Russia and Europe Director, is escorted to a closed-door deposition in Washington, on Oct. 31, 2019. (Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“Tim Morrison, a top official with the National Security Council, told lawmakers Thursday that he did not believe “anything illegal was discussed during the conversation” between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to the opening statement reviewed by SaraACarter.com.

Morrison, who is the outgoing senior director of European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council and a deputy assistant to the president, told lawmakers that the transcript of the call was accurate but he contended that some of the details provided by other witnesses did not coincide with his regarding certain aspects of the Ukrainian issue. House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, D-CA, who has been criticized for his continued anti-Trump partisan rhetoric by Republicans, has been pushing for Trump’s impeachment.

Morrison told the closed-door panel of lawmakers Thursday that he reviewed the Memorandum of Conversation regarding the July 25 phone call that was released by the White House. He said he listened to the call, along with others. He noted it occurred from the Situation Room.

“To the best of my recollection, the MemCon accurately and completely reflects the substance of the call,” he said, regarding the transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky.

He also said  he had “no reason to believe the Ukrainians had any knowledge of the review until August  28, 2019.” (Read more: Sarah Carter, 10/31/2019)  (Deposition Transcript)

October 29, 2019 – The “coup” against Trump is formalized…a resistance member shows up to testify at Trump’ impeachment inquiry, wearing a military uniform

“The word “coup” shifted to a new level of formalized meaning last week when members of the political resistance showed up to remove President Trump wearing military uniforms.

Not only did U.S. military leadership remain silent to the optics and purpose, but in the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman he admits to giving instructions to ignore the instructions from a sitting United States President.

In the absence of push-back from the Joint Chiefs, from this moment forth, the impression is tacit U.S. military support for the Vindman objective.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, testified before congressional committees conducting an impeachment inquiry on October 29, wearing a full military uniform.

To date, there has been no visible comment from U.S. military sanctioning Lt. Col. Vindman for his decision; or correcting the impression represented by Vindman’s military appearance.  The willful blindness is concerning, but it gets much worse.

Beyond the debate about the optics of the “coup“, within the testimony of Lt. Col Vindman, the witness readily admits to understanding the officially established policy of the President of The United States (an agreement between President Trump and President Zelenskyy), and stunningly admits that two weeks later he was giving countermanding instructions to his Ukrainian counterpart to ignore President Trump’s policies.

The coup against President Donald Trump went from soft, to hard.  Consider…

The testimony from Lt. Col. Vindman is available here.

Borrowing from Roscoe B Davis, here are some highlights:

Representative John Ratcliffe begins deconstructing Lt. Col Vindman, while his arrogant attorneys begin trying to interfere with the questioning.

(Vindman’s testimony with Congressman Ratcliffe continues on Conservative Treehouse linked here:)

This next section is very interesting and very important.

Congressman John Ratcliffe begins questioning Vindman from the perspective of an Article 92 violation, coupled with an Article 88 violation.  President Trump is Lt. Col Vindman’s superior.  President Trump sets foreign policy. 

Two weeks after President Trump has established an agreement with Ukraine President Zelenskyy, and established the policy direction therein, Lt. Col. Vindman is now giving contrary instructions to the Ukranian government.  Vindman’s lawyer recognizes where the questioning is going and goes absolutely bananas:

(Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 11/09/2019)

October 22, 2019 – A transcript of William Taylor’s testimony against President Trump shows all of his evidence is hearsay

“A key Democratic witness against Trump admitted in congressional testimony last month that he was not part of the July 25 phone call between the U.S. and Ukrainian presidents, that he didn’t see a transcript or readout of it until late September when it was declassified and released, and that he has never even spoken to President Donald Trump.

William Taylor, the charge d’affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, told lawmakers in secret testimony two weeks ago that his opinions about an alleged quid pro quo demanded by Trump were formed largely from conversations with anti-Trump staffers within the diplomatic bureaucracy.

William Taylor (Credit: Ovsyannikova Yulia/Getty Images)

“[Y]ou’ve never spoken to Mr. [Rudy] Giuliani?” Taylor was asked.

“No, no,” he replied.

“Has anyone ever asked you to speak to Mr. Giuliani?”

“No,” Taylor said.

“And if I may, have you spoken to the president of the United States?” Taylor was asked.

“I have not,” he said.

“You had no communications with the president of the United States?”

“Correct,” Taylor said.

He also admitted he had never spoken to Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s chief of staff.

When asked who exactly he had spoken to about the brouhaha, Taylor confirmed that his only contacts about the matter were with John Bolton, the former national security adviser who was fired by Trump, Fiona Hill, Alexander Vindman, and Tim Morrison. Both Hill and Vindman are rumored to have been sources for the so-called whistleblower who filed a complaint against Trump in August.

Taylor also testified that his knowledge of the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymr Zelensky wasn’t first-hand knowledge.

(Read more: The Federalist, 11/06/2019)  (Transcript)

Updates may be added:

October 6, 2019 – Intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson interviews second whistleblower

“Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson interviewed a second whistleblower with alleged knowledge about the call between President Donald Trump and the leader of Ukraine.

Democrats have led an impeachment inquiry over the call.

The first whistleblower’s attorney, Mark Zaid, confirmed on Oct. 6 that he’s also representing the second whistleblower. Like the first whistleblower, the second one is also a member of the intelligence community. According to Zaid, the anonymous official has firsthand knowledge of some of the events described by the first whistleblower. Both “made a protected disclosure under the law and cannot be retaliated against,” the attorney wrote on Twitter.

Zaid didn’t clarify whether the second whistleblower has filed a formal complaint, revealing only that he or she has spoken with Atkinson. Zaid didn’t reply to a request from The Epoch Times for clarification.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 10/06/2019)

September 27, 2019 – The Trump-Zelensky transcript contradicts the whistleblower complaint in three notable instances

“The Trump-Zelensky transcript contradicts the whistleblower complaint in three notable instances, raising questions about the credibility of the whistleblower and his or her purported White House sources.

First, WB claims that his sources told him that after “an initial exchange of pleasantries” Trump “used the remainder of the call to advance his personal interests.” The transcript shows that the leaders discussed meetings in Poland and DC before ending the call.

 

Second, WB claims that aside from the cases “purportedly dealing with the Biden family and the 2016 US election … no other ‘cases’ were discussed.” But the transcript shows that Trump and Zelensky talked of a potential probe of Marie Yovanovitch. (misspelled as Ivanovich)

Zelensky: “if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country” in regards to Yovanovitch.

In the transcript, Yovanovitch’s name is misspelled “Ivanovich” and Zelensky appears to have misstated her title as “Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine.”

WB claims the loading of the call transcript onto a secure system amounted to an abuse of that system since the “the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.” The transcript was labeled (properly) “SECRET/ORCON/NOFORN.”

The “SECRET/ORCON/NOFORN.” label was appropriate since the call contained Trump’s views on foreign nations, including Germany, a key U.S. ally. Unauthorized disclosure of such information has the potential to harm national security.

Pelosi kicked off impeachment before the White House released the transcript of the call and before the complaint was made public. As a result, she may not have been aware that the complaint is based on hearsay, some of which has now been contradicted by the call transcript.” (Ivan Pentchoukov @IvanPentchoukov/Twitter, 9/27/2019)

September 27, 2019 – State Department official Kurt Volker at center of whistleblower complaint, resigns

Kurt Volker (Credit: Reuters)

“Kurt Volker, the U.S. special representative to Ukraine, resigned Friday amid fallout from a whistleblower complaint against President Donald Trump regarding a phone call in July with Ukraine’s president.

Volker was one of five State Department officials that House Democrats said Friday they want to depose as part of an impeachment inquiry of Trump. The whistleblower complaint focuses on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian leader.

Beginning earlier this year, Volker served as a liaison between officials in the incoming Zelensky administration and Rudy Giuliani, the Trump lawyer who pushed the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

(…) Volker helped Giuliani set up meetings with Zelensky aides. But the whistleblower complaint also says that Volker and Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, met with Giuliani in an effort to “contain the damage” to national security.

Volker and Sondland also met with Ukrainian officials to help them understand the “different messages” they were receiving from Giuliani and official diplomatic channels.

Volker, who served as ambassador to NATO under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, joined the Trump State Department in 2017. He was also executive director at the McCain Institute, founded by late Arizona Sen. John McCain.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 9/27/2019)

Here is the first section from the complaint that mentions Sondland:

And here is the second:

 

September 21, 2019 – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko denies suggestions Trump had put pressure on Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a July call

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko (Credit: Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

“In an interview with media outlet Hromadske, Prystaiko said Ukraine was an independent state and would not take sides in U.S. politics even if “in theory” the country was in a position to do so. He added that Kiev appreciated the assistance it received from Washington.

Zelenskiy’s office has so far declined to comment on the allegations.

“I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure,” Prystaiko said. “This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on many questions, sometimes requiring serious answers.”

Trump dismissed the Sept. 12 complaint from the whistleblower within the intelligence community as a partisan hit against him.

Trump had spoken Zelenskiy less than three weeks before the complaint was filed. Trump is due to meet Zelenskiy during a United Nations gathering in New York.

Prystaiko said Zelenskiy had the right to keep conversations with other leaders confidential.

“I want to say that we are an independent state, we have our secrets,” he was quoted as saying in the interview.” (Read more: Reuters, 9/21/2019)

August 12 – October 11, 2019: A look at IC IG Michael Atkinson’s activities surrounding the hearsay whistleblower

“Last week the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, testified behind closed doors to congress. Atkinson testified about his role in bringing the ‘whistle-blower’ complaint forward.  The details of that testimony are now starting to surface and thankfully congress is taking a closer look at the sketchy background of Michael Atkinson.

Michael Atkinson (Credit: public domain)

There are numerous aspects to the whistle-blower (likely CIA operative Michael Barry), and the complaint, that just don’t add up. One of the areas of focus is the backdating of changes made to the ‘whistle-blower’ complaint form.  As Sean Davis notes:

[…] Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, told HPSCI lawmakers during a committee oversight hearing on Friday that the whistleblower forms and rules changes were made in, even though the new forms and guidance, which were not uploaded to the ICIG’s website until September 24, state that they were changed in August.

Despite having a full week to come up with explanations for his office’s decisions to secretly change its forms to eliminate the requirement for first-hand evidence and to backdate those changes to August, Atkinson refused to provide any explanation to lawmakers baffled by his behavior. (read more)

The CIA ‘whistle-blower’ had no first-hand knowledge; everything was based on hearsay.  The CIA operative never informed the ICIG about prior contact and coordination with the House Intelligence Committee (Adam Schiff).  The CIA operative never disclosed congressional contact on the complaint form, and the complaint forms were changed specifically to accommodate this CIA operative.

On Sunday, October 6th, Ranking Member Devin Nunes also discussed his concerns with the testimony of Michael Atkinson.  Nunes noted the testimony “was a joke.”

Nunes told Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Sunday host Matt Boyle, “[The ICIG is] either totally incompetent or part of the deep state, and he’s got a lot of questions he needs to answer because he knowingly changed the form and the requirements in order to make sure that this whistleblower complaint got out publicly.”

“So he’s either incompetent or in on it, and he’s going to have more to answer for, I can promise you because we are not going to let him go; he is going to tell the truth about what happened,” Nunes added.  (read more)

ICIG Atkinson never reviewed the call transcript and facilitated the complaint processing despite numerous flaws.  Additionally, Atkinson ignored legal guidance from both the director of national intelligence (DNI) and the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel that highlighted Atkinson’s poor decision-making.

President Trump announced Joseph Macguire as the Acting ODNI on August 8th, 2019. (link)  The CIA operative “whistle-blower” letter to Adam Schiff and Richard Burr was on August 12th (link).   Immediately following this letter, the ICIG rules and requirements for Urgent Concern “whistle-blowers” was modified, allowing hearsay complaints. On August 28th Adam Schiff begins tweeting about the construct of the complaint.

Given the nature of Atkinson’s background, it appears his prior work in 2016, during his tenure as the lead legal counsel for the DOJ-NSD, likely played a role in his decision.

Here’s Nunes Sunday Interview (audio):

The center of the 2016 Lawfare Alliance election influence was/is the Department of Justice National Security Division, DOJ-NSD. It was the DOJ-NSD running the Main Justice side of the 2016 operations to support Operation Crossfire Hurricane and FBI agent Peter Strzok. It was also the DOJ-NSD where the sketchy legal theories around FARA violations (Sec. 901) originated.

Michael K Atkinson was previously the Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ-NSD) in 2016. That makes Atkinson senior legal counsel to John Carlin and Mary McCord who were the former heads of the DOJ-NSD in 2016 when the stop Trump operation was underway.

Michael Atkinson was the lawyer for the same DOJ-NSD players who: (1) lied to the FISA court (Judge Rosemary Collyer) about the 80% non compliant NSA database abuse using FBI contractors; (2) filed the FISA application against Carter Page; and (3) used FARA violations as tools for political surveillance and political targeting.

Yes, that means Michael Atkinson was Senior Counsel for the DOJ-NSD, at the very epicenter of the political weaponization and FISA abuse.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 10/07/2019)

(Republished with permission)

August 11, 2019 – The State Dept encourages and facilitates Rudy Giuliani’s meeting with Ukrainian officials who are trying to expose corruption of U.S. officials during the 2016 presidential election

Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hunter Biden (Credit: The Associated Press)

(…) “With more reporting by John Solomon, cited and attributed to on-the-record officials in the State Department and Ukraine, a much more clear picture emerges. In reality, and unfortunately as expected, the fulsome picture is 180° divergent from the media narrative.

The government of Ukraine under both Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and now President Volodymyr Zelensky, had been trying to deliver information about Obama officials and Democrat party officials (DNC on behalf of Hillary Clinton) requesting the government of Ukraine to interfere in the 2016 election.

Both Poroshenko and Zelensky administrations had tried, unsuccessfully, to get information to current U.S. officials. U.S. State Department officials in Ukraine were refusing to give visas to Ukrainian emissaries because they did not want the damaging information sent to the President Trump administration.

Failing to get help from the U.S. State Department, the Ukrainians tried a workaround and hired a respected U.S. lawyer to hand deliver the documentary evidence directly to the U.S. Department of Justice. The contracted American lawyer hand-delivered the information to the U.S. Department of Justice in New York.

However, after delivering the information and not hearing back from the U.S. government, the Ukrainian government, now led by President Zelensky, interpreted the silence as the Trump administration and U.S. government (writ large) being upset about the Ukraine involvement overall. Out of concern for a serious diplomatic breakdown, the Zelensky administration made a personal request to the U.S. State Department for assistance.

The U.S. State Department then reached out to Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani; and asked him if he would meet with Zelensky’s top lawyer, Andrei Yermak.

Rudy Giuliani agreed to act as a diplomatic intermediary and met with Yermak in Spain. After the meeting, Mr. Giuliani then contacted the State Department Officials in charge of Ukraine and Europe and debriefed them on the totality of the subject matter as relayed by Andrei Yermak.

All of this activity preceded the phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

President Trump and President Zelensky discussed the issues, and this phone call is the one now referenced by the concerned “whistleblower”. The “whistleblower” obviously had no knowledge of the background and why the subject matter discussed in the phone call was framed as it was.

Apparently, in the phone call, President Zelensky was explaining what action the Ukranian government had already taken to try and get the information about corrupt U.S. officials, including former VP Joe Biden, to the U.S. government.

It was from this clarification of information that President Trump is reported to have told Zelensky it was OK to proceed with an internal investigation of corruption in Ukraine that might also encompass former U.S. officials.  Yes, that would include Joe Biden.

From this context, we can see how the “whistle-blower”, knowing only half of the information – might incorrectly perceive the conversation. Additionally, there’s a possibility the “whistle-blower” may be ideologically aligned with the same government entities that were trying to block the Ukrainian government from delivering the information in the first place.

Beyond the media, pundits and democrat politicians making fools of themselves, four very significant questions/issues become obvious:

  1. Who in the U.S. State Department Ukraine embassy was blocking the visas of Ukrainian officials, and why?
  2. Who was the official at the New York office of the DOJ who took custody of the records hand-delivered by the American lawyer working on behalf of Ukraine? and…
  3. Why were those records never turned over to Main Justice?…. Or
  4. If they were turned over to main Justice, why didn’t they inform the Trump administration they had received them?

At the end of this fake news narrative parade, these will be the questions that remain. (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 9/21/2019)