Impeachment Open Hearings Week #1: William Taylor, George Kent, Marie Yovanovitch

Updated: Nov 13, 2019

The House Intelligence Committee  Chairman Adam Schiff announced the first open hearings this week:

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 10:00 am ET

WHERE: Longworth House Office Building, Room 110
WATCH: Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrL2q91fnnQ&feature=youtu.be
Witnesses:
  • Ambassador William Taylor
    Chargé D’affaires, US Embassy Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent
    Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the U.S. Department of State.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch
US Ambassador to Ukraine (2016-May 2019)

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D/Secretary John Sullivan on the Effort to Smear Former US Amb to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch

On October 30, 2019, Deputy Secretary John Sullivan appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his confirmation hearing to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation. His 2-page Opening Statement is available to read here. Given his prior confirmation, and what appears to be bipartisan support in the Senate (plus GOP got the votes), it is likely that he will sail through this confirmation process and may be in Moscow by Thanksgiving Day.

SFRC Confirmation Hearing: Marshall Billingslea to be Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights (J)

 

On September 19, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have a confirmation hearing for  four Trump nominees including Marshall Billingslea to be the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights (J) at the Department of State. This office oversees five bureaus and four offices.
Mr. Billingslea was originally nominated in 2018, and re-nominated in January 2019.

Via WH, August 21, 2018:

Marshall Billingslea of Virginia, to be Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights at the Department of State.

Mr. Billingslea currently serves as Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing of the Treasury Department. Previously, he worked for Deloitte as a Managing Director; the Department of Defense as Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Negotiations Policy; the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, as Assistant Secretary General for Defense Investment; and the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as a senior staff member in national security affairs. Mr. Billingslea is the recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, the Cross of Merit of the Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic, and the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana of Estonia. Mr. Billingslea earned his B.A. from Dartmouth College and M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

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UN Ambassador Nominee Kelly Craft Gets a Senate Grilling, But Why Is Mitch Still Smiling?

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State/T to SFRC in Full Swagger and Smirk, “You’ll have to ask Russia”

 

 

 

 

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Venezuela Special Envoy Elliot Abrams Gets a Protest, and a Grilling in Congress

Posted: 2:45 am EST

 

After thirty or so years, Elliot Abrams is back at the State Department. This time as the Trump Administration’s Special Envoy for Venezuela (see @SecPompeo Appoints Elliott Abrams, Iran-Contra Figure to “Help” Restore Democracy in Venezuela).

On February 13, together with Sandra Oudkirk, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Energy Resources at the State Department and USAID’s Steve Olive, the Acting Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr. Abrams appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) to talk about Venezuela at a Crossroads.

Note that the State Department’s WHA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary in charge of Venezuela did not testify at this hearing.

Protesters interrupted Mr. Abrams testimony, and the grilling he received from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) received much commentary. For those too young to remember the old times, see Brown University’s Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs,  a project developed from its applied ethics and public policy course on Good Government.

It is likely that this is not an isolated incident; that every time Mr. Abrams appear before a committee in Congress, or before the media that his past will never be too far away; he may have been pardoned but he has not been forgotten. Even when he is there to talk about Venezuela, people will ask him questions about Iran-Contra, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, human rights, El Mozoteetc. etc. etc.

Which makes one wonder why he was appointed to this job in the first place. Whatever message there is will pale in the presence of the messenger.

On February 14, Cuba accused the U.S. of moving special forces in preparation for a Venezuelan intervention under the pretext of a humanitarian crisis. Reuters reported that that Special Envoy Elliott Abrams was asked about the Cuban statement at an event in Washington, and he said “it is a new lie.”

A side note, with the Senate’s confirmation of William Barr as the next attorney general of the United States — it’s like we’re back to the 80’s.  On December 25, 1992, this was the NYT headline: Bush Pardons 6 in Iran Affair, Aborting a Weinberger Trial; Prosecutor Assails ‘Cover-Up’:

[…]

Besides Mr. Weinberger, the President pardoned Robert C. McFarlane, the former national security adviser, and Elliott Abrams, the former assistant Secretary of State for Central America. Both officials had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of withholding information from Congress about support for the contras.
[…]
But not since President Gerald R. Ford granted clemency to former President Richard M. Nixon for possible crimes in Watergate has a Presidential pardon so pointedly raised the issue of whether the President was trying to shield officials for political purposes. Mr. Walsh invoked Watergate tonight in an interview on the ABC News program “Nightline,” likening today’s pardons to President Richard M. Nixon’s dismissal of the Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, in 1973. Mr. Walsh said Mr. Bush had “succeeded in a sort of Saturday Night Massacre.”

Democratic lawmakers assailed the decision. Senator George J. Mitchell of Maine, the Democratic leader, called the action a mistake. “It is not as the President stated today a matter of criminalizing policy differences,” he said. “If members of the executive branch lie to the Congress, obstruct justice and otherwise break the law, how can policy differences be fairly and legally resolved in a democracy.”

The main supporters of the pardon were Vice President Quayle, the Senate Republican leader, Bob Dole, and Mr. Gray, one senior Administration official said today. The decision, discussed in private, seemed to coalesce in the last three weeks although Mr. Bush was said to believe that Mr. Weinberger had been unfairly charged ever since the former Reagan Cabinet officer was first indicted in June.

Throughout the deliberations, Mr. Bush consulted with Attorney General William P. Barr and Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser, who had sat on a Presidential review panel that examined the affair in early 1987.

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11/30 SFRC Hearings: Braithwaite, Trujillo, Bierman, and McClenny

Posted: 2:45 am ET

 

Prepared statements and the confirmation hearing video will be posted here when available.

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SFRC Hearings: Goldstein, Gonzales, Johnson, Evans, Lawler #OBE

Posted: 12:18 am ET
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We missed the Nov 1 confirmation hearings at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so this is an OBE post. We are posting them below to easily retrieve the nominees’ prepared testimonies and provide a link to the video.  We have also added links to the Certificates of Competency for Chiefs of Mission. Per Section 304 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, Certificates of Competency must be presented to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for presidential nominees to be Chief of Mission that demonstrate the competence of [a] nominee to perform the duties of the position in which he or she is to serve. Unfortunately, there is no such requirements for top ranking nominees in the State Department.

Date: Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Portman

Click here for the video of the confirmation hearing.

Mr. Irwin Steven Goldstein
Of New York, To Be Under Secretary Of State For Public Diplomacy
Download Testimony

Ms. Rebecca Eliza Gonzales
Gonzales, Rebecca Eliza – Kingdom of Lesotho – September 2017
Of Texas, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Minister-Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Kingdom Of Lesotho |
Download Testimony

Ms. Lisa A. Johnson
Johnson Lisa A. – Republic of Namibia – October 2017
Of Washington, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Republic Of Namibia
Download Testimony

Mr. James Randolph Evans
(certificate not available at state.gov as of 11/2/2017)
Of Georgia, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To Luxembourg
Download Testimony

Mr. Sean P. Lawler
o
f Maryland, To Be Chief Of Protocol, And To Have The Rank Of Ambassador During His Tenure Of Service
Download Testimony

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WED 9/27 SFRC PM Hearings: Hoekstra, Buchan, Grenell, McMullen, McCourt

Posted: 11:05 am PT
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Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Time: 02:15 PM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Johnson

Prepared statements and live video of hearing will be posted here when available.  Hyperlinked below are the Certificates of Competency for Nominees to be Chiefs of Mission per  Section 304 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980.

NOMINEES

The Honorable Peter Hoekstra
Of Michigan, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Kingdom Of The Netherlands
Hoekstra, Peter – Kingdom of the Netherlands – August 2017

Mr. Richard Duke Buchan III
Of Florida, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Kingdom Of Spain
Buchan III, Richard Duke – Kingdom of Spain and the Principality of Andorra – August 2017

Mr. Richard Grenell
Of California, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Federal Republic Of Germany
Grenell Richard Allen – Federal Republic of Germany- September 2017

Mr. Edward T. McMullen, Jr.
Of South Carolina, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Swiss Confederation, And To Serve Concurrently And Without Additional Compensation As Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Principality Of Liechtenstein
McMullen Jr. Edward Thomas – Swiss Confederation and Principality of Liechtenstein – September 2017

Ms. Jamie McCourtOf California, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The French Republic, And To Serve Concurrently And Without Additional Compensation As Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Principality Of Monaco
McCourt, Jamie – French Republic and Principality of Monaco – August 2017

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WED 9/27 SFRC AM Hearings: Fitzpatrick (Timor-Leste), Kritenbrink (Vietnam)

Posted: 10:54 am PT
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Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Time: 10:30 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Gardner

The prepared statements and live video of the hearings are available here.  Hyperlinked below are the Certificates of Competency for Nominees to be Chiefs of Mission per  Section 304 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980.

Nominations

Ms. Kathleen M. Fitzpatrick
Of The District Of Columbia, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Minister-Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Democratic Republic Of Timor-Leste
Fitzpatrick Kathleen M. Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste August 2017

Mr. Daniel J. Kritenbrink
Of Virginia, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Minister-Counselor, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Socialist Republic Of Vietnam
Kritenbrink, Daniel J. Kritenbrink – Socialist Republic of Vietnam – Comp Statement – August 2017
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