@StateDept Releases First Ukraine-Related Documents Under FOIA

 

The State Department is about to get inundated once more with FOIA requests.  Anyone anticipating an “FOIA surge” this time around? You may download the documents here, the first set in a court-ordered document production via American Oversight.
The November 1 court order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the State Department must search for and produce by November 22, 2019 records from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl containing any readouts or summaries of President Trump’s July call with the President of Ukraine.
We’ve looked through a hundred pages of these newly released documents, and while the most notable are the telephone calls between Mr. Giuliani and the secretary of state (two calls referred to in the Hale deposition), there does not appear to be any documents specific to readouts and summaries of the July 25 call.
So, how soon do you think before we’ll see those documents?

 

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Related posts: Impeachment Inquiry: Transcripts of Depositions Released (Updated 11/18/19)Impeachment Open Hearings Week #1: William Taylor, George Kent, Marie Yovanovitch

Thursday, November 21

  • WH/NSC: Fiona Hill, Fiona Hill, Former Senior Director for Europe and Russia
  • State/FSO David Holmes, Political Counselor, US Embassy Kyiv, Ukraine

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Impeachment Inquiry: Transcripts of Depositions Released (Updated 11/18/19)

Posted: Nov 12, 2019
Updated: Nov 16, 2019
Updated, November 18, 2019

On September 24, 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the beginning of the impeachment inquiry. (see Tuesday, September 24, 2019: Speaker Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry).  Below are links to the full transcripts of the depositions that the Committee has released on a rolling basis. We will update this post as new transcripts are released to the public.
State/P Ambassador David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
  • The testimony of Mr. Hale can be found here.
  • Key excerpts of Hale’s testimony can be found here.
State/FSO David Holmes, Political Counselor, US Embassy Kyiv, Ukraine
  • The testimony of Mr. Holmes can be found here.
  • Key excerpts of Holmes’ testimony can be found here.
WH/FSO Jennifer Williams, Vice President Pence’s Special Adviser on Europe and Russia
  • The testimony of Jennifer Williams can be found here.
  • Key excerpts of Jennifer Williams’s testimony can be found here.
WH/Timothy Morrison, Deputy Assistant to the President
  • The testimony of Timothy Morrison can be found here.
  • Key excerpts of Timothy Morrison’s testimony can be found here.
DOD/Laura Cooper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Defense
  • The testimony of Deputy Assistant Secretary Laura Cooper can be found here.
  • Key excerpts of Deputy Assistant Secretary Laura Cooper testimony can be found here.
STATE/FSO Catherine Croft, Ambassador Volker’s Advisor
  • The testimony of Catherine Croft can be found here.
  • Key excerpts of Catherine Croft’s testimony can be found here.
STATE/FSO Christopher Anderson, Ambassador Volker’s Advisor
  • The testimony of Christopher Anderson can be found here.
  • Key excerpts of Christopher Anderson’s testimony can be found here.
WH/Dr. Fiona Hill, NSC Russia Expert
  • The testimony of Dr. Fiona Hill can be found here.
  • Key excerpts of Dr. Fiona Hill’s testimony can be found here.
WH/Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, NSC Russia Expert
  • The testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman can be found here.
  • Key excerpts of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman’s testimony can be found here.
STATE/George Kent: Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR)
  • The testimony of Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent can be found here.
  • Key excerpts from Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent can be found here.
STATE/Ambassador Bill Taylor: Current Chargé d’Affaires, US Embassy Ukraine
  • The testimony of Ambassador Taylor can be found here.
  • Key excerpts from Ambassador Taylor’s testimony can be found here.
STATE/Kurt Volker:  Former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine
  • The testimony of Ambassador Volker can be found here.
  • Key excerpts from Ambassador Volker’s testimony can be found here.
  • the Committees released all additional Volker text messages received by the Committees, which can be found here.
  • Key excerpts from these additional text messages can be found here.
  • The Committees first released excerpts of text messages produced by Ambassador Volker on October 2, 2019, which can be found here.
STATE/Ambassador Gordon Sondland:  Current U.S. Ambassador to the European Union
  • The testimony of Ambassador Sondland can be found here, including an addendum he filed on November 4, 2019
  • Key excerpts from Ambassador Sondland’s testimony can be found here.
STATE/Ambassador Michael McKinley:  Former Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
  • The testimony of former Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State Ambassador P. Michael McKinley from October 16, 2019 can be found here.
  • Key excerpts from McKinley’s testimony can be found here.
STATE/Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch: Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
  • The testimony of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch from October 11, 2019 can be found here.
  • Key excerpts from Yovanovitch’s testimony can be found here.

 

 

 

A Resolute Marie Yovanovitch Shines at the Impeachment Inquiry

 

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this past week (like you know who),  you’ve probably already seen, read or heard about former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s appearance at a public hearing on the first week of the impeachment inquiry. Beyond the obvious parts of the testimony concerning her removal, and the president’s detestable tweet while she was in the middle of the hearing, we were struck by a few things:
Just doing what needs to be done
At one point during the hearing, Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Alabama) said: “You spoke about how your service is not just your own personal service, it affects your family, and today we have seen you as this former ambassador of this 33 year veteran of the Foreign Service. But I want to know about you personally and how this has affected you personally and your family.”
Ambassador Yovanovitch’s answered that It’s been a difficult time. I am a private person, I don’t want to put all of that out there, it’s been a very, very difficult time because the president does have the right to have his own, her own ambassador in every country in the world.”
Rep. Terri Sewell tried again asking, “how has it affected your family?”
Ambassador Yovanovitch gave a very diplomatic and firm response by simply saying that I really don’t want to get into that, but thank you for asking.” She could have told them about the recent loss of her 91-year old mother, but she did not. She had one job to do there and she was not going to get distracted from that despite what ever else may be going on in her personal life.  Her resoluteness in the face of difficulties  and the challenges she will face going forward is admirable. 
No praises for Trump even to save her job 
When Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) asked Ambassador Yovanovitch about the advice given to her by political ambassador to USEU Gordon Sondland, Ambassador Yovanovitch said, “He suggested that I needed to go big or go home. And he said that the best thing to do would be to, you know, send out a tweet, praise the president, that sort of thing.” When asked about her reaction to that advice,  she responded that she’s sure “he meant well, but it was not advice that I could really follow. It felt — it felt partisan, it felt political and I just — that was not something that I thought (ph) was in keeping with my role as ambassador and a Foreign Service officer.”
When asked if Ambassador Sondland gave any specific suggestions on what to say about the president of the United States, or just say something nice about him”, Ambassador Yovanovitch responded , Yeah, just to praise him.”
She could have easily “gone big” as suggested by somebody who donated big to this president’s inauguration; no one but her and Sondland would have known about the advice had she done it. But the 33-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service declined to sing Trump praises — even to save her job — because  she thought it was not “in  keeping ” with her “role as ambassador and a Foreign Service officer.”
Imagine that. 
How many ambassadors (or cabinet secretaries for that matter) would make the same choices or would folks just start thinking, hey what’s the harm with a simple tweet? But how long before it will be more than just a simple tweet and folks start wearing dark eye googles just to comb their thinning hair in front of the mirror?
Fellowship at Georgetown
New York Representative  Elise Stefanik wanted confirmation that Ambassador Yovanovitch is still an employee of the  State Department so “there’s no public confusion” and said that “Georgetown students are lucky to have” her.
Texas representative K. Michael Conaway wanted to know “what happened when you — when you came back here as to what your next assignment would be at — at State?” (This is the same representative who wanted to know if somebody paid George Kent to say those “glowing” things about Ambassador Yovanovitch. He also asked her, “Do they shun you at the lunch counter? I mean, do they treat you badly as a — as a result of the way you were treated by — by the president?”)
Ambassador Yovanovitch responded that when she came back obviously it was sort of out of cycle, there was nothing set up…”. She added, And again, I am grateful that Deputy Secretary Sullivan asked me what I would like to do next. I recalled that there was the fellowship at Georgetown and asked whether that might be something that could be arranged.”
Representative Conaway asked “Was that your only choice?” She responded I’m not sure.... We didn’t really discuss other options.” He ended up his inquiry by saying, I hope that, whatever you decide to do after the Georgetown fellowship, that — that you’re as successful there as you’ve been in the first 33 years.”  He has no idea, does he?
Foreign Service assignments for tenured employees typically run 3 years, with occasional 1 year extensions. These assignments are usually handed out a year before the actual rotation. Since she was reportedly asked earlier to extend her assignment in Kyiv until 2020, it most probably means she was not “bidding” for any assignment by the time she was yanked out of Ukraine. There are few jobs available when assignments are suddenly curtailed or shortened.  And given the target on her back after Ukraine, Georgetown may have been the only option for her. But here’s the thing, she could not stay there forever. At most, that’s a one year assignment. Which also means that she would have been looking for her next assignment during this year’s bidding cycles.
No next time, Mr. Pompeo and State Department spoxes talk about their support for Foreign Service employees, ask them what is Ambassador Yovanovitch’s next assignment.
Most jobs appropriate for her rank (Minister-Counselor, equivalent to Two-star rank (O-8) require a nomination or a State Department leadership approval. She previously served as Deputy Commandant at the Eisenhower School at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.as well as Dean of the School of Language Studies at the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute. She could do the schools again or get back and serve in Foggy Bottom.  But it’s not a simple question of “whatever” she decides to do after the Georgetown fellowship, it’s a question of what the State Department will allow her to do. We do not expect her to get another ambassadorship under this administration. We are concerned, however, that she will also have difficulties finding an onward assignment after her fellowship and that she will be forced into retirement.

Another Day, Another Attack Directed at a @StateDept Employee, Pompeo Still Missing

 

 

US Embassy Ukraine’s Political Counselor David Holmes Appears For Deposition in #ImpeachmentInquiry

 

 

Pompeo Mad at Congress For “Bullying” @StateDept Employees as @StateDept Bullies Own Employee

 

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