Impeachment Inquiry: Transcripts of Depositions Released

Posted: Nov 12, 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.

 

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/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/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.

 

 

 

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Office of Special Counsel Announces Suspensions of Two Federal Employees Over Hatch Act Violations

 

On October 18, the Office of Special Counsel announced disciplinary actions imposed on two federal employees working for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) for Hatch Act violations.

​The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced significant discipline imposed on two federal employees working for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) who engaged in prohibited political activity in violation of the Hatch Act.

One DLA employee violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions by sending partisan political emails and making political Facebook posts while at work.  The employee also used Facebook to solicit political contributions nearly two dozen times in violation of the Act.  During OSC’s investigation, the employee admitted he was aware of the Hatch Act and that his supervisor had counseled him about the Act prior to engaging in the prohibited activity.  In a settlement agreement, the employee agreed to a 90-day suspension without pay.

Another DLA employee violated the Hatch Act by displaying the words “Vote Republican” on a PowerPoint presentation that he gave while on duty and in the federal workplace.  The employee had received extensive Hatch Act training and was explicitly told prior to giving the presentation that certain images he planned to use, including the “Vote Republican” image, would be problematic.  In a settlement agreement, the employee agreed to a 30-day suspension without pay for his violation.

“With election season drawing near, it is critical that federal employees understand and abide by their Hatch Act obligations,” said Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner. “As demonstrated in these two cases, there are significant repercussions for federal employees who violate the Hatch Act.”

Note that last June, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) sent a report to President Donald J. Trump finding that Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media. “Given that Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, OSC recommends that she be removed from federal service.”
On June 13, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) said it “respects the Office of White House Counsel but respectfully disagrees with its position, and will not withdraw its Report​ sent to the President today finding numerous Hatch Act violations made by Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway (OSC File Nos. HA-19-0631 and HA-19-3395).”

Pence to Lead Ceasefire Delegation to Turkey, Erdogan on Ceasefire — Nah, But Come Visit!

 

Ex-NSC Russia Expert Dr. Fiona Hill Appears For Transcribed Deposition

 

Read: Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s Prepared Deposition Statement

 

Excerpt from Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s prepared deposition statement:

Before I close, I must share the deep disappointment and dismay I have felt as these events have unfolded. I have served this nation honorably for more than 30 years. I have proudly promoted and served American interests as the representative of the American people and six different presidents over the last three decades. Throughout that time, I—like my colleagues at the State Department—have always believed that we enjoyed a sacred trust with our government.

We make a difference every day on issues that matter to the American people—whether it is war and peace, trade and investment, or simply helping with a lost passport. We repeatedly uproot our lives, and we frequently put ourselves in harm’s way to serve this nation. And we do that willingly, because we believe in America and its special role in the world. We also believe that, in return, our government will have our backs and protect us if we come under attack from foreign interests.

That basic understanding no longer holds true. Today, we see the State Department attacked and hollowed out from within. State Department leadership, with Congress, needs to take action now to defend this great institution, and its thousands of loyal and effective employees. We need to rebuild diplomacy as the first resort to advance America’s interests and the front line of America’s defense. I fear that not doing so will harm our nation’s interest, perhaps irreparably.

That harm will come not just through the inevitable and continuing resignation and loss of many of this nation’s most loyal and talented public servants. It also will come when those diplomats who soldier on and do their best to represent our nation face partners abroad who question whether the ambassador truly speaks for the President and can be counted upon as a reliable partner. The harm will come when private interests circumvent professional diplomats for their own gain, not the public good. The harm will come when bad actors in countries beyond Ukraine see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system. In such circumstances, the only interests that will be served are those of our strategic adversaries, like Russia, that spread chaos and attack the institutions and norms that the U.S.helped create and which we have benefited from for the last 75 years.

I am proud of my work in Ukraine. The U.S. Embassy, under my leadership, represented and advanced the policies of the United States government as articulated, first by the Obama Administration and then by the Trump Administration. Our efforts were intended, and evidently succeeded, in thwarting corrupt interests in Ukraine, who fought back by selling baseless conspiracy theories to anyone who would listen. Sadly, someone was listening, and our nation is the worse off for that.

Read in full here:

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White House Submits Some @StateDept/Related Agencies Re-nominations to the Senate

Posted: 4:52 am EST

Via WH, January 16, 2019

 

STATE DEPARTMENT

Brian J. Bulatao, of Texas, to be an Under Secretary of State (Management), vice Patrick Francis Kennedy.

David Schenker, of New Jersey, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Near Eastern Affairs), vice Anne W. Patterson, resigned.

David Stilwell, of Hawaii, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (East Asian and Pacific Affairs), vice Daniel R. Russel.

Stephen Akard, of Indiana, to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, with the rank of Ambassador, vice Gentry O. Smith, resigned.

Marshall Billingslea, of Virginia, to be an Under Secretary of State (Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights), vice Sarah Sewall, resigned.

R. Clarke Cooper, of Florida, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Political-Military Affairs), vice Puneet Talwar, resigned.

Robert A. Destro, of Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, vice Tomasz P. Malinowski.

Jeffrey L. Eberhardt, of Wisconsin, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, with the rank of Ambassador.

Ronald Mortensen, of Utah, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Population, Refugees, and Migration), vice Anne Claire Richard.

Kimberly Breier, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Foundation for a term expiring September 20, 2020, vice Adolfo A. Franco, term expired.

 

AMBASSADORS/POLITICAL

John P. Abizaid, of Nevada, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Lynda Blanchard, of Alabama, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia.

Joseph Cella, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Fiji, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu.

Edward F. Crawford, of Ohio, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Ireland.

David T. Fischer, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Morocco.

Kenneth S. George, of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

Jeffrey Ross Gunter, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iceland.

Kenneth A. Howery, of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Sweden.

Ronald Douglas Johnson, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of El Salvador.

Doug Manchester, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Lana J. Marks, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of South Africa.

John Rakolta Jr., of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the United Arab Emirates.

Leandro Rizzuto, of New Jersey, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Barbados, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Donald R. Tapia, of Arizona, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Jamaica.

Christine J. Toretti, of Pennsylvania, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Malta.

Adrian Zuckerman, of New Jersey, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Romania.

 

AMBASSADORS/CAREER

Kate Marie Byrnes, of Florida, 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 Republic of Macedonia.

Michael J. Fitzpatrick, 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 Republic of Ecuador.

W. Patrick Murphy, of Vermont, 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 Cambodia.

Daniel N. Rosenblum, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Matthew H. Tueller, of Utah, 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 Republic of Iraq.

Note: There appears to be three career diplomats on the Executive Calendar whose nominations have not been resubmitted to the Senate with this list (Robert K. Scott for Republic of Malawi; Francisco Luis Palmieri for Honduras, and Joseph E. Macmanus for Colombia). Also many more names that were pending in the SFRC last year that we expected to see renominated but as of this writing, the White House has not done so except for a couple nominees. It could just be a matter of time. We expected this list to come out the first week of January, and the names were only sent to the Senate on January 16. We’ll be in the look out for that other long list. 

USUN

Andrew P. Bremberg, of Virginia, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, with the rank of Ambassador.

Kip Tom, of Indiana, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

BBG

Michael Pack, of Maryland, to be Chief Executive Officer of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for the term of three years.  (New Position)

USAID

John Barsa, of Florida, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Marcela Escobari.

Mina Chang, of Texas, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Jonathan Nicholas Stivers.

Richard C. Parker, of North Carolina, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice T. Charles Cooper, resigned.

PEACE CORPS

Alan R. Swendiman, of North Carolina, to be Deputy Director of the Peace Corps, vice Carlos J. Torres.

 

EXPORT-IMPORT BANK

Spencer Bachus, III, of Alabama, to be Member of the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States for a term expiring January 20, 2023, vice Patricia M. Loui, term expired.

Claudia Slacik, of New York, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States for a term expiring January 20, 2023, vice Sean Robert Mulvaney.

Kimberly A. Reed, of West Virginia, to be President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States for a term expiring January 20, 2021, vice Fred P. Hochberg, resigned.

OPIC

Irving Bailey, of Florida, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for a term expiring December 17, 2021, vice Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, term expired.

Christopher P. Vincze, of Massachusetts, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for a term expiring December 17, 2019, vice Todd A. Fisher, term expired.

MCC

Alexander Crenshaw, of Florida, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation for a term of three years, vice Mark Green, term expired.

George M. Marcus, of California, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation for a term of three years, vice Morton H. Halperin, term expired.

WHO: Brett P. Giroir, of Texas, to be Representative of the United States on the Executive Board of the World Health Organization, vice Thomas Frieden.

IMF: Mark Rosen, of Connecticut, to be United States Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund for a term of two years, vice Margrethe Lundsager, resigned.

OSCE: James S. Gilmore, of Virginia, to be U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, with the rank of Ambassador.

OSCD: Pamela Bates, of Virginia, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with the rank of Ambassador.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump Shutdown Day #22: Longest Ever, Also Can “Better Off” Federal Hostages Eat Vacation Days?

 

Marking the 22nd day of the Trump Shutdown. This is now officially the longest government shutdown in history.

Also here is a White House official who need not worry about a paycheck, calling the current chaos and debacle on government workers’ lives as somehow putting them in a “better off” universe.

Bob Woodward’s ‘Fear: Trump in the White House’ (Excerpt)

Via Amazon: Bob Woodward is an associate editor at The Washington Post, where he has worked for forty-seven years. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first for the Post’s coverage of the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein, and second in 2003 as the lead reporter for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has authored or coauthored eighteen books, all of which have been national nonfiction bestsellers. Twelve of those have been #1 national bestsellers.

With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence.

Fear is the most intimate portrait of a sitting president ever published during the president’s first years in office.

“I think you’ve always been fair.”President Donald J. Trump, in a call to Bob Woodward, August 14, 2018

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Senate Passes 98-0 Resolution Against Making Available Current/Ex-Diplomats For Russia Questioning

 

A follow-up to Trump-Putin Summit Fallout: POTUS Entertains Proposal For Russia to Question Ex-US Amb Mike McFaul. The Senate has just passed a 98-0 resolution against making available for Russian questioning  current or former diplomats as well as other officials of the United States Government. The White House has now released a statement about Putin’s proposal that the President of the United States purportedly disagreed with but had previously called “an incredible offer.”

See July 19 update below via VOA with Secretary Pompeo saying “It’s not going to happen,” then added that “”President Trump was very clear – we’re not gonna force Americans to go to Russia to be interrogated by the Russians.”  

The notion that this proposal was made in “sincerity” by President Putin, and that President Trump disagreed with it is actually laughable. Were that true, the Press Secretary could have said immediately that the president pushed back hard against that proposal. This White House must really think we’re all dumb as rocks.

This was a no brainer. Ambassador McFaul, and the other officials that Russia wanted to question may not have been employees of this president, but they were employees and representatives of the United States of America, not of the Democratic Party (despite what this president might think or believe). The fact that this was even offered as a proposal tells us just what Putin think of this President. And the fact this President Trump did not push back and even appeared to consider it is horrifying.

So instead, the Press Secretary announced from the podium that the president “would work with his team” — excuse me, to do what exactly? And now the Press Secretary is saying that while President Trump disagreed with Putin’s proposal, “hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”  That proposal was supposedly in exchange for the questioning of USG individuals. And now all they have left is “hoping” that Putin will go ahead with the proposal anyway?

Holy caramba! No wonder Putin is laughing his head off; he’s playing chess against our White House playing find the shortest toothpick.

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UPDATE:

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All Promotions Into/Within the Senior Foreign Service Must be Vetted by White House?

Posted: 1:23 am  ET

 

State/HR recently sent a Frequently Asked Questions to newly promoted OCs concerning the differences between being an FS-01, the highest rank in the regular Foreign Service, and as OC, the starter rank in the Senior Foreign Service. The FAQ talks about pay, bidding, EERs, benefits, and of course, promotions. And then there’s this question, and apparent answer:

Q: When are promotions from FS-01 to OC effective?
Answer: Promotion boards issue a list in the fall of officers “recommended” for promotion from FS-01 to OC, OC to MC and MC to CM. However, all promotions into and within the Senior Foreign Service must be vetted by the White House, confirmed by the Senate and attested by the President. This process can take several months. Promotions into and within the SFS are effective the first pay period following Presidential attestation. However, you may start bidding as an OC as soon as the promotion list is released by the board.

Yo! You know this is nuts, right? The White House can barely vet its own staffers, and it will now vet all promotions of FSOs into and within the Senior Foreign Service? With one exception that we are aware of (and we’ll write about that case separately), this WH vetting requirement is new, and yes, we remember the “improved” vetting required by the SFRC back in 2015 (SFRC Bullies Diplomats Up For Promotion to Self-Certify They Have Not Been Convicted of Any Crime).  Is the WH also vetting all senior promotions out of the Pentagon? Who’s going to be doing this and what does this vetting includes? Also whose great idea was this, pray tell?  Will State/HR and A/DGHR soon say that this vetting has always been done by the White House since the beginning of whatevs?

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