- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2019

House Democrats released the sixth closed-door transcript of their impeachment investigation on Thursday, this time from Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent.

The new information comes just one day after Democrats announced that Mr. Kent, along with the top diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor, will be the first two witnesses in public impeachment hearings that begin on Wednesday.

In his October testimony, Mr. Kent told lawmakers that he was bothered by the role of the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, in Ukrainian foreign policy and the smear campaign that targeted former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch both on social media and within the State Department via a packet of conspiracy theories.

In addition to his concerns about Ms. Yovanovitch, Mr. Kent has said that he raised concerns about Hunter Biden serving on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings in 2015, but was rebuffed by one of then-Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s staffers.

Mr. Kent has testified that he was told to “lay low” on Ukraine policy while the administration, and Mr. Giuliani, were talking with Ukraine officials outside of traditional foreign-policy channels.

Chairman Adam B. Schiff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said Thursday that Mr. Kent and his colleagues “recognized the impropriety of Trump’s Ukraine pressure campaign to undertake politically-motivated investigations.”

“He corroborates testimony from numerous other officials, and he documented it,” Mr. Schiff said on Twitter.

Democrats centered a series of questions on how the State Department gathered evidence, and the guidance the department issued to officials after Congress requested State’s cooperation with the impeachment inquiry.

Mr. Kent said he disagreed with how the department characterized the interaction between the agency and Congress in the letter it sent to lawmakers.

“There was a line in there that the committees had been attempting to bully, intimidate and threaten career service officials,” he testified. “And I was one of two career foreign service officers which had revived letters from the committees and I had not felt bullied, threatened and intimidated.”

Mr. Kent said he was alarmed by the effort to get Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter, and the 2016 election.

“It’s my belief that it is inappropriate for us to ask another country to open up an investigation against political opponents, whether it is political opponents domestically in the U.S. context or, in the case of countries like Ukraine or Georgia, opening up selective prosecutions against perceived opponents of those in power,” he said.

But Mr. Kent also testified several times that he was told there wasn’t a “quid pro quo” transaction of U.S. military aid for those sought-after investigations.

The quid pro quo is at the heart of the impeachment allegations that Mr. Trump abused his Oval Office power for personal political gain.

Much of Mr. Kent’s testimony illustrates the White House’s complaint that the Democrats’ investigation is based on hearsay and second-hand stories among several of the key witnesses. For example, he told lawmakers that European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland told White House official Tim Morrison, who told Ukraine ambassador William Taylor, that Mr. Sondland had spoken to Mr. Trump about the Ukraine investigations.

“POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to [the] microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton,” Mr. Kent said.

“And in return for what?” a lawmaker asked Mr. Kent.

“That was not clear to me. I wasn’t part of this exchange,” Mr. Kent replied.

Mr. Kent slammed Mr. Giuliani for orchestrating a “campaign of lies” against Ms. Yovanovitch, including an allegation that she was removed for conspiring against the president.

The Democratic chairmen of the three committees conducting the inquiry said Mr. Kent “strongly corroborates” other witnesses who were unnerved by Mr. Trump’s efforts in Ukraine.

They said Mr. Kent’s description of his contemporaneous documentation of conversations and events further bolsters the inquiry’s demand that the White House turn over documents.

The administration has refused to hand over documents to the inquiry, which Mr. Trump has dismissed as a “kangaroo court.”The chairmen characterized it as obstruction.

“These actions demonstrate the president’s clear obstruction of Congress and support the inference that these documents further corroborate the testimony of presidential misconduct that we have received,” they wrote. “We look forward to Mr. Kent’s public testimony.”

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