Bolton no-show for in­ter­view

Panel hears Pence aide who heard Trump call


WASH­ING­TON — For­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton failed to ap­pear for an in­ter­view with impeachmen­t in­ves­ti­ga­tors Thurs­day, mak­ing it un­likely that he will pro­vide tes­ti­mony to the House about Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s han­dling of Ukraine.

Democrats in­di­cated that they have no in­ter­est in a drawn-out court fight over Bolton’s tes­ti­mony or that of any oth­ers as they move into a more pub­lic phase of their impeachmen­t in­quiry. They say they will sim­ply use the no-shows as

ev­i­dence of the pres­i­dent’s ob­struc­tion of Con­gress.

An at­tor­ney for Bolton, Charles Cooper, said his client had not re­ceived a sub­poena. Cooper had said Bolton wouldn’t ap­pear with­out one.

An aide to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence did ap­pear un­der sub­poena Thurs­day to speak with impeachmen­t in­ves­ti­ga­tors and was de­posed for more than four hours.

Jennifer Wil­liams, a ca­reer for­eign ser­vice of­fi­cer as­signed to Pence’s of­fice from the State Depart­ment, is one of sev­eral White House aides who were lis­ten­ing in on a July phone call between Trump and Ukraine Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy in which Trump asked Ukraine’s new leader to in­ves­ti­gate Democrats, ac­cord­ing to an ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial who re­quested anonymity to dis­cuss the con­ver­sa­tion.

That call, in which Trump re­port­edly asked Ze­len­skiy to in­ves­ti­gate po­lit­i­cal ri­val Joe Bi­den and his fam­ily, also Ukraine’s role in the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, is at the cen­ter of the Democrats’ impeachmen­t investigat­ion.

Of­fi­cials close to Pence said he wasn’t aware of the de­mands Trump made of Ze­len­skiy on the call even though Pence likely re­ceived a rough tran­script of the con­ver­sa­tion in his nightly brief­ing book. As Pence’s top ad­viser on Ukraine mat­ters, Wil­liams would have been re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing that Pence knew what hap­pened on the call.

Though Trump has said there was no “quid pro quo,” sev­eral of the wit­nesses, in­clud­ing top Ukraine diplo­mat Wil­liam Taylor, have tes­ti­fied that it was their un­der­stand­ing that Ukraine would not re­ceive mil­i­tary as­sis­tance or an Oval Of­fice visit un­til it met the pres­i­dent’s de­mands.

Law­mak­ers leav­ing the de­po­si­tion said Wil­liams’ tes­ti­mony lined up with the ac­counts of oth­ers.

“It just never ceases to amaze me how all of these peo­ple in ev­ery ma­te­rial as­pect cor­rob­o­rate one an­other,” said Wash­ing­ton Rep. Denny Heck, a Demo­cratic mem­ber of the House In­tel­li­gence Panel, as he left the in­ter­view.

Re­pub­li­can Rep. Mark Mead­ows of North Carolina said law­mak­ers were find­ing out more de­tails about Pence’s Septem­ber visit to War­saw, Poland, where he met Ze­len­skiy. Pence has said he and the Ukrainian pres­i­dent did not dis­cuss Bi­den dur­ing their pri­vate meet­ing, but they had dis­cussed the White House’s de­ci­sion to halt se­cu­rity aid to the na­tion meant to counter Rus­sian ag­gres­sion.

Speak­ing to re­porters in New Hamp­shire, Pence stood by Trump and said if Amer­i­cans read the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s memo de­tail­ing the call they will find “there was no quid pro quo, the pres­i­dent did noth­ing wrong.” Pence called the impeachmen­t in­quiry a “dis­grace.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are wrap­ping up the pri­vate in­ter­views as they pre­pare to start pub­lic hearings next week. House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­man Adam Schiff an­nounced Wed­nes­day that three State Depart­ment wit­nesses will ap­pear in two hearings next Wed­nes­day and Fri­day: Taylor, ca­reer depart­ment of­fi­cial Ge­orge Kent and Marie Yo­vanovitch, the for­mer U.S. am­bas­sador to Ukraine. Yo­vanovitch was ousted in May on Trump’s or­ders and Taylor re­placed her; both have tes­ti­fied about their con­cerns with the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­icy on Ukraine.

Democrats sched­uled 13 wit­nesses to tes­tify pri­vately this week as they have wrapped up the pri­vate phase of the in­quiry, but so far only Wil­liams and an­other State Depart­ment em­ployee, David Hale, have shown up. Trump has di­rected his em­ploy­ees not to co­op­er­ate with the investigat­ion.

En­ergy Sec­re­tary Rick Perry did not show up for his Wed­nes­day in­ter­view, and act­ing Chief of Staff Mick Mul­vaney was not ex­pected to ap­pear for his sched­uled de­po­si­tion to­day.

Wil­liams is the first per­son di­rectly con­nected with Pence to tes­tify in the in­quiry.


House in­ves­ti­ga­tors Thurs­day re­leased a tran­script of Kent’s pri­vate tes­ti­mony, in which he said there were three words Trump wanted to hear from the Ukraine pres­i­dent: In­ves­ti­ga­tions, Bi­den, Clin­ton.

“[Trump] wanted noth­ing less than Pres­i­dent Ze­len­skiy to go to the mi­cro­phone and say in­ves­ti­ga­tions, Bi­den and Clin­ton,” Kent tes­ti­fied. “Ba­si­cally there needed to be three words in the mes­sage, and that was the short­hand.”

Kent told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that that was his un­der­stand­ing of what Trump wanted Ze­len­skiy to say in or­der to un­lock U.S. mil­i­tary aid, as re­layed to the of­fi­cial by oth­ers, in­clud­ing those in di­rect con­tact with the pres­i­dent.

Clin­ton, he ex­plained, was “short­hand” for the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, in­volv­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton. It was a ref­er­ence to Trump’s view, pushed by his per­sonal at­tor­ney Rudy Gi­u­liani but out­side of main­stream U.S. in­tel­li­gence, that Ukraine played a role in­ter­fer­ing in that elec­tion.

Kent also raised con­cerns about Gi­u­liani’s “cam­paign of lies” against Yo­vanovitch and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fir­ing of the vet­eran diplo­mat.

Kent had tes­ti­fied for hours in Oc­to­ber about the shift­ing U.S. pol­icy to­ward Ukraine as ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials and Gi­u­liani were tak­ing the lead, act­ing out­side of reg­u­lar for­eign pol­icy chan­nels.

The ca­reer of­fi­cial be­gan to un­der­stand that un­less Ukraine took on the in­ves­ti­ga­tions Trump wanted, the ad­min­is­tra­tion would hold up nearly $400 mil­lion in mil­i­tary aid to the young democ­racy that re­lies on U.S. sup­port to counter Rus­sian ag­gres­sion.

Kent said he memo­ri­al­ized in writ­ing the con­ver­sa­tions he was hav­ing with other diplomats over his con­cerns of “an ef­fort to ini­ti­ate po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated pros­e­cu­tions that were in­ju­ri­ous to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and U.S.” The mem­o­ran­dum was sub­mit­ted to the State Depart­ment.

He told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that he was un­com­fort­able with what he was hear­ing about Gi­u­liani push­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tions and Trump’s spe­cial en­voy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, en­gag­ing Ukrainian of­fi­cials on the sub­ject.

“And I told Bill Taylor, that’s wrong, and we shouldn’t be do­ing that as a mat­ter of U.S. pol­icy,” Kent said.

Trump’s am­bas­sador to the Euro­pean Union, Gor­don Sond­land, had dubbed him­self, Volker and Perry the “three ami­gos” with a man­date to take the lead on Ukraine pol­icy over the ca­reer diplomats, Kent tes­ti­fied.

At one point, Kent said, Volker’s as­sis­tant, Cather­ine Croft, asked if any­one had sought in­ves­ti­ga­tions from Ukraine. Kent said he hoped the U.S. had not be­cause “that goes against ev­ery­thing that we are try­ing to pro­mote in post-Soviet states for the last 28 years, which is the pro­mo­tion of the rule of law.”

In one scene, Kent de­scribes mount­ing un­ease over Trump’s phone call with Ze­len­skiy.

Within days, he was re­ceiv­ing a read­out from Lt. Col. Alexan­der Vind­man, an Army of­fi­cer as­signed to the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil who was among the of­fi­cials lis­ten­ing to the call. Vind­man has be­come a key wit­ness in the House investigat­ion.

Vind­man was “un­com­fort­able” as he gave Kent the read­out and un­will­ing to talk about much of what was dis­cussed, even over the se­cure phone line between the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and State Depart­ment.

“It was dif­fer­ent than any read­out call that I had re­ceived,” Kent said. “He felt — I could hear it in his voice and his hes­i­tancy that he felt un­com­fort­able.”

Vind­man told him the tone of the Trump-Ze­len­skiy call was “cooler, re­served” and that Ze­len­skiy, a for­mer co­me­dian, had tried to turn on the charm.

He said Vind­man told him that “the con­ver­sa­tion went into the di­rec­tion of some of the most ex­treme nar­ra­tives that have been dis­cussed pub­licly.”


Ear­lier Thurs­day, Schiff gave Re­pub­li­cans a Satur­day dead­line to pro­pose wit­nesses in the impeachmen­t in­quiry.

House Re­pub­li­cans must sub­mit a list of pro­posed wit­nesses by Satur­day morn­ing, Schiff said in a let­ter Thurs­day to Rep. Devin Nunes of Cal­i­for­nia, the top Re­pub­li­can on the panel.

“The Com­mit­tee looks for­ward to re­ceiv­ing by Novem­ber 9, within the Res­o­lu­tion’s stip­u­lated dead­line, the Mi­nor­ity’s writ­ten re­quest for wit­nesses, and is pre­pared to con­sult on pro­posed wit­nesses to eval­u­ate their rel­e­vance to the in­quiry’s scope,” Schiff said in the let­ter.

Some Re­pub­li­cans have floated the idea of re­quest­ing that the anony­mous whistle­blower tes­tify be­fore the com­mit­tee. Oth­ers have pro­posed that Schiff be re­quired to tes­tify, al­though the like­li­hood of that hap­pen­ing ap­pears slim. All wit­nesses must be ap­proved by Schiff or by a vote of the full com­mit­tee, on which Democrats hold a ma­jor­ity.

Rep. Eric Swal­well, D-Calif., said Democrats should ex­er­cise their right to block Re­pub­li­cans from sub­poe­naing tes­ti­mony from the whistle­blower, hours af­ter Rep. Jim Jor­dan, R-Ohio, said his party planned to add that per­son to its list of impeachmen­t wit­nesses.

Swal­well told re­porters af­ter Thurs­day’s closed tes­ti­mony that Re­pub­li­can at­tacks seem de­signed to “pun­ish the whistle­blower, put the whistle­blower in harm’s way.”

“I look at the whistle­blower like some­one who pulled the fire alarm,” he said. “First re­spon­ders show up, and they see flames, smoke, burn­ing build­ing, an ar­son­ist hold­ing the gaso­line can with matches. You don’t re­ally need to know who pulled the fire alarm.”

Swal­well de­clined to share de­tails from Wil­liams’ in­ter­view but said law­mak­ers have “not heard a sin­gle wit­ness yet” pro­vide tes­ti­mony that un­der­cut al­le­ga­tions of a quid pro quo in­volv­ing aid dol­lars, which he called a “de­fense dol­lars for dirt” scheme.

“We have not yet seen an ar­row go­ing in any di­rec­tion other than this was a shake­down led by the pres­i­dent of the United States,” he said.

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­tributed by Mary Clare Jalonick, Jill Colvin, Eric Tucker, Matthew Lee, Lisa Mas­caro and An­drew Taylor of The As­so­ci­ated Press; and by John Wag­ner, Feli­cia Son­mez, Colby Itkowitz, Elise Viebeck and Greg Jaffe of The Wash­ing­ton Post.


Jennifer Wil­liams, an aide to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, leaves the Capi­tol on Thurs­day af­ter be­ing ques­tioned un­der sub­poena for sev­eral hours by House impeachmen­t in­ves­ti­ga­tors. More photos at arkansason­


Lt. Col. Alexan­der Vind­man (cen­ter) leaves Capi­tol Hill on Thurs­day af­ter re­view­ing pre­vi­ous tes­ti­mony.

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