The House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Relations Committees have released the first transcripts of the testimony they've taken behind closed doors. Today's releases were the testimony of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled from Ukraine, and former Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State Ambassador P. Michael McKinley.
One of the more chilling moments in Yovanovitch's testimony can be read on pages 192-193:
Q:What was your reaction when you saw that?
A:Again, I hate to be repetitive, but I was shocked. I mean, I was very surprised that President Trump would—first of all, that I would feature repeatedly in a Presidential phone call, but secondly, that the President would speak about me or any ambassador in that way to a foreign counterpart.
Q:At the bottom of that same page, President Trump says, “Well, she’s going to go through some things.”What did you understand that to mean?
A:I didn’t know what it meant. I was very concerned. I still am.
Q:Did you feel threatened?
And who wouldn't? That comment was just one of several mob-like moments in Trump's "perfect" phone call.
Ambassador McKinley was tasked with cleaning up the mess, but as time went on, he felt he had to resign instead.
Here, he's testifying as to a statement he wanted to issue in support of Yovanovitch (pages 38-39) (My emphasis added):
A: I didn’t try to read into it or even understand it. The words themselves spoke for themselves. And my reaction was, well, there’s a simple solution for this. We think she’s a strong, professional career diplomat who’s still on the rolls, who’s still a full-time Department employee. It shouldn’t be difficult to put out a short statement that’s not political, stating clearly that we respect the professionalism, the tenure of Ambassador Yovanovitch in the Ukraine. Thank you. That’s pretty much as straightforward and simple a statement as I was proposing.
The statement was not released after Secretary Pompeo quashed it.
As time went on McKinley became quite concerned about bullying of State Department officials (all emphasis mine):
A: He wrote it up as a memorandum to the files, and he sent it to me. That was that Thursday night. And I felt absolutely obliged to send it to other people on the 7th floor. I thought it was a serious memorandum. I thought it indicated a lack of support that was broader than simply a question of statements.
Q: What exactly did you put in writing?
A: So get the memo to the files, right, the memo to the files that was sent to me. And so, on top of it, I said, I’m forwarding the following report, which is of concern on a number of levels. It includes allegations of intimidation and bullying and questions accuracy—I don’t know whether I used the word—and raises questions about whether there are lies in statements, you know. And then I said: And this is why we really need to do something forcefully for our colleagues in the Foreign Service. And I also mentioned, frankly, the legal fees concern that I had.
Q: One of the representations apparently made in that letter from the State Department was that State Department witnesses like Mr. Kent or perhaps yourself or others were being bullied, not by the State Department, but by Congress. But what Mr. Kent was raising with you was his concern that he was being bullied by the State Department. Is that correct?
A: That’s correct.
Tomorrow's transcript releases will be from Ambassador Sondland and Kurt Volker.