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ICYMI, from the opening statement of David Holmes, senior policy and political adviser at US Embassy in Ukraine, who became a foreign service officer during the Bush (2) administration and has served in Moscow, Kabul, Bogota, Pristina and on NSC. (Thread) 1/
2/ Holmes arrived in Kyiv in August 2017, their work focused in part on anti-corruption efforts, straining then-Amb. Yovanovitch's relationship w/ Pres Poroshenko and Prosecutor General Lutsenko "who resisted fully empowering truly independent anti-corruption institutions."
3/ "Beginning in March 2019, the situation at the Embassy and in Ukraine changed dramatically," when policies supporting democratic reform and resistance to Russian aggression "became overshadowed by a political agenda" pushed by Giuliani and others w direct channel to WH.
4/ Lutsenko worked to discredit Yovanovitch, including with the "unsupported allegation" the US Embassy pressured former prosecutor Shokin to close the case against former Minister Zlochevsky because of the connection between his company Burisma and VP Biden's son Hunter.
5/ "Embassy colleagues also heard from a report that Mr. Lutsenko had made additional unsupported claims" against Yovanovitch including that she'd given him a "do not prosecute" list of allies, which the State Dept has called an "outright fabrication" & which Lutsenko retracted.
6/ Lutsenko also claimed that he never received $4.4 M in funds for his office and that there was a tape of the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) saying he was trying to help Hillary Clinton win in 2016.
7/ Holmes testified that polls in Ukraine suggested the public generally didn't believe Lutsenko's allegations & President Poroshenko issued a statement supporting her.

In April, Yovanovitch was told she was being recalled.
8/ After Zelenskyy's victory, Giuliani canceled a visit to Ukraine alleging the new president was "surrounded by enemies of" Trump. Soon VP Pence's trip to the inaugural was canceled. The US delegation went from more than 12 to just 5 including Perry, Sondland, Volker, & Vindman.
9/ Sondland "made clear that he had direct and frequent access"/"portrayed himself as the conduit" to Trump & Mulvaney on behalf of the 3 Amigos -- himself, Perry, & Volker -- who "made clear they would take the lead on coordinating" policy/engagement w Zelenksyy administration.
10/ Around that same time, Holmes says, he became aware that Giuliani "was taking a direct role in Ukrainian diplomacy." On April 25, Zelenskyy childhood friend/campaign chair Ivan Bakanov told Holmes that Giuliani had contacted him and told him he was an adviser to VP Pence.
11/ The inauguration was May 20; during the meeting the US delegation had with Zelenskyy, Perry gave the new president "a list of 'people he trusts' from whom Zekenskyy could seek advice on energy sector reform."
12/ "It is important to understand that a White House visit was critical" to Zelenskyy to "demonstrate U.S. support at the highest levels" to advance anti-corruption agenda & to encourage Putin to take seriously his peace efforts.

US Embassy officials agreed it was "critical"
13/ Amb. Taylor told Holmes that Pompeo had told him "We need to work on turning the President around on Ukraine."

Volker told them that Zelensky's first term "could hang on what could be accomplished in the next three months."
14/ On June 27, Sondland told Taylor that Zelenskyy "needed to make clear" to Trump that he wasn't standing in the way of "'investigations'" which Holmes took to mean "the Burisma/Biden investigations" that Giuliani and others had been "speaking about in the media since March."
15/ Taylor told Holmes that on a June 28 call w Zelenskyy, Taylor, and the 3 Amigos, "it was made clear that some action on a Burisma/Biden investigation was a precondition for an Oval Office meeting."
16/ On July 26, Holmes was told to join a meeting between Sondland and Zelenskyy adviser Yermak to serve as note-taker. Yermak's assistant wouldn't let Holmes into the meeting, however, telling him later that the two "insisted that the meeting be one-on-one, with no note-taker."
17/ After the meeting, Sondland and one of his staffers went out to lunch in Kyiv with Holmes and another member of the US Embassy staff. They sat on an outdoor terrace and Sondland ordered wine for all to share. They discussed topics including marketing for Sondland's hotels.
18/ Sondland said he was going to call the president on his cell to give him an update. Holmes heard him say something like "Gordon Sondland holding for the president" several times. Then Holmes noticed Sondland's demeanor change; he had been patched through.
19/ Holmes "could hear the President's voice through the earpiece of the phone" though it was not on speaker; Trump's "voice was very loud and recognizable" and Sondland held the cell away from his ear for some period "presumably because of the loud volume."
20/ Sondland said he was calling from Kyiv;

Trump clarified that Sondland was in Ukraine;

Yes, Ukraine, Sondland replied, "and went on to state that President Zelenskyy 'loves your ass.'"

Trump: "So he's gonna do the investigation?"

Sondland: "He's gonna do it."
21/ Sondland added "Zelenskyy will do 'anything you ask him to.'"

The convo shifted to Sondland's efforts to secure the freedom of rapper A$AP Rocky from Sweden. Trump was advised to "let him get sentenced, play the racism card, give him a ticker-tape when he comes home."
22/ Sondland told Trump that Sweden "should have released him on your word" but "you can tell the Kardashians you tried."

After the call, Sondland noted Trump was "in a bad mood, as...was often the case early in the morning."
23/ Holmes asked Sondland his impressions of Trump's views of Ukraine, specifically if it were true that Trump did not "give a s--t about Ukraine."

Sondland agreed with the assessment.

Holmes asked why not.

Sondland said Trump only cares about "big stuff."
24/ Holmes said there was "big stuff" going on in Ukraine, such as war with Russia.

Sondland said "he meant 'big stuff' that benefits the President, like the 'Biden investigation' that Mr. Giuliani was pushing."
25/ Holmes also testified that even after the security assistance to Ukraine was released Sept 11, embassy staffers were worried that Zelenskyy was going to announce in an interview that "a certain investigation that was 'on hold' will progess."
26/ On Sept 13, Taylor and Holmes ran into Yermak; Taylor against "stressed the importance of staying out of U.S. politics and said he hoped no interview was planned"...Yermak "shrugged in resignation and did not answer, as if to indicate they had no choice."
27. "In short, everyone thought there was going to be an interview" -- in which Zelenskyy announced a Burisma/Biden investigation would go forward -- "and that the Ukrainians believed they had to do it. The interview ultimately did not occur."
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