U.S. acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker dismissed claims that President Donald Trump withheld aid money to Ukraine in return for investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, asked Reeker a series of questions in a closed-door deposition on Oct. 26; a transcript of that interview was released late last week (pdf).
“Let me ask you this way, ambassador [Reeker]: Would you agree that pressuring an ally to conduct political investigations that would be useful to a presidents reelection campaign by withholding a White House meeting or withholding military aid would be wrong?” Schiff asked him.
Reeker replied, “I was going to answer. I recall this from my day, it really [is] a hypothetical question. … You are asking me to comment on something that I dont know to be the fact.”
House Democrats have alleged that Trump abused his power by withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations, which he has denied, and Ukrainian officials have also denied, including the Ukrainian president. The Bidens also have denied claims of corruption.
“It is actually not hypothetical at all. But can you agree, as a decades-long State Department official, that it would be wrong to withhold military aid from an ally fighting the Russians for political favors in a Presidential reelection campaign?” Schiff asked Reeker.
“Again, it would depend on the exact context of that and what decisions may go with something like that, so I dont feel comfortable giving a definitive answer to that,” Reeker said.
“So you think under certain circumstances, it is okay to withhold …” Schiff said.
“That is not at all what I said, sir,” Reeker said, cutting him off.
“Youre asking me to give a definitive answer to a hypothetical question.”
Schiff, later in the questioning, asked Reeker a similar question about whether Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the former vice president and his son in exchange for either a White House meeting or aid.
“I do not recall that specifically, no,” Reeker replied.
The House Democrats lawyer, Daniel Goldman, also asked him if he believed Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
“I did not come to that understanding,” Reeker said. “I heard that. I saw that in the press, the suggestions of it.”
Reeker also testified that there were “outrageous smears and attacks” against Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from her post. He also claimed that Trumps attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was providing the president with “a lot of negative views” about Ukraine, which has in the past been notorious for corruption. Giuliani has denied similar claims.
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