Senior officials voiced concerns that Putin and Orban had poisoned Trump’s view of Ukraine.
Kent transcript, Page 253: A conversation that I recall, and I took notes actually, dated to mid-May in which we talked about the change of attitude and approach towards Ukraine, and that was in the wake of meetings that President Trump had, a meeting with Viktor Orban, the leader of Hungary, as well as a call he had with Russian President Putin in early May.
Q And what was the change following those two conversations with Orban and Putin?
A Fiona [Hill] assessed the conversations as being similar in tone and approach. And both leaders, both Putin and Orban, extensively talked Ukraine down, said it was corrupt, said Zelensky was in the thrall of oligarchs, specifically mentioning this one oligarch Kolomoisky, negatively shaping a picture of Ukraine, and even President Zelensky personally
Q And did Dr. Hill think that that had an impact on President Trump’s outlook?
A I cannot recall what she said in that meeting besides giving me the brief readouts of those two meetings, but that was my takeaway, and that those two world leaders, along with former Mayor Giuliani, their communications with President Trump shaped the President’s view of Ukraine and Zelensky, and would account for the change from a very positive first call on April 21 to his negative assessment of Ukraine when he had the meeting in the Oval Office on May 23.”
Mr. Kent’s account sheds more light on the concerns of Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former adviser on Russia and Europe, that the president’s view of Ukraine was being negatively shaped by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary. Their countries are foes of Ukraine to varying extents, and Ms. Hill was concerned that their conversations with Mr. Trump were turning him against Ukraine and its new president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
— Kenneth P. Vogel
A top White House official distrusted Sondland, saying he ‘lies about conversations that occur in the Oval Office.’
Kent transcript, Page 257: “Q What concerns did she express with Gordon Sondland?
A To the best of my recollection, she had concerns possibly based on having been in conversations in the Oval Office that he made assertions about conversations that did not match with what had actually been said in the Oval Office.
Q Can you elaborate with any more detail?
A I was not in those conversations, so —
Q I’m just asking what she told you. I understand you weren’t in them.
A I think she may have been as direct as saying that Gordon Sondland lies about conversations that occur in the Oval Office.”
This reflects the concerns among Ms. Hill, John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser and career diplomats about the involvement of Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, in Ukraine policy, and whether he could be trusted.