• I have never met Hunter Biden, nor have I had any direct or indirect conversations with him. And although I have met former Vice President Biden several times over the course of our many years in government, neither he nor the previous Administration ever raised the issue of either Burisma or Hunter Biden with me.
• With respect to Mayor Giuliani, I have had only minimal contacts with him—a total of three. None related to the events at issue. I do not understand Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me. Clearly, no one at the State Department did. What I can say is that Mr. Giuliani should have known those claims were suspect, coming as they reportedly did from individuals with questionable motives and with reason to believe that their political and financial ambitions would be stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.
My Departure from Ukraine
After being asked by the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in early March 2019 to extend my tour until 2020, the smear campaign against me entered a new public phase in the United States. In the wake of the negative press, State Department officials suggested an earlier departure, and we agreed upon July 2019. I was then abruptly told just weeks later, in late April, to come back to Washington from Ukraine “on the next plane.” At the time I departed, Ukraine had just concluded game-changing presidential elections. It was a sensitive period with much at stake for the U.S. and called for all the experience and expertise we could muster.
When I returned to the United States, Deputy Secretary of State Sullivan told me there had been a concerted campaign against me, that the President no longer wished me to serve as Ambassador to Ukraine, and that in fact, the President had been pushing for my removal since the prior summer. As Mr. Sullivan recently recounted during his Senate confirmation hearing, neither he nor anyone else ever explained or sought to justify the President’s concerns about me, nor did anyone in the Department justify my early departure by suggesting I had done something wrong. I appreciate that Mr. Sullivan publicly affirmed at his hearing that I had served “capably and admirably.”
Although, then and now, I have always understood that I served at the pleasure of the President, I still find it difficult to comprehend that foreign and private interests were able to undermine U.S. interests in this way. Individuals, who apparently felt stymied by our efforts to promote stated U.S. policy against corruption—that is, to do the mission—were able to successfully conduct a campaign of disinformation against a sitting Ambassador, using unofficial back channels. As various witnesses have recounted, they shared baseless allegations with the President and convinced him to remove his Ambassador, despite the fact that the State Department fully understood that the allegations were false and the sources highly suspect.
These events should concern everyone in this room. Ambassadors are the symbol of the United States abroad, the personal representatives of the President. They should always act and speak with full authority to advocate for U.S. policies. If our chief representative is kneecapped, it limits our effectiveness to safeguard the vital national security interests of the United States. This is especially important now, when the international landscape is more complicated and more competitive than it has been since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray, and shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American Ambassador who does not give them what they want. After these events, what foreign official, corrupt or not, could be blamed for wondering whether the Ambassador represents the President’s views? And what U.S. Ambassador could be blamed for harboring the fear that they cannot count on our government to support them as they implement stated U.S. policy and defend U.S. interests?