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tv   U.S. Ambassador to Russia Confirmation Hearing  CSPAN  October 31, 2019 1:08am-3:28am EDT

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care is the most effective way of honoring our nation's commitment to our veterans. that does not mean that veterans should not have the ability to go to the private sector when it is in their best interest, with specialized care is available that is not in the v.a.. >> watch book tv every weekend on c-span2. next, the senate foreign relations committee considers the nomination of john sullivan to be u.s. ambassador to russia. john sullivan, who currently serves as deputy secretary of state, was asked questions about president trump's conversations with the president of ukraine in july. this confirmation hearing is just under two and a half hours.
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>> committee will come to order. today, we will hold the nomination hearing on a very important position. the honorable john j sullivan to be the ambassador to the russian federation. first, we have two very
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distinguished colleagues of ours who wish to introduce our nominees. torefore, i am going postpone my opening statement and i ask the ranking member to do likewise. beh that, we are glad to joined by senators sullivan of alaska and cardin of maryland. sullivan: thank you very much, mr. chairman, ranking member menendez. it is an honor to be in front of the committee again in front -- on behalf of my friend john sullivan to support his nomination to be the united states ambassador to the russian federation. despite what his last name would suggest, we are not related, although i regularly joke with senator markey who is also a
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proud sullivan member in his heritage that at some point in history, we will probably all related. i have supported secretary sullivan's nomination before and can speak to his long and distinguished career. i would begin by stating that the recommendations have been endorsed by this committee and as the united states senate, previously confirmed by a vote and confirmed during the bush administration unanimously to be secretary of commerce, and in 2005. i first met john when we were serving together in the george w. bush administration. i was working as an assistant secretary of state under
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secretary of state condoleezza rice. notably, since 2017, john thesuccessfully served as united states deputy secretary of state with integrity. respected not just across federal national security agency's and our own government, but internationally and, most importantly, by the department of state which he has helped to lead. he has worked with them, led them stood by them and for in his tenure as deputy secretary. take to quoting the national media but you may have noticed that there is a wide cross-section of journalists and media in our country that have noted john's qualifications and reaffirm the positive impact he has already
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had on the state department. an article from politico recently stated that, "john sullivan is winning over state department employees. so far, sullivan has shown a fluency with -- a fluency with diplomacy. " crucial ingredients to leading the mission to russia. in a wall street journal op-ed by ambassador thomas pickering, he said of secretary sullivan, i have come to respect john sullivan's judgment, his balance, his good sense, his open-minded approach to how to deal with foreign relations problems we may have. you may have seen a letter of former diplomats, security officials, secretaries of defense, and other positions
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were all endorsing secretary sullivan's ambassadorship to russia. to the newes position he has been nominated, twourrently leads the only dialogues on strategic security. he has played a key role relating to the u.s.-russia relation ship over the past two years. at a time when u.s.-russian relations are more complex and strained than ever, it is important to find some like john as america's top diplomat. i had the honor of introducing the ambassador to saudi arabia to this committee. while there i said, were many disagreements in this policy towardr
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saudi arabia, there should be consensus that we need a well respected ambassador. russiae holds true with today. john sullivan knows what it means to serve our nation and has a career in doing so. i urge this committee to support his nomination. mentioned the letter that was addressed to myself and senator menendez. i am going to admit that into the record. sen. cardin: thank you. to be introducing secretary sullivan to this committee. secretary sullivan is a maryland or who has a boston accent. nation, butd our sounds more like senator markey
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then he does me, but that is fine. sinceves our nation well may of 2017, acting secretary of state since april of 2018, senior positions in the department of justice, the defense department, commerce, two decades. john sullivan, to me, is a straight shooter. experienced public servant. my experience is that he has communicated with me effectively and honestly. he reached out to me when i was the ranking democrat on this committee and he has respected my role as a united states senator and a member of this committee. said he was looking for a challenge when he agreed to take this position. this is a challenging position.
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russia has been our adversary, make no mistake. they interfered in the 2016 elections, and that was not isolated to the united states. this committee pointed out mr. putin's arsenal of attacking democratic countries in europe and the united states. he invaded and occupied, and still occupies, ukraine, in violation of helsinki accord. he is also occupying georgia and moldova. he has violated human rights of his own citizens, leading to the enactment of the magnitsky law not only in the united states but around the world. mr. chairman, we need a confirmed ambassador who will support our democratic
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principles and give hope to the voices in russia that stand up to the repressive regime of mr. putin. conclude with the nomination hearing that senator sullivan referred to, when the nominee told us that our greatest asset is the commitment toward the fundamental values expressed with our nation, the pursuit of happiness. at the heart of leadership in the world. i am grateful that mr. sullivan will step forward to take this challenge. sen. risch: i understand you have a commitment. >> i have a commitment also. >> you do. again, i want to thank all of you for coming.
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john, welcome. we will contemplate the nomination today of the honorable john sullivan. we welcome you back to the committee. thank you for your willingness to continue serving in what is a challenging and important role. kind andgues will be generous, i hope, as we go through this. as senators cardin and sullivan have already given deputy secretary's introduction, i will take a few moments to talk about the importance of this position. many agree that the relationship with russia is at a low point. attempts to reset the relationship only to find the other side an unwilling partner. -- this isused caused in no little part by our very different value sets in very different views and helping mankind. the last few years have been
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marked by russian interference in the american political process and other electoral processes around the globe. by the expulsion of each other's diplomats and a complete lack of russia's worldwide bad conduct. internationally, instead of acting like a global power that it proclaims to be, russia has chosen to wreak havoc. we are all familiar with the --g, long list of russia's they seized sovereign territory from georgia and ukraine. it continues to occupy that .oday it has poisoned its enemies with chemical weapons on foreign soil inf treaty sothe
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blatantly that allies reached a unanimous conclusion. syria, venezuela, long after they should have and would have -- they have propped up regimes in syria and venezuela long after they could have and should have fallen. they have even gone so far as to inempt a coup in montenegro 2016. thankfully, other than those in the international community who engage in similar conduct, most countries recognize russia's maligned influence and have taken action. the government has sanctioned corrupt russian oligarch's under the magnitsky act, and others, all of which strain russia's attempts to raise revenue and
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act maliciously. i hope the senate will soon pass a bill that will sanction those nordstream 2 -- involved delaying the nordstream 2 pipeline. there are also times of cooperation with the russians like in the area of counterterrorism. it is important to make clear to the russian bull that we do value our relationship with them. we should be clear that educational and cultural exchanges to take place and we support civil society in their country as much as we can. russia is a proud and important country on the international stage and the u.s.-russian relationship will exist long after putin is gone. all of this leads me to the reason we are today, for the nomination of secretary sullivan
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to be ambassador to a country we have such a contentious relationship with. deputy secretary sullivan is ready for this role. he has served the government at the department of commerce, defense, justice, and now at state. asm confident that serving deputy secretary of state has given him a clear view of the problems we have with russia, the u.s. government's efforts to solve them. i am honored and pleased to hear the compliments you have received from both sides of the aisle and from the national media. thank you for being here today. thank your family for sharing the sacrifice to do this. with that, i will turn it over to ranking member menendez. you understand the role of congress as a coequal branch of government and
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you have differentiated yourself from those in the administration in look to break every norm policy. unfortunately, one person, no matter how skilled and dedicated, cannot counteract the disarray that is the trump administration's foreign policy. i have served 27 years between the house and the senate, and work on foreign policy that entire time. never before have i seen such chaos and foreign-policy incoherence. our state department is on the -- they areof patriots charged with solving problems through diplomacy, not conflict. i have seen so many of our diplomats maligned. you don't have to take my word for it. just look for the testimony of
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two patriots, ambassador yovanoich -- ambassador vitch and ambassador taylor. the state department is in disarray with the president using national security as a political weapon. never in my years have i seen a department or administration so willing to stick its thumb directly in the eyes of congress , a coequal branch of government. i don't think we have to cite the constitution here today but i am certainly prepared to do so. over the years, there has been friction. we have entered new territory, dangerous territory, and i am not just talking about the house 's current inquiry. i am talking about 20 times attempting to get a piece of basic information. to evenrtment refusing
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discuss certain matters. this is not just playing hardball. this is undermining our democratic system of government. unfortunately, mr. secretary, this has taken place under your watch and the direction of secretary pompeo. we will talk about all of those issues that have been so central to the administration of the state department over the last two and a half years. i also want to talk about your vision for the bible -- for the bilateral relations with the russian federation. i don't believe that those who do business with the russian military, like turkey, should be given a free pass. -- i don'tieve believe delaying security assistance for ukraine. president trump is on the record of believing all of those
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things, every single one. i think the president has lost he shred of legitimacy when delays security assistance to ukraine. ukrainians died at this delay and americo is made less safe. i need to hear directly from you as to what constitutes success. his success fulfilling president trump's pro-kremlin vision for the u.s.-russia bilateral relationship, or will you actually advocate a policy that protects national security? if it is the former, i will have serious reservations about supporting your nomination. if it is the latter, i am open to the conversation and i look forward to hearing your thoughts on this fundamental choice. beenpolicy in russia has intrinsically wrapped up in our ukraine policy.
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your position at the state department would have afforded you the responsibility of overseeing policy. what did you know about the role played by woody giuliani? r's volunteere status lead to confusion? where was the state department leadership, yourself included, when it came to supporting yovanovitch? i supported you for your current position but we will need answers to these questions and others. i can't say this will be a quick and simple and kind hearing, but i do guarantee you it will be a fair and honest one, and i look forward to your answers. risch: thank you, senator
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menendez, for your views, as always. we will now turn to our nominee, secretary sullivan. he currently serves as deputy secretary of state. several positions at the department of commerce, justice, defense, as well as a partner in several law firms. your you, thank you to family, the letter from the 40 former official in previous administrations certainly speak to the high regard in which they hold you. with that, we will turn it over to you. we ask you to spend about five minutes talking to us about your views on these matters. mr. sullivan: thank you. it is an honor to appear before you today as the president's
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nominee to be the u.s. ambassador to the russian federation. i want to thank the president for his confidence in me. thanke -- i want to secretary mike pompeo for his leadership of the department of state in support of my nomination. finally, i am indebted to our most recent ambassador to russia, my friend jon huntsman, for his leadership there and his advice. i come to the committee after serving for more than 2.5 years as deputy secretary of state. my service at the department, working with the men and women of the foreign service in washington and around the world, it has been the most rewarding professional experience of my wife. it would not have been possible without the love and support of my family, joining me today. and my, grace rodriguez,
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children. my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law susan, her husband tony, and their children. i am eternally grateful to them for their support. i would bring to my position not only my experience as deputy secretary of state, but also my prior experience in a variety of other government positions over the last 35 years. i believe my background and experience in four cabinet departments across presidential administration's provides the experience for serving as chief of mission in moscow. it will not be easy or simple. our relationship with russia has reached a post-cold war -- a litany of russian malign actions is painfully familiar to this committee. andating the territorial
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integrity sovereignty, employing a weapon of mass destruction in an attempt to assassinate citizens abroad, violating the inf treaty, and infringing on rights of its people, among other things. the need for principled engagement with russia is as important as ever. russia's status as a superpower and permanent member of the -- it requiresl sustained diplomacy with the russian government in areas of shared interest, for instance in arms control, counterterrorism. but resolute opposition to russia where it undermines the interests and values of the united states, our allies, and partners, for example threatening stability in europe and election stability in the united states.
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i have been directly involved in developing u.s. policy on russia. i lead a senior delegation to geneva in mid july to reset a strategic security dialogue. last month, i participated in a decision to remove sanctions on others associated with the internet research agency for their attempts to interfere with the 2019 midterm election. considering these kinds flex -- these complex issues, i want to acknowledge committee insights on russia. to collaborate with members of this committee, individually and collectively, on russia policy. if confirmed, i would continue to support dialogue with the russian government on arms control as well as on denuclearizing the korean
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peninsula, finding a peaceful conflict in afghanistan, syria, and other issues. but i will be relentless in opposing russian efforts to interfere in u.s. elections, to violate the sovereignty in georgia, and to engage in the malign behavior that has reduced our relationship to such a low level of trust. i ensure the committee that i inld also be indefatigable supporting people who travel to russia including business, tourists, athletes, and all americans. i will continue to press the russian government for the release of paul whalen, who has been in prison without charges for a year now, and to propose that michael kelly's case be disposed of in a civil, not criminal hearing. i would look forward to working with the russian people to
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celebrate russian culture, russian history. i will also continue to promote exchanges to foster a better understanding of the united states as i have done. i would meet with civil rights activists. finally, there would be no greater honor for me if confirmed than to serve with the dedicated women and men who constitute our mission in russia . katerinburg, where career officers from across the
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u.s. government are serving with distinction. their tenacity in the face of these challenges is inspiring, indeed it was the example of my colleagues in mission russia that inspired me to seek to leave washington and join them on the front lines of american diplomacy. i humbly ask this committee for that opportunity. mr. chairman, ranking member menendez, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to come before you today. we are now going to do a five-minute round of questioning. i will reserve my time and we will yield to senator menendez. sen. menendez: thank you. do you think it is ever appropriate for the president to use his office to solicit investigations into a domestic political opponent? my apologies.
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into aing investigations domestic political opponent, i don't think that would be in accord with our values. sen. menendez: as the deputy secretary of state, are you aware of any other efforts by the president or anyone else to encourage, suggest, or request that a foreign government investigate one of the president's political rivals? cristina: --mr. sullivan: i am not aware. sen. menendez: not to president xi, prime minister may? mr. sullivan: i am not aware of that. sen. menendez: i appreciate you coming to meet with me. you relate in our meeting that you personally had met ambassador yovanovitch earlier this year, is that correct? mr. sullivan: last year, actually. sen. menendez: would you agree that she served the united
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states capably and admirably? mr. sullivan: i told her so. sen. menendez: yet you were the one who told ambassador jovanovich that she was being recalled early, is that correct? mr. sullivan: the president had lost confidence in her. sen. menendez: you were told that by the secretary of state? mr. sullivan: i was. sen. menendez: did you ask why? mr. sullivan: yes. sen. menendez: what did they tell you? told thatan: i was they lost confidence in her. sen. menendez: that is not as a -- that is not a why. mr. sullivan: you asked if i asked. i asked why. sen. menendez: you said you wanted to treat ambassador yovanovitch with respect, is that correct? mr. sullivan: that is correct. sen. menendez: the best way to show respect would be to push
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back. extended andbeen yet we were recalling her back even though there were only a few months left. a career ambassador. why didn't you push back? mr. sullivan: as we also discussed yesterday, this had been a discussion i had with the secretary over a period of time. the secretary had some justification of those criticizing ambassador yovanovitch. hadr several months elapsed, the secretary finally told me that there had come a point when the president lost confidence in the ambassador and we had to make a change. sen. menendez: you were aware that there were individuals and forces outside of the state department seeking to smear ambassador yovanovitch, correct? mr. sullivan: i was. sen. menendez: did you know that mr. giuliani was one of those people? mr. sullivan: i believed he was,
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yes. sen. menendez: did you ever personally advocate for a statement of support on behalf of ambassador yovanovitch? mr. sullivan: at the time of her removal, i did not. sen. menendez: what did you know about a shadow ukraine policy being carried out by rudy giuliani? mr. sullivan: my knowledge in the spring and summer of this year about any involvement of mr. giuliani was in connection with a campaign against our ambassador to ukraine. sen. menendez: and you were given a packet of disinformation attempting to smear ambassador yovanovitch, given to you, if i recall correctly, by the state department counsel? mr. sullivan: counselor. it was a response to inquiries by the secretary and others about what our ambassador had done. we got, i understood, that
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packet of materials. sen. menendez: did the counselor tell you how the package came to him? mr. sullivan: either he or the secretary, i believe it was he had received that packet from someone at the white house. sen. menendez: did he tell you that he and the secretary read the package? mr. sullivan: he had read the packet, i don't believe the secretary had. sen. menendez: did you read it? mr. sullivan: i did. sen. menendez: what did you think of it? mr. sullivan: it did not provide for me a basis of taking action against our ambassador but i was not aware of all that might be going on in the background and, to be cautious, i asked the packet of materials, both for the purposes of assessing the truth and matters being asserted, and who was giving it to us to influence us, be looked at by the inspector general and by the justice department. sen. menendez: did you know it
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was mr. giuliani who created that package? mr. sullivan: to this day, i don't know that. sen. menendez: you didn't ask where it came from? mr. sullivan: i did ask but i don't know. sen. menendez: no one told you where it came from? mr. sullivan: no. sen. menendez: so it happened by immaculate conception. mr. sullivan: hence my referral of the package. sen. menendez: the reason i ask you is because you are going to an embassy, one of the most critical positions in the national security of the united states, in which i think the president's views differ clearly from members on both sides of the aisle. there may be moments in time in which what happened in ukraine is going to be happening when it relates to russia. the question is, what will you do? i will follow the law and my conscience.
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in this instance, with respect to the removal of the ambassador , my experience had been that if the president loses confidence in an ambassador, no matter what the reason, that the president's confidence in his ambassador is the point of the realm, the most important thing for that ambassador. ,f he has lost that confidence and this happened, i think i may have mentioned to some members of this committee, to my uncle, when he was the ambassador to iran. president carter thought my ankle was disloyal and in january of 1979 asked secretary vance to have my uncle removed as ambassador. secretary vance objected, saying my uncle was implementing the administration's policies. several months later, the white house said, sullivan has to come out. he was removed as our
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ambassador. he was undermined by the white house, there were leaks about his character, his loyalty to the united states and the administration. as a result, after 30 years in the foreign service, he resigned. so, when the president loses confidence in the ambassador, right or wrong, the ambassador needs to come home. menendez: i appreciate you telling me that story and hearing it again. when the president loses faith ofan ambassador because political reasons, not because of policy reasons, not because the ambassador has been disloyal to the united states, not because the ambassador has not been doing their job, when it happens because people like your giuliani and others who have political interests are pushing against our ambassador, i would have hoped you would be pushing more loudly. if you get this position, i
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would hope that if that happens to our people at the embassy in russia, that you would speak up more forcefully. that is the essence of being ambassador, to defend the men and women to work every day and should be insulated from that type of political conflict. with the experience you just told me about, i would have thought you would have been more forceful. thank you,: secretary sullivan, for your willingness to serve in the foreign service and go on a foreign assignment in a far-off and cold place. i'd knowledge that you will be filling big shoes. ambassador jon huntsman has served with distinction and honor in that post. i anticipate that you will do the same. on october 21, it was announced by facebook that russia continues to try and interfere in our election process by
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spreading false information and such. facebook took down a number of post. it has been very clear that there has been no change on the part of russia in terms of their intent to interfere with our election process. what can we do to change their behavior in this regard? what options do we have? so far, the options taken have been incapable of dissuading them of their maligned activity. ideas of actions you could take as ambassador or we could consider as a committee or nation to dissuade russia or any other nation of trying to distort our electoral process which is, if you will, at the heart of how democracies work. it requires the confidence of our people for democracy to work, that their votes made the decisions that elect our officials. what might we be able to do?
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mr. sullivan: what we have done, senator, and by the way, i might say in my discussions with members of the committee about this, this is an ongoing campaign by the russian government. we think of it in terms of election milestones but they are thinking of undermining the united states to divide us. we view it in terms of election milestones. ongoingw it as an hybrid campaign against the united states, which they've u.s. an implacable adversary of theirs, and they have unfortunately become an adversary of ours. we have pursued sanctions. visa sanctions, economic sanctions, criminal prosecutions. haven'tney: those dissuaded them. mr. sullivan: what we have done most recently, which i can't go into great till about in an open setting like this, involves our
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own tools, not only in defense of election infrastructure and our basic internet infrastructure, but more forward leaning cyber methods both in defending ourselves and our allies and partners, and taking actions against those who threaten us. combine all of that with more direct messaging to the russian federation. if they want to have a more stable relationship with the united states, which they professed to do. i was with vice president pence when he had this discussion with president putin last year in november at the east asian leaders summit. if they desire that, if they are true to their word, they have to say, this is a redline for us and our sanctions and actions have to be coordinated to that
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message. that it is not just an amorphous, malign activity, but this activity authorized by the senior leadership of the russian government, carried out by nonstate actors who are controlled by the russian government that are directed at our country and infrastructure. sen. romney: let me turn to russian plans with regards to nuclear is asian. my understanding is they have invested in their nuclear arsenal and also intermediate range nuclear weapons. what is your sense of their ambition relating to the nuclear weapons program. at a time when i think the rest of the world was thinking we would reduce nuclear weapons and have a new new start treaty that
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would reduce from the current levels, they seem to be investing more in nuclear is asian. where are they heading -- nuclearization. where are they heading and why? are investingthey in strategic systems that they would view as not covered by new start. in our discussions going forward with the russians in advance of what would be the otherwise lapsing of the new start treaty on february 5, 2021. at least five other weapon systems we are aware of that president putin publicized with -- a large number, development of, manufacturer of a large devicesf lower yield
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that would be included. when i discussed this with my in genevaterlocutors this past summer, i made it it's not going to matter to the people of the united states if we are hit by an icbm covered by the new start treaty or some intermediate rapid -- intermediate weapon, low yield weapon, that destroys denver or salt lake city. all of those weapons need to be addressed. that is their strategy, to comply with new start but to build these other systems. we don't even know the number. we haven't even asked for the number of nuclear weapons that they had nuclear devices, and they wouldn't address it.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate your response in regards to russia's interference in our elections. using your words, a redline which, i think, it has to be absolutely clear that that is an attack on our country, the very foundation of america. it is not unique to the united states by russia's actions. they are doing and in many countries around the world. we must make it clear that that is a redline. i also appreciate in your statement your willingness to meet with civil society. a beacon of hope for those who are oppressed. earlier this month, senator rubio and i authored a letter joined by a number of our
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colleagues to secretary mnuchin and pompeo with regards to russia's actions with regards to human rights advocates and the imprisonment of opposition leader's, urging the administration to be more aggressive in protecting those individuals. start, as i do with most ambassadors going through a nomination hearing, as to how i have a priority it will be to promote american values when it comes to human rights, giving hope to the people of russia, that they do enjoy universal human rights that will be recognized and defended by the united states. mr. sullivan: i would consider it a fundamental part of an american ambassador's mission, to promote those values, and
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also point out the incongruity of the fact that the russian constitution guarantees many rights but their government is infringing those rights. there are many ways that we can encourage civil society and russia. i mentioned to some members of the committee, i want to make it first, as we said in the hippocratic goes, do no harm in embracing particular toividuals, subjecting them retaliation by the russian state for their association with us. but, i absolutely affirm the promoting american values, basic american values , freedom ofshare that the the fact
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consent of the governed, the democratic republic is the highest form of government that they are entitled to. sen. cardin: let me tell you the challenges we have seen over the course of many administrations. see human rights as a front and center issue. yes, we get into arms control. yes, we get into counterterrorism. but we rarely see human rights promoted to a top priority issue. i believe that we can help make that more of a reality that those issues are showcased when we have those opportunities. most recently, we have had horrible humanitarian disasters in different parts of the world. as we look for resolution of those issues, rarely do we hold
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them accountable for their actions. if you are confirmed as ambassador, will you be a champion for american values not being ignored as we deal with other very important issues. counterterrorism is critically important. that we recognize that if we don't build those answers within american values, that we are not doing a service to american national security? mr. sullivan: i have and will continue to do so. if i may offer a couple of examples to not just talk the talk but walk the walk. i gave a speech on religious rtoum in the face of threats against me. it was at a mosque. the value of religious freedom and how important it was for the sudanese government, which has now changed, it was then under
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the presidency of president bashir. the importance of the government respecting citizen rights including religious freedom. did the same thing in nigeria, speaking with the nigerian president, roughly the same time last year. i will continue to do so. sen. cardin: i appreciate that. and i also appreciated that you responded to senator menendez's questions that you would follow the law and your conscience in areas of potential conflict between what many of us believe the policy of this country and the conflict with this administration. inhad an appropriation fiscal year 17 budget to cover russian disinformation. the administration was very slow in releasing those funds.
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direct to get information from our missions. the importance of those types of programs to counter russian propaganda and misinformation. we ultimately got money released. but it took time. we want to make sure that our head of mission, our ambassador in russia, will be getting direct information to us. if it is a conflict within the administration, we recognize the sensitivity of that and the importance that the ambassador has the confidence of the administration. we need to get that consistent with law and your conscience. mr. sullivan: yes, i agree. as i said in my opening statement, i will look forward to working individually and collectively with this committee if i am confirmed as ambassador. on that issue and any others that are of interest
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collectively to the committee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary sullivan, as i told you, i appreciate your willingness to serve in a new and very important job. it is going to be extremely difficult because you are going to be dealing with a relationship fraught with problems. you talked about some of those earlier today. you talked about interference in our election, russian malign activities around the world, the cyber attacks, certainly what is going on in terms of disinformation. as you know, i spent a lot of time on the ukraine issue. syria.'t talk much about today as we sit here, there is the potential for u.s. forces and russian forces to be in conflict for the first time in
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many years. there is a lot going on. you have got the background and experience to be able i am going to assume you will get through this process, as you have in the past, and you will be able to answer the questions raised by her colleagues and ensure you are confirmed. i think there are three areas where you could play a significant role. the global engagement center you have been a champion of. i appreciate that. we have been trying to ensure it is being implemented properly, including the funding. senator cardin just talked about the dod funding that we finally got at the state department. this is not focused on russia. it is focused on disinformation, but russia is the number one actor in this space. your perchyou, from
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in moscow, will you continue to be an advocate for the global integration center? will he have the funding at a stable level so we can push back on disinformation? >> absolutely, senator. we spoke at my confirmation hearing two and a half years ago about the global engagement event. >> you made commitments that you kept. i appreciate it. >> the challenge we have had with the gec is that when it was originally created, it was focused on non-straight actors, al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, for example, shifting to -- continuing that mission, but adding state actors, specifically one that is as sophisticated as russia, has made the job even more difficult. necessary.
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i appreciate the committees help in seeking that funding. thank you. you will have a unique opportunity given your position. second is ukraine. members of this committee have supported additional aid. it is an extremely sensitive time in ukraine. the ukrainian president has taken rather courageous political actions to fulfill that he would like to see the conflict in the donbass result. -- resolved.
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withdrawal of the russian backed surrogate forces in exchange for elections in the east and exchange for some level of autonomy. he's got a lot of pushback from that, as you know. the point i am making, having had your experiences at the state department, have an interesting role to play, which is to get russia to the table in a good-faith effort, which i have not seen yet, both with regard to crimea, which we must never forget, and with regard to the eastern border. i think there is an opportunity with the new administration with this new majority in this parliament, and with his determination to try to figure out a way forward. are you willing to take on that role, which would not be the typical role of an ambassador, but in your case it could be crucial to getting russia to the table in a way that this issue could be resolved? >> thank you, senator.
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russia is the key actor. this situation in crimea solely because of russia's actions. i thought we saw a little shift in the russian vision a few months ago when they agreed to the prisoner exchange to release , the ukrainians sailors that they had illegally attacked and seized. but i think there has not been the follow-through that we were hoping for. i would expect that the u.s. ambassador to russia would involved in engaging with the russian government, in coordination with colleagues at the department of state on this extremely important issue. >> my time has expired. we will continue this dialogue, but you will have the opportunity to lay a central role in this because of your
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experience. i hope you will use that aggressively to be able to resolve some of these issues, particularly with regard to the eastern border of ukraine. thank you,n: secretary sullivan, for your willingness to take on this challenging position at this difficult time. in your opening statement, you talked about the need for principal engagement with russia. that requires sustained diplomacy and resolute opposition to russia where it undermines the interest of the united states -- the interests and values of the united states and allies and partners. do you believe this is the philosophy with which the president opposes our policy towards russia? >> he nominated me to be his ambassador, senator. i would be fulfilling the president's desires with respect to russia if i pursued that
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policy i have laid out. sen. shaheen: as you prepare to take on this engagement, can you explain whether or not you were waived on president trumps to our private meeting with 2018?ent putin in july of mr. sullivan: i was briefed after the meeting? sen. shaheen: yes, or anytime between then and now. mr. sullivan: i just meant not before the meeting, but after the meeting and the results of the meeting. for theave been briefed secretary of state and the national security advisor to the president. the two principal items i was charged with coming out of that meeting were the two dialogs that i now lead on counterterrorism and strategic security talks with russians. there was a third request from president putin considering a business-to-business dialogue, implemented. to be
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it would not involve substantial involvement by the united states government, but those were the three issues i was briefed on coming out of the president's meeting with president putin last year. sen. shaheen: did you ever see the actual notes from that briefing? secretary pompeo and ambassador bolton -- i did not see a verbatim and random -- memorandum reciting what exactly was the back and forth between the two presidents in the meeting, but i hesitate to say it was only orally. there may also be memos that discuss these priorities for the dialogues i described. i did not see a memo that summarized the results of the conversations between the two presidents. i was briefed on the outcomes i should be looking to implement.
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ansen. shaheen: a large number f isis prisoners are being held in northern syria. many more remain at large. russian terrorism analysts say that russia in many ways has exported its own domestic terrorism problem to syria. do you agree with that assessment, and given russia's increasingly prominent role in northern syria following our withdrawal, are you aware of any united states efforts to push russia to address the globalize is problem, and to take back its own isis fighters who have immigrated to syria? mr. sullivan: yes. in fact, that is a major part of our discussion in the counterterrorism dialogue. levels, involving fbi,s
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cia, etc. withussian government has, respect to the foreign terrorist fighters in syria, has agreed with us that countries that have their citizens who left their homeland, went to northeast syria or elsewhere, but are now detained in northeast syria, that they should be taking those citizens back to their home countries to be prosecuted and don't -- and dealt with. sen. shaheen: has russia done that? mr. sullivan: they have in large numbers. we have the opposite concern, frankly, senator, about how people will be treated when they get sent back to russia. from my discussions with the russians, they are in aggressive agreement with us on wanting their people back and putting pressure on other countries, particularly european countries, to take there's.
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my own concern is what happens to those people, and particularly family members of those fighters that get sent back to russia, which is one of the limitations on our counterterrorism dialogue. there are limits on how we can work with them because of their behavior. sen. shaheen: were you aware that rudy giuliani opened the second channel of diplomacy, a second channel of effort in you rain -- in ukraine? as i said in response to questions from senator menendez, i was aware that mr. giuliani was involved in ukraine issues. my knowledge particularly in april, may, june time frame, even into july, was focused on his campaign, basically, against our ambassador to ukraine.
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sen. shaheen: is that the normal way the state department does business, to open a second channel? mr. sullivan: i will say there are examples going back through history of presidents using people outside of u.s. -- u.s. citizens outside of the government in whom they repose trust to convey messages and represent them abroad. so it's not, in my experience, unprecedented. i don't know whether i could say more than that. it's also the president's prerogative, even within the u.s. government, if they are, for example, sending secretary perry to ukraine to discuss energy issues, for example, even though he's going on a foreign mission to a foreign country, he's not the secretary of state, that is something the presidents typically do. senator shaheen: i think we
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normally assume everybody is pursuing the same policies when we have different channels of communication to a country. thank you. mr. sullivan: may i respond? thank you, mr. chairman. that's a problem, when there are multiple parties involved and it's a challenge, i think for any secretary of state, to maintain control over u.s. foreign policy in any government when there are -- even within the u.s. government if there are other cabinet secretaries. i know from my experience in the bush 43 administration great disagreements between the department of defense and the department of state on what were essentially foreign policy issues. it's a challenge for the secretary of state to maintain control over that policy in any administration. senator risch: senator young.
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sen. young: secretary sullivan, hello. welcome to the committee and congratulations on your nomination. i found you to be accessible and highly competent, and you have comforted yourself with great integrity thus far in public life. i'm disposed to support your confirmation. i have a question about -- series of questions related to arms control which you have identified in your testimony as an area of shared concern, shared interest between the united states and russia. i do think it's important as many challenges, as many disagreements as we have, if we can find some areas of commonality i don't think that's a bad thing. earlier you affirmed that you believe it's in the best
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interest of the united states to pursue an extension of new start. you further indicated, i think, that russian strategy is, indeed, to comply with new start but all the while to build other weapons systems. also develop lower yield nuclear weapons. in conjunction with pursuing a new start extension, are there particular updates or conditions that you believe are necessary to ensure new start is as potent and enforceable as possible? mr. sullivan: yes. what i'd say is my -- what i think our position, the united states' position should be would not be to announce the extension of new start today. it expires on february 5, 2021, but to engage immediately with the russians on not just the terms of an extension, but these other weapons systems that i discussed with senator romney and i think you and i talked about when we met earlier.
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sen. young: what role would you play as ambassador in those conversations in ensuring we land in the right spot? mr. sullivan: my expectation is if i am the chief of mission in moscow that i would be consulted and be a conduit to the russian government in both directions. but my expectation is if we were to proceed with substantial arms control negotiations, that that would be a major undertaking requiring a large bandwidth from -- of resources from the u.s. government across the interagency from the joint staff, d.o.d., n.s.c., the intelligence community. my expectation is that as ambassador i would not be as
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directly involved as those negotiations proceeded. senator young: let me move to the plumbing. one of the most important roles of an ambassador is to make sure that the trains run on time, that personnel have what they need, our very competent diplomatic personnel and so forth. you are going to need full embassy staffing and a functioning network of consulates throughout the country to be able to most effectively carry out your mission. in april of 2018, as you and i discussed in my office, russia expelled 60 of our diplomats and closed our consulate in st. petersburg. so, what actions will you take, mr. secretary, to get our embassy staffing numbers back to where they need and reopen that st. petersburg consulate so that it can serve american citizens who are visiting abroad. mr. sullivan: we have an ongoing discussion with the russian foreign ministry on these issues. it's gotten to the point where
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we were -- our staffing level was cut to 455 u.s. direct hires. in fact, because the disputes we have with russia extends beyond just the initial expulsion of 60, but their refusal to give visas for us to be able to backfill -- we are substantially below 400 people at this point in our mission. i think the problem is even greater than you described it. it's very acute. that's become clear to me over my 2 1/2 years as our mission has shrunk, we lost the consulate in st. petersburg. the price is we closed the russian consulate in san francisco. we don't have plans to allow them to reopen that consulate, which was used for other than diplomatic purposes. not having a consulate in st. petersburg, for purposes of
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providing american citizens services out of our embassy -- we have so many americans who visit from cruiseships. it is essential we have a consulate there, and we are handicapped to work out of moscow. sen. young: to the extent we can be helpful, we want to. i am going to submit for the record a series of questions, will very quickly, publicly say them, and i would appreciate it if you could respond to them later. simple yes or no answers. i think it's really important that we sort of protect the prerogatives of this committee and of this article 1 branch. here they are. have you adhered to applicable laws in governing conflicts of interest? have you assumed any duties or any actions that would appear to presume the outcome of this confirmation process? do you agree if confirmed to
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appear and to testify before this committee when requested by the chairman and ranking member? do you agree to provide documents and electronic communication in a timely manner when requested by this committee, its subcommittees, or other appropriate committees of congress and to the requester? would you ensure you and your staff complies with deadlines established by this committee for the production of reports, records, and other documents including responding timely to hearing questions for the record? will you cooperate in providing witnesses and briefers in response to congressional requests? finally, will those briefers be protected from reprisal for their briefings? i don't anticipate any challenges whatsoever, but i'll submit this for the record. risch: those questions will be submitted. thank you. senator kaine. sen. kaine: thank you so much for your strong service. have you reviewed the phone call that the white house made public last month? mr. sullivan: i have. sen. kaine: i would like to introduce it into the record. the memorandum states it's not a
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verbatim transcript in the presence of several events ease, and the memorandum suggests some material was deleted. have you read a full transcript of that conversation? mr. sullivan: the only version of that memorandum that i saw, senator, was one that i got via public media. sen. kaine: have you asked to read any fuller version other than the one you read? mr. sullivan: i have not. sen. kaine: do you know whether any member of the state department was invited to participate in that call? mr. sullivan: i believe the secretary has said he did. i don't know if others -- my expectation is not. but i don't know that. sen. kaine: ok. president trump initiated the discussion about former ambassador marie yovanovitch, saying the former ambassador of the united states, the woman, was bad news. do you believe this dedicated career foreign service officer was bad news? mr. sullivan: as i said earlier, senator, as an ambassador yovanovitch, in her written statement to the house impeachment inquiry, i told her that i had no reason to believe
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at the time she had done anything to be -- sen. kaine: do you know what the president meant by the statement she's bad news? mr. sullivan: i don't know. sen. kaine: he later said on the call, well, she's going to go through some things. do you have any idea what the president meant? sullivan: i don't. sen. kaine: she testified before the house you told her she was relieved of her post because she lost the president's confidence but that she had done nothing wrong and that she had been the subject of a concerted campaign against her. is that accurate? in terms of what you told her? mr. sullivan: yes. sen. kaine: i was intrigued who was mentioned on the diplomatic call and who wasn't. it mentions rudy giuliani six times. attorney general barr five times. ambassador yovanovitch three times. vice president biden two times. vice president biden's son one time. and robert mueller one time. the transcript does not mention secretary pompeo, ambassador taylor, or anyone at the state department other the disparaging comments about marie yovanovitch. the president repeatedly urges president zelensky to work with rudy giuliani and attorney general barr.
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does it surprise you on a diplomatic call the president would encourage ukraine to communicate with giuliani and ag bar, but not secretary pompeo or ambassador taylor or the state department? mr. sullivan: i think in the context of though references were any corruption efforts which have been long-standing going back to the prior administration. it doesn't -- sen. kaine: doesn't the state department work on those things? mr. sullivan: absolutely. sen. kaine: they were not mentioned. president zelensky raises the issue of defense cooperation and purchasing javelin missiles. we all know the white house was thwarting the command of congress by withholding support of the ukraine. when did you become aware of that, of the thwarting of the military aid to ukraine? mr. sullivan: i was aware that there was a hold on security assistance to ukraine. not the reason. sen. kaine: ok.
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in response to the request for military support during the phone call, president trump does not encourage president zelensky to reach out to the secretary of defense, the ucom commander, or ambassador taylor. he encourages ukraine to communicate with rudy giuliani and attorney general barr. does it surprise you the president would work to communicate with giuliani or a.g. barr but not the department of defense or ambassador? mr. sullivan: my understanding was, in reading that transcript, the president's focus was on anti-corruption efforts which is why he would have referred to the attorney general. sen. kaine: president zelensky was asking about defense aid and president trump was engaging in that conversation but not encouraging communication with the department of defense. president zelensky raised the issue of trade with the united states and talked specifically about cooperation on energy-related issues. we now know that the white house directed trade representative lighthizer in august to shelf all trade discussions with ukraine. in response to the discussion about trade and energy, president trump does not
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encourage president zelensky to reach out to secretary ross, secretary perry, trade representative lighthizer, or ambassador taylor. he just encourages the president to communicate with attorney general barr and rudy giuliani. does that surprise you on the matter of trade and energy? mr. sullivan: i have the same answer. i believe the president's overriding focus -- senator kaine: for the record we all know that giuliani and attorney general barr are not responsible for u.s. policies on commerce, trade, defense, or diplomacy. as far as you know, are there other countries where the president is directly encouraging the head of state to work with rudy giuliani and attorney general barr rather than the state department, the defense department, the commerce department, the energy department, the trade representative, or our own u.s. ambassador? mr. sullivan: i am not aware of any other country with respect to mr. giuliani. sen. kaine: let me ask you one other question. >> he wanted to finish.
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mr. sullivan: i just want to say, with respect to attorney general barr, i don't know but it wouldn't surprise me if, given the role of the justice department, it may be. but i am not aware of any other instance with respect to mr. giuliani. sen. kaine: lastly, the president's calendar says he heeled phone conversation with putin six days after the call with president zelensky. do you know whether the president told president putin the u.s. was withholding military aid from ukraine, stopping trade discussion was ukraine, or that the u.s. was about to cut $800 million in nato-related military construction projects in europe during that call? mr. sullivan: i do not believe that that was mentioned in the call. sen. kaine: so you have seen a transcript. mr. sullivan: i have not. but i have not been told that that was -- sen. kaine: you are unaware. mr. sullivan: my recollection is that there was a massive wildfire -- sen. kaine: the summary of the
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call was wildfires. mr. sullivan: that's what i am aware of. sen. risch: senator rubio. sen. rubio: thank you for being here today, and thank you for your service to our country, which i think is across four cabinet departments, three administrations, last two years as the deputy, and all six weeks as the acting secretary of state. now you are going to russia. as i told you yesterday, i don't know what you're going to do to top that. that's a great record of service to our country. because you are the nominee to such an important post, i think we just want to cut to the chase. we all understand the theory and the argument made that the president of the united states was engaged in an effort to leverage u.s. foreign aid to a country in exchange for that country helping him go after a political opponent. that is the allegation. that's what the house is looking into. bottom line, were you aware at any time, until the stuff was in the press, did anyone ever come
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to you, were you aware of that sort of connection, that quid pro quo that's being alleged? was that something you were a part of? just for the record, i think that's important. mr. sullivan: i was not. sen. rubio: you were not aware? mr. sullivan: i was not aware. sen. rubio: you never heard anyone tell you they'll get the money if they investigate the political opponent? mr. sullivan: not until the recent developments and disclosures from the whistleblowers. sen. rubio: first time. just another matter because of your record. i am deeply concerned that we would remove an ambassador from a post as a result of what now appears to be at least somewhat foreign directed effort, concerted effort to spread misinformation about that u.s. ambassador. i would imagine it's wrong. it's bad for morale. it would encourage adversaries to do the same. to be clear, i'm not justifying it. i'm not saying it's right.
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but there is nothing illegal about an ambassador being removed from their post. in essence, neither you, if you are confirmed, or any other ambassador serving this country is entitled to serve in that role until there is cause. ambassadors are reassigned and can be reassigned all the time. we may not agree with it. we may think it's unfair. we may think it's unwise. but you and anybody else serving in a post overseas could be reassigned or ask to be reassigned at any moment. mr. sullivan: for any or no reason, the president's authority, as i understand it, he may decide he doesn't like my testimony today and doesn't want me to go to russia. the president can decide when he loses confidence in his ambassador or nominee that that person is not going to continue as ambassador. what he can't do is he can't decide that if it's a career employee, that that person is removed from the foreign service. that is not what happened with respect to yovanovitch. sen. rubio: that was my last question. ambassador jovanovich was not removed -- there was no effort
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to remove her from the foreign service. mr. sullivan: in fact, the opposite. one part of my conversation with the ambassador was her desire -- my hope and her desire to continue to serve in the foreign service and what her assignment would be. sen. rubio: the last topic in the two minutes left. it's an interesting thing that's developing here between russia and china. we go back 40, 50 years, russia was the senior partner in that relationship when they weren't in conflict. china was still a developing country. now the roles have been reversed. we see china growing in geopolitical influence. their economy continues to grow. russia, on the other hand, is in decline, demographically, economically, to some respects militarily in comparison to the chinese. i think it's now fair to say that russia is the junior partner in that relationship between china and russia. i'm curious about your views about how -- what's our role in managing how that plays out, for example, in central asia, where
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russia -- the eurasian economic union is no match for china's wrote with his belt and initiative? you have a country that's in decline relative to china. they may feel threaten by this if they don't already. what's our role in that? how do we manage that? what's our role in central asia as these two countries have that tug of war? mr. sullivan: as we discussed yesterday, senator, those five countries are extremely important geopolitically. their location. for any number of reasons. our counterterrorism mission, for example. resolving the conflict in afghanistan on terms favorable to the united states. i believe there is competition between russia and china in that area. we want to be involved. i met with the five foreign ministers from those countries, this would have been last year before the u.n. security council
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session on afghanistan where they participated. i met with them to discuss our interests. their interests and some of those countries, at least, being closer to the united states as they feel squeezed between russia and china. it's geostrategically important, as you noted, and we do have a role to play. sen. risch: thank you, senator markey. sen. markey: thank you, mr. chairman. secretary, gordon sondland came before this committee as are you today so we could consider his nomination to be the u.s. ambassador to the european union, which no longer includes the ukraine. according to statements by multiple government officials, including lieutenant colonel alexander vindman, a purple heart recipient and ukraine expert assigned to the national security council, as well as other diplomats, someone was
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involved in efforts to get ukrainian effort to investigate president trump's rival rather than to pursue the interests of the united states. in fact, the ambassador is quote,ned to have, ukrainian leaders deliver, quote, a specific investigations to secure a meeting between president zelensky and president trump. in response to senator menendez, you stated that it would not be in accord with our values for a president to solicit a foreign investigation into a political rival. have you ever heard of any other president ever asking a foreign government to investigate an american citizen? mr. sullivan: i can't think of one off the top of my head, senator. but as i said in response to senator kaine's questions, the president and the united states government has been focused on any corruption efforts, extensively, in ukraine.
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senator markey: so, in your opinion, like, to hear it, having president trump ask ukraine to investigate a u.s. citizen, his political rival, would be unprecedented in american history and certainly the american presidency? mr. sullivan: i'm not -- i don't consider myself competent to answer the historical -- sen. markey: to your knowledge? mr. sullivan: i am not aware of that, which is not to say it hasn't happened. sen. markey: as ambassador to russia, would you ever put any individual's political interest ahead of the foreign policy and national security interests of this country, even the political interests of the president of the united states, even if requested by the president of the united states? mr. sullivan: i would only implement the president's foreign policy in the national security interests of the united states. senator markey: you would never compromise america if political interests of the president ran contrary -- mr. sullivan: my oath would be, as my current oath is in my present position, to the united states and our constitution.
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sen. markey: i have received information before john bolton resigned president trump may have made a decision to exit the open skies treaty which permits signatories to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over the entire territories of -- to collect data on military forces and nuclear weapons activities. we then share this information with our allies and all signatories to the treaty. do you believe withdrawing from the open skies treaty is in the interest of the united states? mr. sullivan: to my knowledge, the united states has not withdrawn from the open skies treaty. in fact, the united states this month is chairing the open skies consultative commission. it was the 1500th open skies treaty flight. sen. markey: do you believe withdrawing from the open skies treaty is in the best interest of the united states? mr. sullivan: there would need to be substantial evidence to support the national security interests for withdrawal from that treaty, and there would need to be consultations with this committee, with congress,
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and in particular with our nato allies and the other countries that are members of the treaty before -- as we did when we withdrew from the i.n.f. treaty. sen. markey: have you made decision to withdraw yourself? mr. sullivan: i have not. senator markey: for the record, secretary of state shultz, secretary of defense bill perry, sam nunn all strongly support continued u.s. participation. has the white house consulted the state department about potential withdrawal from the open skies agreement? mr. sullivan: i have been consulted because i heard those same rumors. sen. paul: markey -- sen. markey: you have been? mr. sullivan: i inquired whether we had withdrawn from the treaty and assured we have not. sen. markey: have you been involved in the discussions given your leading role? mr. sullivan: i have, and i consulted with our ambassadors to nato and the o.s.c.e. and heard their views and conveyed their views about their view that we should continue to be members of the treaty.
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and ambassador of the osce is the chair, as i said this month, of the consultative commission. sen. markey: you consulted with allies who benefit tremendously from this agreement? what is their view? mr. sullivan: we have not. sen. markey: you have not? mr. sullivan: no. sen. markey: have you consulted with hong kong? mr. sullivan: in connection with my nomination, no. senator markey: is the united states and russia still in compliance with the treaty? mr. sullivan: the united states is in compliance. the united states' view is the russians have not been in compliance in certain respects, including flights over kaliningrad. but we and the russians and all the signatories of the treaty continue to be members. and as i have said twice before, we are chairing the commission that oversees the treaty this month ambassador gillmor. sen. markey: do you think this transparency which the treaty creates is in our national interests and we should resolve
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the ambiguities? mr. sullivan: it has been in our interest, and to the extent that it's not, we need to be transparent about why as we were when we withdrew from the i.n.f. treaty. senator markey: i think it's in our best national security interest we remain in the open skies treaty. it's helped us a lot and our allies have benefited. thank you. sen. barrasso: congratulations, good to visit with you again. i know you have had a lengthy discussion about russia's new strategic nuclear weapons. i want to just go back a bit to the new start treaty, which i always believe was a one-sided agreement. i voted against it and have major concerns about it. to me it was more about reducing the united states' strategic nuclear forces but not russian's forces, because that treaty required the united states and russia to reduce our deployed nuclear warheads to numbers that -- russia was already below
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those numbers. one-sided, unfair, and that we made significant reductions to get below the limit. in future arms control negotiations with russia, are you committed with ensuring the united states isn't entering into a one-sided arms control agreement where we are a party required to make more reductions when russia is not? mr. sullivan: absolutely, senator. the united states should only enter into any treaty, particularly an arms control treaty, that is in the national interest and security interest of the united states. sen. barrasso: russia, to me, continues to use economic instruments and propaganda to achieve its objectives and exert influence in europe. we see this as we travel in europe and visit with our nato allies. they try to influence and exert control over countries through a variety of means. military intimidation, energy dependence. cyber attacks, trade. would you speak to what you see as putin's ultimate objective? mr. sullivan: particularly with respect to europe, fracturing
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europe, particularly eastern europe from western europe. i've spent a lot of time traveling in eastern europe in the balkans, which is a laboratory for russian hybrid warfare, whether it's cyber, disinformation, intimidation, etc. it's more significant in ukraine, where there is actually violence being done on a daily basis. there are assassinations in ukraine that are carried out. it is a hot war. there have been 13,000 people that have been killed in ukraine over the last five years. that's not just hybrid warfare, that's real warfare. sen. barrasso: what are the most effective tools and leverage points we could use to change russian behavior? mr. sullivan: we have talked about some of those today, senator. sanctions, visa, and economic
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sanctions. and also, we have worked hard with our allies and partners, particularly in eastern europe, to harden them and their infrastructure, particularly cyber infrastructure, against intrusions, forward deployment of u.s. assets, and by that i mean cyber, as well as i think that's very important for us to support, because they are under stress every day, particularly under cyber threats, from russia. sen. barrasso: one of the things we discussed when you came to my office was the issue of europe's reliance on russian energy and russia's effort to addict europe to their energy sources. europe is trying to work on a number of initiatives to counter this influence. the european union members have identified the risks associated with it, although germany is moving ahead with the pipeline. we look at some things that people are trying to do to avoid this dependence. lithuania created that floating
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lng terminal called the independence, where efforts to increase interconnections, reverse flow capacities of european pipelines. you can see what they are trying to do running up and down in montenegro and croatia. that area. despite these efforts, it does seem clear that more needs to be done, especially in light of russia's efforts to build nord stream 2. as we look at their steps, our allies, partners can take to promote energy security, what efforts do you think need to be the top priorities? mr. sullivan: the top priority we have had has been opposition to nord stream 2. but to address your particular question, it reminds me of my conversation with senator markey about ukrainian dependence on russian gas. you refer to it as an addiction. and senator markey used the same term. it is. it's creation of dependency to control. and now, having made ukraine
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dependent, building that -- completing that second pipeline is going to provide a huge lever. among the issues that we can use with the ukrainians is increasing energy efficiency. other sources of energy whether it's l.n.g. or stopping nord stream 2 so gas will continue to flow through ukraine. senator risch: senator murphy. sen. murphy: thank you very much, mr. chairman. good see you again. ambassador sullivan, thank you for your service to the country. you have been asked a version of this question in a couple different ways. let me ask it specific to the events that we now know took place over the course of the summer and fall. we have learned now with some certainty, as you have testified, that employees of the state department, people under
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your supervision, specifically kurt volker, bill taylor were pressing the ukrainian government to open specific investigations into topics connected to the biden family, and alternative theories about who interfered in the 2016 elections. knowing what you know now about what was happening and those specific requests that were being made, do you think the actions of those individuals were proper? mr. sullivan: what they were doing back then, was it proper? i don't -- i have to think about that. i don't think that -- as i testified previously, the concept of investigating a political rival as opposed to encouraging anti-corruption reform, which is a legitimate and consistent with our values, that that would be inconsistent with our values. senator murphy: in this case, they were specifically requesting investigations connected to a political rival of the president of the united states. so your testimony is that those
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requests were improper. mr. sullivan: to the extent that they were made. i'm going to have to assume that what i read -- i'm not present at the depositions, but what has been reported in the press as a general matter in response to one of the first questions from senator menendez that investigation of a political -- asking a foreign government to investigate a domestic political rival as opposed to -- as part of a larger anti-corruption campaign which we have been engaged in encouraging the ukrainians for years, those are two different things. sen. murphy: do you have any reason to believe that the reports in the press and testimony of ambassador taylor are wrong? mr. sullivan: i don't. i also don't know that they are accurate. i don't know -- i will accept
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him for purposes -- hypothetically, if they are, i'll answer the question. i just don't know personally. sen. murphy: these, as i mentioned, were individuals acting under the auspicious of the state department, and so i think it's important for the committee to understand where their authority came from. we talked a little about this in our private meeting. did you order volcker, sondland, and taylor to coordinate with rudy giuliani in pressing the ukrainians for these investigations into the origin of the 2016 interference? mr. sullivan: i did not. sen. murphy: did secretary pompeo order these individuals to request these investigations? mr. sullivan: not to my knowledge. senator murphy: did john bolton order these individuals to coordinate with rudy giuliani in pressing for these investigations? mr. sullivan: i don't have basis to answer. i don't believe so. i don't know that he did. i have no reason to think he did. i don't have a factual basis to provide a definitive answer. senator murphy: clearly if these are people under your supervision, you didn't ask them to undertake these activities. i would imagine you would want to get to the bottom of that.
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so what is your understanding as to where the instructions were coming from if they weren't coming from you or the secretary of state? mr. sullivan: they are getting their instructions, ambassador taylor is getting instructions from the secretary, from me, and from our undersecretary -- senator murphy: you testified neither you nor the secretary asked them to request these specific investigations. and so where did those instructions come from? mr. sullivan: i don't know. senator murphy: have you made any attempt to find out? mr. sullivan: since i learned of it in september, i have not. senator murphy: that's curious, if people are operating outsifi. of your specific instructions. i think it's curious would you not try to find out. let me ask a few more quick questions. is it currently the policy of the united states that ukraine must conduct investigations into crowd strike? mr. sullivan: no. senator murphy: why not? this was the policy over the summer, so why is it not the policy now?
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mr. sullivan: i had accepted as a hypothetical that was our policy. i don't know that. it is not our policy. our policy has been to encourage anticorruption reform, generally in ukraine. that's something i have worked on for over two years, but never with respect to a particular investigation or company or individual. sen. murphy: is rudy giuliani currently carrying out any diplomatic business on behalf of the united states? mr. sullivan: not to my knowledge. sen. murphy: i have a great deal of respect for the work you have done. you have toiled under difficult circumstances, and i'm pleased that you are willing to take on this difficult assignment. but your testimony as to your lack of interest in asking questions about why people under your control were being given direction that did not come from you or the secretary, and your lack of attempts to delve into what the policy actually was during this period of time, you
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are accepting hypotheticals but you don't seem to have an opinion as to whether it was the policy of the united states, which by the testimony that the house has received it clearly was, to encourage these investigations, i do think it is concerning. but i appreciate the service you have given the country. appreciate your testimony today. senator risch: mr. sullivan, i think my friends on the other side in your discussion have kind of sharpened the question that the jury in the senate will have to answer. that is having to do with the corruption in the ukraine. you would agree with me this corruption in ukraine has been going on since they left the soviet union and has been of great concern to virtually every administration, republican, democrat over that period of time. would you agree? mr. sullivan: absolutely. the fact it's been so long-standing and ingrained is what makes it so difficult to change and eradicate now. sen. risch: would you also agree with me that every time we
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discussed this, and when i say we, all of us, talk about the ukraine, it's almost impossible to talk about conditions. without talking about the corruption in the country. over the many administrations they have had in the ukraine since they got out from under the soviet union, is that a fair statement? mr. sullivan: it affects the entire society. sen. risch: having said that, the gas company has been right at the heart of that corruption in the ukraine, has it not? mr. sullivan: gas is so central to the ukrainian economy that of course. senator risch: now we have a situation where people have taken this transcript and argued that the president was having them investigate a political rival regarding corruption that took place in ukraine. i think you said and everyone has today said and agrees if it was strictly a political rival to be investigated that that would be wrong. what happens if the -- if the political rival is somehow involved in the corruption in the ukraine? that becomes a lot dicier question, when a president has
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to look the other way if a political rival is involved? going to be a question we are all going to deal with at some time in the not-too-distant future, i think. in any event. thank you for that. senator coons. senator coons: thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member menendez for holding today's hearing. and mr. deputy secretary, for your distinguished service over many different positions across several administrations. i greatly appreciate your recognition both in your public testimony and in our private meeting the critical work that important service and civil service officers do every day. and their determination, their dedication to forwarding foreign policy goals in the national interest of our country aside from our partisan politics. nowhere are those goals and interests more important than in our work in russia. russia as you agree, attacked and undermined our elections in 2016 and continues its influence
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campaign efforts to meddle in democratic processes, not just in the united states, not just in the united states and europe. there is actually an article in "the new york times" today about how russia has launched influence campaigns across africa in a new playbook that features outsourcing and franchising their influence campaign. we all need a comprehensive and sustained strategy to blunt that. it is my hope you will get the chance to carry out your commitments to push back forcefully on this maligned activity by russia. let me just follow up on a question that you got asked before. senator kaine asked you, this is in the context ukraine and corruption that's been at the center of so many questions today, senator kaine asked you why president trump kept referring ukrainian president zelensky to discuss all issues with rudy giuliani and attorney general barr. you said president trump was focused on anti-corruption. if anti-corruption in ukraine is such a priority for the president and this
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administration, i'm struck as an appropriator that my understanding of this record in the subcommittee that funds the international narcotics control and law enforcement budget that in 2019 the administration requested a cut in funding to $13 million, congress rejected that and restored funding to $30 million. in 2020 the administration again sought to cut that funding to $13 million. congress, i think, is likely to once again restore it to $30 million. if this is a great priority, combating corruption in ukraine for the administration, why does the president's budget not reflect that in any of the three budgets he's submitted? mr. sullivan: i think, senator, the prime obstacle to anti-corruption reform in ukraine is not technical or monetary support by the united states, but the will of the ukrainian government to reign in ukrainian oligarches and reform their system.
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we saw this over two years in urging president poroshenko to engage in anticorruption reform, and the will was simply not there. i think that's the biggest obstacle to anti-corruption reform. can we use that extra money and do an even better job on behalf of the united states? absolutely. will we be wasting that money if there isn't anti-corruption, a will to engage in anti-corruption reform by ukrainian leadership? i'm afraid that's also true. sen. coons: i think that fund something critical for the national anti-corruption bureau and special anti-corruption prosecutors office and restoring some semblance of rule of law in a country where corruption is widespread. let me move to another issue, human rights. i'm the co-chair of the human rights caucus in the senate. there are hundreds of political prisoners in russia. a prominent human rights
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organization says the number of political prisoners has increased five old in the last four years. if confirmed, what will you do to draw attention to russia's political prisoners and push for their release? mr. sullivan: i point out that i believe the rate at which the russian government is incarcerating political prisoners is increasing, not decreasing. shining a light and being transparent about what actually is going on and being public about it is the first step. it's urging the russian government to abide by its own laws and treat its people right. senator coons: the senator unanimously passed earlier this year senate resolution 81, which i supported and helped draft, that condemns president putin for targeting political opponents and working to cover up some of their actions, in particular the assassination of opposition leader boris nemtsov. that resolution from the senate urges government officials to raise the case of nemtsov's assassination. if confirmed, are you committed
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to raising this issue with senior russian officials, including president putin? mr. sullivan: yes, i am. sen. coons: thank you. and russian authorities continue to target the lgbtq community despite condemnation from governments around the world. will you commit to discussing, raising, and pressing lgbtq rights with your russian counterparts? mr. sullivan: enthusiastically. sen. coons: thank you. i appreciate your appearing today as a number of my colleagues have testified or have mentioned in their comments. we need a forceful presence in moscow, and i appreciate that we have had this opportunity to talk today and look forward to working with you. thank you. sen. risch: thank you, senator. senator menendez. sen. menendez: thank you. you know, mr. secretary, i get struck by you as an honorable man. but i also get struck as someone who, in the role that you have had, has played the role of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. i'm going to give you a chance
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to prove me wrong. ambassador sondland is our ambassador to the e.u., is that correct? mr. sullivan: that's correct. sen. menendez: ukraine is not part of the european union. is that correct? mr. sullivan: that's correct. sen. menendez: did you know what to asnd was up it relates to ukraine? mr. sullivan: i was aware he had been tasked with the president with working with the other colleagues involved in ukraine policy. sen. menendez: when you responded to senator shaheen and some extent senator kaine about rudy giuliani and sometimes private citizens have a role, are you not suggesting what mr. giuliani did in this case was kosher or ok or correct, is it? mr. sullivan: i didn't offer a judgment what he did was kosher or correct. i'm not sure exactly what he was up to in toto with respect to ukraine. sen. menendez: so you're the number two person at the state department and you had no idea
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what he was doing as relates to ukraine although you knew he was doing something. mr. sullivan: i wouldn't say it would be accurate to say i knew nothing. i was particularly aware of the campaign against our ambassador in kiev. sen. menendez: outside of that, you did not know what else he was doing. mr. sullivan: i was not aware of what he was doing or purpose. senator menendez: would you say that putin and russia, there is corruption? would you say in putin and russia there is corruption? mr. sullivan: absolutely. sen. menendez: would you say the same thing about hungary? mr. sullivan: corruption is endemic. sen. menendez: these two people are the two people talking to the president about corruption in ukraine. you also seem to suggest, and you are a very able attorney, you also seem to suggest a couch , that the reason that these conversations were taking place, the money was being held, was about corruption in ukraine. is that a fair statement? mr. sullivan: i didn't know it at the time. my characterization of what the
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president was saying now was that it was about anti-corruption reform. if you -- sen. menendez: you are characterizing his statements. your own view. why was money being held? mr. sullivan: as i think i said to some members of the committee, if you had asked me in july -- was aware money was being withheld. we had a number of requests -- senator menendez: did you ask why money was being withheld? mr. sullivan: i did not. but i was aware that we had requests of the ukrainian government, not just anti-corruption reform, but energy reform and economic reform, all of which was important to -- sen. menendez: none of that conversation has come forth. it's all about corruption, right? mr. sullivan: that july 25 call, yes. sen. menendez: but, in fact, the department of defense, in coordination with the secretary
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of state, certified in may of this year, prior to this call that the president had, they rain had made reforms to decrease corruption and increase accountability and could ensure accountability for u.s. military equipment. as a matter of fact, that certification by the department of defense in cooperation with the secretary of state, person immediately above you, not only took place then, but it took place prior to that in july of -- 13 of 2018 and may 23 of 2019. if d.o.d. and state had already certified that ukraine had made progress on corruption, what was left to review? mr. sullivan: for purposes of our assistance that was being provided to ukraine, that that assistance wouldn't be diverted for corrupt purposes. calling hombre station -- i
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recall a conversation about that with secretary mattis. >> what did you do to dislodge the money? >> i personally did not take any action. >> did you call omb? >> no, i had conversations about omb. my perspective that -- was that there were a number of programs that funding was being held for, including the northern triangle countries. intocused in august and september was focusing on the northern triangle countries. i was leaving it to our , i was informed, i went up to testify before the house appropriations subcommittee on northern triangle -- >> i appreciate that. i'm focused on the position for which you were nominated. >> that was the day in which i was told, i was handed a note that among other things, the ukrainian assistance had been,
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the hold had been lifted. >> i ask that the senate introduce into the record the directed to you as chairman of the committee. senator risch: that will be entered. senator menendez: mr. secretary, a couple of other final questions here. isn't it true that russia illegally occupies crimea continues to conduct attacks in eastern ukraine? mr. sullivan: absolutely. senator menendez: more than 13,000 ukrainian troops and civilians have been killed in the conflict since 2014. mr. sullivan: i believe-- i testified to that earlier. >> isn't it true that russia assaulted our elections in 2016 using cyber attacks? mr. sullivan: indeed. senator menendez: isn't it true russia illegally occupied part of georgia's territory? mr. sullivan: yes. senator menendez: russia's bombing campaign in syria also involved bombing indents?
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russian bombing in syria campaign also involve bombing innocent? mr. sullivan: i believe so. senator menendez: now, we have established that the kremlin behavior continues to pose a national security threat to the united states. congress sought to address that to the countering america's adversary through sanctions act that passed 98-2 and president signed into law. does it help or hinder u.s. national security when president trump characterizes russia's interference as a hoax? mr. sullivan: the united states government hasn't accepted that it's a hoax. the united states government's position led by president trump is, we are dedicated to stopping it. we acknowledge it occurs. is ongoing and doing all we can to stop it. senator menendez: does it help or hinder national security when president jokes about election interference with president putin? mr. sullivan: as i said we are -- i'm devoting a huge amount of my time as deputy secretary to countering russian election interference.
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that's at the direction of the president. senator menendez: does it help or hinder when the president redirects millions of dollars from the european deterrent initiative that is to help us in a deterrence to russia to pay for a border wall? mr. sullivan: that was the president's judgment and a national security priority. senator menendez: here's the problem. you are going to go to russia. and you are going to have -- are you going to be saying one set of things based upon your testimony here today and private conversations you had with members that we have the president who in his public statements is totally aligned differently than what you are going to be saying. do you understand the incredible difficult job that you are going to have as a result of that? mr. sullivan: what i would say, senator, is, you cited the president's statements. i cite the president's actions. you mentioned the nerve agent that was used, we expelled 60 -- the president expelled 60 undeclared russian intelligence officers in response.
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we have imposed sanctions on probably 350 russian individuals and organizations, including for election interference. i think the president's actions speak very loudly in this. the secretary pompeo has said that this administration, this president is firmly committing to confronting russia in all these areas that -- senator menendez: overwhelmingly those sanctions have been forced by the hand of congress, particularly in the legislation after having sanctions in iran and other places including russia in a way that provided very little discretion because, in a bipartisan basis, there is concern. finally, let me just ask you this. because i'm trying to find a way forward on your nomination.
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the department that you helped run has tried to block individuals from testifying before congress, something that i find appalling, because congress, article 1 of the constitution, not 2 or 3, article 1, ultimately provides as a check and balance on any administration. this or anyone in the future. forcing them to either choose between defying congress or their superiors. this department has sent them letters that appear aimed at scaring them out of appearing before congress. is this the type of support and protection you think that our public servants deserve? mr. sullivan: i would say that the actions that the department has undertaken led by the secretary has been on the advice of counsel not only state department counsel but white
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house counsel as well and direction from the white house. senator menendez: why is the department working to prevent employees from testifying before congress? mr. sullivan: well, as has been laid out in an extensive letter from the counsel to the president, the rationale is laid out there. senator menendez: i understand the house is directing its request to you, is that correct? mr. sullivan: they have, yes. senator menendez: i'd like to enter the letter from the house to mr. sullivan into the record, mr. chairman. have you responded to them? mr. sullivan: i don't believe so. the letter was addressed to me, but -- the letter has been addressed -- i personally have not. the letter has been addressed to me in the misunderstanding that the connect sect has recused himself. -- that the secretary has recused himself. senator menendez: the secretary has not. even though these requests are coming to you you are turning them over. mr. sullivan: correct. i didn't ask they be sent to me. they have decided that. senator menendez: i ask a request to enter a series of letters into the record by a correspondence between the state
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department and members -- myself and letters from myself to the state department all which have gone unanswered. senator risch: those will be entered. senator cruz. senator cruz: thank you, mr. chairman. let me start by observing as we sit in these august chambers from the storied committee above which the ghost of henry cabot lodge no doubt looks down, i feel compelled to the distinguished senator from virginia is choosing to mock me for his nationals beating my astros last night in game six back in houston. [laughter] i will only say that there is a virtue to patience.
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and at this time tomorrow, one of the other of us will be on the losing side of a wager and wearing the colors of the winning team, so i look forward to hopefully to 24 hours from now my good friend. i can't wait to see how that comes out either way. sen. cruz: congratulations on your nomination, mr. sullivan. i'm not sure what you did at state to merit being sent to siberia, but congratulations nonetheless. i have every confidence you will perform ably in this new role. let's talk about some different aspects of russia. russia, as you know, has a the long history of using energy as a weapon. and one of the tools i believe poses a real threat for strengthening russia, for weakening europe, and for weakening america is the north stream to pipeline. can you give me your assessment of the regional and global impact of russia's north stream
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2 pipeline if the construction is completed? mr. sullivan: i think it is going to be extremely detrimental to ukraine. it is going to give the russian federation and a norma's lever over you train and a hammer they can hit the ukrainians with. if the russians cut gas transit to ukraine, ukraine will lose billions in hard currency that it -- is desperately needed for its economy. so the president has been as vociferous as he has been in almost issue that i've seen in opposing nord stream 2 and urging our nato allies, and particularly germany, in not cooperating with this pipeline because of the damage it will do to ukraine and we have not succeeded to date in convincing them to stop their cooperation. sen. cruz: as you know, this committee has passed, by overwhelming bipartisan margin, my legislation with senator
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shaheen to stop that pipeline from being completed, but the window for passing that legislation into law is shrinking. what would the benefits be if we can finish the job and stop that pipeline from ever being completed? mr. sullivan: we had this conversation in your office a few days ago whether we have reached the point where the russians can complete the pipeline. construction has continued. there has been a holdup because of environmental review by denmark. those will be lifted. a may have already reached point where the russians will have the resources no matter what we do, in which case imposing sanctions will not stop the pipeline. it will impose a cost, but it will not stop the pipeline.
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i don't know that we have reached that point yet. sen. cruz: although the russians lack the technology to lay the deep-sea pipeline, so they have to rely on outsourcing. mr. sullivan: i think we need to discuss with some experts in that whether what they have left to do, the little stub that is left, whether they could complete that on their own. they would have to reposition assets that they are using elsewhere. given the length of the pipeline already completed, it may be they are already capable of doing that. mr. sullivan: let's shift --senator cruz: let's shift to the new start treaty. the trump administration rightly withdrew from the treaty earlier this year. expire ined to
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february 20 21. does the administration believe continued adherence is in the u.s. national security interest or will we let the treaty lapse? mr. sullivan: our position is that we should engage with the russians now in discussions about including those weapon systems that we have discussed -- thesly, which are not problem that i foresee is that if we were to extend now without , wehing those other systems are tying our hands and not limiting where the russians see their growth and their strategic assets. sen. cruz: one final question shifting to another treaty, i've long been skeptical about this treaty and a couple years ago offered language in the authorization act conditioning
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u.s. compliance with it, as i have offered language in the nda as well. what is your assessment of the effectiveness of the open skies treaty. exposesew, it vulnerabilities in terms of opening ourselves up in terms of monitoring in a way that does not gain us anything for russia, but gains russia quite a bit. cansullivan: i'm not sure i go into great detail in an open session, but there are intelligence community assessments on that question. what i've been most concerned about with is if we were to reach that decision that, informed by intelligence community and so forth that it no longer was in the united states' interest to continue in the treaty, that we would need to engage in a consultation process with this committee,
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with congress, and with our the infas we did with treaty. the most important thing that we did with our withdrawal from the treaty was getting unanimity among our nato allies that russia has been and is in violation of the inf treaty. we would need to do that to make sure we did not do damage to our nato alliance and explain why we were withdrawing, if the decision were to be made. sen. cruz: thank you. >> for those members of the committee that have not seen it, there are briefings available in a secure facility and i would urge everybody to take a look at those. regardless as this discussion goes forward, i think it is important that we have this information at the end. youad a discussion giving credit for the discussion on nord stream 2.
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regardless of whether we are past the point in overturning it or not, i think your bill needs to be pursued. we are trying to find a path forward. we are going to try to make that happen. i think almost everyone is in agreement with that. senator, you want another height at the apple? senator tim kaine, too. >> just a few more additional questions. you said that it is not without precedent for the president to use individuals outside of the state department to conduct -- andations outside there is historical precedent. i would argue that there is really no precedent for what rudy giuliani was doing, which was using his access to the president as a means to try to score political points with foreign nations.
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for the purposes of this hearing, rudy giuliani does not actually say that he was acting simply at the direction of the president, he says he was acting at the direction of the state department. who it, he says, you know did it at the request of? speaking about his conversations with ukraine, the state department. i never talked to a ukrainian official and still the state department called me and asked me to do it. did the state department call rudy giuliani and ask him to have these conversations with ukrainian officials? mr. sullivan: my recollection is that that is a reference to his communications with kurt volker, who is a state department special representative for ukraine. is that thaton quote is in reference to communications he has had with kurt volker. nor thephy: you
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secretary asked rudy giuliani to carry out any diplomatic efforts? i did not and i'm not reporting -- aware that the secretary did either. sen. murphy: you believe he is referring to the others with whom he discussed? mr. sullivan: kurt volker in particular. sen. murphy: i want to support your nomination, you know i believe in usa public servant. -- in you as a public servant. concerned about your reluctance to make a statement about the united states policy over the summer. you have read the transcript, read the texts, i hope you have conducted your own investigation. let me ask the question i asked earlier again. understanding that it was the policy of the united states to press the ukrainian government to conduct investigations and alternative theories about the 2016 election
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interference? i understand that you may not have been part of these efforts, but is it now your opinion that that was the policy of the united states, having read the transcript of the call with the president and seen all this other evidence? mr. sullivan: so, the president has been clear in his subsequent statements about their not being the phrase that has been used, a quid pro quo -- sen. murphy: that's not what i'm asking. it our policy to request specific investigations related to the company and related to relitigating or at least looking into alternative theories about the 2016 election? mr. sullivan: sure. so, my understanding is that there was, as part of our policy,anticorruption encouraging anticorruption reform in ukraine, from reading summary ofipt or the the july 25 call, that looking
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at as the chairman mentioned that gas company and board member and u.s. person involved in was certainly mentioned by the president and therefore part of u.s. policy, but the president has denied that there was any quid pro quo. sen. murphy: do you have knowledge that the president has ever raised any other specific corruption investigations that he wishes ukraine to undertake other than the investigation related to joe biden and the investigation related to the 20 16 election interference? mr. sullivan: not specific investigations, but he has been emphatic about the need for anticorruption reform generally in ukraine. sen. murphy: i think this is, as we sort of move forward on how to proceed as a senate, i just don't buy this idea that there was this general interest in corruption, given the fact that the president has only raised two of these issues in the phone
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call, but i have no doubt that you care about the issue of corruption in russia, ukraine, and the region, and i hope you pursue it vigorously, as you have testified to before the committee. sen. risch: thank you, senator murphy. i have no doubt you will get an opportunity to express yourself in a boat on a floor based on this. senator kaine? senator kaine: i want to acknowledge my colleague from texas. should the astros win in game 7, i will be winning astros gear and serving his staff crab cakes and whiskey. should the nationals win, continuing the already historic trend of the visiting team winning every team thus far in the series, he will wear nationals gear and serve my staff texas barbecue and shiner beer. i would rather win than lose, but either way, he group of high working -- hard-working and ill fed staff will have a meal far above their station. >> is it permissible for me,
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though i have been in marylander for years? [laughter] >> it is up to you. >> i just wanted to note that until tonight, the pending world series champions are the boston red sox. [laughter] i'm afraid this nomination can't proceed. [laughter] for couple more questions. i went through a line of questions about when president zelensky brought up sanctions, president trump said talk to attorney general bar and rudy giuliani. when president zelensky brought a military aide, president trump did not say talk to the secretary of the abbasid or, he said talk to attorney general barr and rudy giuliani. on energy and trade, he said talk to attorney general barr and rudy giuliani. your explanation for that and you are not president trump, you are understanding of it -- if the call was about corruption, i
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guess i can understand the president saying, talk to attorney general barr, but why rudy giuliani? i think rudy giuliani is the president's personal attorney and friend and outside advisor and he had been talking to him about ukraine as we discussed previously about our mission. sen. kaine: you stated as far as you know, he was not pursuing any policy for the state department, as far as you know. to the extent that he was coordinating with the state department, he was coordinating with the individuals -- know whethero you he had coordinated with them? mr. sullivan: i don't. sen. kaine: do you have any knowledge that he coordinated? mr. sullivan: i have no knowledge that kurt did that. sen. kaine: was the state department or the u.s.
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government paying rudy giuliani? mr. sullivan: i would be surprised. i have no idea. sen. kaine: do you know whether he was being paid at all by the president trump, the trump campaign, or a third party? mr. sullivan: i don't know. sen. kaine: were you involved in any discussions about turkey sanctions that were mandated by due to the turkish purchase of russian air defense systems? mr. sullivan: yes. sen. kaine: explain your involvement. mr. sullivan: i've been involved for a long time now. this deal has been pending for quite some time. working with then secretary mattis, and chairman dunford and now secretary gasper and chairman millie along with my colleagues at the state department, as this committee will notice. turkey. has withdrawn
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from the program because of the s four acquisition. the question that is on the table are the sanctions and whether this is a significant transaction. i find it difficult to characterize it as insignificant given that we have sanctioned s-400for purchasing the system. what we are still working to do and we have not reached that point yet is to convince the turks to undo come as a nato ally, to undo the damage they have done already by taking this system on board, before it becomes operational. sen. kaine: is it your testimony today that there is still a difference of opinion in the administration about whether the purchase is a significant transaction? mr. sullivan: i don't know. sen. kaine: when you say if it is a significant transaction,
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then the sanctions come into play. is there a difference of opinion that you are aware of within the administration about whether this purchase was a significant transaction? mr. sullivan: i have not been involved in the legal discussions about parsing the statutory language. i'm giving you my impression. sen. kaine: let me ask one more question. last week in response to a menendez,rom senator the syrian envoy testified that he was not consulted prior to the president's decision to withdraw u.s. troops from the kurdish region of northern syria. do you know if anyone was consulted at the state department prior to that decision? mr. sullivan: i believe the secretary, at a minimum, was involved. sen. kaine: do you know for certain? mr. sullivan: i have had conversations with him about it and it has certainly been the case for anybody involved in syrian policy that it was well known the president's desire to withdraw our troops from syria.
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this has been a topic of discussion going back years. december of 2018 when secretary mattis resigned. sen. kaine: thank you, mr. chair. sen. risch: thank you. with that, our sincere thanks. i think this has been a productive discussion. focused our view on some of these issues and your help is greatly appreciated. the record will remain open until the close of business on friday, including for members to submit questions for the record. again, thank you for your service, thank you for your agreement to serve further, thank you to your family for the sacrifice it is going to take. this committee is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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