Transcript for David Hale and Laura Cooper give opening statements in impeachment hearing
Today we are joined by a master David Hale and ms. lore Cooper. David Hale service as the undersecretary of state for political affairs. For the Department of State a position he has held since August 3028 team. Mr. hill joined the foreign service in 1984 and holds the rank of career master. He previously served. As ambassador to Pakistan ambassador to Lebanon special envoy for Middle East peace deputy special envoy an investor to Jordan. Ambassador hail also served as deputy assistant secretary of state and executive assistant to secretary of state Albright. Or Cooper is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia Ukraine and Eurasia at the Department of Defense. She's a career member of the senior executive service ms. Cooper previously served as a principal director in the office. Of the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security affairs. Prior to joining the department defense in 2001 ms. Cooper was a policy planning officer at the State Department and the office of camp coordinator of counterterrorism. Two final reports points before witnesses a sworn. First witness depositions as part of this inquiry were unclassified and nature and all open hearings will also be held at the unclassified level. Any information let me touch on classified information we addressed separately it. And second congress will not tolerate any reprisal threat of reprisal or attempt to retaliate. Against any US govern official for testifying before congress. Including you or any of your colleagues. If you both please rise. And raise your right hand hell began by swearing UN. You swear or affirm that the testimony you're about to give us the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god. But the records show the witnesses answered in the affirmative. Thank you and please be seated. The microphone as sensitive so quickly speak directly into it. Without objection your written statement so be made part of the record. With that ambassador hill if you haven't opening statement you're free to give out and immediately thereafter and is two for you are recognized for your opening statement. Mr. chairman I I don't have a prepared opening statement but I would like to just. Comment of course as as you said I've been undersecretary since August of Tony eighteen. A foreign service officer for over 35 years and a faster three times serving both Republican and democratic administrations probably. And I'm here in response to your subpoena to answer the questions of the committee. Thank undersecretary ms. Cooper. Mr. chairman ranking member or members of this committee. I appear today to provide fact and answer questions based on my experience as the deputy assistant secretary of defense. For Russia Ukraine in Eurasia. I would first like to describe my background as well as my role and vantage point relevant to your inquiry. I bring some ideally work and to this proceeding my sense of duty to US national security. Not to any political party. I proudly serve to democratic and two Republican presidents. I enter government service through the presidential management intern ship competition. Joining the State Department in 1999. To work on counterterrorism. In Europe and the former Soviet Union. Inspired by working with the US military. On a Department of Defense rotational assignment. I decided to accept a civil service position in the policy organization. Of the office of the secretary of defense in January 2001. Where I have remains for the past eighteen years. My strong sense of pride in serving my country. And dedication to my pentagon colleagues. Were cemented in the moments after I felt the Pentagon shake it needs me on September 11 2001. My office was scheduled to move into the section of the Pentagon that was destroyed in the attack. But a construction delay meant that we were still at our old desks in the adjacent section on that devastating day. After we had wipes the black dust from our desks and tried to get back to work. I found meaning by volunteering to work on Afghanistan policy. And would give my next four years to this mission. I later had the opportunity to move into the leadership ranks of my organization. And have had the privilege to manage issues ranging from defense strategic planning to homeland defense and mission assurance. I accepted the position of principal director for Russia Ukraine and Eurasia and 2016. And was honored to be appointed formally to the position of deputy assistant secretary of defense in 28 teen. In my current role I work to advance US national security with a focus on deterring Russian aggression. And building strong partnerships. With the front line states of Ukraine and Georgia. As well as ten other allies and partners from the Balkans to the Caucasus. Strengthening Ukraine's capacity to defend itself against Russian aggression is central to my team's mission. The United States and our allies provide Ukraine with this with security assistance. Because it is in our national security interest to deter a Russian aggression around the world. We also provide security assistance so that Ukraine can negotiate at peace with Russia from a position of strength. The human told continues to climb in this ongoing war. With 141000 Ukrainian lives lost since Russia's Tony fourteen invasion. These sacrifices are continually in my mind as I lead. Including defensive lethal assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces. I have also supported a robust Ukrainian ministry of defense program of defense reform. To ensure the long term sustainability. Of US investments. And the transformation. Of the Ukrainian military from a Soviet model to a NATO interoperable force. The national defense authorization act requires the Department of Defense to certify defense reform progress. To release half of the Ukraine's security assistance initiative or USA ally. Funds. A provision we find it very helpful. Based on recommendations from meat and other key dear Dee advisors the Department of Defense in coordination with the Department of State. Certified inmates when he nineteen that Ukraine had quote. Taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption. Increasing accountability. And sustaining improvements a combat capability unquote. Merit an obligation of the entire 250. Million in USA I funds. This brings me to the topic of today's proceedings. I would like to recap my recollection of the timeline in which these events played out I testified about all of this at length in my deposition. In July I became aware of a hold being placed on obligation. Of the state department's foreign military financing or F and math. And DO d.'s USA I funds. In a series of interagency meetings I heard. That the president had directed the Office of Management and Budget to hold the funds because of his concerns about corruption in Ukraine. Let me say at the outset that I have never discussed this or any other matter with the president. And never heard directly from him about this matter. At a senior level meeting I attended on July Tony six shared by National Security Council leadership. As at all other interagency meetings on this topic of which I was aware. The national security community expressed unanimous support for resuming the funding as in the US national security interest. At the July 26 meeting there was also discussion of how Ukrainian anti corruption efforts we're making progress. DOT reiterated what we have said in our earlier certification to congress stating that sufficient progress in defense reform. Including anti corruption had occurred to justify the USA I spending. I and others at the interagency meetings felt that the matter was particularly urgent. Because it takes time to obligate that amount of money. And my understanding was that the money was legally required to be obligated by September 30 the end of the fiscal year. In the ensuing weeks until the hold was released on September 11 I pursued three tracks. First starting on July 31 and it inner agency meeting I made clear to the interagency leadership. My understanding that once dear. There were only two ways to discontinue obligation of US AI. A president directed rescission. Or at DOD directed reprogramming action. Either of which would need to be notified to congress. I never heard that either was being pursued it. Second I was in communication with the DOD security assistance implementing community to try to understand exactly when they would reach the point at which. They would be unable to obligate all the funds by the end of the fiscal year. I received a series of updates and in a September 5 update I and other senior Defense Department leaders weren't forms. That over a hundred million could not be obligated by September 30. And third I was advocating for a meeting of the cabinet level principles with the president to explain why the assistance should go forward. Although I heard of attempts to discuss the issue with the president. I never received details about any conversations. Other than a status update that the holds had not been left it. After the decision to release the funds on September 11 of this year. My colleagues across the DOD security assistance enterprise. Worked tirelessly. To be able to ultimately obligate about 86% of the funding by the end of the fiscal year. More than they had originally estimated they would be apples hill. Due to a provision in September's continuing resolution appropriating an amount equal to the un obligated funds from fiscal year two when he nineteen. We ultimately will be able to obligate all of the USA I funds. Given how critical these funds are for bolstering Ukraine's security and deterring Russia I appreciate this congressional action. That concludes my opening statement but before answering your questions. There is one other matter I would like to address. I testified in a deposition before this committee and other committees on October 23 two when he nineteen. At that time I was asked questions about what I knew. About when the Ukrainian government may have learned about any hold on security assistance funds. I answered those questions based on my knowledge at that time. Since my deposition I have again reviewed my calendar and the only meeting where I ever call a Ukrainian official raising the issue with me. Is on September 5 at Ukrainian Independence Day celebration. I have however since learned some additional information about this subject from my staff. Prior to my deposition testimony I avoided discussing my testimony with members of my staff. Or anyone other than my attorney to ensure that my deposition testimony was based only on my personal knowledge. My deposition testimony was publicly released on November 11 to when he nineteen. Members of my staff or read the testimony and if come to me since then and provided additional information. Specifically. On the issue of Ukraine's knowledge of the holds -- of Ukraine asking questions about possible issues with the flow of assistance. My staff showed me to unclassified emails that they received from the State Department. One was received on July 25 at 231 Pia. That email said that the Ukrainian embassy. And house foreign affairs committee are asking about security assistance. The second email was received on July 25 at 425 Pia them. That email said that the hill knows about the FMF situation to an extent and so does the Ukrainian embassy. I did not receive either of these emails my staff does not a call informing me about them and I do not recall being made aware of their contents at the time. I do not have any additional information about precisely what the ukrainians may have sad. What may have been a source of information about a holds or any possible issues with the flow of assistance. Or what the State Department officials may have told them. My staff also advised me in the last few days of the following additional facts that may be relevant to this inquiry. Again my staff does not recall informing me about them and I do not recall being made aware at this. On July 3 at 4:23 PM they received an email from the State Department. Stating that they had heard that this CN is currently being blocked by O and B. This apparently refers to the congressional notification state would send for Ukraine FM Max. I have no further information on this. On July 25. A member of my staff got a question from the Ukraine embassy contact. Asking what was going on with Ukraine's security assistance. Because at that time we did not know what the guidance was on US AI. Oh and being notice of apportionment arrived that day but this staff member did not find out about it until later. I was informed the staff member told the Ukrainian officials that we were moving forward on US AI. But recommended that the Ukraine and a C check in with state regarding the aftermath. Sometime during the week of August 6 to ten. A Ukraine embassy officer told a member of my staff. City Ukrainian official might raise concerns about security assistance in an upcoming meeting. My understanding is that the issue was not in fact greatest again I have no further information about what concerns. About the security assistance Ukraine may have had at that time. My staff also recalled thinking that ukrainians were aware of the holes on security assistance during August. But they cannot pinpoint any specific conversations where it came up. My staff told me they're aware of additional meetings where they saw officials from the Ukrainian embassy in August. And they believe that the question of the hold came up at some point. But they told me they did not find any corresponding email or other records of those meetings consequently. Neither day. Nor I know precisely when or what additional discussions may have occurred with the ukrainians in the month of August. If I had more details on these matters I would offer them to the committee but this is the extent of additional information I have received since my deposition. Mr. chairman I welcome your questions I'll answer them to the best of my ability thank you.
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