Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent — one of the first two witnesses expected to testify publicly in the House impeachment inquiry Wednesday — previously told lawmakers that he raised concerns that President Donald Trump's personal attorney was poisoning U.S. policy toward Ukraine with "a campaign of lies."
Kent kept notes about what Democrats have described as "a shadow policy" in Ukraine being run in part by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani in order to force the Ukrainian government to announce investigations into the 2016 U.S. election and Trump's potential 2020 opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.
"I had concerns that there was an effort to initiate politically motivated prosecutions that were injurious to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and the U.S.," Kent told the committees handling the impeachment inquiry Oct. 15, according to a transcript of the interview.
"Here's why George Kent matters," Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff tweeted last week. "He and his colleagues recognized the impropriety of Trump’s Ukraine pressure campaign to undertake politically-motivated investigations. He corroborates testimony from numerous other officials, and he documented it."
Here's what you need to know about the longtime diplomat:
- His father was a Navy veteran who captained a nuclear submarine
- "I have served proudly as a nonpartisan career foreign service officer for more than 27 years, under five presidents — three Republicans and two Democrats," Kent said of his career. That included a stint as the senior anti-corruption coordinator in the State Department's European Bureau.
- He's fluent in Russian, Ukrainian and Thai.
What did Kent say behind closed doors Oct. 15?
- Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney oversaw a meeting in which he sidelined State Department officials by tapping political appointees — Energy Secretary Rick Perry, European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland and then-special envoy Kurt Volker — to oversee Ukraine policy, according to the transcript. Kent said they referred to themselves as "the three amigos."
- Kent told Congress it was his “personal opinion” that it was a White House visit for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that was tied to the opening of investigations Giuliani and Trump desired — and that the delivery of U.S. aid was not associated.
- Giuliani pushed for a former Ukrainian prosecutor who had been smearing American diplomats to be issued a visa to come to the U.S., Kent testified. The former prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was "well and very unfavorably known to us," Kent said, according to the transcript. "There was a broad-based consensus that he was a typical Ukraine prosecutor who lived a lifestyle far in excess of his government salary, who never prosecuted anybody known for having committed a crime, and having covered up crimes that were known to have been committed," he added.