In Opening Statement, George Kent Says Giuliani Sabotaged US-Ukraine Policy

Alex Brandon/AP

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George Kent, the top State Department official in charge of Ukraine relations, said in his testimony at Wednesday morning’s impeachment hearing that Rudy Giuliani hijacked US foreign policy toward Ukraine in an effort to generate politically motivated investigations that would benefit his client, President Donald Trump. And he said that Giuliani and his associates spread false information peddled by corrupt Ukrainian officials with an ax to grind.

“Over the course of 2018-2019, I became increasingly aware of an effort by Rudy Giuliani and others, including his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, to run a campaign to smear Ambassador Yovanovitch and other officials at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv,” he said. Kent said that former Ukrainian prosecutors Victor Shokin and Yuriy Lutsenko “were now peddling false information in order to exact revenge against those who had exposed their misconduct, including U.S. diplomats, Ukrainian anti-corruption officials, and reform-minded civil society groups in Ukraine.”

Kent suggested that Giuliani led the effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. “In mid-August, it became clear to me that Giuliani’s efforts to gin up politically motivated investigations were now infecting US engagement with Ukraine, leveraging President Zelensky’s desire for a White House meeting,” he said.

Kent said that he voiced concerns about Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Burisma, the Ukrainian natural gas company whose co-founder had come under investigation for corruption. But he stressed that he “did not witness any efforts by any US official to shield Burisma from scrutiny.”

Earlier in his statement, Kent described his background as a career foreign service officer representing the third generation in a family of career public servants.

Watch Kent’s testimony here:

Here is a transcript of Kent’s testimony:

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