November 21, 2019

Castro Questions Hill, Holmes During Seventh Impeachment Hearing of President Trump

– As Delivered –

WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, today had the following exchange with Fiona Hill and David Holmes, during the highly anticipated seventh open impeachment hearing, where the American people continued to hear the evidence for themselves on President Trump’s abuse of power:

CASTRO: Thank you, Chairman. Thank you both of you for your testimony today. I first want to say because I think it shouldn’t go unmentioned, that the characterization just a few minutes ago by one of my Republican colleagues of this proceeding, I think was vile, irresponsible, and dangerous. And I want to remind us why we are here, because somebody in government, a whistleblower, felt that it was important enough to get other people’s in government’s attention that the President may have committed a wrong act. We have now heard and seen substantial evidence that the President in fact tried to trade a political favor for official government resources.

The most damning words come from no one else but the President himself, on that phone call with the Ukrainian president, where he asked for a favor. He mentions investigations, he mentions the Bidens, and Burisma. However, as Mr. Holmes has testified, Mr. Holmes also overheard the President speaking to his hand-picked ambassador, Ambassador Sondland, about investigations.

Mr. Holmes has also said that in the office everybody knew, or many people knew at least, that the President wanted an investigation of the Bidens. In addition, although Mick Mulvaney and Rudy Giuliani have not come before this committee, Mick Mulvaney and Rudy Giuliani have spoken publicly on the issue of investigations. Mick Mulvaney, the President’s Chief of Staff, the person who usually works with the President the most day in and day out, went in front of the White House press corps and basically admitted that an investigation had something to do with holding up the aid and admitted that this process was politicized.

Rudy Giuliani, the President’s personal lawyer, also essentially admitted that these investigations were at issue. He said that he thinks he did nothing wrong because he was working at the direction of the President. So, we have seen substantial evidence and heard substantial evidence of wrongdoing by the President of the United States, and this Congress will have to continue to take up this very important issue to the American people. My concern today is also - I feel as though the cancer of wrongdoing may have spread beyond the President and into others of the executive branch, and I want to ask you a few questions about that. Before I do, I’d like the Chairman to enter two articles into the record if I could. One of them is headlined, “After Boost from Perry, Backers Got Huge Deal in Ukraine.” The other one is titled, “Wall Street Journal: Federal Prosecutors Probe Giuliani’s Links to Ukrainian Energy Projects.” Mr. Holmes,

CHAIRMAN SCHIFF: Without objection.

CASTRO: Thank you, Chairman. You indicated that Secretary Perry, when he was in the Ukraine, had private meetings with Ukrainians. Before he had those private meetings, in a meeting with others including yourself I believe, he had presented a list of American advisers for the Ukraine energy sector. Do you know who was on that list?

HOLMES: Sir, I didn’t see the names on the list myself.

CASTRO: Do you know if Alex Cranberg and Michael Bleyzer were on that list?

HOLMES: I have since heard that Michael Bleyzer’s on that list.

CASTRO: Before Secretary Perry did this, we also heard in testimony before that Ambassador Sondland also had a private meeting with somebody. How unusual was it before these guys showed up for folks—diplomats, so to speak, or U.S. government officials —to have private meetings where they insist that nobody else be in the room?

HOLMES: Very rare, almost never.

CASTRO: Okay. And I want to ask you also about the precedent that we set, both of you. I know you’re here as fact witnesses, but you’re also public servants for this country. The precedent that this Congress would set, putting aside Donald Trump for a second, if the Congress allows a President of the United States, now or later, to ask a foreign government head of state to investigate a political rival. What precedent does that set for American diplomacy, for the safety of Americans overseas, and for the future of our country?

HILL: That’s a very bad precedent.

HOLMES: Very bad precedent. And going forward, if that were ever the case, I would raise objections.

CASTRO: Thank you both. I yield back, Chairman.

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