November 19, 2019

Castro Questions Volker, Morrison During Fourth 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 Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison, during the highly anticipated fourth 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, gentlemen, for your testimony today. Is it correct to say that both of you gentlemen were either appointed or hired by the White House, by the Trump Administration?


VOLKER: In my case by Secretary Tillerson.

CASTRO: But part of the Trump Administration?

VOLKER: Yes, serving in the same Administration.

CASTRO: Ambassador Volker, you previously testified that Ambassador Gordon Sondland, quote, “I just know that he had a relationship with President Trump that I did not have.” In fact, in one text message dated July 26 you wrote to Ambassador Sondland, quote, “Great photo, Gordon. Can you get this to POTUS without intermediaries?” July 26 was the same day that Ambassador Sondland spoke to the President from a restaurant in Kiev, is that right?

VOLKER: I’m sorry, the date again?

CASTRO: July 26.

VOLKER: Yes, I know that to be correct now.

CASTRO: Were you aware of that call?

VOLKER: No, I was not.

CASTRO: Well, this committee is certainly aware of it now as we all are. Were you aware that Ambassador Sondland had a direct line to the President?

VOLKER: He claimed that he spoke to the President frequently.

CASTRO: Did you have reason to doubt that?

VOLKER: Ambassador Sondland’s a big personality and sometimes says things that might be a bit bigger than life.

CASTRO: But he too was a political appointee. He was handpicked by the President or somebody in the President’s Administration to serve in his position.

VOLKER: And I believe that he could speak with the President.

CASTRO: He had also been a large donor to one of President Trump’s campaign committees, is that correct?

VOLKER: I have learned that.

CASTRO: Mr. Morrison, you stated during your testimony that when you met Ambassador Sondland for the first time he represented that, quote, “His mandate from the President was to go make deals.” And in fact, you testified that between July 25 and September 11 of this year, you heard or learned that Ambassador Sondland and President Trump spoke on several occasions. Is it accurate that every time you checked, you were able to confirm that Ambassador Sondland had in fact spoken to the President?

MORRISON: Yes, Congressman.

CASTRO: Mr. Morrison, you also testified that Ambassador Sondland emailed you and several White House staff to say that he briefed President Trump in advance of his July 25 call with the Ukrainian president. Is that correct?

MORRISON: Yes, Congressman.

CASTRO: Did Ambassador Sondland tell you what he briefed the President on?

MORRISON: It washe sent me an email, Sir. It was very succinctit was a list of three items, a very succinct item with respect to Ukraine, “I briefed the President on the call.”

CASTRO: And you testify that you personally confirmed that Ambassador Sondland and President Trump had spoken before the July 25 call?

MORRISON: That is correct, Congressman.

CASTRO: And presumably, the White House Situation Room keeps a record of calls?

MORRISON: Sir, that is how I was able to confirm it.

CASTRO: Okay, you separately testified that your staff prepared a briefing memo with suggested points for the President to raise on July 25, points that were consistent with U.S. policy, is that correct?

MORRISON: Correct, Congressman.

CASTRO: But the President didn’t use those points, did he?

MORRISON: No Sir, he did not.

CASTRO: So, I guess let me get this straight. You prepared materials for the President. Your materials did not include references to Biden or the 2016 election, is that right?

MORRISON: Correct, Congressman.

CASTRO: And then Ambassador Sondland, the guy who is the “Gordon Problem”, the guy who’s got a direct link to the President, the guy who’s talking about making deals, briefed President Trump, is that right?

MORRISON: Correct, Congressman.

CASTRO: And then President Trump raised the 2016 election and Vice-President Biden and his son to the Ukrainian President after he was briefed by Ambassador Sondland, is that right?

MORRISON: Correct, Congressman.

CASTRO: It sounds like Ambassador Sondland and the President were on the same page. They both are working to benefit the President’s personal political interest, even when that undermined U.S. foreign policy. I want to ask you in the short time that I have both of you gentlemen, who serve the United States government, whether, putting President Trump aside, whether you believe that it’s proper for any President, now or later, to ask a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen and specifically a US citizen that could be a political rival, Ambassador?

VOLKER: I don’t believe it is appropriate for the President to do that. If we have law enforcement concerns with a U.S. citizen, generally there are appropriate channels for that.

CASTRO: Mr. Morrison?

MORRISON: I agree with Ambassador Volker, Sir.

CASTRO: Thank you. Chairman, I yield back.

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