Politics: George Kent, top State Department Ukraine expert, helps Democrats debunk GOP theories - - PressFrom - US
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Politics George Kent, top State Department Ukraine expert, helps Democrats debunk GOP theories

01:25  14 november  2019
01:25  14 november  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Trump apparently wanted Ukraine to investigate Hillary Clinton in addition to the Bidens: State Department official

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George Kent , the State Department ’s foremost expert on Ukraine , seemed destined for a supporting role in Wednesday’s impeachment hearings — more Under questioning from Democrats , Kent said there was “no factual basis” of allegations that Ukraine intervened in the 2016 election, something

DEVIN NUNES, top Republican on the panel: “The Democrats cooperated in Ukrainian election Broadly, the theory contends that a hack of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 was a setup Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent was one of two witnesses at the first public

George Kent, the State Department’s foremost expert on Ukraine, seemed destined for a supporting role in Wednesday’s impeachment hearings — more memorable for his matching blue-and-yellow bow tie and pocket square than any newsworthy moments.

a man wearing a suit and tie: State Department deputy assistant secretary George Kent is seen as he and acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, William B. Taylor, appear for a House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearing in Washington.© Matt McClain/The Washington Post State Department deputy assistant secretary George Kent is seen as he and acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, William B. Taylor, appear for a House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearing in Washington.

But after initial rounds of questions from Republican and Democratic counsels, which were mostly directed at William Taylor, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Kent emerged as a forceful debunker of some of the most frequently cited assertions and conspiracy theories among Trump’s allies.

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George Kent currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the U.S. Department of State , overseeing policy towards Ukraine , Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Previously, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Kyiv, Ukraine (2015-18).

Mr. Kent , the department ’s top Ukraine official, is known for pushing good governance causes without regard for whom he might offend. He was all but cut out of decisions regarding Ukraine , he told investigators, after a May meeting organized by Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.

Under questioning from Democrats, Kent said there was “no factual basis” of allegations that Ukraine intervened in the 2016 election, something that Trump asked Ukrainian president Zelensky to investigate when he brought up the computer security company CrowdStrike in the leaders’ July 25 phone call.

“I think it’s amply clear that Russian interference was at the heart of the interference in the 2016 election cycle,” Kent said, echoing the assessment of every U.S. intelligence agency, and every Trump-appointed head of those agencies.

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George Kent , the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs looks on during the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald In one exchange with Kent , the Democrats ' staff lawyer Daniel Goldman brought up the bogus allegations that Ukraine interfered in the US election

Mr. Kent , the department ’s top Ukraine official, is known for pushing good governance causes without regard for whom he might offend. WASHINGTON — As the senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine , George P. Kent was so alarmed by what he viewed as President Trump’s efforts

Kent’s rejection of the notion that Ukraine intervened in the U.S. election to oppose Trump appeared to frustrate the top lawyer for the Republicans, Stephen R. Castor, who eventually stopped asking Kent about it.

“Ambassador Kent, you didn’t seem to be too concerned about it in the last round of questioning, so I’ll just skip you,” said Castor.

Kent also dispelled some lesser-known theories and talking points taken up by Trump’s defenders.

For instance, Democrats asked him to comment on Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s (R) claim that Trump’s threat to withhold aid to Ukraine was “exactly” the same tactic used by then-Vice President Biden when he threatened to withhold aid if a Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin wasn’t fired.

“I do not think they are the same thing,” Kent said. What Biden requested, Kent said, was the removal of “a corrupt prosecutor general … who had undermined a system of criminal investigation that we built with American money to build corruption cases.” Shokin, Kent said, had “destroyed the entire ecosystem that we were trying to create,” and he credited Biden for leading a U.S. effort to combat corruption in Ukraine.

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18/22 George Kent . A career diplomat, he was number two at the Ukraine embassy under Marie Yovanovitch. Lietenant colonel Alexander Vindman is a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council Kent testified before House investigators in October 2019 that he was cut out of Ukraine

George Kent , a top State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy, blew a hole through all of Trump's main defenses. Democrats ' strategy for Wednesday's impeachment hearing was to keep it simple. Republicans' strategy was to throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks.

Democrats also questioned Kent about the campaign waged by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to oust the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Giuliani and Ukraine’s ex-chief prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, have accused Yovanovitch of providing a “do not prosecute list” to Ukrainian officials to protect Biden and others.

Kent adamantly rejected those allegations, saying, “I have every reason to believe it is not true.” He described Lutsenko as a “corrupt” prosecutor with questionable motives and defended Yovanovitch as “dedicated, as is every U.S. government official in Ukraine, to help Ukrainians overcome the legacy of corruption …”

Kent did help Republicans establish that there was concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest when Biden’s son, Hunter, was given a seat on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma while Biden led Ukraine policy for the Obama administration.

Kent said that he raised his concerns with Biden’s national security staff in a briefing call in February 2015 that Hunter’s position on the board “could create the perception of a conflict of interest.” Kent said he didn’t receive a response.

Trump campaign dismisses Taylor, Kent testimony as 'third-hand opinions'

  Trump campaign dismisses Taylor, Kent testimony as 'third-hand opinions' President Trump’s campaign called the testimony from William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a top State Department official, “third-hand opinions,” dismissing its value in the ongoing impeachment inquiry into Trump. © Greg Nash Trump campaign dismisses Taylor, Kent testimony as 'third-hand opinions' "The entire world can read the transcript of President Trump's conversation with [Ukrainian] President Zelensky, so people don't need to rely on third-party opinions when they can see the facts for themselves," campaign spokesman Brad Parscale said in a statement released shortly after the public hearing conclude

In his prepared opening statement, George Kent described at length his credentials and commitment to advancing U.S. interests and freedom in Ukraine . Kent , the deputy secretary of state for the bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, then detailed what he saw as an attempt to contradict or undermine

“ George Kent and Marie Yovanovitch, also career Foreign Service Officers, have spent Kent also said he was convinced that the president wanted Zelensky to announce investigations of Biden and To Democrats , Trump’s mention of Biden and CrowdStrike — a reference to a debunked conspiracy

And Kent testified, “I did not witness any efforts by any U.S. official to shield Burisma from scrutiny. In fact, I and other U.S. officials consistently advocated reinstituting a scuttled investigation of [Mykola] Zlochevsky, Burisma’s founder, as well as holding the corrupt prosecutors who closed the case to account.”

In his closed-door deposition last month, Kent also expressed concerns about rampant corruption in Ukraine’s government and business community. Before serving at the embassy in Kyiv, Kent was the senior anti-corruption coordinator in the State Department’s European Bureau.

“If you took the roster of the richest Ukrainians, they didn’t build value, they largely stole it,” Kent told lawmakers in October. “Most of the billionaires in the country became billionaires because they acquired state assets for largely undervalued prices and engaged in predatory competition.”

Kent, a Harvard-educated diplomat whose wife is of Crimean-Tatar ancestry, is known for having a passion for Ukraine and a scholarly interest in world affairs. He played the role of history professor. In his opening statement, he compared U.S. military support to Ukraine to foreign support of another fledgling, revolutionary republic.

“Our 18th century independence,” he said, referring to the post-colonial United States, “would not have been secured without the choice of European officers — the French-born Lafayette and Rochambeau, the German-born von Steuben, and the Poles Pulaski and Kosciuszko — to come to the New World and fight for our cause of freedom, and the birth of a new country free from imperial dominion.”

shane.harris@washpost.com

john.hudson@washpost.com

Kent, Taylor say they're not 'Never Trumpers' after Trump twitter offensive .
Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a top State Department official, denied during Wednesday's first public impeachment hearing that they are "never Trumpers."Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) asked Kent and Taylor if they identify as "never Trumpers," a label the president assigned them on Twitter ahead of the hearing."Just about an hour before the two of you sat down to testify today the president tweeted multiple times about this hearing, and he put in all caps 'NEVER TRUMPERS.' Mr. Kent are you a 'Never Trumper?'" Swallwell asked.

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