Politics: Ambassador’s cellphone call to Trump from Kyiv restaurant was a stunning breach of security, former officials say - - PressFrom - US
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Politics Ambassador’s cellphone call to Trump from Kyiv restaurant was a stunning breach of security, former officials say

05:05  14 november  2019
05:05  14 november  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

House Democrats circulate memo rebutting GOP impeachment defense

  House Democrats circulate memo rebutting GOP impeachment defense House Democrats circulated an internal memo Tuesday rebutting Republican talking points in defense of President Trump as the lower chamber's impeachment investigation ramps up into a public phase on Wednesday.The document, which was obtained by The Hill, comes after Republicans outlined their strategy to defend the president by focusing on "four key pieces of evidence" they say are "fatal" to Democrats' allegations about Trump's dealings withThe document, which was obtained by The Hill, comes after Republicans outlined their strategy to defend the president by focusing on "four key pieces of evidence" they say are "fatal" to Democrats' allegations about Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

A U.S. ambassador ’ s cellphone call to President Trump from a restaurant in the capital of Ukraine this summer was a stunning breach of security The Trump -Zelensky call and the pressure on the authorities in Kyiv to conduct investigations that could aid Trump ’s 2020 campaign are at the heart of

A U.S. ambassador ’ s cellphone call to President Trump from a restaurant in the capital of Ukraine last summer was a stunning breach of security , exposing the The call , in which Trump ’s remarks were overheard by a U.S. Embassy staffer in Kyiv , was disclosed Wednesday by the acting U.S

A U.S. ambassador’s cellphone call to President Trump from a restaurant in the capital of Ukraine this summer was a stunning breach of security, exposing the conversation to surveillance by foreign intelligence services, including Russia’s, former U.S. officials said.

The call — in which Trump’s remarks were overheard by a U.S. Embassy staffer in Kyiv — was disclosed Wednesday by the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr., on the dramatic opening day of public impeachment hearings into alleged abuse of power by the president.

AP source: 2nd US official heard Trump call with Sondland

  AP source: 2nd US official heard Trump call with Sondland A second U.S. embassy staffer in Kyiv overheard a key cellphone call between President Donald Trump and his ambassador to the European Union discussing the need for Ukrainian officials to pursue “investigations,” The Associated Press has learned. The July 26 call between Trump and Gordon Sondland was first described during testimony Wednesday by William B. Taylor Jr., the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Taylor said one of his staffers overhead the call while Sondland was in a restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that triggered the House impeachment inquiry.

Trump ' s comments about Marie Yovanovitch -- a member of his own country' s diplomatic corps -- are a stunning breach of norms, former officials say , and lend credence to the claim that her early departure from the post "They should say she was a good ambassador , she did what was asked.

The former Ambassador , Masha Yovanovitch, had been treated poorly, caught in a web of political machinations both in Kyiv and in Washington. I feared that those problems were still present. I consulted both my wife and a respected former senior Republican official who has been a mentor.

“The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone” asking U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland about “the investigations,” Taylor testified, referring to the president’s desire for a probe of the son of Trump’s potential political opponent in 2020, Joe Biden, and the Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter Biden once served.

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Sondland, Taylor said, told Trump in that conversation that “the Ukrainians were ready to move forward” on the investigations.

The U.S. Embassy staffer who overheard the call, political counselor David Holmes, is scheduled to testify Friday before House impeachment investigators in a closed session.

Russian spies likely intercepted ambassador's cell phone call with Trump

  Russian spies likely intercepted ambassador's cell phone call with Trump US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's cell phone call to President Donald Trump from a restaurant in Ukraine this summer appears to be a shocking security breach that raises significant counterintelligence concerns, according to several former officials, who told CNN there is a high probability that intelligence agencies from numerous foreign countries, including Russia, were listening in on the conversation. © Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP President Donald Trump, right, walks on the tarmac with the U.S.

The former U. S . ambassador to Russia called out a new bombshell from Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor as a national security — and potential blackmail — risk. President Donald Trump ’ s acting ambassador to Ukraine testified Wednesday in a House impeachment inquiry hearing that one of his

More:Impeachment hearing: State Department official says Trump lawyer Giuliani pushed 'smear' First, Ukraine is a strategic partner of the United States, important for the security of our country as I consulted both my wife and a respected former senior Republican official who has been a mentor.

“The security ramifications are insane — using an open cellphone to communicate with the president of the United States,” said Larry Pfeiffer, a former senior director of the White House Situation Room and a former chief of staff to the CIA director. “In a country that is so wired with Russian intelligence, you can almost take it to the bank that the Russians were listening in on the call.”

The impromptu Sondland-Trump conversation took place a day after an official call July 25 between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump had pressed for investigations. Zelensky at that time was eager to secure a White House visit. The Trump-Zelensky call and the pressure on the authorities in Kyiv to conduct investigations that could aid Trump’s 2020 campaign are at the heart of the impeachment hearings.

It was also noteworthy in that ambassadors typically don’t just pick up the phone and call presidents. “They never do so to discuss Ukraine policy,” former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said in a tweet. “Doing so on a cellphone from Kyiv means [the] whole world was listening in.”

Staffer who overheard Trump call with Sondland testifies in closed hearing

  Staffer who overheard Trump call with Sondland testifies in closed hearing David Holmes, an aide to Ambassador Bill Taylor, overheard a July 26 call between Trump and Gordon Sondland about UkraineHolmes is a counselor for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in Kiev, according to the embassy's website.

Trump also wanted the authorities in Kyiv to investigate what was alleged to be Ukrainian In addition, he says he was angered that European allies were not doing enough financially to help the In 2017, senior Trump national security officials agreed that a package of lethal aid to help Ukraine

“ Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.” Taylor said that at the conclusion of the call , his aide asked the ambassador what Trump thought of Ukraine and Sondland responded that “President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden.”

Russia already has shown its ability to monitor U.S. diplomats’ calls in Kyiv, and the Kremlin has no hesi­ta­tion in leaking them when it suits its interests. In early 2014, an intercepted phone conversation between then-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt appeared on YouTube. On the call, Nuland was heard referring dismissively to slow-moving European Union efforts to address a looming political and economic crisis in Ukraine. “F--- the E.U.,’’ she said.

She also was heard assessing the political skills of Ukrainian opposition figures with unusual candor. The leaked call was embarrassing to Washington and appeared to be an effort by Moscow to drive a wedge between the United States and the European Union. The State Department acknowledged the call was authentic, and Nuland apologized to E.U. officials. But U.S. officials also were quick to blame Russia for the leak, describing it as a form of information warfare.

Calling a president from a cellphone violates protocols set up to protect senior administration officials’ communications. “It’s indicative of a lack of concern for operational security,” said a former senior U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid being accused of making statements motivated by political bias. Senior officials, he said, “are routinely briefed on the threats to their communications. You could assume that talking on an unencrypted line from a foreign country would be on that list.”

Sondland discussed sensitive matters with Trump on phone from Kyiv restaurant as waiters circled

  Sondland discussed sensitive matters with Trump on phone from Kyiv restaurant as waiters circled The episode, in which Sondland and Trump discussed the Ukrainian president’s commitment to politically charged investigations, will be scrutinized in the House impeachment inquiry. The messages by Sondland that have been released are those in which he was communicating in a three-way conversation with Yermak and former Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker. Volker, who stepped down from the post after a whistleblower complaint from a CIA analyst triggered the impeachment probe, turned those communications over to the committees leading the inquiry.

The acting ambassador to Ukraine described a phone call in which the president checked on the status of “the investigations.” The probe has produced volumes of information about the actions of top Trump advisers to push Ukraine to pursue the investigations as U. S . security assistance was held up.

According to Taylor’ s account, Sondland called Trump by mobile phone from a Kyiv restaurant where U. S Taylor understood that term as referring to Trump ’ s request that Zelenskiy investigate former Vice Taylor said he realized in July that there was an “irregular policy channel” guided by Giuliani

It is also dangerous for a president to take an off-the-books call like that, Pfeiffer said. That is why call logs are kept, he said. Without them, someone could assert that the president said something on a call, and a log “protects the president’s ability to deny something happened,” he said. “Good bureaucratic record-keeping is a protection for someone in the position of the president.”

This is not the first time questions have arisen over Trump’s un­or­tho­dox phone use. He has been known to give his personal cellphone number to other world leaders, despite aides’ warnings that his cellphone calls are not secure. Russia and China in particular have targeted his personal cellphone calls, the New York Times reported.

In general, Trump has appeared unusually cavalier about operational security. In February 2017, at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, on an open terrace in full view of other diners, Trump and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a sensitive discussion about how to respond to a ballistic missile test by North Korea.

ellen.nakashima@washpost.com

Greg Miller and Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s first name. The story has been updated.

Opinions | The Democrats’ impeachment bombshells aren’t exploding .
That means they are losing.

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