Jennifer Williams gives first details of Pence call, meeting with Zelensky

“It was an offer of congratulations for President Zelensky’s recent victory, which was an overwhelming victory in that race,” Pence aide Jennifer Williams testified, according to a transcript of her closed-door deposition released on Saturday as part of the House impeachment inquiry. “They talked, again, also about the importance of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship and how eager we were, the U.S. was, to see President Zelensky take steps to implement the agenda on which he had run, which was very much focused on anticorruption, and looking to realIy bring Ukraine even closer to the trans-Atlantic and European community.”

She said they also discussed Pence going to Zelensky’s inauguration in Ukraine. When asked to her knowledge or recollection if there was any reference into investigations into Burisma, Joe or Hunter Biden, or 2016 in that call, Williams said, “There was not.” There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden in Ukraine.

According to the newly released testimony, Williams also provided details on Pence’s September 1 meeting with Zelensky and highlighted how concerned Zelensky was about US military aid being withheld, saying it was the first question he asked Pence when the press left their bilateral meeting in Warsaw, Poland.

This past summer, the Trump administration took the unusual step of freezing nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine — intended in part to help the country counter Russian aggression — before the President’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky in which Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to help his reelection by announcing investigations into his political opponents. The administration eventually released the military aid in September after congressional Republicans raised concerns and the White House was made aware of a whistleblower complaint about the July call.

Pence, in response to Zelensky’s concern, said at the time that he wanted to hear about the progress of “reforms” in Ukraine so he could relay them to Trump, Williams testified.

“The VP responded by neatly expressing our ongoing support for Ukraine, but wanting to hear from President Zelensky, you know, what the status of his reform efforts were that he could then convey back to the President,” Williams said.

At the end of their discussions, Pence said he would relay progress on said reforms to Trump.

READ: Transcript of House testimony from former NSC official Tim Morrison

“He assured President Zelensky that there was no change in U.S. policy in terms of our fuII — full-throated support for Ukraine and its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and assured that he would convey back to President Trump what he had heard from President Zelensky in terms of Zelensky’s good progress on reforms, so that hopefully we could get a decision on the security assistance as soon as possible,” Williams said of Pence.

Williams also listened to a second call between Pence and Zelensky, which took place on September 18 after the hold on security assistance was lifted.

Williams was asked if on the call Pence gave Zelensky any advice on how to approach Trump when they met at the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly meeting. Williams said Pence told Zelensky, “President Trump would be eager to hear about President Zelensky’s progress in his reform agenda.”

When asked by House investigators to define “reform agenda” Williams said: “On anticorruption reforms, on reforming the judiciary, and the legislative action that his administration was undertaking, but there was no discussion of any specific investigations.”

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