George Kent is a diplomat to Ukraine who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations since he joined the State Department in 1992.
Kent, and his signature bow tie, will publicly testify during impeachment inquiries against President Donald Trump Wednesday, November 13, 2019. He was one of the first witnesses Democrats chose to testify, in part because of his decades of experience in Ukrainian foreign policy, according to the Washington Post. Kent is deputy assistant secretary at the State Department overseeing European and Eurasian affairs.
“He is a very high-level official who oversees all U.S. policy over Ukraine and has a deep knowledge of the relationship between the United States and Ukraine,” the Washington Post reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
George Kent Testified Trump Wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Announce he Was Investigating Matters Involving Democrats
In George Kent’s private testimony, he said Trump asked Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, to announce he was conducting an investigation into matters involving Democrats, and told him to use the words “investigate,” “Biden” and “Clinton.” However, Zelensky did not hear this directly from Trump, but in a text from William B. Taylor Jr., the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, according to the Washington Post.
“POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to the microphone and say, ‘investigation,’ ‘Biden’ and ‘Clinton,'” he said, according to the Washington Post.
“Kent also does a thorough job of illustrating how ‘corrupt’ Ukrainians recruited Trump’s personal lawyer to attack U.S. officials with a ‘campaign of lies’ about then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, which eventually made its way to the president,” the Washington Post reported. “In essence, Kent paints a picture of a Trump White House that was willing to use its power and influence to go after Trump’s political rivals and that got used by Ukrainians to settle their own personal vendettas in the process.”
CBS reported that Kent was a “firsthand witness to [Rudy] Giuliani’s role in foreign policy.”
On August 16, 2019, Kent issued a memo about “his concerns that there was an effort to initiate politically motivated prosecutions that were injurious to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and the U.S.” He added that he believed the prosecutions “were the ones that Rudy Giuliani had been tweeting about, meaning Biden, Burisma and 2016,” according to CBS.
George Kent’s Testimony Could Also Be Useful to Republicans Because He Warned Biden About the Appearance of Conflict of Interest
George Kent testified he had concerns about Hunter Biden serving on the board of a “notoriously corrupt” Ukrainian company while his dad, former Vice President Joe Biden, was making efforts toward tackling corruption in Ukraine, according to PBS News Hour. That testimony could be useful for Republicans, who want to show that Hunter Biden was on the board while Vice President Biden was working with Ukraine.
“He could be a helpful witness for Republicans looking to defend Trump’s efforts to fold in Democrats,” the Washington Post reported. “He testified that when he was working in the Obama administration, he tried to warn then-Vice President Biden’s office that his son’s business in Ukraine could make it harder for the United States to advocate against conflict of interests. According to reporting from my Washington Post colleagues, Kent was talking about the appearance of conflicts of interest, but he thought it was important enough to raise with Biden’s office.”
Kent has been in the foreign service since 1992. He currently oversees policy for a number of eastern European nations, including Ukraine. Before that, he was the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Kiev.
George Kent Also Had Strong Words Against Giuliani, Saying he Carried on a ‘Campaign of Lies’
George Kent made pointed criticisms of Rudy Giuliani, saying Trump’s personal lawyer spread lies regarding former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Yovanovitch spent 33 years as Foreign Service officer. She had been nominated by both Democratic and Republican administrations. Yovanovitch was ambassador to Ukraine under the Trump administration until Giuliani convinced the president that she was anti-Trump, according to PBS News Hour.
“Giuliani at that point had been carrying on campaign for several months full of lies and incorrect information on Ambassador Yovanovitch,” Kent said in his testimony, according to PBS. “His assertions and allegations, when against former Ambassador Yovanovitch, were without basis, untrue, period.”
“What Democrats say is that this is important, not only because Giuliani helped oust her, Yovanovitch, but that, after that, Giuliani convinced the president to withhold that aid to Ukraine in order to investigate before Ukraine investigated three things, 2016, Clinton and Biden,” PBS reported.