A new cache of text messages released late Thursday reveals that top U.S. diplomats believed President Trump would not meet with Ukraine’s president unless the country launched investigations into Trump’s political enemies. Over several weeks, they coordinated with a top aide to new leader Volodymyr Zelensky and with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to try to accomplish both, the texts show.

Ukraine

Trump circle

Andrey Yermak

Rudolph W.

Giuliani

Aide to Ukrainian

President Volodymyr

Zelensky

President Trump’s

personal attorney

U.S. diplomats

Kurt Volker

Gordon

Sondland

Former U.S. Special

Envoy for Ukraine

U.S. Ambassador

to the European

Union

William “Bill”

Taylor

Charges d’Affaires

at the U.S. embassy

in Ukraine

Ukraine

Trump circle

Andrey Yermak

Rudolph W.

Giuliani

Aide to Ukrainian

President Volodymyr

Zelensky

President Trump’s

personal attorney

U.S. diplomats

Kurt Volker

Gordon

Sondland

William “Bill”

Taylor

Former U.S. Special

Envoy for Ukraine

U.S. Ambassador

to the European

Union

Charges d’Affaires

at the U.S. embassy

in Ukraine

Ukraine

U.S. diplomats

Trump circle

Kurt Volker

Gordon

Sondland

William “Bill”

Taylor

Rudolph W.

Giuliani

Andrey Yermak

Aide to Ukrainian

President Volodymyr

Zelensky

Former U.S. Special

Envoy for Ukraine

U.S. Ambassador

to the European

Union

Charges d’Affaires

at the U.S. embassy

in Ukraine

President Trump’s

personal attorney

The excerpts were provided by Kurt Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine until his resignation last week. They were released by House Democratic investigators following Volker’s 10-hour deposition on Thursday as part of the fast-moving impeachment inquiry into Trump. Among those involved were Volker, U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and William “Bill” Taylor, the U.S. Charges D’affaires in Ukraine. They show that Volker connected Andrey Yermak, the aide to Zelensky, and Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee chairman leading the investigation, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), said in a letter that the texts released were “only a subset” of all the messages. Read the messages released below.

Volker introduces Giuliani to Yermak

July 19, 2019

Kurt Volker 4:48 p.m. Mr Mayor — really enjoyed breakfast this morning. As discussed, connecting you here with Andrey Yermak, who is very close to President Zelensky. I suggest we schedule a call together on Monday — maybe 10am or 11am Washington time? Kurt

“Mr. Mayor” in this exchange refers to President Trump’s personal lawyer, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. At this point, Giuliani had already been pushing the idea that Ukraine should pursue specific investigations for months. His efforts included multiple meetings with two of the country’s prosecutors general, according to media reports and the whistleblower complaint.

Giuliani has pointed to such text messages as indicating the State Department was aware of and even supported his efforts in Ukraine.

Officials discuss goals for the Trump-Zelensky call

July 19, 2019

Kurt Volker 4:49 p.m. Can we three do a call tomorrow-say noon WASHINGTON?

Gordon Sondland 6:50 p.m. Looks like Potus call tomorrow. I spike [sic] directly to Zelensky and gave him a full briefing. He’s got it.

Gordon Sondland 6:52 p.m. Sure!

Kurt Volker 7:01 p.m. Good. Had breakfast with Rudy this morning-teeing up call w Yermak Monday. Must have helped. Most impt is for Zelensky to say that he will help investigation-and address any specific personnel issues-if there are any

These texts provide the earliest known example of the participants suggesting Zelensky will need to promise Trump something – without raising the other side of a potential quid pro quo, though. Sondland suggests he has briefed Zelensky on what to expect on his upcoming call with Trump. In response, Volker refers to the specific idea that Zelensky should tell Trump that “he will help investigation.”

Concerns about Ukraine becoming an ‘instrument’

July 21, 2019

Bill Taylor 1:45 a.m. Gordon, one thing Kurt and I talked about yesterday was Sasha Danyliuk’s point that President Zelenskyy is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.

Gordon Sondland 4:45 a.m. Absolutely, but we need to get the conversation started and the relationship built, irrespective of the pretext. I am worried about the alternative.

Here comes the first indication that this was understood as relating to Trump’s political prospects. “Sasha Danyliuk” appears to refer to Oleksandr Danylyuk, Ukraine’s former finance minister who recently resigned as Zelensky’s secretary of the national security and defence council. Per Taylor, he said Zelensky was wary of it looking like the United States dictated its business to Ukraine. Sondland, interestingly, responds by referring to the “pretext” of the two countries’ conversation and relationship. It’s not clear to what he is referring.

Officials plan Trump and Zelensky’s July 25 call

July 22, 2019

Kurt Volker 4:27 p.m. Orchestrated a great phone call w Rudy and Yermak. They are going to get together when Rudy goes to Madrid in a couple of weeks.

Kurt Volker 4:28 p.m. In the meantime Rudy is now advocating for phone call.

Kurt Volker 4:28 p.m. I have call into Fiona’s replacement and will call Bolton if needed.

Kurt Volker 4:28 p.m. But I can tell Bolton and you can tell Mick that Rudy agrees on a call if that helps.

Gordon Sondland 4:30 p.m. I talked to Tim Morrison Fiona’s replacement. He is pushing but feel free as well.

Volker sends along word that Giuliani is approving of Trump speaking with Zelensky by phone, and the two of them talk about how they will set it up. (“Fiona” refers to Fiona Hill, a former top Russia adviser in the White House. “Bolton” refers to then-national security adviser John Bolton. “Mick” refers to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.)

Volker and Yermak discuss the call before and after

July 25, 2019

Kurt Volker 8:36 a.m. Good lunch - thanks. Heard from White House-assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / “get to the bottom of what happened” in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck! See you tomorrow- kurt

Andrey Yermak 10:15 a.m. Phone call went well. President Trump proposed to choose any convenient dates. President Zelenskiy chose 20,21,22 September for the White House Visit. Thank you again for your help! Please remind Mr. Mayor to share the Madrid’s dates

Kurt Volker 10:16 a.m. Great-thanks and will do!

Here’s the big one. For the first time that we know of, a U.S. official ties Zelensky’s investigative promise to getting a White House visit – a potential quid pro quo. Volker, importantly, also indicates this was a message conveyed from the White House. And this came before the Trump-Zelensky call, so this was more coaching from U.S. diplomats of what Zelensky was supposed to say.

Yermak responds after the call and floats a few dates. These dates have now passed, though, and the trip has still not been planned.

U.S. officials advise Ukrainians on investigation language

Aug. 9, 2019

Gordon Sondland 5:35 p.m. Morrison ready to get dates as soon as Yermak confirms.

Kurt Volker 5:46 p.m. Excellent!! How did you sway him? :)

Gordon Sondland 5:47 p.m. Not sure i did. I think potus really wants the deliverable

Kurt Volker 5:48 p.m. But does he know that?

Gordon Sondland 5:48 p.m. Yep

Gordon Sondland 5:48 p.m. Clearly lots of convos going on

Kurt Volker 5:48 p.m. Ok—then that's good it's coming from two separate sources

Gordon Sondland 5:51 p.m. To avoid misundestandings [sic], might be helpful to ask Andrey for a draft statememt [sic] (embargoed) so that we can see exactly what they propose to cover. Even though Ze does a live presser they can still summarize in a brief statement. Thoughts?

Kurt Volker 5:51 p.m. Agree!

Here, Volker and Sondland plot out a potential statement Ukraine might make, in addition to a live press conference where Zelensky (they’ve apparently been led to believe) would make an announcement. Sondland also refers to a “deliverable” – apparently a reference to the end result of Ukraine actually announcing the investigations – and suggests Trump is anxious to get it.

Giuliani’s input sought on Ukraine statement

Aug. 9, 2019

Kurt Volker 11:27 a.m. Hi Mr Mayor! Had a good chat with Yermak last night. He was pleased with your phone call. Mentioned Z making a statement. Can we all get on the phone to make sure I advise Z correctly as to what he should be saying? Want to make sure we get this done right. Thanks!

Gordon Sondland Good idea Kurt. I am on Pacific time.

Rudy Giuliani Yes can you call now going to Fundraiser at 12:30

Volker loops Giuliani in on what the Ukraine statement might say. Again, Giuliani has suggested this meant the State Department was on-board with his efforts.

Yermak seeks date for White House visit

Aug. 10, 2019

Andrey Yermak 4:56 p.m. Hi Kurt. Please let me know when you can talk. I think it’s possible to make this declaration and mention all these things. Which we discussed yesterday. But it will be logic to do after we receive a confirmation of date. We inform about date of visit and about our expectations and our guarantees for future visit. Let discuss it

Kurt Volker 5:01 p.m. Ok! It's late for you—why don't we talk in my morning, your afternoon tomorrow? Say 10am/5pm?

Kurt Volker 5:02 p.m. I agree with your approach. Let's iron out statement and use that to get date and then Prez can go forward with it?

Andrey Yermak 5:26 p.m. Ok

Kurt Volker 5:38 p.m. Great. Gordon is available to join as well

Andrey Yermak 5:41 p.m. Excellent

Andrey Yermak 5:42 p.m. Once we have a date, will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US­-UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations

Kurt Volker 5:42 p.m. Sounds great!

Yermak has apparently been given a list of things that should be included in the statement. But – and this is the key – he wants to get a date for a White House visit before Ukraine makes the commitments. This, again, suggests that the meeting was used as leverage. Volker proposes that they could finalize the statement and then use that to convince Trump to schedule the meeting.

Also important here is that Yermak refers explicitly to the investigations into the origins of the Russia investigation and the Bidens (Burisma).

Desire for specific references in Ukrainian statement

Aug. 13, 2019

Kurt Volker 10:26 a.m. Special attention should be paid to the problem of interference in the political processes of the United States especially with the alleged involvement of some Ukrainian politicians. I want to declare that this is unacceptable. We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes, including those involving Burisma and the 2016 U.S. elections, which in tum will prevent the recurrence of this problem in the future.

Gordon Sondland 10:27 a.m. Perfect. Lets send to Andrey after our call

They appear to be reviewing language intended for Ukraine’s statement.

Aug. 17, 2019

Gordon Sondland 3:06 p.m. Do we still want Ze to give us an unequivocal draft with 2016 and Boresma?

Kurt Volker 4:34 p.m. That’s the clear message so far ...

Kurt Volker 4:34 p.m. I'm hoping we can put something out there that causes him to respond with that

Gordon Sondland 4:41 p.m. Unless you think otherwise I will return Andreys call tomorrow and suggest they send us a clean draft.

Volker suggests someone is giving a “clear message” that the Ukraine statement should be specific about the two investigations. It’s not clear who that message is coming from.

Yermak shares report of U.S. withholding assistance

Aug. 29, 2019

Andrey Yermak 2:28 a.m. Need to talk with you

Andrey Yermak 3:06 a.m. https://www.politico.corn/story/2019/08/28/trump-ukraine-military-aid-russia-1689531

Kurt Volker 6:55 a.m. Hi Andrey — absolutely. When is good for you?

The link here is to a Politico story about the Trump administration deciding to withhold $250 million in military aid to Ukraine. Reporting has suggested Ukraine might not have known it was being withheld, though Yermak doesn’t specifically indicate that this is the first time they are finding out about it.

U.S officials discuss Trump’s trip, withholding military assistance for Ukraine

Aug. 30, 2019

Bill Taylor 12:14 a.m. Trip canceled

Kurt Volker 12:16 a.m. Hope VPOTUS keeps the bilat — and tees up WH visit...

Kurt Volker 12:16 a.m. And hope Gordon and Perry still going ...

Gordon Sondland 5:31 a.m. I am going. Pompeo is speaking to Potus today to see if he can go.

“The bilat” refers to Vice President Pence’s visit to Poland, where he would meet Zelensky.

Sept. 1, 2019

Bill Taylor 12:08 p.m. Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?

Gordon Sondland 12:42 p.m. Call me

For the first time, one of the diplomats suggests the military aid — separate from the meeting — is being withheld as leverage. It’s not clear why Taylor believes that. It could simply be that he saw the newspaper stories like the one Yermak shared.

Sondland’s response – “Call me” – suggests he knows they shouldn’t discuss things in a written form which could wind up in inquiries like this.

Sept. 8, 2019

Gordon Sondland 11:20 a.m. Guys multiple convos with Ze, Potus. Lets talk

Bill Taylor 11:21 a.m. Now is fine with me

Kurt Volker 11:26 a.m. Try again—could not hear

Bill Taylor 11:40 a.m. Gordon and I just spoke. I can brief you if you and Gordon don't connect

Bill Taylor 12:37 p.m. The nightmare is they give the interview and don’t get the security assistance. The Russians love it. (And I quit.)

The three of them seem to try to salvage the situation. Taylor again suggests exasperation.

Sept. 9, 2019

Bill Taylor 12:31 a.m. The message to the Ukrainians (and Russians) we send with the decision on security assistance is key. With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us. Thus my nightmare scenario.

Bill Taylor 12:34 a.m. Counting on you to be right about this interview, Gordon.

Gordon Sondland 12:37 a.m. Bill, I never said I was "right". I said we are where we are and believe we have identified the best pathway forward. Lets hope it works.

Bill Taylor 12:47 a.m. As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.

Gordon Sondland 5:19 a.m. Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign I suggest we stop the back and forth by text If you still have concerns I recommend you give Lisa Kenna or S a call to discuss them directly. Thanks.

Another big moment: Taylor repeats his concern that military aid is being withheld for bad reasons – this time suggesting it’s “for help with a political campaign.” Sondland again suggests they talk about it rather than text, and delivers a lengthy defense of Trump that again suggests he’s mindful of who might see these texts one day.

This conversation, notably, came eight days after Taylor first raised this prospect, and he apparently hadn’t been disavowed of it during that time period.

Ann Gerhart contributed to this report.

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