Who she is
Williams is the top Russia adviser for Vice President Pence, although she is technically employed by the State Department. That technicality matters, because when Pence’s office was asked to react to a tweet from Trump attacking her, his spokeswoman merely noted that she is a State Department employee.
Why she matters
She is another firsthand witness who listened to the July call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. She also can shed light on the decision for Pence to pull out of attending Zelensky’s inauguration in May. She’ll be testifying alongside Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, and another person who listened in on the Trump-Zelensky call.
Another reason she matters: Of all the witnesses who have testified, Trump called her out by name after her private testimony was released this weekend.
What we learned from her private testimony
That it was her understanding that Trump told Pence not to attend Zelensky’s inauguration, a move that deprived Ukraine’s new government of a high-profile statement of support from the United States, something it covets in its efforts to push back on Russian aggression. We know that the “three amigos,” officials Trump appointed to conduct Ukraine policy outside the normal diplomatic channels, attended the inauguration.
She also said she listened to the July phone call and thought it was “inappropriate” and politically motivated, and that she believed a reference by Zelensky to a company tied to former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter, Burisma, didn’t make it into the rough transcript of the call.
Key quotes from her private testimony
There are two, both about the Ukraine phone call:
- “I would say that it struck me as unusual and inappropriate,” she said of what Trump asked Ukraine’s president to do. She said, “I found the specific references to be more specific to the president in nature, to his personal political agenda … as opposed to a broader foreign policy objective of the United States.”
- “I guess for me it shed some light on possible other motivations behind a security assistance hold,” she said. Williams didn’t elaborate, but it’s not hard to put two and two together and hear that she thought the president was asking Ukraine’s president for a quid pro quo to get its military assistance.
What her testimony doesn’t say
Much more about Pence’s involvement in U.S.-Ukraine relations. Pence said over a month ago he had no problem releasing the transcript of his own April call with Zelensky, but that hasn’t happened. House investigators do not seem focused on Pence at this moment.
What to watch for in her public testimony
Does Williams push back on Trump’s assertion that she’s politically motivated to defend her independence, her career and her testimony? It would create another remarkable moment of Trump attacking a witness and the witness responding on live national television, like the one that happened during former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony.