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Congressional Dish

Updated 5 days ago

Rank #109 in Government category

News
Government
News Commentary
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Congressional Dish is a twice-monthly podcast that aims to draw attention to where the American people truly have power: Congress. From the perspective of a fed up taxpayer with no allegiance to any political party, Jennifer Briney will fill you in on the must-know information about what our representatives do AFTER the elections and how their actions can and will affect our day to day lives. Hosted by @JenBriney. Links to information sources available at www.congressionaldish.com

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Congressional Dish is a twice-monthly podcast that aims to draw attention to where the American people truly have power: Congress. From the perspective of a fed up taxpayer with no allegiance to any political party, Jennifer Briney will fill you in on the must-know information about what our representatives do AFTER the elections and how their actions can and will affect our day to day lives. Hosted by @JenBriney. Links to information sources available at www.congressionaldish.com

iTunes Ratings

674 Ratings
Average Ratings
605
19
12
12
26

Makes me think

By Ed's car page - Jan 19 2020
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Amazing idea for a podcast. Very impressive research. Please god let my mind always be open. It’s hard to find material for my drive that isn’t in the tank for one side or the other OR clearly agenda driven in some way. Jennifer Briney’s only agenda is the truth as far as I can tell. Everyone should listen to the Federal Reserve episode.

Jen is the Best

By MisterGrizz - Nov 23 2019
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By far the podcast i most look forward to =)

iTunes Ratings

674 Ratings
Average Ratings
605
19
12
12
26

Makes me think

By Ed's car page - Jan 19 2020
Read more
Amazing idea for a podcast. Very impressive research. Please god let my mind always be open. It’s hard to find material for my drive that isn’t in the tank for one side or the other OR clearly agenda driven in some way. Jennifer Briney’s only agenda is the truth as far as I can tell. Everyone should listen to the Federal Reserve episode.

Jen is the Best

By MisterGrizz - Nov 23 2019
Read more
By far the podcast i most look forward to =)
Cover image of Congressional Dish

Congressional Dish

Latest release on Jan 18, 2020

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Congressional Dish is a twice-monthly podcast that aims to draw attention to where the American people truly have power: Congress. From the perspective of a fed up taxpayer with no allegiance to any political party, Jennifer Briney will fill you in on the must-know information about what our representatives do AFTER the elections and how their actions can and will affect our day to day lives. Hosted by @JenBriney. Links to information sources available at www.congressionaldish.com

Rank #1: CD171: 2,232 Pages

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In a special crossover episode of The David Pakman Show on YouTube, hear the infuriating story of how the 2,232 page “omnibus” government funding bill became law , discover a provision snuck into law that further erodes privacy rights, learn why only some stoners and legit medical marijuana patients are protected by the omnibus, and hear about some strange provisions that appear to give free reign to the intelligence agencies for the next six months.

Please Support Congressional Dish

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  • Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536

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Recommended Listening Additional Reading Bill Outline H.R. 1625: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018

DIVISION B - Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Explanatory Statement

Sec. 521: Money appropriated by this Act for intelligence activities are "deemed to be specifically authorized by Congress "during fiscal year 2018 until the enactment of the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018".

Sec. 537: "None of the funds made available under this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, or with respect to the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana."

DIVISION C - Department of Defense

Sec. 8018: Prohibits the Department of Defense from disposing of M-1 Carbine rifles, M-1 Garand rifles, M-14 rifles, .22 caliber rifles, .30 caliber rifles, or M-1911 pistols or to destroy ammunition that is allowed to be commercially sold.

Sec. 8071: Over $705 million will be spent on missile defense for Israel, with requirements that $420 million of that be shared with U.S. war equipment manufacturers, including at least $120 million to be shared with Boeing for the Arrow 3 Upper Tier system.

Sec. 8073: Money appropriated by this Act for intelligence activities are "deemed to be specifically authorized by the Congress" during fiscal year 2018 until the enactment of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.

Sec. 8107: Allows local military commanders - if the Defense Secretary creates regulations allowing it - to provide payments to people for damage, injuries, and deaths caused by the Armed Forces.

Sec. 8115:: Prohibits the Defense Department from initiating or expanding support to foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals without informing Congress 15 days in advance, but the Defense Secretary can waive this and tell Congress within 72 hours.

Sec. 8119: Military and civilian employees of the Defense Department can't use their Government Travel Charge Card on gambling or strippers.

AFGHANISTAN SECURITY FORCES FUND - $4.666 billion will be provided to the "security forces of Afghanistan, including the provision of equipment, supplies, services, training, facility and infrastructure repair, renovation, construction, and funding."

COUNTER-ISIS TRAIN AND EQUIP FUND - $1.769 billion will be provided for "assistance, including training; equipment; logistics support, supplies, and services; stipends; infrastructure repair and renovation; and sustainment, to foreign security forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals participating, or preparing to participate in activities to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and their affiliated or associated groups" - The money can also be used to "enhance the border security of nations adjacent to conflict areas including Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia."

Sec. 9007: Prohibits the US Government from creating any permanent military bases in Iraq or Afghanistan or from exercising "United States control over any oil resource of Iraq."

Sec. 9011: Allows $500 million to be given to Jordan "to support the armed forces of Jordan and to enhance security along its borders."

Sec. 9013: Provides $200 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative to "provide assistance , including training; equipment; lethal weapons of a defensive nature; logistics support, supplies and services; sustainment; and intelligence support to the military and national security forces of Ukraine, and for replacement of any weapons or defensive articles provided to the Government of Ukraine from the inventory of the United States"

Sec. 9022: Allows the money in the Afghanistan Security Forces fund to be used to provide training, equipment, and "other assistance" that is legally prohibited because the "Secretary of Defense has credible information that he unit has committed a gross violation of human rights." . This is allowed as long as the Defense Secretary notifies Congress within 30 days.

Defense Explanatory Statement

DIVISION D - Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies

Sec. 108: Prohibits permits from being required for the release of dredged or mill material from farming, ranching, construction and maintenance of dikes, dams, levees, and "transportation structures", construction or maintenance of farm or stock ponds or irrigation ditches, construction of farm roads or forest roads, or for temporary roads for moving mining equipment.

Sec. 302:: Money appropriated for intelligence "by this or any other Act" are "deemed to be specifically authorized by the Congress" for "intelligence or intelligence-related activity>

Apr 14 2018

2hr

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Rank #2: CD128: Crisis in Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico is in trouble and only the U.S. Congress can help the island of U.S. citizens. Does the bill quickly moving through Congress actually help Puerto Rico?

Please support Congressional Dish:
  • Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription
  • Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon
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Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

H.R. 5278: "Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act" (PROMESA) Bill Highlights

Definitions

  • "Territorial instrumentality": "Any political subdivision, public agency, instrumentality - including any instrumentality that is also a bank - or public corporation of a territory, and this term should be broadly construed to effectuate the purposes of this Act."
Title 1: Establishment and Organization of Oversight Board

Purpose: "To provide a method for a covered territory to achieve fiscal responsibility and access tot he capital markets."

Constitutional Justification for the Board

  • Article IV, section 3 of the Constitution
  • "Provides Congress the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations for territories."

Records Access

  • The Oversight Board will have the power to demand budgets from any public agency.
  • The Oversight Board has the power to exclude any public agency from the requirements of this law.

Oversight Board Membership

  • Seven unpaid members appointed by the President. Six of the selections will be from lists created by Congress.

    • Two people must be selected from two different lists submitted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives
    • Two people must be picked from a list created by the Majority Leader of the Senate
    • One person must be selected from a list created by the House Minority Leader
    • One person must be selected from a list created by the Senate Minority Leader
    • One person will be picked by the President
  • Only one person on the board has to be a territory resident or "have a primary place of business in the territory"

  • The appointments must be done by September 15, 2016

  • The Governor, or his designee, will be an "ex officio member" with no voting rights.

  • Term of service: 3 years

  • Removal: Can be done by the President "only for cause"

  • Expired terms: The member can serve until someone else is appointed.

  • Consecutive terms are allowed

Member Qualifications

  • Must have "knowledge and expertise in finance, municipal bond markets, management, law, or the organization or operation of business or government"
  • No one who has worked for the territory's government is allowed on the Oversight Board

Rules for the Oversight Board

Majority Rule Needed To:

  • Approve of fiscal plans
  • Approve a budget
  • To waive a law
  • To approve or disapprove an infrastructure project

Territorial Laws

  • The Oversight Board can change the territory's laws "with the greatest degree of independence practicable"

  • The Oversight Board may conduct their business behind closed doors.

Paid Staff

Gifts

  • Are allowed but need to be publicly disclosed

Exemption from Laws

Powers of the Oversight Board

Subpeona Power

  • Failure to obey an Oversight Board will be punished in court according to territorial laws.

Strikes Prohibited

  • The Oversight Board must "ensure prompt enforcement" of any territorial laws "prohibiting public sector employees from participating in a strike or lockout

Lawsuits Against the Board

  • Any legal action against the Oversight Board must be filed in a United States district court for the territory, or in the US District Court for Hawaii if that territory doesn't have one.
  • The courts are not allowed to consider challenges to the Oversight Board's certification determinations

Oversight Board Funding

Oversight of the Oversight Board

  • The territory is prohibited from exercising any oversight of the Oversight Board activities or from enacting any law related to the Oversight Board that "defeat the purposes of this Act"
Title II: Responsibilities of the Oversight Board

Approval of Fiscal Plans

  • Fiscal plans submitted by the Governor will have to get certification from the Oversight Board.
  • A fiscal plan developed by the Oversight Board will be deemed approved by the Governor

Approval of Budgets

  • If the Governor and Legislature don't have a budget certified by the first day of the fiscal year, the Oversight Board's budget will be deemed approved.

Contract Reviews

Approval of debt restructuring plans

Termination of Oversight Board

  • The territory needs to balance its budget for 4 consecutive years and the Oversight Board must certify that the banks are willing to lend to the territorial government

No Full Faith & Credit of the United States

  • The territories' debt is not backed by and will not be paid by the United States.
Title III: Adjustments of Debts Title IV: Miscellaneous

Minimum Wage

  • Allows the Governor of Puerto Rico to [lower the minimum wage to $4.25/hr for new employees under age 25 until the Oversight Board is terminated, not more than four years.

Lawsuit Freeze

Title V: Puerto Rico Infrastructure Revitalization

Revitalization Coordinator

Project Assessments

Expedited Permits

Limited Access to Courts

  • Lawsuits against a "critical project" must be brought within 30 days of the decision the lawsuit would challenge.
Vote
  • June 9, 2016: Passed the House of Representatives 297-127
Sound Clip Sources Additional Reading Additional Information Reports Music Presented in This Episode Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Jun 26 2016

1hr 35mins

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Rank #3: CD073: Amtrak

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In this bonus episode, we look into the state of passenger rail service in the United States by examining the history and current condition of Amtrak, the only choice for passenger rail service in the nation.

The United States has a third world passenger rail transportation system. There's no denying it. There is only one company, Amtrak, that operates nationwide. Amtrak train cars are decades old, the employees are over-worked, and it's incredibly unreliable. But why is that the case? How can we do better? Passenger rail service is a worthy investment for the United States government. Trains consume far less energy than our other available modes of transportation: Passenger trains consume 17% less energy than airplanes and 21% less energy than cars. Passenger trains also burn far less carbon dioxide: The average intercity passenger train burns 50% less carbon dioxide per passenger mile than an airplane and 60% less than cars. Rail transportation is also a safe mode of transportation, especially when compared to cars; automobile accidents kill an average of 33,000 Americans every year compared to an average of ten deaths caused by accidents on passenger trains. [caption id="attachment_1443" align="aligncenter" width="598"] Automobiles kill 33,000 in the US every year. Trains kill 10.[/caption] But if passenger trains are such a good investment, why is the United States system so behind other countries? It wasn't always this way. In the 1920’s, more than 1,000 companies operated on a network of 380,000 miles of track in the United States. 1.27 billion passengers traveled on the United States' rail network every year, at a time when our population was much less than it is today. However, in the 1970’s, after the interstate highway system was completed and air travel became affordable for the middle class, the private railroads didn’t find passenger trains to be as profitable as freight and they wanted to eliminate passenger services entirely. The government agreed to take over the passenger service that the private sector didn’t want to provide for their own financial reasons. Amtrak was created in 1971 as a quasi public-private entity to provide public rail transportation service nationwide. Amtrak was a compromise between the members of Congress who wanted to keep a passenger rail system in the United States and the Nixon administration, who wanted passenger rail to disappear. In the deal that created Amtrak, the private railroad companies would no longer have to provide passenger services but they would have to provide Amtrak with start-up cash and equipment. The private railroads would maintain ownership of the infrastructure - the railraod tracks - but they would not be allowed to deny Amtrak the right to use them. The only place in the United States where the private railroad companies do not own the infrastructure is in the Northeast Corridor, between Boston and Washington D.C., which just so happens to be the area of the country with the best and most reliable passenger rail service in the country. However, Amtrak is responsible for maintaining the infrastructure; as a result, about 75% of Amtrak's budget goes towards maintaining the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak was given two mandates. The first was to provide a nationwide passenger rail service. The second was to turn a profit. While turning a profit is a worthy goal, no passenger rail service in the world is currently profitable even in countries where the passenger train company is not responsible for maintaining the rail infrastructure. The situation got worse for Amtrak in the 1980's due to the Staggers Act, which deregulated the railroad industry. As a result, railroad companies gobbled each other up in mergers and ripped out even more tracks. Since the 1960’s, almost half of the countries’ rail infrastructure has been abandoned or removed. Today, the vast majority of the country’s remaining railroad tracks are controlled by only four companies: BNSF, CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific. Bills Discussed in This Episode Amtrak has been starved of funding since it’s creation, a problem that continues today. Amtrak needs about $5 billion just to maintain old bridges, tunnels, and walls in the Northeast Corridor, the only section of the country where Amtrak owns the tracks it runs on. H.R. 4745, the transportation funding bill for fiscal year 2015 which passed the House of Representatives on June 10, would not authorize that money, nor much else for operations in other parts of the country. H.R. 4745: The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2015

  • Provides over $15 billion in Federal subsidies for the aviation industry.
  • Provides over $40 billion in Federal subsidies for the highway trust fund.
  • Provides $1.2 billion in Federal subsidies for Amtrak. Amtrak is also authorized to borrow $5.6 billion.

In addition, H.R. 4745 contains some outright fiscal attacks on Amtrak's ability to function.

  • An amendment submitted by Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia defunds food and beverage service on Amtrak trains.
  • An amendment submitted by Rep. Jeff Denham of California defunds California's high speed rail project.
  • An amendment submitted by Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas eliminates the Sunset Limited, the only Amtrak route that runs between Los Angeles and New Orleans.

There is hope, however. H.R. 4745 needs to be merged with the Senate version. There is still time to remove the Amtrak attacks. More importantly, the multi-year transportation bill known as MAP-21 is set to expire on September 30, 2014, right before the 2014 midterm elections. If we want passenger rail service investments in the United States, now is the perfect time to demand them. Representatives Quoted in This Episode (In Order of Appearance)

Sources of Information for the Episode Music Presented in This Episode Slow Train by Bradley West (found on Music Alley by mevio) Intro and Exit Music: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) New Podcast You Might Enjoy Critical Thinking is Required, hosted by James Sirois

Jun 24 2014

52mins

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Rank #4: CD114: Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Investment Chapter

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership is finished and will be eligible for a vote in Congress in February 2016. In December, the Democrats held a hearing on the Investment chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this episode, highlights from that hearing and a summary of the provisions in one of the TPP's most important chapters.

Please support Congressional Dish:
  • Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription
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Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Hearing Highlighted in this Episode

TPP Issue Analysis - Investment Chapter, House Ways and Means Committee (Democrats), December 2, 2015.

Watch on YouTube

Witnesses Investment Chapter Highlights
  • Article 9.4: Countries can't treat companies from other countries any differently than they treat companies from their own

  • Article 9.6: Countries must provide police protection to foreign companies

  • Article 9.6: Removal of subsidies does not count as a violation of the treaty, even if the company is financially harmed

  • Article 9.7: Countries can nationalize their assets if they pay the companies with interest

  • Article 9.9: Countries can not require companies to use domestic goods or to buy products from within the country ("Buy American")

  • Section B: Conflicts between multinational companies and TPP countries will be settled through the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system

Sound Clip Sources Additional Reading

Music Presented in This Episode Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Jan 10 2016

1hr 3mins

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Rank #5: CD123: Health or Profits

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Health: Is there anything more important? In this episode, we examine three bills that moved through Congress in 2016 which would have a direct effect on the health of American citizens. Would the changes benefit you?

This episode is dedicated to the loving memory of Nathan Brightbill. He will be forever loved and missed.

Please support Congressional Dish:
  • Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription
  • Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon
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Bills Highlighted in this Episode H.R.3762:Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 Bill Highlights

Congressional Budget Office Report

Vote

Author

Organizations Lobbying For H.R. 3762 Organizations Lobbying Against H.R. 3762 H.R. 1927: Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2016 (FACT Act) Bill Highlights

Vote

Author

Organizations Lobbying For H.R. 1927: Organizations Lobbying Against H.R. 1927: H.R. 2017: Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 Bill Highlights

Amends disclosure requirements for chain restaurants with more than 20 locations

Vote

  • Passed the House of Representatives 266-144

Author

Organizations Lobbying For This Bill

Sound Clip Sources Additional Reading Music Presented in This Episode Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Apr 10 2016

1hr 49mins

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Rank #6: CD164: Hope 2018 with Jessica Morse

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We’re officially halfway through the 115th Congress and we will soon get our next chance to hire better representation in 2018. In this special episode, recorded in front of a live audience, meet Jen’s friend who is running for Congress. In this episode, hear how Jessica Morse made the decision to run for Congress, discover what the experience of running has been like, and learn where all that campaign cash goes. This is a hopeful episode! Election time is almost here! Celebrate the possibilities that lay before us in the last Congressional Dish of 2017.

Please Support Congressional Dish
  • Click here to contribute using credit card, debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin
  • Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon
  • Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536

Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

How To Invest in Jessica Morse's Campaign Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes (featuring Tom McClintock) Additional Reading Resources Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Dec 23 2017

1hr 37mins

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Rank #7: CD078: ISIS ISIL Bogeymen

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In this bonus episode, details and analysis of the authorization to create a new military in Syria which is speeding towards becoming law.

 

Information Presented in This Episode

Sep 18 2014

21mins

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Rank #8: CD175: State of War

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The State Department is known as the agency that solves conflicts with words but a closer look reveals that it’s much more connected to war than most of us think. By examining the State Department’s funding for 2018, discover the State Department’s role in regime changes past, current, and future. In this episode, you’ll also get an introduction to the National Endowment for Democracy, a scandalous organization with a noble sounding name. Mike Glaser joins Jen for the Thank You’s.

View the updated Omnibus

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Additional Reading Resources Sound Clip Sources Testimony: State Department Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request, Foreign Affairs Committee, C-SPAN, May 23, 2018.
  • 5:32 Chairman Ed Royce (CA): The National Endowment for Democracy in particular should be strongly supported. Let’s face it: democracy is on the ropes worldwide; supporting it is a moral and strategic good. NED is backing critical programming in Venezuela and Nigeria and worldwide. It is no time to cut this programming.

  • 6:00 Chairman Ed Royce (CA): The administration has rightly provided lethal arms to Ukraine, which remains under siege by Russian proxies.

  • 6:16 Chairman Ed Royce (CA): A far more severe threat is Moscow’s information war. This committee has heard that Moscow’s goal isn’t so much to make Western citizens think this or think that; Russia’s goal is to destroy all confidence in objective thought. By undermining fact-based discussions with lies, our enemies hope to gravely damage Western democracies. The State Department must aggressively counter disinformation through its global engagement center, other means, and with department officials speaking out for the truth.

  • 18:05 Mike Pompeo: On Monday I unveiled a new direction for the president’s Iran strategy. We will apply unprecedented financial pressure; coordinate with our DOD colleagues on deterrents efforts; support the Iranian people, perhaps most importantly; and hold out the prospect for a new deal with Iran. It simply needs to change its behavior.

  • 19:40 Mike Pompeo: This budget request seeks $2.2 billion to help stimulate American economic growth by expanding markets for U.S. investment and ensuring the partner countries can fully participate in the global economy.

  • 19:55 Mike Pompeo: America’s message, a noble one, must be shared with the world at all times. Gentleman Royce, you mentioned the global engagement center. We will work with the 55-plus-million dollars available to cover both its original mission, counter extremism, plus countering state-sponsored disinformation campaigns. We will not tolerate Russian interference in our 2018 elections. Much work has been done; there’s more to do. Rest assured that we will take the appropriate countermeasures in response to the continued Russian efforts.

  • 35:05 Mike Pompeo: First, with respect to Venezuela, we did this morning receive a formal notification that our charged affairs had been PNG’d. We will respond appropriately, certainly reciprocally, but perhaps more than that. Perhaps proportionately. We understand that there’s a second U.S. officer who will also be PNG’d. We’re well aware. We’re watching the Maduro regime continue to engage in destructive behavior for the Venezuelan people.

  • 1:44:35 Paul Rep. Cook (CA): Foreign military sales. A number of the countries are concerned. Peru is— Mike Pompeo: Mm-hmm. Rep. Cook: —I think they’re putting in a plug for the C-130Js. Very, very interested. And so I obviously am very, very concerned. Before, in the past, we’re much more involved in that. And as I said, there’s a lot of countries, most notably China and Iran, that are involved in that. What can we do to increase foreign military sales in that region? Pompeo: I, for one, would advocate for working closely with them and encouraging them to purchase U.S. equipment that fit their country, that was the right tool set for them, for themselves and their security interests. I hope that we can, across the board, streamline the State Department’s process connected with foreign military sales. There’s work to do. Rep. Cook: And I brought up this subject before in regards to NATO. You know, Eastern Europe, they’re still reliant on the parts from Russia. Once you go with another country, you’re going to be dependent on that. So, I think we’ve got to look at that whole situation, or once they buy, they’re going to be buying there for the next five generations or something. Pompeo: Yes, sir. Rep. Cook: Thank you very much. I yield back.

  • 1:54:17 Rep. Scott Perry (PA): And in Bosnia, I’m concerned that there’s an October election and there’s a problem with the constitution. The date and accords were never supposed to last 20 years. They have. But I’m concerned that we’re not headed in the right place there. And I just want to get your thoughts on that, if we’re going to wait to see what happens, if we’re going to take preemptive action. I would hate to see that thing burn down and then—with the United States having troops on the ground there to try and secure the peace, and also if we’re interested in pursuing putting some forces there, again, to thwart Russia, and if that’s a consideration. So, those two topics, sir. Mike Pompeo: So, let me start first with Bosnia. We’re working on the very issue you described. I can’t say a lot about it, but know that the State Department, others, Department of Defense are there. We understand the risk. We think the region’s very important. We know the—and this transitions to your second part of the question which is, we know the Russians are hard at work there destabilizing— Rep. Perry: As are the Turks, right? Pompeo: Yes. And so there are a handful, although admittedly not sufficiently sized levers currently being employed, and we’re working to develop a strategy that puts us in a better place.

  • 1:55:35 Rep. Scott Perry (PA): Mr. Secretary, this is a picture—I’m sure you’re well aware—of an M1 tank manufactured right here in the United States, paid for by the citizens of the United States, with their taxes. That is a Hezbollah flag on it. I am concerned and have written letters regarding the Train and Equip Program in Iraq and the Shia Crescent and the land bridges they’re building across Iraq with the militias there again. Many of the Iranian people want freedom, they want peace, and the don’t agree with the regime that they’re working—living under. But I offered amendments in the NDAA to stop the funding and the Train and Equip Program. One was found in favor; one was not. So we leave it up to you. I want to make sure that you’re aware that this is happening, including militias like Kata’ib Hezbollah, listed as a terrorist organization for killing American soldiers. And if the Congress is unwilling to stop it, I hope you will be willing to stop the funding and the Train and Equip Program in Iraq and funding the Iranian militias that are willing to kill Americans and Jews and everybody across the Crescent that disagrees with them. Mike Pompeo: I’ll say this: it is the case that when we perform Train and Equip functions from time to time, equipment ends up in the hands of the wrong people. It’s a risk inherent in those operations. The question becomes, is the value we’re getting from that training, those exercises, outweigh the risk that that happens? You should know that the U.S. government works diligently to put rules and processes in place to make that picture, or pictures like that, as infrequent as possible. Rep. Perry: I don’t think the Iraqis are complying.

  • 2:03:45 Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL): In terms of what’s going on in Venezuela, there’s a pretty significant Cuban presence of military intelligence. Is that your estimation? Mike Pompeo: I’m sorry. Could you repeat the question? Rep. DeSantis: In terms of the situation in Venezuela, propping up the Maduro regime, is part of that the Cuban military and intelligence apparatus? Pompeo: In this setting I can say there are a great deal of Cuban influence that is working alongside the Maduro regime. Rep. DeSantis: And it’s not helpful to what America wants. Pompeo: It runs adverse to U.S. interests, directly adverse to U.S. interests.

  • 2:05:42 Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL): The Iranian people, obviously, are not happy with this regime. I mean, this is a militant, Islamic regime that’s been really imposed on relatively pro-Western populous, educated middle class. We see the protests. The president has spoken out, I think correctly. What can we do to help, because it seems like the regime cracks down on the social networks, they don’t want there to be a free flow of information, but I think it’s certainly in our interests to empower people who view this regime as illegitimate and not representative of their ideals. Mike Pompeo: It’s long been U.S. deeply held position that we will do the things we can to ensure that peoples all around the world have their human rights, their political rights, their capacity to express themselves. We shouldn’t shy away from that with respect to Iran, either. There are a number of tools that we can use, some of which I’m now responsible for their implementation; others exist other places in government. We should bring them all to bear to allow the Iranian people to be governed by the leaders that they choose.

  • 2:59:44 Rep. Ted Lieu (CA): I’d like to ask you now about Yemen. As you know, the war in Yemen is now the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. Over 22 million people are now at risk of starvation, 8 million don’t know where their next meal will be, and every 10 minutes a child dies of preventable causes. So the U.S. is involved in Yemen in two ways. One is we are striking terrorists. Now, I don’t have a problem with that. But the other way we’re involved is we are assisting the Saudi-led military coalition. And again, I don’t have a problem with assisting our allies, but I do have a problem when that coalition is killing large numbers of civilians through airstrikes that are nowhere near military targets. And as of last September, more than 5,000 civilians have been killed, the majority from these airstrikes. In 2016 the State Department, its lawyers, have wrote a memo saying that because we’re refueling these planes, the Saudi jets, and also providing them other assistance, that U.S. personnel could be considered a co-belligerent and liable for war crimes. I know you just came on as secretary of state. Wonder if you’ve had a chance yet to read that memo. Mike Pompeo: I have not. Rep. Lieu: At your convenience. Pompeo: But I will. I will review the memo. Rep. Lieu: Thank you. I appreciate that. And if you could also make a request to your state department to see if members of Congress could also review that memo in a classified setting as well, that’d be appreciated. Pompeo: Have you—You’ve not had a—I take it you’ve not had a chance to see it. Rep. Lieu: We have not. Pompeo: Yes, sir. Rep. Lieu: So if you could make that request, that’d be great. Pompeo: I will review that, absolutely. Rep. Lieu: Thank you. So, when this conflict first started, we had all these airstrikes from Saudi-led coalition, and what it turned out is that it’s not that they were trying to hit a Houthi vehicle that was moving and they missed and struck a bunch of civilians; what ended up happening is they intentionally struck those civilian targets. So they struck hospitals, weddings, schools, markets, and last year they struck a funeral, that killed hundreds of people, twice. So they hit this funeral, and the jets went around and hit it again a second time. Very precise. That’s why the Obama administration actually stopped a shipment of precision-guided munitions because they realized actually these jets are intending to strike their targets and they were civilians. It’s my understanding that the Trump administration is now going to go forward with that sale. Just wondering why do you think anything has changed in Yemen that would authorize this sale to go forward? Mike Pompeo: So, I’m cursorily familiar with the incidents you’re describing. There are a very rigid set of rules that are thought deeply about in every national security agency that I’ve been part of—at the CIA before, now at State Department—with respect to providing munitions to organizations that are intentionally engaging in civilian targeting. We have a complex set of rules and prohibitions. We would never do that. It is this administration’s judgment that providing the precision-guided munitions actually decreases the risk to civilians. And it’s for that reason we think this actually makes sense, certainly for our allies and partners but also for citizens that are engaged in ordinary activity inside of Yemen. And if I might, this administration’s also taken serious action to do our best to reduce the humanitarian crisis that is Yemen as well. We’ve not resolved it, but we’ve made real progress. Rep. Lieu: Thank you.

News Interview: Bolton: 'Our goal should be regime change in Iran', Fox News, January 1, 2018. Video: 2004 State of the Union Address , C-SPAN, January 20, 2004. Congress: Ron Paul: War with Iran has already been decided by the Financial Elite, C-SPAN, January 3, 2012.
  • 1:40:39* Senator Rand Paul (KY): I think many people would admit that the Iran agreement had some deficiencies. One of the largest deficiencies might have been that the $100 billion was released all at once instead of maybe gradually to help modulate behavior over a longer period of time. That being said, the $100 billion that was released was a great inducement to get Iran to sign the agreement. That was a carrot, and that carrot’s gone. They’ve gotten the good thing, and now we want compliance, and now we’re pulling out. And so the question is, what are the next inducements to get them to sign things, or will there not be? I think there’s a question with—there are two possibilities, basically, of what will happen. So you reintroduce the strongest sanctions ever. They either don’t work—that’s one possibility—because they’re unilateral, and some say unilateral sanctions won’t work. Let’s say they don’t work. That means Europe, China, and Russia continue to trade with them, and Iran says, “Well, they’re going to continue to trade with us. We’ll just keep abiding by the agreement.” They don’t develop any more nuclear weapons or technology towards that, but they don’t do anything else that you would like—ballistic missiles, less terrorism. So, really, basically, we don’t get what we want if the sanctions don’t work. Second possibility. Let’s say the sanctions do work. We have enough manipulation of money that flows through us from Europe. Europe does a lot of trade with us. Europe buckles. I think Russia and China still will trade with them, but let’s say Europe buckles. And let’s say it works, and it puts enough pressure on Iran, then there are two possibilities of what Iran does. The first possibility is they say, “Oh, Secretary Pompeo. We love Secretary Pompeo’s 12-point strategy, and we’re going to accept that.” I think that’s unlikely. The second possibility, if the sanctions work and they put enough pressure on them—Iran feels the pressure—is that they restart their nuclear centrifuge program. So those are two possibilities. But what I’d like to do is go through the 12 steps that you’d like Iran to do and sort of explore what these would mean if we thought about them in terms of bigger than Iran. So one of your first things is—and this came up during JCPOA, but nobody really could really get this done—you want Iran to reveal the military dimensions of its nuclear program. Well, let’s substitute Israel for Iran there. Does anybody think Israel’s going to reveal the military dimensions of their nuclear program? Well, you’ll say, “Well, they’re our friend.” Well, yeah, but from Iran’s perspective they see Israel as a rival and a regional rival. Let’s put Saudi Arabia in there. Well, Saudi Arabia revealed the military dimensions of its nuclear program. Well, some might say, “Mm, they don’t really have it.” But I’m guessing there are files over at the CIA that say, “Well, you know what? They have talked to people about purchasing it. Some say they have purchased nuclear technology.” I can guarantee we know that, and you probably can’t admit it, but let’s put Saudi Arabia in there. Are they willing to discuss anything they have done to develop nuclear weapons? So really what you’re asking for is something that they are never going to agree to. Okay? You can try to crip them. It’s sort of like unconditional surrender. You’re not getting that. Let’s move on. Proliferation of ballistic missiles. I don’t like them threatening surrounding countries or us with ballistic missiles. Nobody does. But they respond not just to us; they respond to Saudi Arabia. There’s a 1,000-year-old war over there. There’s a 1,000-year-old religious war over there, and there’s hostility between the two. So when we supply weapons and the Saudis buy ballistic missiles—the Saudis have a ballistic program—they respond to that. The Saudis and their allies, the Gulf sheikhdom, spend eight times more than Iran. So when you tell Iran, “Oh, well, you have to give up your ballistic-missile program,” but you don’t say anything to the Saudis, you think they’re ever going to sign that? They would have to be crippled and starving people in the streets for them ever to agree to give up their ballistic-missile program. Had we kept the Iran agreement with them and you said to the Iranians, “Well, we want less of an arms race over there. We’d like to have peace with Saudi Arabia. Could we get Saudi Arabia to the table, with Iran, to discuss either a freeze of ballistic missiles—” you know, when we went to Russia, we didn’t just succumb and say we’d give up our weapons. Neither did Russia. We did it in parity. We had an agreement. If you leave Saudi Arabia out of it and you leave Israel out of it and you look at Iran in isolation, that’s not the way they perceive it. So, don’t think they’re going to jump at your 12 notions here of what you’d like them to do. Mike Pompeo: Senator, may I make this one point? Paul: Go ahead. Pompeo: I think the example of Saudi Arabia’s a reasonable one. We have told the Saudis exactly what I asked from the Iranians. Paul: To talk about their nuclear program? Pompeo: They have said they want a peaceful nuclear-energy program, and we have told them we want a gold-standard, Section 123 agreement from them, which would not permit them to enrich. That is simply all I’ve asked of Iran as well. Paul: Do we have information that the Saudis have talked to actors in Pakistan and other places about purchasing nuclear technology? Pompeo: Sir, I can’t answer that here this morning. Paul: Which is to say we, in all likelihood, do have that information. And so the thing is it’s a one-way playing field. Unless we understand that there are two big players over there—really, three big players: you got Iran, you got Israel, and you got Saudi Arabia—we want Iran to do things we’re not willing to ask anybody else to do and that we would never do. So— Pompeo: Senator, I disagree with you. I think we ask most nations to do precisely what we’re asking Iran to do. Paul: Let’s move on to another one of your 12 points and the military support for the Houthi rebels. Well, once again, you’re asking them to end it, but you’re not asking the Saudis to end their bombardment of Yemen. I mean, if you look at the humanitarian disaster that is Yemen, it is squarely on the shoulders of the Saudis. And so we’re going to ask the Iranians to quit supplying—they, in all likelihood, are the ones supplying the missiles—and we get reports, and the Defense Department comes and says, “There’ve been 32 missiles strikes in Saudi Arabia.” Well, there’s been, like, 16,000 bombings of Yemen by Saudi Arabia. Nobody even mentions that. We act as if it didn’t even happen. If we are so ignorant that there’re two sides to this war, we’re never getting anywhere. Iran’s not going to stop doing that, but they might if you sat them down with the Saudi Arabians, said, “This arms race doesn’t make sense,” and Saudi Arabia’s willing to sit down at the table. You know, is Saudi Arabia willing to stop, another one’s withdrawal all forces under Iran’s command throughout the entirety of Syria? There were dozens of groups in there, even ISIS, that were getting weapons from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In fact, one of the leaked emails from WikiLeaks was from Clinton to Podesta, saying, “My goodness. We’ve got to stop Saudi Arabia and Qatar from funding ISIS.” That’s a direct email. They were acknowledging they knew about it, and they were acknowledging it was a problem, but weapons were flowing in to all kinds of radicals in there. So if you want Iran to stop—and I mean, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are 10 times the problem, you know? The whole Syrian war has all of these radical jihadists. The people who attacked us came from Saudi Arabia. We ignore all that, and we lavish them with more bombs. So, really, until we acknowledge there are two sides to the war—or three sides to the war in the Middle East—you’re not going to get the agreement. I think it was naïve to pull out of the Iran agreement, and I think in the end, we’ll be worse off for it.
United Nations Address: Jon Bolton U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., June 18, 2006. Cover Art

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Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Jun 11 2018

2hr 57mins

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Rank #9: CD178: Election Insecurity

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Since the 2016 election, our country has been questioning whether our elections are secure, fair, and accurate. In this episode, we examine the threats to our election administration, both real and overblown.

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Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes Additional Reading Resources Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Election Security Preparedness, Senate Rules and Administration Committee, C-SPAN, June 20, 2018.

Witnesses:

  • Matthew Masterson - National Protection and Programs Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security
  • Jim Condos - Vermont Secretary of State
  • Jay Ashcroft - Missouri Secretary of State
  • Steve Simon - Minnesota Secretary of State
  • Connie Lawson - Indiana Secretary of State
  • Shane Schoeller - Clerk for Greene County, Missouri
  • Noah Praetz - Director of Elections for Cook County, Illinois

  • 2:40 Senator Roy Blunt (MO): January of 2017, the Department of Homeland Security designated our country’s election infrastructure to be critical infrastructure. This designation began the formalization of information sharing and collaboration among state, local, and federal governments through the creation of a Government Coordinating Council, some of our witness this day are already sitting on that newly formed council. More recently, in the 2018 omnibus, Congress appropriated right at $380 million to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to help states enhance their election infrastructure. As of this week, 38 states have requested $250 million of that money, and about 150 million of it has already been disbursed to the states.

  • 6:45 Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN): So, we have a bill, Senator Lankford and I along with Senator Harris and Graham and Warner and Burr, Heinrich, and Collins. It’s a bipartisan bill called the Secure Elections Act, and we have been working to make changes to it along the way and introduce it as amendment, but it really does four things. First of all, improves information sharing between local election officials, cyber-security experts, and national-security personnel. Second, providing for development and maintenance of cyber-security best practices. We all know, I think there’s five states that don’t have backup paper ballots, and then there's something like nine more that have partial backup paper ballots. And while we’re not mandating what each state does, and we do not want each state to have the exact same election equipment—we think that would be a problem and could potentially lend itself to more break-ins—we think it’s really important that we have some floor and standards that we set that given what we know, I don’t think we’d be doing our democracy any good if we didn’t share that and we didn’t put in some floors. Third, the bill will promote better auditing our election’s use of paper backup systems, which I mentioned, and finally, it’s focused on providing election officials with much-needed resources. As you all know, we were able to get $380 million to be immediately distributed to the state, not play money, money that’s going out right now to states across the country, based on populations. We didn’t have some complicated grant process that would have slowed things down. The money went directly to state election officials as long as the state legislature authorizes it to get accepted and get to work to update their systems.
  • 11:50 Jay Ashcroft: But before we move forward, we should briefly look back to the impetus of why we are all here today: allegations that outside actors threaten the integrity of our elections during the 2016 election cycle. While these are serious allegations, it is vitally important to understand that after two years of investigation, there is no credible—and I could strike “credible” and just put “evidence”—there is no evidence that these incidents caused a single vote or a single voter registration to be improperly altered during the 2016 election cycle. It was not our votes or our election systems that were hacked; it was the people’s perception of our elections.
  • 30:50 Matthew Masterson: For those voters who have questions or concerns regarding the security or integrity of the process, I implore you to get involved. Become a poll worker; watch pre-election testing of the systems, or post-election audits; check your registration information before elections; engage with your state- and local-election officials; and most importantly, go vote. The best response to those who wish to undermine faith in our democracy is to participate and to vote.
  • 1:08:00 Senator Roy Blunt (MO): Should the federal government make an audit trail, a paper audit trail, a requirement to have federal assistance? Jay Ashcroft: I don’t think so. Jim Condos: I do think so. Steve Simon: I think there is a federal interest in making sure that there's some audit process. Sen. Blunt: Well, now, what I’m asking about is, should there be a way to recreate the actual election itself? And I don’t know quite how to do that without paper, even if you had a machine that was not accessible to the web. Jay Ashcroft: I believe states are moving to do that, without federal legislation. So that’s why I don’t think that federal legislation needs to be done to that.
  • 1:23:30 Shane Schoeller: I do want to address one area that concerns Secure Elections Act, that is on page 23, lines three, four, and five. It says, “Each election result is determined by tabulating marked ballots, hand or device.” I strongly recommend for post-election auditing purposes that a state-marked paper ballots, because I believe the opportunity for fraud in electronic ballot-casting system that does not have a paper trail’s too great.
  • *1:32:00 Shane Schoeller: Even if you do a post audit with the machine, how would you know if something’s been compromised if you can’t at least compare the results of the paper ballot. And I think that’s the assurance it gives. Clearly, the machine, when you have an accurate election, does do a better job of counting the ballots. I’m talking about in the case where clearly fraud has occurred, then the paper ballot is going to be the evidence you need in terms of if your system inside that machine is compromised.
  • 1:32:30 Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN): I think for a while people were talking about, well, why doesn’t everyone just vote from home, which is great when you can mail in a ballot, we know that, but vote from home just from your computer, and that would mean no paper records of anything. Could you comment about that? Noah Praetz: I think that’s 100% inappropriate for civil elections. Sen. Klobuchar: Got it. Shane Schoeller: I find it ironic because this is my first term, although I ran for this office in 2014, that was actually a common theme that I heard. Sen. Klobuchar: Right. I was hearing it, and I was—I kept thinking— Schoeller: Mm-hmm. Sen. Klobuchar: —about our state with, they’re not going to keep dwelling on it, with that high voter turnout. But, you know, that involved a paper ballot— voice off-mic: incredible integrity. Sen. Klobuchar: —and incredible integrity. But it involved people—they could vote by mail, and we’ve made that even easier, but they had actual paper ballots that they did, and then they were fed into this machine to count, with auditing. But you’re right. That’s what people were talking about. Why can’t you just do it from your home computer and have no backup, right? Schoeller: Right. And that was one of the things I actually had to disagree when that viewpoint was put forth, particularly in one city that I remember. And even after I became elected, I went to a conference of other elected officials, and there was a group of speakers, and they all were talking about this, and there was actually one speaker— Sen. Klobuchar: Like voting from Facebook. Schoeller: Correct. Sen. Klobuchar: Just kidding... Schoeller: But they actually disagreed, and I went up, and I think I was the only election official that day—this was prior to 2016—that didn’t think that it was a good idea. But I think we have evidence now from 2016 that clearly—that’s a convenience that we just can’t afford.
  • 1:35:05 Noah Praetz: We’ve got a piece of paper that every voter looked at. Senator Amy Klobuchar: Mm-hmm. Praetz: So worst-case scenario, a Sony-type attack with full meltdown of all systems, we can recreate an election that’s trusted and true.
Hearing: Election Security, Senate Judiciary Committee, C-SPAN, June 12, 2018.

Witnesses:

  • Adam Hickey - Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division at the Department of Justice
  • Matthew Masterson - National Protection and Programs Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security
  • Kenneth Wainstein - Partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell, LLP
  • Prof. Ryan Goodman - New York University School of Law
  • Nina Jankowicz - Global Fellow at the Wilson Center

  • 9:00 Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA): We know that Russia orchestrated a sustained and coordinated attack that interfered in our last presidential election. And we also know that there’s a serious threat of more attacks in our future elections, including this November. As the United States Intelligence Community unanimously concluded, the Russian government’s interference in our election—and I quote—“blended covert intelligence operations, such as cyber activity, with overt efforts by the Russian government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social-media users or trolls.” Over the course of the past year and a half, we’ve come to better understand how pernicious these attacks were. Particularly unsettling is that we were so unaware. We were unaware that Russia was sowing division through mass propaganda, cyber warfare, and working with malicious actors to tip scales of the election. Thirteen Russian nationals and three organizations, including the Russian-backed Internet Research Agency, have now been indicted for their role in Russia’s vast conspiracy to defraud the United States.

  • 39:40 Senator Mike Lee (UT): First, let’s talk a little bit about the integrity of our election infrastructure. We’ll start with you, Mr. Masterson. Were there any known breaches of our election infrastructure in the 2016 election? Matthew Masterson: Thank you, Senator. Yes, there was some publicly discussed known breaches of election infrastructure specifically involving voter-registration databases. Sen. Lee: Are there any confirmed instances of votes being changed from one candidate to another? Masterson: There are no confirmed instances of that. Sen. Lee: And were any individual voting machines hacked? Masterson: No, not that I know of.
  • 42:55 Senator Mike Lee: One approach to some of this, to the threat, the possibility of election infrastructure or voting machines being hacked from the outside is to go low-tech. Some states have gravitated toward that. For example, some states have started making moves back toward paper ballots so that they can’t be hacked. Is this something that’s helpful? Is it something that’s necessary that you think more states ought to consider? Matthew Masterson: Yeah. Senator, the auditability and having an auditable voting system, in this case, auditable paper records, is critical to the security of the systems. In those states that have moved in that direction have implemented means by which to audit the vote in order to give confidence to the public on the results of the election. In those states that have non-paper systems have indicated a desire—for instance, Pennsylvania—to more to auditable systems. And so at this point, resources are necessary to help them move that direction. Sen. Lee: By that, you mean either a paper-ballot system or a system that simultaneously creates a paper trail. Masterson: An auditable paper record. Correct, sir.
  • 1:22:08 Senator Kamala Harris (CA): Will you talk a bit about what you have seen in terms of the risk assessments you’ve been doing around the country? I believe 14 states have been completed. Is that correct, 14? Matthew Masterson: I believe it’s 17 states have been completed— Sen. Harris: Right. Masterson: —thus far, as well as 10 localities. Sen. Harris: And what generally have you seen as being the vulnerabilities— Masterson: Sure. Sen. Harris: —in those assessments? Masterson: Thank you, Senator. Generally speaking, within the election’s infrastructure sector, we’re seeing the same typical vulnerabilities you’d see across IT systems, so managing software updates, outdated equipment or hardware, as well as general upgrades that need to take place as far as what configuration management within systems to limit the damage that could be done if something were to take place. And so— Sen. Harris: Resilience. Masterson: What’s that? Sen. Harris: Their resilience. Masterson: Yeah, their resilience. Sen. Harris: Mm-hmm. Masterson: Exactly. Thank you, Senator. And so this sector is no different in what we see in the work we’re doing with them.
  • 2:15:00 Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): But what I want to talk about in my time is the problem of shell corporations, because for all of the emphasis that the witnesses have put on policing and prosecuting foreign influence in our elections, you can neither police or prosecute what you cannot find. And at the moment, we have both a shell-corporation problem, which was emphasized by Mark Zuckerberg in his testimony when he said their political advertisement-authentication program would only go to the first shell corporation and not seek any information about who was actually behind it. I don’t think Putin is stupid enough to call it Boris and Natasha, LLC. It’s going to sound more like Americans for Puppies and Peace and Prosperity. But it’s a front group, and it’s got Putin or whomever else behind it, and until we can know that, we cannot enforce effectively, period, end of story. Similarly, when our election system has these colossal channels for dark money, anonymized funding, if you can’t find out what special interest is behind anonymous money, you can’t find out if there’s a foreign interest behind that money. Darkness is darkness is darkness, and it hides malign activity, both foreign and domestic. And I’d like to ask each of you to comment on that. We’re concerned about trolling. Obviously, that’s facilitated by shell corporations. You talked about general propaganda campaigns. Obviously, facilitated by shell corporations. Campaign finance laws, you’ve called out for a need for effective disclosure. You can’t have effective disclosure if the only thing you’re disclosing is a front corporation and you don’t know who’s really behind it. So, if I could ask each of you three on that, then that’ll be the end of my time. Kenneth Wainstein: Sure, I’ll go first, Senator Whitehouse. And thank you for kind words, and good to work with you again. Always is. Sen. Whitehouse: We were good adversaries. Wainstein: We were. Adversaries who were working for the same goal. Sen. Whitehouse: Yes. Wainstein: Look, as a prosecutor, former prosecutor, looking at this issue, of course you want to know more about the corporations than less. There are obviously First Amendment issues and other concerns out there in the election context, but absolutely, there’s no way to sort of resist your logic, which is we’ve seen the use of corporations in a variety of contexts, whether it’s money laundering or otherwise, but we’ve seen here in the election interference and disinformation context, and a lot of that— Sen. Whitehouse: In fact, they’re widely used in the criminal context for money-laundering purposes and to hide the proceeds of criminal activities, correct? Wainstein: Absolutely. Sen. Whitehouse: So to the extent that what Putin is running is essentially a criminal enterprise of himself and his oligarchs. Why would they not look to what criminal enterprises do as a model? Wainstein: Yeah, it’s meat-and-potatoes criminal conduct. Sen. Whitehouse: Yeah. Wainstein: No question. And all intended to hide the fact of the source of this malign activity.
Hearing: Election Security, Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, C-SPAN, February 13, 2018.

Witnesses:

  • Robert Butler - Co-Founder and Managing Director, Cyber Strategies LLC
  • Heather Conley - Director of the Europe Program Center for Strategic and International Studies Former Dep. Asst. Sec. of State for EU & Eurasian Affairs in GWB admin, 2001-2005
  • Richard Harknett - Professor of Political Science and Head of Political Science Department, University of Cincinnati
  • Michael Sulmeyer - Director, Cyber Security Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

  • 7:15 Senator Ben Nelson: First, the department has cyber forces designed and trained to thwart attacks on our country through cyberspace, and that’s why we created the Cyber Command’s National Mission Teams. A member of this subcommittee, Senator Blumenthal, Senator Shaheen, we all wrote the secretary of defense last week that they, the department, ought to be assigned to identify Russian operators responsible for the hacking, stealing information, planting misinformation, and spreading it through all the botnets and fake accounts on social media. They ought to do that. That’s—the Cyber Command knows who that is. And then, we ought to use our cyber forces to disrupt this activity. We aren’t. We should also be informing the social-media companies of Russia’s fake accounts and other activities that violate those companies’ terms of service so that they can be shut down.

  • 18:20 Heather Conley: You asked us what role DOD could play to protect the U.S. elections, and I think, simply, DOD working with Congress has got to demand a hold of government strategy to fight against this enduring disinformation and influence operation. We don’t have a national strategy. Unfortunately, modernizing our nuclear forces will not stop a Russian influence operation. That’s where we are missing a grave threat that exists in the American people’s palm of their hand and on their computer screens.
  • 19:05 Heather Conley: As one of the most trusted institutions in the United States, the Department of Defense must leverage that trust with the American people to mitigate Russian influence. Simply put, the Department of Defense has to model the bipartisan and fact-based action, behavior, and awareness that will help reduce societal division. This is about leadership, it’s about protecting the United States, and as far as I can see, that is in the Department of Defense job description.
Hearing: Cybersecurity of Voting Machines, House Oversight Subcommittee and Government Reform Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs, C-SPAN, November 29, 2017.

Witnesses:

  • Christopher Krebs - Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary National Protection & Programs Directorate, Department of Homeland Security
  • Tom Schedler - Secretary of State of Louisiana
  • Edgardo Cortes - Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections
  • Matthew Blaze - Associate Professor, Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania

  • 4:24 Representative Robin Kelly (IL): In September of this year, DHS notified 21 states that hackers affiliated with the Russian government breached or attempted to breach their election infrastructure. In my home state of Illinois, the hackers illegally downloaded the personal information of 90,000 voters and attempted to change and delete data. Fortunately, they were unsuccessful.

  • 5:05 Representative Robin Kelly (IL): Earlier this year, researchers at the DEF CON conference successfully hacked five different direct-recording electronic voting machines, or DREs, in a day. The first vulnerabilities were discovered in just 90 minutes. Even voting machines not connected to the Internet still contained physical vulnerabilities like USB ports that can be used to upload malware. Alarmingly, many DREs lack the ability to allow experts to determine that they have been hacked. Despite these flaws, DREs are still commonly used. In 2016, 42 states used them. They were more than a decade old, with some running outdate software that is no longer supported by the manufacturer.
  • 20:30 Tom Schedler: In terms of voting-machine security, remember that with the passage of the Help America Vote Act in 2002, states were required to purchase at least one piece of accessible voting equipment for each polling place.
  • 23:55 Edgardo Cortes: Virginia has twice has been put in the unfortunate position of having to decertify voting equipment and transition to new equipment in a condensed timeframe, based on security concerns of previously used DREs. These steps outlined in detail in my written testimony were not taken lightly. They place a financial and administrative stress on the electoral system. They were, however, essential to maintain the public’s trust and the integrity of Virginia elections. The November 2017 general election was effectively administered without any reported voting-equipment issues. Thanks to the ongoing partnership between the state, our hardworking local election officials, and our dedicated voting-equipment vendors, the transition to paper-based voting systems on a truncated time line was incredibly successful and significantly increased the security of the election.
  • 25:45 Edgardo Cortes: To ensure the use of secure voting equipment in the future, Congress should require federal certification of all voting systems used in federal elections. This is currently a voluntary process. Federal certification should also be required for electronic poll books, which currently are not subject to any federal guidelines.
  • 28:20 Matthew Blaze: Virtually every aspect of our election process, from voter registration to ballot creation to casting ballots and then to counting and reporting election results, is today controlled in some way by software. And unfortunately, software is notoriously difficult to secure, especially in large-scale systems such as those used in voting. And the software used in elections is really no exception to this. It’s difficult to overstate how vulnerable our voting infrastructure that’s in use in many states today is, particularly to compromise by a determined and well-funded adversary. For example, in 2007 our teams discovered exploitable vulnerabilities in virtually every voting-system component that we examined, including backend election-management software as well as particularly DRE voting terminals themselves. At this year’s DEF CON event, we saw that many of the weaknesses discovered in 2007, and known since then, not only are still present in these systems but can be exploited quickly and easily by non-specialists who lack access to proprietary information such as source code.
  • 38:40 Matthew Blaze: The design of DRE systems makes their security dependent not just on the software in the systems but the hardware’s ability to run that software correctly and to protect against malicious software being loaded. So an unfortunate property of the design of DRE systems is that we’ve basically given them the hardest possible security task. Any flaw in a DRE machine’s software or hardware can become an avenue of attack that potentially can be exploited. And this is a very difficult thing to protect. Representative Gary Palmer: Do we need to go to, even if we have some electronic components to back it up with paper ballots because your fallback position is always to open the machine and count the ballots? Blaze: That’s right. So, precinct-counted optical-scan systems also depend on software, but they have the particular safeguard, but there is a paper artifact of the voter’s true vote that can be used to determine the true election results. DRE, paperless DRE systems don’t have that property, and so we’re completely at the mercy of the software and hardware.
  • 47:00 Christopher Krebs: When you characterize these things as attacks, I think that is perhaps overstating what may have happened in the 21 states, as was mentioned, over the course of the summer. The majority of the activity was simple scanning. Scanning happens all the time. It’s happening right now to a number of probably your websites. Scanning is a regular activity across the web. I would not characterize that as an attack. It’s a preparatory step.
  • 58:15 Matthew Blaze: There is no fully reliable way to audit these kinds of systems. We may get lucky and detect some forensic evidence, but ultimately the design of these systems precludes our ability to do a conclusive audit of the voter’s true intent. That’s why paperless systems really need to be phased out in favor of things like optical-scan paper ballots that are counted at the precinct but backed by an artifact of the voter’s true intent.
  • 1:02:42 Tom Schedler: The system that we’re looking at, we’re not out for bid yet, would be one that would produce, even though you would vote on an electronic machine, it would produce an actual paper ballot that you could hold in your hand—Representative Paul Mitchell (MI): My concern with that— Schedler: —and then cast ballot only with that point when you put it into a secure box. Rep. Mitchell: My concern with that, and Dr. Blaze makes the point, is that if you produce a paper result after you put something into the machine, if in fact the machine is tampered with, you could in fact end up with just confirming the tampered information. Schedler: Yes, sir.
Speech: Hillary Clinton on National Security and the Islamic State, Council on Foreign Relations, November 19, 2015.
  • 12:35 Hillary Clinton: So we need to move simultaneously toward a political solution to the civil war that paves the way for a new government with new leadership and to encourage more Syrians to take on ISIS as well. To support them, we should immediately deploy the special operations force President Obama has already authorized and be prepared to deploy more as more Syrians get into the fight, and we should retool and ramp up our efforts to support and equip viable Syrian opposition units. Our increased support should go hand in hand with increased support from our Arab and European partners, including Special Forces who can contribute to the fight on the ground. We should also work with the coalition and the neighbors to impose no-fly zones that will stop Assad from slaughtering civilians and the opposition from the air.

 

Hearing: Electronic Voting Machines, House Administration Committee, C-SPAN, September 28, 2006.

Witnesses:

  • Edward Felton - Computer Science Professor at Princeton University
  • Keith Cunningham - Board of Elections Director of Allen County, Ohio
  • Barbara Simons - Association for Computer Machinery, Public Policy Committee Co-Chair

  • 19:54 Edward Felten: Two weeks ago my colleagues, Ari Feldman and Alex Halderman, and I released a detailed security analysis of this machine, the Diebold AccuVote-TS, which is used in Maryland, Georgia, and elsewhere. My written testimony summarizes the findings of our study. One main finding is that the machines are susceptible to computer viruses that spread from machine to machine and silently transfer votes from one candidate to another. Such a virus requires moderate computer-programming skills to construct. Launching it requires access to a single voting machine for as little as one minute.

  • 1:45:23 Keith Cunningham: Can they be improved? Absolutely, and I think throughout my comments I was very definite to say that these machines, as they currently sit, are not reliable. My question back to you, though, in that regard is, who’s going to pay to fix it, because one of the problems we have right now is in the last 24 months every election jurisdiction in this country has spent the $3 billion we spoke about earlier on new election equipment, and that’s what’s in place. So without somebody stepping forward to fund that enterprise, I don’t know how we’re going to improve them ourselves.
  • 1:51:00 Barbara Simons: I wanted to remind the panelists of what happened in Carteret County, North Carolina, in, I believe it was, ’04, where paperless DREs were used and over 4,000 votes were lost. I mean, there's this concern about being able to reprint paper ballots or paper VVPATs. When you lose votes in a DRE, which has no paper, there is nothing you can do, and in fact, there was an election for—the statewide election—for agricultural commissioner, where the separation between the two candidates was such that the results could have been reversed by those missing votes. And it went to court, it went to two different courts, where they first tried to hold a recount just for the county itself. That was thrown out. Then it went for a statewide recount, and that was thrown out because we had no laws to deal with what happens when DREs fail. And finally, there were a number of people who submitted subpoenas or petitions say they had voted for one of the candidates, and based on those submissions, it looked like the judge was going to declare that candidate the winner, and so that was how the election was decided. This is not a way to hold elections in this country.
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Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Aug 01 2018

2hr 21mins

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Rank #10: CD133: The Electoral College

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In a Presidential Election year when the Big Two Parties have selected widely disliked candidates, is it possible to vote None of the Above into the Presidency? In this episode, by learning how the electoral college works, we explore our options for realistically denying the Presidency to the chosen candidates of the Republican and Democratic Parties. *This episode has been updated from it's original version for information accuracy.

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United States Electoral College Sound Clip Sources:

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Sep 12 2016

1hr 2mins

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Rank #11: CD125: Un-Governing the Internet

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The Internet is a powerful international communications tool; how does the 114th Congress plan to change how it's governed? In this episode, learn about the bills that are moving through Congress that could have a direct effect on the future of the Internet.

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  • Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription
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Bills Highlighted in This Episode H.R. 2666: No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act

Bill Highlights

Votes

  • Passed the House of Representatives 241-173

Author

Organizations Lobbying For This Bill

H.R. 4596: Small Business Broadband Deployment Act

Bill Highlights

  • Paragraphs 162 through 184 of the FCC's net neutrality order will not apply to small businesses for 5 years
    • Information the "small businesses" would be exempt from having to provide customers includes:
      • Information about promotional rates, including the duration of the promotion and the full monthly charge the customer will incur after the promotion expires
      • All one-time and/or recurring fees, including modem rental fees, installation charges, service charges, and early termination fees.
      • Actual network performance
  • A "small business" is one that has fewer than 250,000 subscribers

Votes

  • Passed the House of Representatives 411-0

Author

Organizations Lobbying For This Bill

  • Cellular Telecom & Internet Association
  • US Telecom Association
H.R. 699: Email Privacy Act

Bill Highlights

  • Prohibits electronic communication services from disclosing the contents of communications that the company is holding or maintaining (without this bill, only communications "stored" would be protected).
  • Eliminates the current law that allows the government to access using only subpoenas (as opposed to warrants) for electronic communications that have been stored more than 180 days
  • Replaces the 180 divider with new text that requires warrants regardless of the amount of time the information is stored.
  • Allows the electronic communication services to notify their customers of a received warrant, court order, subpoena, or request, if they want to.
  • Expands the amount of time the government may delay notification of customers about a warrant, subpoena, order, or other directive from 90 days to 180 days.
  • Eliminates a current provision of law that requires the government to inform the customer about the information the government requested and why the notification was delayed.

Vote

  • Passed the House of Representatives 419-0

Author

Organizations Lobbying For This Bill

  • Yahoo
  • Google
  • AT&T
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Deutsche Bank
H.R. 805: DOTCOM Act of 2015

Bill Highlights

  • Prohibits the transition of NTIA's functions in Internet domain name registry until 30 days after Congress receives a report outlining the transition plan.

Votes

  • Passed the House of Representatives 378-25

Author

Organizations that lobbyed on H.R. 805

  • Verisign
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May 08 2016

1hr 10mins

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Rank #12: CD187: Combating China

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People in power tell us constantly that China is a threat but... Why? In this episode, we explore the big picture reasons why China poses a threat to those in power in the United States and what our Congress is doing to combat that threat. Spoiler alert: There's a another U.S. military build-up involved.

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Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes Bills/Laws H.R. 5105: BUILD Act of 2018 S. 2736: Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018
  • Sec. 101: Policy
    • “Promotes American prosperity and economic interests by advancing economic growth and development of a rules-based Indo-Pacific economic community” 
  • Sec 102: Diplomatic Strategy
    • To support the “Association of Southeast Asian Nations”, “Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation”, and the “East Asia Summit”
    • #1: Emphasize our commitment to “freedom of navigation under international law” 
    • #7 : "Develop and grow the economy through private sector partnerships between the United States and Indo-Pacific partners"
    • #8: “To pursue multilateral and bilateral trade agreements … and build a network of partners in the Indo-Pacific committee to free markets” 
    • #9: To work with Indo-Pacific countries to pursue infrastructure projects and “to maintain unimpeded commerce, open sea lines or air ways, and communications” 
  • Sec. 201: Authorization of Appropriations
    • Authorizes $1.5 billion for each fiscal year 2019 through 2023 to be divided among the State Dept., USAID, and the Defense Dept. 
    • The money is allowed to be used for “foreign military financing and international military education and training programs” 
    • The money is allowed to be used “to help partner countries strengthen their democratic systems” 
    • The money is allowed to be used to “encourage responsible natural resource management in partner countries, which is closely associated with economic growth” 
  • Sec. 205: United States-ASEAN Strategic Partnership
    • Sense of Congress expressing the value of “strategic economic initiatives, such as activities under the United States-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement and the United States-ASEAN Connect, which demonstrate a commitment to ASEAN and the ASEAN Economic Community and build upon economic relationships in the Indo-Pacific region."
  • Sec 213 Freedom of Navigation and Overflight; Promotion of International Law
    • “It is the sense of Congress that the President should develop a diplomatic strategy that includes working with United States allies and partners to conduct joint maritime training and freedom of navigation operations in the Indo-Pacific region, including the East China Sea and the South China Sea, in support of a rules-based international system benefitting all countries.” 
  • Sec. 215: Cybersecurity Cooperation
    • Authorizes $100 million for each year (2019-2023) to “enhance cooperation between the United States and Indo-Pacific nations for the purposes of combatting cybersecurity threats.” 
  • Sec. 301: Findings; Sense of Congress
    • Free trade agreements between the United States and three nations in the Indo-Pacific region have entered into force: Australia, Singapore, and the Republic of Korea 
    • According to the National Security Strategy, the United States will “work with partners to build a network of stated dedicated to free markets and protected from forces that would subvert their sovereignty.” 
  • Sec. 304: Trade Capacity Building and Trade Facilitation
    • (a) “The President is encouraged to produce a robust and comprehensive trade capacity building and trade facilitation strategy, including leveling the playing field for American companies competing in the Indo-Pacific region.” 
    • Authorization of Appropriations:“There are authorized to be appropriated such amounts as many be necessaryto carry out subsection (a)." 
  • Sec. 305: Intellectual Property Protection
    • The President “should” take “all appropriate action to deter and punish commercial cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property” and orders a report on the government’s efforts to do so. 
    • Authorization of Appropriations: “There are authorized to be appropriated to the United States Trade Representative such amounts as may be necessary  to sponsor bilateral and multilateral activities designed to build capacity in the identified priority areas” in the report 
  • Sec. 306: Energy Programs and Initiatives
    • Orders the President to create a strategy, updated every 5 years, to “encourage” Indo-Pacific countries to “implement national power strategies and cooperation with United States energy companies and the Department of Energy national laboratories” 
    • Authorization of Appropriations: $1 million per year from 2019 through 2023
    • Sense of Congress: “the United States should explore opportunities to partner with the private sector and multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to promote universal access to reliable electricity in the Indo-Pacific region, including Myanmar (Burma)"
  • Sec. 409: Authorization of Appropriations
    • $210 million each year (2019-2023) to “promote democracy” and the money can be given to “universities, civil society, and multilateral institutions that are focusing on education awareness, training, and capacity building.” This money can be spent to “promote democracy” in China. 
  • Sec. 411: Young Leaders People-to-People Initiatives
    • Authorizes $25 million per year (2019-2023) to support the “Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, the ASEAN Youth Volunteers program, and other people-to-people exchange programs that focus on building the capacity of democracy, human rights, and good governance activities in the Indo-Pacific region.” 
HR 5515: John S. McCain National Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 2019
  • Sec. 1252
    • Amends the NDAA for 2016, which authorized the South China Sea Initiative providing military equipment and training to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, to change the name of the program to the “Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative” and expands the authorization to include the Indian Ocean in addition to the South China Sea and the countries of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
    • Adds India to the list of countries allowed to be paid for expenses, along with Brunei, Singapore, and Taiwan.
    • Extends the expiration date from September 30, 2020 to December 31, 2025. 
  • Sec. 1253
    • Changes the name of the military build-up authorized in NDAA 2018 from the “Indo-Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative” to the “Indo-Pacific Stability Initiative”.
    • Changes the activities authorized to include an increase in “rotational and forward presence” of the US Armed Forces and adds the prepositioning of “munitions” in addition to equipment.
    • Expands the options for funding by removing the requirement that funding come “only” from a section 1001 transfer authority.
    • Requires a 5 year plan be submitted to Congress by the Secretary of Defense by March 1, 2019. 
Public Law 115-91: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018
  • Sec 1251
    •  Authorized the “Indo-Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative” to “increase the presence and capabilities” of the United States Armed Forces in the region by building new infrastructure, “enhance the storage and pre-positioning in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region of equipment of the United States Forces”, and with military training and exercises with allies. 

 

Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Democracy Promotion in a Challenging World Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, June 14, 2018.

Witnesses:

Timestamps & Transcripts 

1:43:38 Representative Michael McCaul (TX): I had a briefing yesterday in a classified setting on ZTE and Huawei, and their efforts to conduct espionage in this country. I’ve also seen them in Sri Lanka where they have burdened them with so much debt that they had to turn over a strategic port to the Chinese. We see the Chinese now in Djibouti for the first time, and we see them leveraging the continent of Africa into so much debt that they will be able to eventually take over these countries. They exploit them. They bring in their own workers—they don’t even hire the host countries’ workers—and they export their natural resources in what is this One Belt, One Road policy.

1:45:00 Carl Gershman: In March, The Economist magazine had a cover story on China, and the bottom line of the cover story was—and this is a direct quote—‘‘The West’s 25-year bet on China has failed.’’ The bet was that if China was brought into the World Trade Organization, was encouraged to grow economically, it would become a more liberal society and be part of the liberal world order.

1:46:26 Carl Gershman: It’s a problem with the Belt and Road Initiative, which is not just an economic expansion. This is intimately tied to China’s geopolitical and military strategy precisely to get strategic ports in Sri Lanka or in Maldives because countries fall into the debt trap and pay back by leasing their ports.

1:58:05 Representative Ted Yoho (FL): They’re a form of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and, as we all know, that’s communism. Our form of government empowers the people. Empowered people reach their full potential. China empowers the government where the people are suppressed for the benefit of the government.

2:00:10 Daniel Twining: It’s the surveillance architecture. This Orwellian total surveillance state they’re building with artificial intelligence and facial recognition and all this stuff. It’s very attractive, as you say, not to people but to leaders.

2:07:52 Representative Ted Poe (TX): Globally, what do you personally see is the number-one entity that is a threat to democracy worldwide? Is it China? Is it Russia? Is it North Korea? Is it ISIS? Is it Iran? Pick one. Pick the one you think is the threat. Carl Gershman: China. Rep. Poe: China. Gershman: China. Rep. Poe: Mr. Twining. Daniel Twining: China. Rep. Poe: Mr. Wollack. Kenneth Wollack: Russia. Rep. Poe: Russia. Russia and China.

Hearing: The China Challenge, Part 1: Economic Coercion as Statecraft, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity, July 24, 2018.

Witnesses:

  • Dan Blumenthal: Director of Asian Studies and Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
  • Ely Ratner: Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security

Timestamps and Transcripts 

33:49 Chairman Senator Cory Gardner (CO): This hearing will be the first hearing in a three-part series of hearings titled The China Challenge and will examine how the United States should respond to the challenge of a rising China that seeks to upend and supplant the U.S.-led liberal world order.

34:12 Chairman Senator Cory Gardner (CO): According to the National Security Strategy, for decades U.S. policy was rooted in the belief that support for China’s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China. Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others. According to the National Defense Strategy, the central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model: gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.

35:28 Chairman Senator Cory Gardner (CO): The question before us now is identifying the tools the United States has at its disposal to counter the disturbing developments posed by China’s less-than-peaceful rise. This is why Senator Markey and I and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors in the Senate joined in introducing the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, or ARIA, on April 24. The legislation sets a comprehensive policy framework to demonstrate U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region and the rules-based international order. ARIA provides a comprehensive set of national security and economic policies to advance U.S. interests and goals in the Indo-Pacific region, including providing substantive U.S. resource commitments for these goals. I’m joined in this legislation on the committee by Senator Kaine, Senator Coons, Senator Cardin, Senator Markey, by Senator Rubio, and Senator Young, as well as Senators Sullivan and Perdue and Graham.

38:12 Chairman Senator Cory Gardner (CO): Our first witness is Senator—is Dan Blumenthal—I almost gave you a demotion there, Dan—who serves as director of Asian studies and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Blumenthal has both served in and advised the U.S. government on China issues for nearly two decades. From 2001 to 2004 he served as senior director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia at the Department of Defense. Additionally, from 2006, 2012 he served as a commissioner on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, including holding the position of vice chair in 2007.

38:54 Chairman Senator Cory Gardner (CO): Our second witness today is Ely Ratner, who serves as the vice president and director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security. Mr. Ratner served from 2015 to 2017 as the deputy national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, and from 2011 to 2012 in the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs at the State Department. He also previously worked in the U.S. Senate as a professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and in the office of Senator Joe Biden.

42:01 Dan Blumenthal: I have to state that the era of reform and opening in China is over. It’s been long over. It’s been over, probably for 10 years. And China is back to being run by state-owned enterprises that are related to the party. The private sector is diminishing. That provides the Chinese state with a lot more control over economic coercive policies.

49:27 Ely Ratner: First, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should hold hearings on the cost and benefits of rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Rejoining TPP is among the most important things we can do to advance our economic position in Asia and erode the effectiveness of China’s economic coercion. By contrast, U.S. withdrawal has done substantial damage to our standing in the region and is facilitating the development of a Chinese sphere of influence in Asia and beyond. Rejoining TPP would renew confidence in the credibility and commitment of the United States, help to re-route supply chains in the region, open new markets for U.S. companies, and ultimately reduce China’s economic leverage.

56:28 Senator Ed Markey (MA): And through its Belt and Road Initiative, BRI, China is burdening countries receiving infrastructure loans with debts so extreme that they begin to undermine their own very sovereignty. According to a recent New York Times report, this Belt and Road Initiative amounts to a debt trap for vulnerable countries around the world, fueling corruption and autocratic behavior in struggling democracies.

59:30 Senator Cory Gardner (CO): Mr. Blumenthal, you mentioned in your opening statement, you talked about the economic opening in China being over. Could you go into a little bit more detail of what you mean by that? Dan Blumenthal: So, the period of reform and opening, which Deng Xiaoping began in 1978 and allowed for the great growth of China, the great growth of the private sector, private-sector entrepreneurs and brought so many Chinese out of poverty and benefitted the world, ended, probably 10 years ago, the Chinese we now know. The Chinese have gone back to the state sector dominating, taking out room for entrepreneurs to grow. They’ve gone back to things like price controls. They’ve gone back to things like lending on the basis of non-market, non-profitable lending but rather through patronage from the party to state-owned enterprises. They certainly haven’t moved any further than they were 10, 12 years ago on market access, things that we’ve been pressing for. They haven’t stopped subsidizing. In fact, they’ve doubled down on subsidizing their state-owned enterprises, which is probably the single biggest cause of probably the WTO stalling as much as it has. And Xi Jinping is certainly not taking China down the road of another round of market reforms—quite the contrary. He’s a statist and favoring state-owned enterprises and the subsidization of state-owned enterprises over the private sector.

1:11:42 Ely Ratner: China is going to use its economic clout to try to achieve its geopolitical aims, which include dividing American alliances and eroding the influence of the United States in the region. So I think that was a very important episode. It was very revealing. I think we can talk about trying to incorporate China into a rules-based order. I don’t think that’s where we’re going to be in the next several years. I think what we have to do is pull up our socks, get more competitive, slow down Chinese momentum in its efforts to develop this sphere of influence. That’s a much more urgent task than a long-term goal of developing a rules-based order.

1:13:44 Senator Todd Young (IN): Mr. Ratner, thanks for your testimony. As I reviewed your written statement, you seem to be making a pretty simple argument with very serious implications. In short, you seem to be saying we’re in a high-stakes competition with China, that China does not accept this rules-based international order we had hoped to welcome them into back in 2000. The legitimacy of that order and the institutions that were stood up to oversee that order are not respected by China. China, instead, respects power. And we as a nation have insufficient leverage, it seems, to be able to affect the sort of change we want with respect to intellectual-property theft, joint-licensing requirements, dumping, and so many other things. What we lack—and this is language you employed—is a comprehensive strategy. Is that a fair summary of your viewpoint, Mr. Ratner? Ely Ratner: Yes, sir.

1:21:05 Ely Ratner: When it looked like the United States was going to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and that agreement was going to pass, the Chinese were starting to ask questions quietly at senior levels, with American officials about what they would need to do down the road to improve their practices to join that agreement, and obviously, those conversations are no longer happening today.

1:22:30 Senator Jeff Merkley (OR): Mr. Ratner, under WTO, is China allowed to offer subsidies to its businesses? Ely Ratner: Senator, I’m not a trade lawyer, so I can’t get into the weeds of WTO law, but I think the answer is no, and there’re several other dimensions in which they’re not in compliance with the agreement. Sen. Merkley: Under the WTO, China is required to do an annual report of all of its subsidies to different enterprises. Does it do that report? Ratner: I believe not, Senator. Sen. Merkley: So, when it fails to do the report, we are, under the WTO, allowed to do a report on their subsidies. I did an amendment a few years ago that said if China doesn’t produce a report, our trade representative will be directed to produce our report. And before that amendment, the ink could dry on it, our trade rep under President Obama produced a list of 200 Chinese subsidies, subsidies we’re well aware of but rarely kind of articulated. So that’s—so we certainly have an understanding of massive Chinese subsidies that are not allowed under WTO. How about to offer loans at non-market rates? Ratner: I believe not, sir. Sen. Merkley: Or to provide land for free as a form of subsidy? Ratner: I think that’s right, as well as forced technology transfer and a number of other practices. Sen. Merkley: And how about being required—for our companies to be required to locate in a particular part of China where the infrastructure is inferior to other locations? Ratner: Correct. Sen. Merkley: A couple years ago, when I was a part of a delegation to China, we were at a meeting of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in which many of these practices were highlighted, but one company in particular stood up and said, and I won’t name the exact company because they probably didn’t want it too much publicized at the time, but they said they were basically told, we have to put our manufacturing center in this far-western city, far from the port infrastructure; we are told we cannot build any size of item that is in direct competition with the Chinese items; they were told they only could build larger versions that the Chinese weren’t yet building, or they would be shut down and shut out of the country. Is that type of activity by the Chinese legal under the WTO? Ratner: No, sir. Sen. Merkley: And what about requiring American companies to do joint-venture arrangements in order to be able to locate in China? Ratner: Also, not part of the agreement. Sen. Merkley: So, and you’re familiar with how these joint-venture agreements are often used as a way to drain U.S. technology? Ratner: Yes, sir. Sen. Merkley: So, what does one say to the American citizen who says, “China is violating all of these rules, and the WTO has no mechanism by which we appear to be able to hold them accountable. Why shouldn’t we work intensely to create an ability to hold China accountable to the structure of the WTO?” Ratner: I think that was the intention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

1:45:22 Senator Cory Gardner (CO): In recent writings in the Wall Street Journal, quotes from President Xi, China has its own ideas about how the world should be run, and as he put it, “to lead in the reform of global governance.” Another quote, or another statement, “in at least eight African countries, as well as some in Southeast Asia, Chinese officials are training their counterparts in how to manage political stability through propaganda and how to control media and the Internet,” and that the China model provides “a new option for other countries who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence.” And finally this: China has committed to train 10,000 political elites in Latin America by 2020. All of this speaks to the need for what you have described, Mr. Ratner, what you have described, Mr. Blumenthal, is U.S. leadership and U.S. response, whether it’s the BUILD Act, whether it’s legislation that Senator Young has described, the legislation that we have co-sponsored together—the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act. This is a time for U.S. leadership, and it’s a time to stand boldly for our values that have empowered the world to be a better place, that has lifted up hundreds of millions of people around the globe up and out of poverty through a system of rules and standards that don’t favor one country over another but that give people a chance to participate in global governance and that global rise.

Hearing: The China Challenge, Part 2: Security and Military Developments, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity, Septemer 5, 2018.

Witnesses:

  • Dr. Oriana Skylar Mastro: American Enterprise Institute
  • Abraham Denmark: Director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Timestamps and Transcripts 

27:50 Chairman Cory Gardner (CO): Our first witness is Dr. Oriana Skylar Mastro, who is the Jeane Kirkpatrick visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute where she focuses on Chinese military and security policy in the Asia Pacific. She is also assistant professor of Security Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and serves in the United States Air Force Reserve as a political-military affairs strategist at Pacific air forces. Previously, Dr. Mastro was a fellow in the Asia-Pacific security program at the Center for a New American Security.

28:25 Chairman Cory Gardner (CO): Also joined on the panel by Abraham Denmark, who is director of the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Prior to joining the Wilson Center, Mr. Denmark served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, where he supported the secretary of defense and other U.S. senior government leaders in the formulation and implementation of national security strategies and defense policies toward the region. Mr. Denmark also previously worked as senior vice president for political and security affairs at the National Bureau of Asian Research, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, and held several positions in the U.S. intelligence community.

42:40 Oriana Skylar Mastro: What China is doing is they’re exploiting gaps in the order. So, we talk about the U.S.-led international order and whether China is challenging it or not. But in reality, there’s many areas of the order that lacks certainty, or ambiguous, don’t have consensus. So I would label cybersecurity as one of these areas. And so what China does is it’s trying to build consensus or work on the periphery of the order. So, for example, when they did One Belt, One Road, and they initially moved to the central Asia, they weren’t challenging the United States, because the United States was not there. And so I would say that in addition to strengthening our relationship with traditional partners and allies, the United States needs to think more broadly about its relationships with countries around the globe. Also, in terms of the security initiative, I would recommend that we think more about demand not supply, in kind of business terms. You often, at least in my experience, you think about what the United States has to offer in terms of security assistance, and then we try to put together packages, whether it’s visits, port visits, or a rotation of a squadron or what have you, instead of looking at what those countries actually demand. And so we should move away from this model of increasing advertising and hoping that countries around the world will decide they want what we have to offer, and instead try to look at what they actually want and start supplying that.

1:05:45 Senator Ed Markey (MA): Should the United States abandon the rules-based international system, and what would the concessions be that we would try to extract in order to take such a step? Dr. Mastro. Oriana Skylar Mastro: So, sir, I don’t think we should abandon it. Instead, what I’m arguing for is an expansion of that system. I think that actually the international, is very limited. If you look at the definition, the party to that order, the amount of countries that actually might be involved in certain treaties, it’s not every country possible. For example, India has very different views on things like cybersecurity than the United States does. And so I think if we could manage to build consensus in these areas of uncertainty, we could actually shape China’s choices. And to that end, that gives the United States a lot of political power because the bottom line is one of the main differences between today and maybe 10 years ago is for the United States, the security benefits that we give to our partners, allies, in the region are no longer enough to outweigh the economic benefits that they get from interacting with China. And so we need a security-benefits-plus type of strategy in which we think also about the economic benefits, which is difficult under the current administration, given the trade policy, but also those political benefits by building new international institutions and building new norms and consensus around areas where that consensus has failed to date.

1:07:08 Chairman Cory Gardner (CO): Going back to the question I started to talk about, just the investments that China has made in South America, the investments China is making in Central America. If you look at investments in Panama, El Salvador, and at least apparently in El Salvador, as perhaps part of an agreement as it relates to the decision El Salvador made on Taiwan. Look at the sale of submarines to countries—Thailand—do we see that as continued opportunity for China’s military expansion? Will we see military basing affecting U.S. operations in Thailand? Will we see, perhaps, an opportunity for military entrance into Central America, into South America, China, basing, even, perhaps? Mr. Denmark. Abraham Denmark: Well, I think there’s a lot that remains to be seen. I don’t think there’s a definitive yes or no answer to that question, but I do expect that Djibouti be the first overseas base that China has established. I fully expect that that will not be the last. Where additional facilities may pop up remains to be seen. I personally would expect more facilities to be established along the trade routes from the Western Pacific, through the Indian Ocean, into the Middle East. I would expect to see more there than before I’d expect to see them in Latin America, primarily because of China’s economic interests, but it remains to be seen.

1:20:00 Senator Ed Markey (MA): In September of 2013, China began a concerted effort to build artificial islands in the South China Sea by crushing coral reefs into sand. It built land features where none previously existed. On top of that, China expanded small outposts into military bases capable of conducting operations. Admiral Philip Davidson, the commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, stated this year that China’s militarization of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea means “China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios, short of a war with the United States.” Ms. Mastro, what considerations or challenges do these bases pose for other claimants and the United States in peacetime, in the gray zone, or in conflict? In other words, what are the implications of China’s military bases in the South China Sea? Oriana Skylar Mastro: So, militarily, sir, they expand the range of Chinese capabilities. And so I think I made the point previously that it’s difficult for us to conceive of fighting a war with China using our bases in Korea and Japan, and that’s primarily because of the range of conventional precision-guided munitions that China has that can reach those bases and render them inoperable. In the South China Sea, which is about the size of the United States, China’s power-projection capabilities historically have been quite limited. And in the report, for example, one thing that was highlighted was the H-6K, when it has ______(01:37), now China can extend its range to 3,300 kilometers. But if you actually have bases there, coupled with carriers, then China’s able to sustain combat sorties, for example, for longer periods of time and at farther ranges than it was before. And this is what allows it to be able to control, as the quote suggested, large areas of the South China Sea, the air, and the sea. I would just mention on the gray-zone side, that China can engage in gray-zone activities only because the United States allows it to. There’s nothing that, as far as I understand it, there’s nothing that tells us that, for example, if China says, “Well, this is a Coast Guard,” that we can’t respond with the use of the U.S. Navy. We are too concerned about escalation, and China knows this. They don’t believe in miscalculation and in inadvertent escalation, and so they use this to their advantage. And we should start being very clear about what our redlines are and, obviously, being then able to follow through with that.

1:42:30 Senator Ed Markey (MA): I just have one final area of questioning, if I may, and that just goes back to the Belt and Road Initiative which has resulted in a very generous policy by China of loaning money to countries, which they then can’t pay back, which then results in China being able to extract huge long-term concessions from those countries. Sri Lanka, just a perfect example where they’ve now had to give up a 99-year lease to the Chinese company, which is partially owned by the Chinese government, 15,000 acres of land. And now it appears there are more countries that are deciding to reconsider how far in debt they want their countries or companies to be to a Chinese entity. But at the same time, President Xi, just in the last few days has announced a new $60 billion program—grants, loans—around the world, on top of the $60 billion program that they’ve had in the past that now has these consequences. So, what are the implications for the United States, for global security, of these Chinese strategies in country after country to gain access, or control over, ports in countries? And what would you recommend to the United States that we do to try to make sure that we minimize the ability of this Belt and Road program to build economic and security relationships with companies in a way almost giving them offers they can’t refuse so they become deeper indebted and more entangled into Chinese foreign policy objectives?

1:48:09 Abraham Denmark: The initiative announced several weeks ago by Secretary of State Pompeo in this vein to enhance U.S. engagement, economic engagement, in these areas I thought was a good indication of seeing the problem and trying to address it, not trying to copy the Chinese system, but playing to American strengths of the free market and American corporations.

Hearing: The China Challenge, Part 3: Democracy, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity, December 4, 2018.

Witnesses:

  • Laura Stone: Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US Department of State
  • Scott Busby: Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and Labor at the US Department of State
  • Gloria Steele: Acting Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Asia at USAID

Timestamps and Transcripts 

01:23:05 Senator Ed Markey (MA): Around the world, all countries, including the United States, rely on the rules-based international order to underpin security and prosperity to help provide a level playing field, to provide the maximum opportunity for the greatest number of people, and to defend and protect certain fundamental rights. So it is of the utmost importance that we do everything in our power to ensure that this system remains.

01:30:00 Senator Cory Gardner (CO): Our first witness is Scott Busby, who serves as deputy assistant secretary of state at the Bureau of the Human Right, Democracy, and Labor. Previously, he served as director for human rights on the National Security Council in the White House from 2009 to 2011, where he managed a wide range of human rights and refugee issues.

01:36:20 Scott Busby: My bureau, DRL, is implementing $10 million of FY 2018 economic support funds to support human rights in China, just as we have done for the past several years. Nevertheless, such programs are increasingly challenged by the difficult operating environment in China, including the new and highly restrictive foreign NGO management law.

1:59:58 Senator Marco Rubio (FL): And then you see sort of what the global reaction has been to it, and there’s reason to be concerned that this post-World War II, pro-democracy, pro-human rights, global norms are being eroded and reshaped and that China is using its geopolitical heft and its economic power to push it in that direction.

Meeting: Press availability at the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and related meetings, August 4, 2018.

Speaker: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Timestamps and Transcripts 

1:15 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: "Throughout my ASEAN-centered engagements these past days I’ve conveyed President Trump’s commitment to this vital part of the world that continues to grow in importance. Security has been a major focus of our conversations. As part of our commitment to advancing regional security in the Indo-Pacific, the United States is excited to announce nearly $300 million in new funding to reinforce security cooperation throughout the entire region.”

4:50 - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: "As I said earlier this week, the United States practices partnership economics; we seek partnership, not dominance. Earlier this week at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum hosted by the United States Chamber of Commerce, I outlined the Trump administration’s economic strategy for advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific, and I talked about why U.S. businesses’ engagement in the region is crucial to our mission of promoting peace, stability, and prosperity. There is no better force for prosperity in the world than American businesses. When nations partner with American firms, they can have confidence they are working with the most scrupulous, well-run, and transparent companies in the world. As a down payment on a new era in American economic commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, I announced at the forum $113 million in new U.S. Government resources to support foundational areas of the future: the digital economy, energy, and infrastructure. In addition, the Trump administration is working with Congress to encourage the passage of the BUILD Act. It recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives and now before the United States Senate. Under this bill, the government’s development finance capacity would more than double to $60 billion to support U.S. private investment in strategic opportunities abroad."

Meeting: Beyond NAFTA and GATT, National Association Southern Center, April 20, 1994.

Speaker: Arthur Dunkel - Director of the UN

Transcript 

Arthur Dunkel: If I look back at the last 25 years, what did we have? We had two worlds: The so-called Market Economy world and the sadly planned world; the sadly planned world disappeared. One of the main challenges of the Uruguay round has been to create a world wide system. I think we have to think of that. Secondly, why a world wide system? Because, basically, I consider that if governments cooperate in trade policy field, you reduce the risks of tension - political tension and even worse than that."

Additional Reading Resources Community Suggestions

See more Community Suggestions HERE.

Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Dec 23 2018

1hr 54mins

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Rank #13: CD102: The World Trade Organization: COOL?

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Do you want to know where your food comes from? Well, Congress is in the process of repealing our Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law because the World Trade Organization says our meat labels are internationally illegal. In this special episode, we take a look at the World Trade Organization: What is it? Where did it come from? How is it possible that it is determining our laws?

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Please Support GovTrack's Kickstarter Upcoming Meet-Ups

Orinda, September 2, 2015

6:30pm - 8:00pm: Rep. Mark DeSaulinier's Town Hall Meeting Orinda Library Auditorium

8:15pm - ?: Piccolo Napoli

The Bills H.R. 2393: Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act of 2015 S. 1844: Voluntary Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and Trade Enhancement Act of 2015 Information Presented in This Episode Country of Origin Labels

USDA fact sheet on the country of origin labels

World Trade Organization documents related to the case the United States lost regarding our country of origin labels.

Panel Members for the country of origin label WTO case:

World Trade Organization

World Trade Organization has 161 member countries

The House of Representatives voted 288-146 to create the World Trade Organization on November 29, 1994.

The U.S. Senate voted 76-24 to create the World Trade Organization on December 1, 1994.

The World Trade Organization's creation became law when signed by President Clinton on December 8, 1994.

Additional Information

European Commission fact sheet on the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)

International Monetary Fund: Frequently asked questions regarding Greece

International Monetary Fund wants Greece to sell of their banks, rails, ports, utilities and airports in return for loans.

Article: Greece approves first privatisation deal under Syriza, EurActiv.com, August 19, 2015.

Article: For most workers, real wages have barely budged for decades by Drew Desilver, Pew Research Center, October 9, 2014.

Speech: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Singapore Management University, November 2012 (transcript)

Article: Courting Unions, Hillary Clinton Says She Didn't Work on Trans-Pacific Partnership by Josh Eidelson of Bloomberg, July 30, 2015.

Sound Clip Sources Panel Discussion: GATT Treaty Negotiations, C-SPAN, April 15, 1994 Hearing: General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, October 18, 1994
  • Laurence Tribe, Professor at Harvard Law School
  • Ralph Nader, founder of Public Citizen
Panel Discussion: Beyond NAFTA and Gatt, Southern Center for International Studies, April 20, 1994.
  • Arthur Dunkel
    • Former Director General of the United Nations
    • Wrote the “Dunkel Draft” in 1991, a 500 page general outline of what became the WTO 3 years later
    • “Retired” from GATT in 1993, became a “trade consultant”, and served on the board of Nestle
    • Was a registered WTO dispute panelist
  • Alejandro Orfila
    • Former Secretary General of the Organization of American States
    • 1953: Director of Information at the Organization of American States right after it was formed
    • 1962: Created a lobbying firm, specializing in the interests of U.S. firms investing in or trading with Latin America
    • 1964: Political advisor to the Director of the Adela Investment Company, the largest multinational development corporation in Latin America
    • 1975: Became Secretary General of the Organization of American States until 1984
  • James Callaghan
    • Former Prime Minister of the UK
  • Andreas von Agt
    • Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Press Conference: Country of Origin Labeling, U.S. Capitol, January 7, 2004
  • Former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota
  • Tom Buis, Vice President of the National Farmers Union
Hearing: H.R. 2393 & H.R. 2685 Markup, House Rules Committee, June 9, 2015.
  • Rep. Michael Conway of Texas
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut
  • Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York
Music Presented in This Episode

Sep 01 2015

2hr 9mins

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Rank #14: CD174: Bank Lobbyist Act

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The Bank Lobbyist Act was just signed into law and as the nickname suggests, it is a banker’s wet dream. In this episode, learn the details of this new law including the many favors to banks big and small - which undoubtedly make our entire financial system riskier - along with a few good provisions that can help you protect your identity and maybe even increase your credit score. Joe Briney joins Jen for the thank you’s.

 

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Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes Recommended Reading Additional Reading Bill Outline S. 2155: Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act ("The Bank Lobbyist Act")

TITLE I: IMPROVING CONSUMER ACCESS TO MORTGAGE CREDIT

Section 101: Exempts banks with under $10 billion in assets from ability-to-pay documentation requirements for mortgages as long as the loans do not have interest-only or principal increasing features. The bank is also supposed to keep the loan in their portfolio but there is a loophole that allows the loan to be sold as long as the next bank keeps the loan in their portfolio.

Section 103: Exempts banks from having do to appraisals of property located in rural areas for transactions under $400,000

Section 104: Exempts banks and credit unions from reporting data about credit scores, debt-to-income ratios, and loan-to-value ratios of their loans if the bank issues fewer than 500 loans per year, which includes 85% of all banks and credit unions.

Section 107: Allows people selling manufactured homes to guide their customers towards getting loans from certain banks as long as they disclose to the customer in writing that they have a corporate affiliation with the bank and as long as they do not directly negotiate the loan terms. The home seller would be allowed to be paid for steering customers to the bank.

TITLE II: REGULATORY RELEIF AND PROTECTING CONSUMERS ACCESS TO CREDIT

Section 201: Exempts banks with less than $10 billion in reported assets from rules limiting their stock market trading with deposits, reporting requirements, and other standards as long as they hold on to (maintain a "community bank leverage ratio") of between 8 and 10 percent.

Section 202: Frees banks that accept "broker deposits" from other banks (banks that help rich people get around FDIC insurance limits -specifically Promontory) from having to hold onto more money to make up for the risk these accounts pose to the banks who accept them.

TITLE III - PROTECTIONS FOR VETERANS, CONSUMERS, AND HOMEOWNERS

Section 301: Requires that credit reporting agencies place a security freeze, free of charge, for consumers within 1 business day if requested by phone or Internet or 3 business days if requested by mail. Within 5 business days, the agencies must then inform the consumer that the freeze has been placed and inform the consumer how to remove the freeze. Removals must be done within one hour of a phone or Internet request and 3 business days if requested by mail. Temporary removal requests must be granted for the time requested by the consumer.

  • Credit freezes will not stop law enforcement, debt collectors, or "any person using the information for employment, tenant, or background screening purposes" from accessing a "frozen" credit report.
  • Requires that the credit reporting agencies each set up a website for requesting freezes, requesting fraud alerts, and opting out of having their personal information sold to marketers. The Federal Trade Commission will also set up a single website linking to the websites of the credit reporting agencies (likely www.identitytheft.gov)

Section 302: In response to the reporting of medical debt of veterans due to delayed payments to non-VA doctors as part of the Veteran's Choice Program, if a medical service is delinquent by less than a year, the veteran can submit information to the credit rating agencies and have that medical debt removed from their report.

  • Within 1 year, the Secretary of Veteran's Affairs must create a database to allow credit reporting agencies to verify veterans' medical debt.
  • Within 1 year, the Federal Trade Commission will have to create regulations requiring that active duty military members be given credit monitoring services for free

Section 303: Grants immunity to people and the banks who employ them for reporting financial fraud against a senior citizen as long as they have received training for spotting financial abuse.

TITLE IV: TAILORING REGULATIONS FOR CERTAIN BANK HOLDING COMPANIES

Section 401: By the beginning of 2020, the threshold for a bank to be subjected to stress tests and extra requirements for holding onto actual cash will be changed so that the only banks subject to those regulations are ones with over $250 billion in assets, as opposed to the $50 billion threshold enacted by Dodd-Frank.

  • Also changes the frequency of stress tests for big banks (over $250 billion in assets) from "semiannual" to "periodic", which could be as little as once every three years. It also reduces the number of scenarios to be test from 3 to 2.

Sec. 402: Loosens the definition of a "custodial bank" in a way that allows the big banks to qualify. It then allows the money the banks have in a the Federal Reserve or other central banks to be omitted from calculations for their supplementary leverage ratio, allowing the banks to cook the books in order to hold onto less money.

TITLE V: ENCOURAGING CAPITAL FORMATION

Section 504: The "Supporting America's Innovators Act" allows venture capital funds with up to 250 investors to get out of registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The previous threshold was 100 individual investors.

Section 507: Doubles from $5 million to $10 million the amount of securities a company can sell in a year before having to give additional information to investors, which will increase along with inflation.

TITLE VI: PROTECTIONS FOR STUDENT BORROWERS

Section 601: Prohibits private banks from declaring an automatic default or accelerated repayment of student loans in the case of a co-signer's death and banks will have to release from responsibility a co-signer if the student dies.

  • This will only apply to student loans that are created in 2019 or after.

Section 602: Allows banks to remove a customer's student loan debt from their credit report if the bank decides to give the student a new monthly loan repayment program and the student makes their payments.

Resources Sound Clip Sources Video: Dark Money and the Federal Courts: The Secret Push to Weaponize the First Amendment, May 21, 2018.

Sheldon Whitehouse: I think what has very clearly happened is that unlimited money—and its nasty big brother, unlimited dark money—have showed up since the Citizens United decision and basically driven Congress into a state of servitude to those who have the wherewithal to engage with us with all that dark money. So, parity _(01:07) the problem. It’s just not capable of being—reaching a state of parity by its nature, which is why spotlighting it and going after it and explaining it to the American people is so important, because there is a winning and important story to be told here. And if we win this issue—this is like the Death Star. In Star Wars, they didn’t go fight the evil empire on every single planet; they went after the Death Star, and once they won the Death Star, everything else moved in a better direction. If we can solve the dark-money problem, then we can start to win on pharmaceuticals, on Wall Street, on environment, on fossil fuels, on a whole variety of other issues. And that’s why they fight so desperately to protect this, because they know it’s their Death Star, too. If you look out at the American public, you see a very large segment of the American public that feels it is not being listened to. They don’t believe that Washington is listening, they don’t believe that the powers of government reflected here are listening to them, and they’re not wrong. If you look at the Bartels’ Princeton study, it shows that there is essentially zero statistical correlation between what we do in Congress and what regular people want Congress to do. Move up to the one percent, move up to the big corporations, and suddenly there’s a very, very powerful statistical correlation. So it is very clear that in fact in many significant ways the government of the United States has indeed been captured by big special interests. The DISCLOSE Act, requiring transparency for all political contributions, is permitted by the Citizens United decision. And if you live in a tropical climate and go into the kitchen at night and turn on the light, you will often see cockroaches skittering for the shadows and for the corners when you turn on the light at night in the kitchen. In the same way, you turn on the light of disclosure—and I think a lot of the cockroaches skitter for the shadows, and probably, and my guess, two-thirds of the unlimited spending supported by Citizens United goes away when it’s not anonymous any longer. The dark-money operation is all over. It is after us in elections, it is after us in administrative agencies, it is after us with lobbying in the halls of Congress, it is after us in all these different ways I’ve just described in the courts. We are taking essentially dark money, artillery fire, every single moment on multiple fronts. In artillery, there is a thing called counter battery, where you fire back at the artillery that is firing at you. That needs to be a priority for Democrats. We need to make sure that the spotlight of disclosure is on these webs, on these networks, focused on the special interests behind the front groups, focused on the creepy billionaires who are spending this money, so that the American public sees what is really going on. That is our job, and every day that we are not doing that job, we are losing and we are failing in our duty to this country.

Video: LinkedIn Lobbyist Group and Dodd Frank, Laws and Sausage TV, April 24, 2018.

Jeffrey Taylor: Well, again, that’s the other thing: trying to get on the—try to get support for your bill from the industry associations and the think tanks that weigh in on these kinds of things. Early on, we had the more free market, the more—well, free market, like the Chamber of Commerce and other financial services groups, but a little later in the process, we also had on a group that is considered left of center, the national state securities secretaries association called NASAA. And the minute they came on the bill, “Katy, bar the door!” All of a sudden, a number of Democrats had to say, “Well, if they’re on the bill, there must be some merit here.” And that’s actually when we started to have more dialog on the Left, trying to make this a bipartisan bill.

Jeffrey Taylor: When you have NASAA and the U.S. Chamber, you’re now covering the waterfront on the political spectrum, and we were able to move forward. There are some people like Senator Warren that you will never get, because they believe in highly regulating the financial services. And you can talk to Senator Warren and her colleagues all you want, and you kind of know at the end of the day, we tried but we know we’ll never get there. But there are others like Senator Heitkamp, Senator Donnelly, Senator Warren that there’s a good chance, because they’re pro-business Democrats, that maybe we can get them on board, and then once we get one or two on board, others will come on board because they trust their judgment. So, it’s all putting a puzzle together. And you’re absolutely right: finding the outside interests that are trusting to Democrats and are trusting to Republicans, and we were able to do that.

Host Brian Trascher: Well, Jeff, you pretty well explained your strategy thus far. How do you think you’re going to spend the rest of 2018 to try to keep your bill moving forward, and in an election year, get something done before the next Congress takes over? Jeffrey Taylor: Well, what we’re hopeful is is that the Senate banking committee actually did pass a bill recently. It had come over from the House. It’s bill S.2155. And that is a compendium of a lot of bills—securities bills—and so ours is not in that bill. But what the Senate did was, it made changes to the original House bill. So when the Senate passes a bill like that, it has to go back to the House because both bills have to be absolutely spot-on identical. And so now that it’s back in the House, we’re going back to Senator Jeb Hensarling and some of the other members and say, “Listen, in the intervening months, we passed a 426-to-zero bill. How about putting our bill into the bigger 2155?” And so based on all of the interaction we have so far, they’re seriously considering that. They’re seriously considering putting one or two bills that passed over the last four or five months into 2155. They’ll put it into 2155, send it back to the Senate, and hopefully at that point the Republicans and Democrats in the Senate will say, “Well, good grief. These are all unanimous votes. There really is nothing contentious here, so, okay, we will now pass the revised 2155,” which actually has our bill 477 in it, and we’re in good shape at that point. So those are the kind of negotiations that are going on right now, putting our smaller bill into the larger bill going. And so we’ll keep ____(01:58—with that). Go ahead. Trascher: Yeah, and piggybacking is also a very good strategy when sometimes your particular instrument stalls or meets with some resistance, a lot of times you can get it thrown into something that has a lot more momentum and is in a posture to pass.

Host Brian Trascher: Well, you’re right: it is rare to get a unanimous vote in the House unless it’s to rename a post office or something. To what do you credit your success in getting that unanimous vote in the House? Was it because of the two high-profile sponsors, bipartisan sponsors, who latched onto the bill? Jeffrey Taylor: Well, Maxine Waters didn’t latch on right away. And in fact, when we made it through the committee, it was still a bipartisan bill. I think it was split right down the middle, although you could tell that there were a number of Democrats on the committee that liked the bill but it needed some corrections. And at that point, that’s when lobbyists come in and say, “Okay, Congresswoman Waters, this really is dead in the Senate if we don’t have some kind of bipartisan support in the House.” And so we sat down with her team and said, “All right. Let’s go through the bill line by line, and we’ll bring in our experts, and you bring in your experts, and let’s really tear this thing apart. You know, obviously, we can’t bring Democrats on if we all of a sudden equally lose Republicans, so where can we find that sweet spot?” And her staff was very accommodating. “Here are the three areas, Jeffrey. What can you do that doesn’t harm the overall bill?” And we were able to tweak each of these areas, and at the end of the day, to Congresswoman Waters’ credit, she said, “Done. That’s a good bill now.” We went to the floor, Mrs. Waters spoke on behalf of the bill, Chairman Hensarling spoke on behalf of the bill, and boom, 426 to zero. It can still be done. You can still find the happy medium. The problem is, it’s much more difficult in the Senate. Everybody thinks that the House is the more partisan. In fact, there’re a lot of bills going from the House to the Senate. It’s in the Senate where things are not even getting hearings and trying to get to the floor of the Senate for a vote. And I think part of that is the mismanagement of Senator Chuck Schumer, who has told all of the Democratic senators, “We are the resistance. We are not going to proceed.” And boy, when you start with a premise like that, it’s hard to get things even to the batter’s box in the U.S. Senate.

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Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

May 28 2018

2hr 10mins

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Rank #15: CD201: WTF is the Federal Reserve?

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The Federal Reserve system: Most Americans know it's important but most Americans don't know exactly what it is. In this episode, discover the controversial and disturbing history of the Federal Reserve and learn how it has allowed bankers and politicians to create money out of nothing, taking value out of your bank accounts for over 100 years. 

 

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Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD191: The Democracies of Elliott Abrams

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CD Team Members Only (Patreon): Inside CSPAN

Books

The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin September 2010

Fed Up: An Insider's Take on Why the Federal Reserve is Bad for America Booth by Danielle DiMartino February 2017

Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World by Nomi Prins 2018

Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud by David Dayen May 2016

Articles/Documents Resources Sound Clip Sources

Press Conference aired on CNBC: Powell on Trump: ‘The law is clear that I have a four-year term, and I fully intend to serve it’ June 19, 2019

Reporter: Clarify what you would do if the president tweets or calls you to say he would like to demote you as fed chair? Jerome Powell: I think the law is clear that I have a four year term and I I fully intend to serve it.

Tweet: Kyle Dunnigan, #LeavingNevreland March 6, 2019

Fox News Interview with President Donald Trump October 16, 2019

President Donald Trump: Give me zero interest rates right now and you take a look at our numbers. It'd be the greatest economy in the history of the world. Nobody would be able to compete with it.

President Donald Trump: And I fully get the whole thing, the Federal Reserve, I get it as well as any president who's ever been here. I get it really well.

Joe Biden Speaks that Council on Foreign Relations January 23, 2018

Joe Biden: I’ll give you one concrete example. I was—not I, it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team and our leaders, convincing them that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor, and they didn’t. So they said they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

Hillary Clinton Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations November 2015 Watch on C-SPAN

Hillary Clinton: So we need to move simultaneously toward a political solution to the civil war that paves the way for a new government with new leadership and to encourage more Syrians to take on ISIS as well. To support them, we should immediately deploy the Special Operations Force President Obama has already authorized, and be prepared to deploy more, as more Syrians get into the fight. We should retool and ramp up our efforts to support and equip viable Syrian opposition units. Our increased support should go hand in hand with increased support from our Arab and European partners, including Special Forces who can contribute to the fight on the ground. We should also work with the coalition and the neighbors to impose no-fly zones that will stop Assad from slaughtering civilians and the opposition from the air. Opposition Forces on the ground, with material support from the coalition, could then help create safe areas for them from the country instead of fleeing toward Europe.

Ron Paul speech at the Campaign for Liberty: End the Fed September 18, 2009

Ron Paul: But, there's a moral argument, against the, the Federal Reserve because, we're giving power to a few individuals to create money out of thin air and have, have legal tender laws that says, you must use the paper money. You can't use gold as the constitution tells you you should, but you must use, paper money. And then that gives the central bank the Authority to counterfeit money, and always for good reasons, of course, to maintain a stable economy.

Ron Paul: The mandate and the Federal Reserve Act for the Federal Reserve was to maintain the value of the dollar and to have full employment, and maintaining the value of the dollar means stable prices. Well, they fail. They flown, they get an AF. They're destroying the value of the dollar. And we have perpetual increases in cost of living and they say, oh no, it's not all bad inflation. We're only destroying the money at 2% per year. But it's a lot worse than that. But 2% it's evil too. You know, under sun money, your value of your money goes up, costs go down, cost of living goes down and you get more. And that's how we become more prosperous. But they have totally failed in maintaining the value of the dollar, giving us stable prices. Nobody wants to talk about the inflation in Eh, in a medical care. Yes, pricing. People are unhappy because they can't afford it or they can't afford it because their dollar doesn't buy as much. You say, oh no, we don't have inflation. The government says the CPIS only going up 1% - 2%. But the cost of medicine goes up much more rampantly. But, when you create new money, the cost goes up differently for different areas. If everybody's wages went up at the same rate as the money supply would go up, and everybody's cost would go up the same, it would be irrelevant. But it doesn't work that way. Your wages and your income never keep up and certain prices go up faster than others. Some people suffer more than people who get to use the money. First benefit. The people who get the money, use the money last, the average person in the middle class, they use the money and they get stuck. If you're in retirement, you might suffer more than others. But you know, they come up with these figures and they say, oh, prices went up 2% last month. But if you exclude for food and energy, they only went up a half a percent. So it wasn't so bad. But for some people, food and energy crisis go up and it means a whole lot.

Ron Paul: And there was a time, you know, the Federal Reserve was required to have gold behind the expansion of money. So they were restrained and as bad as they were in inviting problems, they still had some restraint up until 1971. But even though the Federal Reserve Act gave the power to the Fed to buy corporate debt, they really never did that until just recently. It used to be gold and silver that they used as reserve. And then after 1971, they just used treasury bills, which was bad, but still there was some restraint on that, that depended on the amount of debt that we had. But of course, that gave license to the congress to run up unlimited amount of debt. But today what backs our dollar is derivatives. All the worthless access, the toxic access assets that we were required to buy are now held by the Fed. And we don't know exactly how much and what they have bought. And that, of course, is why we're arguing for the case of auditing the Fed.

Ron Paul: The other associations that I talk about in the book are the associations with the Federal Reserve Board chairman. I've had a few of those. And a matter of fact, just for a month or so, when I first went into Congress, Berns was still the chairman. I didn't really get to know him and it was such a short period and he was in poor health. But the one that I got to know the best in our years was Paul Volcker. And, I gave him a little bit of a plus as far as the various members, various chairman that I've met because, he seemed to be more willing to discuss things on a one to one basis. Actually there was one time when we were working on the monetary control act in the early 1980s, which gave a lot more power, regulatory powers, to the Federal Reserve and to monetize debt. And I was arguing one case in the committee, that it was a dangerous thing because the Federal Reserve was given too much power to inflate endlessly and didn't have to have any reserves whatsoever and could take interest rates down to zero or whatever. And, he was disagreeing with me and he says, look, what I'd like you to do is come over and have breakfast with me. And, that wouldn't happen with Bernanke or Greenspan. They didn't do that. So I did. I went over to the Federal Reserve and we had the discussion. He tried to, you know, convince me differently, but I felt like I won the argument with them because as I was leaving, he says, yes, you may be right about this, but he himself, that I may be right on the interpretation of the legislation, but he himself would not inflate. He wants this so that he has the power to restrain monetary authorities rather than to expand monetary powers. But it turns out that yes, I said, you might not want to use these powers to rapidly expand the money supply, but someday somebody else might want to do it. And of course, I make the comment, I think that some day is right here when you see what Bernanke did, you know, within a few months, doubling the monetary base. So, his authority was getting granted back at that time.

Ron Paul: He wants to know what a sound currency would look like. I think you could probably go to the period of time in the 19th century when they had sound money and gold coins circulated and certificates should circulate and could circulate. It's the trust factor that would have to be there and you could still have electronic money and whatever. People could measure the value of the currency by something that should always be convertible. You should have a gold coin standard, and that is that you don't have to carry the coins around, but if the government is guaranteeing - which they are supposed to be doing - guaranteeing that any certificate would be convertible into coin, and that's better than a --- standard, that means that if you have $5,000 and you're getting worried about the government, you get to vote against the government saying, look, I want my gold coins in my pocket. And then they then would have to give you the gold coins.

Ron Paul: It's a sinister tax is what it really is. Governments: There's enough of a coalition together that wants to see government grow. Whether it's for the welfare reasons here at home, or if it's for the ideas of promoting our goodness around the world. It has nothing to do with protecting oil or anything else, but we need a military presence around the world. But if you had honest money and governments couldn't counterfeit, these ideas would still float around, but they would be forced to pay for it immediately. If we could ever get this whole notion that you shouldn't even allow the government to borrow, and they would have to tax us directly and say, look, if you want to do A, B, and C, we're going to take money from you and we're going to pay for it. This would slow things up. But there's a convenience for those who want big government to have the tax be an inflation tax. That is to vote for all the welfare programs. Vote for all the warfare programs. Don't be a responsible for this, morally responsible or economically responsible. Just pass the programs. And if you find your coalitions, you get reelected. And this is work to, you know, running as Santa Claus is a lot better than running against Santa Claus. And that's been done for many, many years. But that's coming to an end. That's why there's a difference right now because this system is in the process of failing.

Hearing: The Federal Budget and the Economy March 3, 2009 Senate Budget Committee

Witness

  • Ben Bernanke - Chairman of the Federal Reserve

58:00 Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT): I wrote you a letter and I said, hey, who'd you lend the money to? What were the terms of those loans? How can my constituents in Vermont get some of that money? Who makes the decisions? Do you guys sit around in a room? Do you make it? Are there conflicts of interest? So my question to you is, will you tell the American people to whom you lent $2.2 trillion of their dollars? Will you tell us who got that money and what the terms are of those agreements? Ben Bernanke: We explain each of our programs. In terms of the terms, we explained the terms exactly. We explained what the collateral requirements are. We explained… Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT): To whom did you explain that? Ben Bernanke: It's on our website. Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT): Yeah. Okay. Ben Bernanke: So all that information is available in our commercial paper... Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT): And who got the money? Ben Bernanke: Hundreds and hundreds of banks. Any bank or that has access to the U.S. Federal Reserve's discount... Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT): Can you tell us who they are? Ben Bernanke: No, because the reason that is counterproductive and will destroy the value of the program is that banks will not come to the… Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT): Isn't that too bad? Ben Bernanke: Sorry. Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT): In other words, isn't that too bad? They took the money, but they don't want to be public about the fact that they received it.

 

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Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Sep 23 2019

1hr 53mins

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Rank #16: CD084 Corporations Win the Midterm Election

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In this episode, the Republicans won control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. A press conference by soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gives us an idea of what they intend to do with their new power.

 

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Information Presented in this Episode Video: Mitch McConnell's press conference on November 5, 2014, the day after the midterm election. Article: United States Election Project estimate of voter turnout in the 2014 midterm election. Article: Jim Crow Returns: Millions of Minority Voters Threatened by Electoral Purge, Al Jazeera, October 2014. Article: Where Are the Millennials? Midterm Voters Skew Old, NBC News, November 2014. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="520"] 88% of young people didn't vote in 2014.[/caption] Information Presented in This Episode Intro and Exit Music: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Nov 06 2014

35mins

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Rank #17: CD068: Ukraine Aid Bill

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We have a new law! President Obama signed a bill loaning a billion dollars and giving another $150 million to Ukraine. In this episode, we find out exactly what's in it and why we are giving money to Ukraine - and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

HR 4152: Ukraine Aid Bill Highlighted pdf of the Ukraine Aid bill that was signed into law by President Obama: Key Sections: Section 3: Lists seventeen aspects of United States policy toward Ukraine. Section 5: The Secretary of State will assist the new Ukraine government, the European Union, and "other appropriate countries" with investigative assistance and training to "support the identification, seizure, and return to the Government of Ukraine of assets linked to acts of corruption."

  • Will be aided by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the Department of the Treasury
  • Specifically names the former President, his family, and other government officials.

Section 6: $50,000,000 will be given to the Secretary of State for 2015- either directly or by giving money to non-governmental organizations -for election monitoring, "diversifying Ukraine's economy, trade, and energy supplies, including at the national, regional, and local level," expanding their access to independent media, and supporting political and economic reforms. The President will make the actual strategy for how this will be done. Section 7: $100,000,000 will be used to provide defense articles, defense services, and military training "to countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine."

  • Additional amounts are allowed to be appropriated under other provisions of law.

Section 8: Sanctions will be levied against any former or current Ukrainian government officials, anyone acting on behalf of the old government who the President says ordered or controlled acts of violence against antigovernment protestors on November 21, 2013. Sanctions also will be levied against Russian government officials, "close associates" and family members of that official that the President says has expropriated Ukrainian or Russian private or public assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts, the extraction of natural resources, bribery, or transferring their proceeds from these things to other countries Sanctions include exclusion from the United States and blocking and prohibiting all transactions of property and/or money that is either in the United States or in the possession of "United States persons".

  • This is the Citizens United version of "United States persons" as "persons" includes "legal entities" - corporations - and the law specifically says that it includes foreign branches of United States corporations.
  • The sanctions don't apply to the importation of goods.

Section 10: Annual report detailing the capability of Russia's military, Russia's space program, Russia's nuclear program. Information about Moldova

  • People in one region are asking to be a part of Russia.
  • One of those two huge natural gas pipelines goes through Moldova. Actually goes into Moldova, back into Ukraine, and then into Romania.

Information about Lithuania

Information about NATO

  • Since we promised not to expand East, NATO has absorbed Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovania, Albania, and Croatia.
  • 2008: "A powerful military bloc appearing near our borders will be perceived in Russia as a direct threat to the security of our country." - President Putin of Russia.
  • Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty says an attack on one NATO country is considered an attack on all NATO countries.

Music in This Episode Intro and Exit music: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) I Disagree by 20 Riverside (found on Music Alley by mevio)

Apr 05 2014

38mins

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Rank #18: CD160: Equifax Breach

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If you are an American adult, there is a good chance that criminals now have the ability to match your name and social security number, greatly increasing your risk of becoming a victim of identity fraud. In this episode, hear highlights from Congressional hearings about the Equifax breach that exposed the personal information of 145.5 million Americans as we explore the key role that credit reporting companies play in our society.

Please Support Congressional Dish
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Thank you for supporting truly independent media!

Bills H.J.Res.111: Providing for congresional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule... H.R. 624: Social Security Number Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 H.R. 2622 (108th): Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 Additional Reading References Sound Clip Sources Senate Session: US senate approves disaster relief bill; Senate; October 24, 2017.
  • 3:57:20 Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH): Studies show that Wall Street and other big companies win 93 percent of the time in arbitration. Ninety-three percent of the time in arbitration the companies win. No wonder they are fighting like hell. No wonder they have lobbied this place like we have never seen. No wonder every Wall Street firm is down here begging their Senators to stand strong with Wall Street and pass this CRA, pass this resolution to undo the rule stopping forced arbitration.
  • 4:05:00 Sen. Mike Crapo (ID): The real issue is whether we will try to force the resolution of disputes in financial resolution into class action lawsuits. This is a question about whether we should force dispute resolution mechanisms into class actions. In fact, let me read the actual language of the rule that we are debating. It doesn’t say anything about forced arbitration clauses. In fact, the rule doesn’t stop arbitration clauses in contracts. It stops protections in arbitration clauses against class action litigation. Let’s read what the actual rule says: The CFPB rule prohibits a company from relying in any way on a predispute arbitration agreement with respect to any aspect of a class action that concerns any consumer financial product or service. In other words, the entire purpose of this rule is to promote class action litigation and to stop arbitration resolution when there is a dispute.
Hearing: Equifax Sen Banking Hearing; Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law; October 4, 2017.

Witness:

  • Richard Smith: Former Chairman & CEO of Equifax
  • 27:20 Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA): Additionally, we must appreciate that fact that not all data breaches are the same. The information and risk of harm can greatly vary from one breach to another. For example, the past breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus, which this committee held a hearing to examine, involved financial information such as credit and debit cards. Of course, this is information that absolutely must be protected and secured. If it falls in the wrong hands, it can create a lot of problems for individuals. But in the Equifax data breach, I think that’s different. It’s important that consumers and policymakers recognize this distinction because the threat landscape has changed. The information hackers obtained or gained access to in the Equifax breach is the most sensitive personal information used by thieves to commit identity theft. So, we should let that sink in very definitely. A credit card number or bank account information can be changed with a phone call, but you can’t change your social security number and your date of birth. Anyone who’s ever applied for a loan, a credit card, a job, or opened a bank account knows you have to provide a social security number, date of birth to verify your identity. Thus, if someone has this information they can do the same and take over your identity. They can become you. And you won’t know it happened until it’s too late.
  • 38:30 Sen. Jeff Flake (AZ): In your testimony before the House yesterday, you stated that Equifax’s “traditional business model is with companies, not with 400 million consumers.” What portion of Equifax’s business is consumer facing? Richard Smith: Mr. Chairman, roughly 10% of our revenues around the world come from what we call B to C—business to consumer. Flake: That’s 10%. Then, what is the main source of Equifax’s revenue stream? Smith: The vast majority, the remaining, is largely doing analytics, insights, and providing solutions to banks, telecommunications companies, credit card issuers, insurance companies, and the like around the world. Flake: So, if only 10% of the revenue is consumer facing, what is the company’s incentive for keeping consumer data secure when it has no meaningful interaction or limited meaningful interaction with the accountability of consumers? Smith: We are clearly viewed as a trusted steward of that information, and losing that information violates the trust and confidence not only of the consumer but also of the companies we do business with as well.
  • 1:01:52 Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT): You spent a lot of money lobbying against as consumer-protection act that might require you to notify consumers immediately in such breaches. Are you still going to fight and still spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to stop that kind of a consumer-protection bill from going through? Richard Smith: Senator, I can tell you as a company we do have a government-relations team. In the scheme of things, it’s relatively small. We’re a company with expenses of well over $2 billion. I think our entire lobbying budget, which includes association fees, is a million dollars or less. Leahy: I could care less what your budget is for lobbying. The fact is you opposed legislation that might require notifying consumers, might actually give consumers the ability to respond when they’ve been hurt. Are you going to—is Equifax going to continue to fight consumers’ right to know? Smith: One, I’m unaware of that particular lobbying effort you’re referring to. I can talk to the company, but I’m unaware of that particular lobbying effort. Leahy: It was in your report that you have to file on your lobbying expenses.
  • 1:03:30 Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI): Do consumers have the right to find out what kind of information data brokers like Equifax has on them? Richard Smith: Do they have the right? Hirono: Yeah, yes. Can they call Equifax up and say, what do you have on me? Smith: Every consumer has the right to a free credit report from us, from the industry, and that credit report would detail all the information that the credit file would have on them. Hirono: But that’s just their credit, but you have a lot of other information on everybody besides just their credit information, do you not? Smith: Yes, we do. Hirono: So, if—and my understanding is that you get all this information free. You don’t pay anybody for the information you gather on 145 million people, which is more than one out of three people in our entire country. Smith: It’s largely free. There are exceptions, obviously, but this business, as you know, we’re 118 years old. We’re part of a federally regulated ecosystem that enables consumers to get access to credit. Hirono: Yes. Smith: So that data’s there, and it’s used at their consent, by the way. Regardless of the type of data we have—if it’s your employment data or your income data or your credit data—that data can only be accessed if you as a consumer give the consent for someone to access that. Hirono: How does one give consent— Smith: If you— Hirono: —if you’re selling the information that you have on them? Smith: So, if you as a consumer go to your bank and want to get a credit card, for example, when you sign a contract with the bank for the credit card, you’re allowing the bank the access to approve your credit, in this particular case, to give you the best rate and the best line.
  • 1:17:52 Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): Can you guarantee this committee that no consumer will ever be required to go to arbitration? Richard Smith: I cannot, sir. Blumenthal: Why? Smith: Well, one, I’m no longer with the company. I can talk to the management team. Blumenthal: Well, that’s what I mean by the designated fall guy. You know, you’re here, you can’t speak for the company. I’m interested in looking forward. How will consumers be protected? Will arbitration be required of them? Will they be compensated for the sense of security that has been lost? Will there be a compensation fund? Will there be insurance against that kind of loss? And I’m talking about a compensation fund that applies to them because of that loss of privacy. These kinds of questions, which you’re unable to answer because you’re no longer with the company, are as profound and important as any investigative effort looking back, and I recognize you’re here without the authority to make these decisions, but I think someone from the company has to make them.
Hearing: Equifax Senate Banking; Senate Banking Committee; October 4, 2017

Witness:

  • Richard Smith: Former Chairman & CEO of Equifax
  • 6:03 Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH): But security doesn’t generate short-term profits. Protecting consumers apparently isn’t important to your business model, so you gather more and more information, you peddled it to more and more buyers. For example, you bought a company called TALX so you could get access to detailed payroll information—the hours people worked, how much they were paid, even where they lived—7,000 businesses. You were hacked there, too, exposing the workers of one proud Ohio company—400,000 workers at Kroger—and an unknown number of people’s information to criminals who used it to commit tax fraud.
  • 26:35 Sen. Ben Sasse (NE): Your organization has committed to providing identity-monitoring services for the next year, but I’m curious about whether or not Equifax and your board have deliberated. Do you think your responsibility ends in one year, in two years, in five years, in 10 years; and if you think it ends at some point, have you tried to think about the goodwill and balance sheet impact of all this? How can you explain to an American whose identity might be stolen later because of this breach why your responsibility would ever end? Does it end? Richard Smith: I understand the question. And it extends well beyond a year, Senator. The first step we took was the five services we mentioned to the chairman a minute ago, which gets the consumer through one year. The ultimate control for security for a consumer is going to the lifetime lock. The ability for a consumer to lock down his or her file, determine who they want to have access for life— Sasse: But isn’t this—just to interrupt—isn’t that about people who might be breached in the future. I’m talking about the 145 million whose data has already been stolen. Does your responsibility end, or what do you think your legal obligations are to them? Smith: I think the combination of the five services we’re offering combined with the lifetime lock is a good combination of services. Sasse: I actually think the innovation of some of the stuff you proposed for the big three going forward is quite interesting, but why does any of that five really do much for the data that’s already been stolen? Smith: Senator, again, the combination of the five offerings today plus the lifetime lock we think is the best offering for the consumer. Sasse: Okay, I don’t think you’ve really answered the question about whether or not you’re exposure legally ends for the 145 million.
  • 29:13 Sen. Ben Sasse (NE): I want to open, at least, the allegations that Equifax executives engaged in insider trading relating to knowledge of this cyber breach. One of the clearest times in definitions of insider trading occurs when a business executive trades their company stock because of confidential knowledge that they have gained from their job. I’m sure you can imagine why Americans are very mad about the possibility that this occurred here. While insider trading is going to be discussed a lot more later in this hearing, I wish you could just very quickly give us a timeline of the first steps. When did Equifax first learn of the May 2017 breach, and when did you inform the FBI of that breach? Richard Smith: Thank you. I’ll answer as quickly as I can. We notified the FBI cybersecurity forensic team and outside global law firm on August 2. At that time, all we saw was suspicious activity. We had no indication, as I said in my oral testimony, of a breach at that time. You might recall that the three individuals sold stock on August 1 and 2. We did not have an indication of a breach until mid- to late August. Sasse: So you’re saying that those three executives—Mr. Chairman, I’ll stop—you’re saying those three executives had no knowledge of a breach on August 1 or 2. Smith: To the best of my knowledge, they had no knowledge and they also followed our protocol to have their stock sales cleared through the proper channels, which is our general counsel.
  • 32:00 Sen. Jon Tester (MT): Let’s fast forward to the 29th of July, and you learned for the first time that your company has been hacked—don’t know how big the hack is, but it’s been hacked—and it was preceded by this notification from US-CERT. Three days after, as Senator Sasse pointed out, you had three high-level execs sell $2 million in stock. That very same day, you notified the FBI of the breach. Can you tell me if your general counsel was held accountable for allowing this stock sale to go forward? Or did he not know about the breach. Richard Smith: Senator, clarification: On the 29th and 30th, a security person saw suspicious activity, shut the portal down on the 30th. There was no indication of a breach at that time. The internal forensics began on the 30th. On the 2nd we brought in outside cyber experts—forensic auditors, law firm, and the FBI. The trades took place on the 1st and the 2nd. At that time, the general counsel, who clears the stock sales, had no indication—or to the company—of a security breach. Tester: Well, I’ve got to tell you something, and this is just a fact, and it may have been done with the best of intentions and no intent for insider trading, but this really stinks. I mean, it really smells really bad. And I guess smelling bad isn’t a crime. But the bottom line here is that you had a hack that you found out about on the 29th. You didn’t know how severe it was. You told the FBI about the breach. On that same day, high-level execs sell $2 million worth of stock, and then you do some investigation, evidently, and you find out at the end of the month that—or, at least, by the first part of September—that this is a huge hack, and you finally notify the public. And as was pointed out already in this committee, these are people that didn’t ask for your service. You’ve gathered it. And now it’s totally breached. And then, as Senator Sasse said, what’s the length of exposure here, and you said, we’ll be doing these five things. That’s proactive, and I think we can all applaud those efforts. But I’ve got to tell you, that doesn’t do a damn thing for the people who have had their identity stolen and their credit rating stolen. So let me ask you this: So their credit rate goes up a little bit, and they go buy a house for 250,000 bucks on a 30-year note, and it costs them 25 grand. Are you liable for that? Smith: Senator, I understand your anger and your frustration. We’ve apologized for the breach, we’ve done everything in our power to make it right for the consumer, and we think these services we’re offering is a right first step.
  • 53:57 Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA): In August, just a couple of weeks before you disclosed this massive hack, you said—and I want to quote you here—“Fraud is a huge opportunity for us. It is a massive, growing business for us.” Now, Mr. Smith, now that information for about 145 million Americans has been stolen, is fraud more likely now than before that hack? Richard Smith: Yes, Senator, it is. Warren: Yeah. So the breach of your system has actually created more business opportunities for you. For example, millions of people have signed up for the credit-monitoring service that you announced after the breach—Equifax is offering one year of free credit monitoring—but consumers who want to continue that protection after the first year will have to pay for it, won’t they, Mr. Smith. Smith: Senator, the best thing a consumer could do is get the lifetime lock. Warren: I’m asking you the question. You’re offering free credit monitoring, which you say is worth something, and you’re offering it for only one year. If consumers want it for more than one year, they have to pay for it. Is that right? Smith: Yes, Senator. But the most, the best thing a consumer can do is the lock product. It’s better than monitoring. Warren: Okay, but, they’re going to have to pay after one year if they want your credit monitoring, and that could be a lot of money. So far, seven and a half million people have signed up for free credit monitoring through Equifax since the breach. If just one million of them buy just one more year of monitoring through Equifax at the standard rate of $17 a month, that’s more than $200 million in revenue for Equifax because of this breach. But there’s more. LifeLock, another company that sells credit monitoring, has now seen a 10-fold increase in enrollment since Equifax announced the breach. According to filings with the SEC, LifeLock purchases credit monitoring services from Equifax; and that means someone buys credit monitoring through LifeLock, LifeLock turns around and passes some of that revenue directly along to Equifax. Is that right, Mr. Smith? Smith: That is correct. Warren: That’s correct. Okay. The second Equifax announced this massive data breach, Equifax has been making money off consumers who purchased their credit monitoring through LifeLock. Now, Equifax also sells products to businesses and government agencies to help them stop fraud by potential identity thieves. Is that right, Mr. Smith? Smith: Yes, Senator. There’s one clarification. You’d mentioned the LifeLock relationship— Warren: Uh-huh. Smith: —which was accurate. At the same time, the majority of that revenue we normally generate is direct to consumer. We’ve shut that down. We’re no longer selling consumer product directly. Warren: I’m sorry. My question is, every time somebody buys through LifeLock—and they’ve seen a 10-fold increase since the breach—you make a little more money. We actually called the LifeLock people to find this out. So, I asked you the question, but I already know the answer. It’s true. You’re making money off this. So, let me go to the third one. Equifax sells products to businesses and government agencies to help them stop fraud by potential identity thieves, right? Smith: To the government, yes. Not to the business. Warren: You don’t sell to businesses? Just small businesses? Smith: We sell business, but it’s not to prevent fraud. That’s not the primary focus or business. Warren: But to stop identity theft, you don’t have any products that you’re touting for identity-theft purposes? Smith: Senator, all I’m saying is the vast majority we do for businesses is not fraud. Warren: Look, you’ve got three different ways that Equifax is making money, millions of dollars, off its own screw up, and meanwhile, the potential costs to Equifax are shockingly low. Consumers can sue, but it turns out that the average recovery for data breaches is less than $2 per consumer, and Equifax has insurance that could cover some big chunk of any potential payment to consumers. So, I want to look at the big picture here. From 2013 until today, Equifax has disclosed at least four separate hacks in which it compromised sensitive personal data. In those four years, has Equifax’s profit gone up? Mr. Smith? Smith: Yes, Senator. Warren: Yes, it has gone up, right? In fact, it’s gone up by more than 80% over that time. You know, here’s how I see this, Mr. Chairman. Equifax did a terrible job of protecting our data because they didn’t have a reason to care to protect our data. The incentives in this industry are completely out of whack. Because of this breach, consumers will spend the rest of their lives worrying about identity theft. Small banks and credit unions will have to pay to issue new credit cards, businesses will lose money to thieves, but Equifax will be just fine. Heck, it could actually come out ahead. Consumers are trapped, there’s no competition, nowhere else for them to go. If we think Equifax does a lousy job protecting our data, we can’t take our data to someone else. Equifax and this whole industry should be completely transformed. Consumers—not you—consumers should decide who gets access to their own data. And when companies like Equifax mess up, senior executives like you should be held personally accountable, and the company should pay mandatory and severe financial penalties for every consumer record that’s stolen. Mr. Chairman, we’ve got to change this industry before more people are injured.
  • 1:22:00 Sen. John Kennedy (LA): It just seems incongruent to me that you have my information—you don’t pay me for it; you don’t have my permission — you make money collecting that information, selling it to businesses — and I think you do a service there; don’t misunderstand me — and you also come to me—you can’t run your business without me; my data is the product that you sell — and you also offer me a premium service to make sure that the data you’re collecting about me is accurate. I mean, I don’t pay extra in a restaurant to prevent the waiter from spitting in my food. You understand my concern? Richard Smith: I understand your point, I believe, but another way to think about that is the monitoring part that you’re referring to, Senator? Kennedy: Uh-huh. Smith: In the future, it’s far less required if you as a consumer have the ability to freeze, or lock as we call it, and unlock your file. And that is free for life. Kennedy: But it’s not just the freeze part. What if you had bad information about me? Have you ever—has an agency ever had bad information about you, and you had to go through the process of correcting it? Smith: Yes, Senator. There’s a process that if— Kennedy: It’s a pain in the elbow, isn’t it. I mean, the burden’s kind of on – you have my data, which you haven’t paid me for. You’re earning a good living, which I don’t deny you. I believe in free enterprise. I think this is a very clever business model you’ve come up with. But you’re earning your money by selling my data, which you get from me and don’t pay me for, to other people, but if the data is wrong that you have about me, I would think you would want to make it as easy as possible to correct it, not as hard as possible. Smith: I understand your point, and it’s an important point for the entire industry to make the process as consumer-friendly as possible if there’s an error on your utility bill, if there’s an error on your bank bill, your credit card statement, to work with consumers to make— Kennedy: Well, can you commit to me today that Equifax is going to set up a system where a consumer who believes that Equifax has bad information about him can pick up the phone and call a live human being with a beating heart and say, here’s this information you have about me that you’re selling to other people—you’re ruining my credit, and it’s not true, and I want to get it corrected. How are you going to correct it, what information do you need from me to prove that it’s incorrect, and when are you going to get back to me, and give me your name and phone number so I can call you. Smith: Senator, I understand your point. There is a process that exists today. More than half— Kennedy: Yeah, and it’s difficult, Mr. Smith. Smith: Be more than happy to get the company to reach out to your staff, explain what we do, and what we’re doing to improve that process. I hear you.
Hearing: House Equifax CEO Hearing; House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection; October 3, 2017

Witness:

  • Richard Smith: Former Chairman & CEO at Equifax
  • 5:13 Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL): The Equifax data breach was massive in scale: 145.5 million American victims as of yesterday. I would call it shocking, but is it really? We have these under-regulated, private, for-profit credit reporting agencies collecting detailed personal and financial information about American consumers. It’s a treasure trove for hackers. Consumers don’t have a choice over what information Equifax or, for example, TransUnion or Experian, have collected, stored, and sold. If you want to participate in today’s modern economy; if you want to get a credit card, rent an apartment, or even get a job often, then a credit reporting agency may hold the key. Because consumers don’t have a choice, we can’t trust credit reporting agencies to self-regulate. It’s not like when you get sick at a restaurant and decide not to go there anymore. Equifax collects your data, whether you want to have it collected or not. If it has incorrect information about you, it’s really an arduous process—I’ve tried it—to get it corrected. When it comes to information security, you are at the mercy of whatever Equifax decides is right; and once your information is compromised, the damage is ongoing. Given vast quantities of information and lack of accountability, a major breach at Equifax, I would say, would be predictable if not inevitable. I should really say breaches. This is the third major breach Equifax has had in the past two years. From media reports and the subcommittee’s meeting with Equifax officials after the breach, it’s clear to me that the company lacked appropriate policies and practices around data security. This particular breach occurred when hackers exploited a known vulnerability that was not yet patched. It was months later before Equifax first discovered the breach, and it was another several weeks before Equifax shared news with consumers, this committee, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Senior officials at the company are saying they weren’t immediately aware that the breach occurred, and yet, by the way, there were executives who sold over a million dollars in stock just days after the breach was discovered but, yet, not reported. And for a lot of Americans, that just doesn’t pass the smell test.
  • 22:45 Richard Smith: We know now that this criminal attack was made possible because of combination of human error and technological error. The human error involved the failure to apply a software patch to our dispute portal in March of 2017. Technological error involved a scanner which failed to detect that vulnerability on that particular portal. Both errors have since been addressed. On July 29 and July 30, suspicious activity was detected, and a team followed our security-incident protocol. The team immediately shut down the portal and began our internal security investigation. On August 2, we hired top cybersecurity, forensic, and legal experts, and at that time, we notified the FBI. At that time, to be clear, we did not know the nature or the scope of the incident. It was not until late August that we concluded that we had experienced a major breach.
  • 47:53 Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ): All right, during your tenure at Equifax, you expanded the company’s business into packaging and selling other people’s data, and in that August 17 speech, you explained that having free data with a gross margin of profit of about 90% is—and I quote—“a pretty unique model.” And I get that this unique model is a good deal for Equifax, but can you explain how it’s a good deal for consumers? Richard Smith: Thank you, Congressman. I think I understand the question. Our industry has been around for a number of years, as you know. In fact, Equifax is a 118-year-old company. We’re part of a federally regulated ecosystem that enables consumers to get access to credit when they want access to credit and, hopefully, at the best rates available to them at that time. So we’re very vital to the flow of economy, not just in the U.S. but around the world. Pallone: All right, I want to turn to what Equifax is offering consumers in the wake of this breach, specifically the free credit-lock service that is supposed to be introduced next year. We’ve been told that this free credit-lock service could require consumers to consent to Equifax sharing or selling the information it collects from the service to third parties with whom the individual already has a business relationship for marketing or other purposes. Is that true? Smith: This product will be a web-enabled, mobile-enabled application that will allow a consumer at a time he or she, if they decide they want access to credit, can simply toggle on, toggle off that application to give the bank, credit card issuer, auto lender, access to their credit file to approve their loan. Pallone: Well, by agreeing to use the Equifax’s lock service, will consumers also be opting in to any additional marketing arrangements, either via Equifax or any of its partners? Smith: Congressman, we’re trying to change the paradigm. What I mean by that is, this will be in an environment viewed as a service, a utility, not a product. But we know cross-selling, upselling, or any products available to the consumer, when they go to get and sign up for the lock product, it’s a service to them, and that’s the only product—this service they’ll be able to get. Pallone: Will Equifax give consumers an easy and free method to choose not to share their data in this way, even if the consumer already has a business relationship with the third party? Smith: Yeah, Congressman, I’d envision as this evolves over time, the consumer will have the ability to invite into their world who they want to have access and who they do not. It’ll be their choice, their power, not ours, to make that decision. Pallone: Now, last week, the interim CEO announced that by January 31 of 2018 Equifax would make locking and unlocking of a person’s Equifax credit report free forever. A credit-report lock is already included in TrustedID Premier and other services like credit monitoring and identity-theft insurance. Will that still end after one year? Smith: Congressman, a couple of differences. Number one, the product we offer today for consumers protects the consumer at the same-level protection they’d get January 31. The difference is, today is a browser-enabled product, or service; the 31 of January it’ll be an application, much simpler and easier for the consumer to use. The protection is largely the same. So they get this free service when they sign up for one year. At the end of the one year, effective January 31 of 2018, it goes into the new lock product. Pallone: I guess the difference, other than not expiring, between the credit-report lock that is part of TrustedID Premier and the credit-locking tool that will be available in January, why not just extend the freeze program? Smith: There’s a difference between the freeze product, which came to pass with FACTA back in 2003, passed into law in 2004, that is now governed by state laws in all states, and it’s a cumbersome process for a consumer. In many cases, some states require you to mail in your request for a freeze and that we must mail you a PIN, so your ability to get access to credit when you want credit is encumbered. A consumer could go to a car dealer or to a bank to get a credit card, forget his or her PIN on a freeze product, have to go back home, look for the PIN, mail the PIN in, so it’s a cumbersome process. The lock product we’re offering today is a big step forward; lock product for the 31 of January is an even further step forward.
  • 53:00 Rep. Joe Barton (TX): Mr. Smith, what’s the market value of Equifax? What’s your company worth, or your former— Richard Smith: Congressman, last time I checked it’s somewhere close to 13 billion. Barton: Thirteen billion. I’m told by my staff that this latest data breach was about 143 million people. Is that right? Smith: We were informed yesterday from the company that is typical in a forensic audit, there was some slight movement and the numbers adjusted. Press release came out from the company last night. It’s 145.5. Barton: A hundred—well, okay, I appreciate your accuracy there. But under current law, you’re basically required to alert each of those that their account has been hacked, but there’s really no penalty unless there is some sort of a lawsuit filed and the Federal Trade Commission or state attorney general files a class-action lawsuit against your company. So you really only notify—you’re just required to notify everybody and say so sorry, so sad. I understand that your company has to stay in business, has to make money, but it would seem to me that you might pay a little bit more attention to security if you had to pay everybody whose account got hacked a couple thousand bucks or something. What would the industry reaction be to that if we passed a law that did that? Smith: Congressman, I understand your question. I think the path that we were on when I was there and the company’s continued is the right path, and that’s a path, a line that the consumers to control the power of who and when accesses a credit file going forward, taking the— Barton: Well, a consumer can’t control the security of your system. Smith: That is true, sir, but they can control— Barton: And your security people knew there was a problem, and according to staff briefings that I’ve been a part of, they didn’t act in a very expeditious fashion until the system had already been hacked. And, I mean, you’re to be commended for being here. I don’t think we subpoenaed you. I think you appeared voluntarily, which shows a commendable amount of integrity on your part, but I’m tired of almost every month there’s another security breach, and it’s okay, we have to alert you. I checked my file to see if I was one of the ones that got breached, and apparently I wasn’t. I don’t know how I escaped, but I didn’t get breached, but my staff person did, and we looked at her reports last night, and the amount of information that’s collected is way beyond what you need to determine if she (audio glitch) for a consumer loan. Basically, her entire adult history, going back 10 years, everywhere she’s lived, her name, her date of birth, her social security number, her phone numbers, her addresses, her credit card, student loans, security-clearance applications for federal employment, car insurance, even employment history of jobs that she worked when she was in high school. That’s not needed to determine whether she’s worthy of getting a five-thousand-dollar credit card loan or something. And now it’s all out in the netherworld of whoever hacked it. I can’t speak for anybody but myself, but I think it’s time at the federal level to put some teeth into this and some sort of a per-account payment—and, again, I don’t want to drive credit bureaus out of business and all of that, but we could have this hearing every year from now on if we don’t do something to change the current system.
  • 58:42 Rep. Ben Lujan (NM): Will Equifax be willing to pay for this freeze at Experian and TransUnion for consumers whose information was stolen? Richard Smith: You’re referring to the freeze or the lock? Lujan: You said they’re the same, so… Smith: Yeah, right now we offer a free lock product, as you know, for one year, and then a free lifetime lock product for life, starting January 31, 2018. Smith: And that also extends to Experian and TransUnion? Smith: No, sir, it does not. Lujan: Would Equif—let me repeat the question. Will Equifax be willing to pay for that freeze, for that lock, at Experian and TransUnion for consumers whose information was stolen by it—through Equifax? Smith: Congressman, the company’s come out with what they feel is a comprehensive five different services today and a lifetime lock. I would encourage, to be clear, I would encourage TransUnion and Experian to do the same. It’s time we change the paradigm, give the power back to the consumer to control who accesses his or her credit data. It’s the right thing to do. Lujan: Okay, I’m down to limited time, Mr. Smith. I apologize. I’ll take that as a no that Equifax will not pay for Experian and TransUnion consumers.
  • 1:26:09 Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI): Why do consumers have to pay you to access their credit report? Why should that data not be free? Richard Smith: Congresswoman, the consumer has the ability to access the credit report for free from each of the three credit reporting agencies once a year, and you combine that with the ability to lock your credit file for life for free. Again, it’s a step forward.
  • 2:00:40 Rep. Larry Bucshon (IN): Is it possible people who never signed up or used Equifax directly could have been impacted by the breach? Richard Smith: Yes, Congressman. Bucshon: Okay, so how does Equifax get the information on people who’ve never directly associated with Equifax at all? I mean, I’m not familiar with that. Smith: Yeah, we get it from banks, telecommunications companies, credit card issuers, so on and so forth. Bucshon: So just like we go to apply for a loan, they send you the information, because they want to get a data—they want to get the information on my credit rating, for example. Smith Correct. As I define it, we are part of the federally regulated ecosystem— Bucshon: Yeah. Smith: —that enables banks to loan money to consumers. Bucshon: Right. So, it’s up to the banks, at that point, to notify the individual which credit agencies they’re utilizing to assess their credit risk? Or is it up to the credit agencies? Smith: Traditionally, the contributors of data—in that case, Congressman, the banks would give their data to all three. That’s the benefit of the system is you get a holistic view of an individual’s credit risk. Bucshon: Yeah. My point is, I guess, because a lot of people I talk to back in Indiana, southern Indiana, have no idea who Equifax is, right? And many of those people have applied for home loans and other things. And a matter of fact, probably at some point you have their information, but they may or may not have been notified who sent the information to them—probably the bank or other agency—and that’s something I think that is also maybe an issue, that people don’t understand or have not been told who is being used to assess their credit risk and, hence, something like this happens, they have no idea whether or not their information has been compromised. Smith: I understand your point. Bucshon: Yeah.
  • 2:09:20 Rep. Gene Green (TX): Mr. Smith, Equifax customers or businesses who purchase data and credit reports on consumers, the American public is essentially Equifax’s product. How many times per year on average does Equifax sell access to a given individual’s credit file to a potential creditor, and how much do they make every time they sell it? Richard Smith: If I understand the question, Congressman, we take the data that is given to us by the credit ecosystem of the U.S., add analytics to it, and then when a consumer wants credit—again, through a credit card, home loan, a car—the bank then comes to us for that data and for that analytics, and we charge them for that. **Green: Okay. Well, the question was, how many times does Equifax receive payment for that individual credit file? Every time—if my local car dealer contacts Equifax, and so they pay a fee to Equifax for that information. Smith: Yes, Congressman. If you as an individual want to go to that car dealership and get a loan for a car, they come to us or to competitors, and when they take your data, access your data, we do get paid for it, correct.
  • 2:47:40 Richard Smith: If there’s one thing I’d love to see this country think about is the concept of a social security number in this environment being private and secure, I think it’s time as a country to think beyond that. What is a better way to identify consumers in our country in a very secure way, and I think that way is something different than an SSN, a date of birth, and a name.
  • 2:56:28 Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL): What if I want to opt out of Equifax? I don’t want you to have my information anymore. I want to be in control of my information. I never opted in, I never said it was okay to have all my information, and now I want out. I want to lock out Equifax. Can I do that? Richard Smith: Congresswoman, that requires a much broader discussion around the rules of credit reporting agencies because that data, as you know today, doesn’t come from the consumer; it comes from the furnishers, and the furnishers provide that data to the entire industry. Schakowsky: No, I understand that. And that’s exactly where we need to go, to a much larger discussion, because most Americans really don’t know how much information, what it is that you have it, and they never said okay.
Video: Circle Jerk, YouTube, December 3, 2015 Hearing: Credit Privacy Hearing; Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee; December 18, 2013

Witnesses:

  • Tony Hadley: Senior VP of Government Affairs and Public Policy at Experian
  • 47:13 Sen. Jay Rockefeller (retired) (WV): So, Mr. Hadley, what does your company—or why does it single out and sell lists of economically vulnerable groups like immigrants, widows, and military personnel?
  • 48:03 Tony Hadley: Thank you, Senator. We would be very concerned if lenders were using that information for scamming purposes, too. And we have processes and procedures in place to ensure that nobody gains access to that score for that purpose. Now— Sen. Jay Rockefeller: And how does that work? Hadley: We have an onboarding system by which we take on a client that gets our information to know who they are, and we also have a mail-piece review process to know what they’re going to offer the consumer. And if it’s anything that looks discriminatory or predatory, we will not provide our list to them. Now— Rockfeller: And this is your self-regulation. Hadley: This is our self-regulation under DMA standards. So if we were to violate that, we’d be in violation of our self-regulatory standards as well as our contractual standards with our clients. Now, what’s important here is that there are somewhere between 45 and 50 million Americans who are outside the mainstream of the credit markets in the United States. These are underbanked, underserved consumers who financial institutions cannot reach through credit scoring and credit report. They don't have financial identities or a big enough or even the presence of a credit file in order to bring them into the mainstream of financial markets. But that doesn't mean that they don't need access to financial services. So banks use this data to try to reach out to consumers who they can help to empower them, not to scam them. We don't want to do business with financial institutions who are trying to scam people, only to empower them. And this is their best way to find those individuals who are outside the mainstream—immigrants; new to credit, like recent college graduates, exactly what we’re talking about here—to give them an offer, an invitation to apply, so that then they can make an eligibility determination regarding that application under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. But this is marketing literature, not eligibility determination. Rockefeller: Who— Hadley: Can I add to that for you? Rockefeller: Not entirely. Can you tell me which are the companies that buy this ChoiceScore product from you? We’ve asked you that. Hadley: Yeah. They would be banks and financial institutions and members of the financial community. Rockefeller: That’s what’s called a general answer. Hadley: Yeah. I can't tell you who our clients are. That’s a proprietary list of ours. It’s like our secret ingredient. The ones who would want that most are our competitors. And our counsel has informed me that they don't believe that our ability to give that to you can be shielded from disclosure through the rules of the Senate. If we thought they could be—for example, under a law enforcement action, where it could be shielded and protected from FOIA or other disclosures, we could do that, but not under the situation—under the rules of the Senate. And we’re very sorry about that, but we just simply can't do that. Our counsel won't let us.
  • 1:25:49 Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO): The case, Mr. Hadley, of Experian and Superget. You purchased the company Court Ventures in 2012, in the spring of 2012. For more than a year after the time you purchased this company that had all this data, you were taking monthly wire transfers from Singapore, and your company did nothing. And as it turns out, those wire transfers were coming from a man in Vietnam who specialized in identity theft and was marketing the information that you owned to criminals to ruin people's lives. So my first question to you is, you were quoted as saying, “We would know who was buying this.” You were getting wire transfers from Singapore on a monthly basis, and no one bothered to check to see who that was? Hadley: Now, I want to be clear that this was not Experian marketing data; this was Experian authentication data. So it’s under a different company, a different use. So that’s just—I want you to know that it’s not marketing data. McCaskill: I don't understand the distinction. I think it’s a distinction— Jay Rockefeller: Nor do I. McCaskill: —without a difference. I believe it was data that you owned, Experian owned. You’d purchased this data from Court Scan, and they had, in fact— Hadley: No. Let me clarify. McCaskill: —sold it to someone else. Hadley: Yeah, let me clarify that for you, because we’ve provided a full response to that question to the Committee, and it’s part of the eight submissions that we’ve given. And I do have to say that it’s an unfortunate situation, and the incident is still under investigation by law enforcement agencies. So I’m really extremely limited in what I can say publicly about it, but I do want to say this. The suspect in the case obtained data controlled by a third party—that was U.S. Info Search. That was not an Experian company—through a company we bought, Court Ventures— McCaskill: Okay. Let— Hadley: —prior to the time that we acquired that company. And to be clear, no Experian data was ever accessed in that deal. McCaskill: Well, I understand what you’re saying. Here’s what happened: You had U.S. Info Search— Hadley: No, we did not own— McCaskill: No, no; I’m— U.S. Info Search existed, and Court Ventures existed. Hadley: And they had a partnership. McCaskill: —they decided, for commercial reasons, to make more money, to combine their information. Hadley: To resell their information. McCaskill: And so they had a sharing agreement, those two companies, correct? Hadley: Right, right. McCaskill: Okay. So these two companies had a sharing agreement. Then you bought one of those companies. Hadley: Court Ventures. McCaskill: Correct. So now you owned it. Now you stood in their place. Are you a lawyer? Hadley: I’m not a lawyer, but I understand we stood in their place, right. McCaskill: Are there any lawyers on the panel? Okay; she’ll back me up. You stand in their place when you buy this. So now you’re there. Now, you said in your earlier testimony, we would know who was buying this. So you now are part of their transactions. Hadley: During— McCaskill: And you were receiving the benefit of these monthly wire. Hadley: So, during the due-diligence process, we didn't have total access to all the information we needed in order to completely vet that. And by the time we learned about the malfeasance, I think nine months had expired. The Secret Service came to us, told us of the incident, and we immediately began cooperating with the Secret Service to bring this person to justice. McCaskill: Okay. Hadley: And we’re continuing to cooperate with law enforcement in that realm. This was—we were a victim and scammed by this person. McCaskill: Well, I would say the people who had all their identity stolen were the victims. Hadley: And we know who they are, and we’re going to make sure that they’re protected. There’s been no allegation that any harm has come, thankfully, in this scam. McCaskill: Okay. Hadley: And we’ve closed that down, and— Rockefeller: Let Senator McCaskill continue. Hadley: —and we’ve modified our processes to ensure that [unclear]— Rockefeller: Let Senator McCaskill continue. McCaskill: Okay. So let's talk about that process. This person got—this man who they lured to Guam to arrest and who is now facing criminal charges in New Hampshire, they posed as an American-based private investigator. What is your vetting process when people want to buy your stuff? Hadley: That would’ve been Court Ventures who would have vetted that prior to our acquisition. McCaskill: Okay, but I’m talking about now, you. What is your vetting process? Hadley: Right now, before we would allow acc—first, let me say that that person would have not gained access to Experian or this data if they had gone through our vetting processes prior to the acquisition. McCaskill: And what would’ve stopped him? Hadley: We would’ve known who that company is. We would’ve had a physical onsite inspection of that company. We would’ve known who that business is and what that business's record is. We would’ve known exactly why they wanted that data and for what purposes. And that would have been enshrined in our contract. And we would’ve known the kinds of systems they have in place to protect the data that they gained. Those are all incumbent upon us under the Gramm-Leach- Bliley Act and the FCRA. McCaskill: Well, listen, I understand that this was not a crime that began under your watch. Hadley: Thank you. McCaskill: But you did buy the company, and you did keep getting the wire transfers from Singapore, and the only reason you ever questioned them is because the Secret Service knocked on your door. I don't know how long those wire transfers from Singapore would’ve gone on until you caught them. I don't have confidence that it would’ve stopped at all. So I guess what my point is here, I maybe do not feel as strongly as others on this panel that behavioral marketing is evil. I believe behavioral marketing is a reality, and, frankly, the only reason we have everything we have on the Internet for free is because of behavioral marketing. So I don't see behavioral marketing as an evil into itself. What I do see is some desperate need for Congress to look at how consumers can get this information, what kind of transparency is there, and whether or not companies that allow monthly wire transfers into their coffers from Singapore from a criminal who is trying to rip off identity theft, whether or not they should be held liable for no due diligence on checking those wire transfers from Singapore until the Secret Service knocked on their door. And that’s what I think we need to be looking at. And I don't think there’s enough—I mean, I know that some of my friends on the other side of the aisle, you say trial lawyers, and they break out in a sweat. But the truth is that if there was some liability in this area, it would be amazing how fast people could clean up their act. And, unfortunately, in too many instances there’s not clear liability because we haven't set the rules of the road.
Video: FreeCreditReport.com all 9 commercials, YouTube, October 3, 2009. Hearing: Credit Scoring System; House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations; July 30, 2008.

Witnesses:

  • Thomas Quinn: Vice President of Global Scoring at Fair Isaac Business Consulting
  • Stan Oliai: Experian Decision Analytics Consulting Senior Vice President
  • Chet Wiermanski: Transunion Credit Services Analytical Systems Vice President
  • Richard Goerss: Equifax Credit Services Chief Privacy Officer
  • Evan Hendricks: Privacy Times Publisher and Editor
  • 26:42 Thomas Quinn: A FICO score is a three-digit number ranging from 300 to 850, where the higher the score, the lower the risk. Lenders use the score, along with other information, to decision the request for credit, set the credit line and pricing terms. Creating the FICO score model requires two samples of credit reports, two years apart, for the same randomly selected depersonalized set of consumers provided by one of the national credit reporting agencies. Those credit factors found to be most powerful and consistent in predicting credit performance, individually and in combination, form the basis for the complex mathematical algorithm which becomes the score. The traditional FICO score model evaluates five broad types of data elements from the consumer credit report. These include, and listed in order of importance, previous credit payment history, about 35 percent contribution; level of outstanding debts, about 30 percent contribution; length of credit history, 15 percent contribution; pursuit of new credit, 10 percent contribution; and mix of type of credit, about 10 percent contribution. FICO scores were first introduced to the marketplace in 1989 and have been consistently redeveloped and updated throughout the years to ensure their predictive strength.
  • 34:00 Stan Oliai: A credit score is a numerical expression of risk of default, based on a credit report. The score is produced by a mathematical formula created from a statistical analysis of a large representative sample of credit reports. The formula is typically called a “model.” The credit score is calculated by the model, using only information in the credit report. These reports include the following types of information: The credit account history—such as was the account paid, was it paid on time, how long has the account been open, and what’s the outstanding balance; the type of account—is it a mortgage, is it an installment, is it revolving; the public record information—liens, judgments, bankruptcies, for example; inquiries in the credit file that represent applications for new credit and other consumer-initiated transactions. A credit report does not include information such as income or assets. It also does not include demographic information such as race or ethnicity. Demographic factors are not used in the calculation of a credit score.
  • 35:05 Stan Oliai: Regulatory oversight of credit scores is accomplished through routine bank examinations for compliance, with a number of laws that govern fair lending, such as the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. This makes sense because the lender chooses the scoring model to assist in this proprietary underwriting process. The lender is ultimately responsible for demonstrating to regulators that the scoring model it has chosen complies with the lending laws.
  • 46:20 Chet Wiermanski: There is strong evidence to suggest that consumers would benefit from the increased reporting of nontraditional credit information. For example, consumers with thin credit files and, in particular, minorities, immigrants, young and old, all experience a net benefit from full-file reporting by energy companies and telecommunication providers. Consumers with impaired credit histories also obtain a net benefit from full-file reporting by these companies. We are presently engaged in a follow-up study to learn more about the impediments to full-file reporting faced by the utilities and telecommunication industry. It may be very well that Congress may have a role to play in removing roadblocks to encourage voluntary full-file reporting.
  • 2:01:30 Richard Goerss: There are a lot of thing—different activities—that a consumer can do to protect themselves if they feel they are victims or might be victims of identity theft. Certainly, one of the things that they can do is to place a fraud alert on their credit file. They can receive a free disclosure of their credit file to see if there has been any inappropriate activity or inquiry to their credit file. They can provide an identity-theft report and identify the account information that they feel, or that they say, was opened fraudulently. And under the requirements of the FACT Act, the consumer reporting agencies are going to delete that information, and the consumer reporting agency that receives that identity theft with the information-removal request is going to refer it to the other two consumer reporting agencies, who are also going to remove that information.
  • 2:24:30 Evan Hendricks: Right now, you take it for granted that we know about credit scores, but you have to remember it was, like, 12 years ago, in the mid-1990's, when credit scores started being widely used. They were a complete secret; the industry did not even acknowledge their existence. Then, when they found out about it and reporters like Michelle Singletary of the Washington Post started reporting on it, then they would not disclose the score to you. So, California led the way with a state law, and now we have the FACT Act, which means that you can get one—you can buy a credit score for a fair and reasonable price.
  • 2:54:55 Rep. Jackie Speier (CA): We call these credit reporting agencies or credit bureaus, which gives the average consumer the impression that they are dealing with some federal entity, when in fact they are not—we heard this afternoon they’re private or publicly traded companies—and yet this information is so critical, and to Mr. Barrett's comments, who suggested that the consumer needs to be educated, needs to know what goes into their FICO score and what they can do to improve their FICO score, we can't give those kinds of answers, because, for all intents and purposes, it is a proprietary formula. It’s sort of like secret sauce; we don't know what it is. Now, there’s something wrong when the government can't articulate what should be considered in a FICO score.
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Oct 30 2017

2hr 15mins

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Rank #19: CD162: Dishing with Matt Marr

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C-SPAN is much more fun with friends! In this special episode, Matt Marr, comedian and host of the Dear Mattie Show, joins Jen at The Comedy Store to discuss three bills that have passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Lots of laughs in this one!

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Matt's Podcast and Social Media Bills H.R.1430: Honest Act

Full Title: "Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017"

  • Prohibits the EPA from creating regulations unless all scientific information used to justify it is published online and can be reproduced.
  • Limits the EPA spending on this new requirement to $1 million per year out of the money they already have

Passed the House on March 29, 2017 by a vote of 228-194 Written by Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas's 21st district

H.R. 953: Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017
  • Prohibits the EPA Administrator and the States from requiring permits to discharge pesticides into waterways if the pesticide is authorized for sale.

Passed the House on May 24, 2017 by a vote of 256-165 Written by Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio's 7th district

H.R. 806: Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017

Written by Rep. Pete Olsen of Texas's 22nd district Passed the House on July 18, 2017 by a vote of 229-199

Additional Reading References Visual References Sound Clip Sources House Session: Clean Water Act Changes, May 24, 2017 Cover Art

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Nov 27 2017

2hr 19mins

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Rank #20: CD115: Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Access to Medicine

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Need drugs? The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an international treaty that Congress needs to approve. In this episode, find out how the TPP would affect your access to medicine. Would this treaty provide you access to life-saving drugs or would it provide the pharmaceutical industry excessive profits?

 

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Text

Congress did not stand when President Obama told them to pass the TPP

Hearing Highlighted in this Episode

TPP Issue Analysis - Access to Medicines, House Ways and Means Committee (Democrats), December 8, 2015.

Watch on YouTube

Witnesses Intellectual Property Chapter Highlights
  • Article 18.7: Forces all TPP countries to "ratify or accede to" six international treaties if they haven't done so already

  • Article 18.26: Trademark protections will be valid for 10 years

  • Article 18.37: Patents will be available for "new uses of a known product, new methods of using a known product, and new processes of using a known product."

    • Exclusions:
      • Countries can individually exclude surgical methods for the treatment of animals or humans, plants, animals, and biological processes for producing plants and animals from patentability
  • Article 18.52: Patents for biologics will be for a minimum of five years

  • Article 18.63: Copyright terms for performances or phonograms will be the life of the author plus 70 years. If the producer is a company, the copyright protecton will last for 70 years.

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Jan 17 2016

1hr 21mins

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Thanks for (Finally) Sending the Articles

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The House has finally sent the impeachment articles to the Senate. In this bonus "thank you" episode, Jen gives an update on the process and gives an important update on whether or not the President may have committed a crime. After the updates, thank you notes are read and responded to. This episode is not sponsored by Chipotle.

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CD206: Impeachment – The Evidence

Articles/Documents Additional Resources Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Impeachment Inquiry Hearing with Laura Cooper and David Hale, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 20, 2019

Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Laura Cooper and David Hale

Witnesses

Laura Cooper

  • She Joined the Department of Defense early in the George W. Bush administration - she was in the Pentagon in 9/11- and has served various positions in the Defense Department ever since
  • She’s currently Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia

2:04:15 Laura Cooper: There were two ways that we would be able to implement presidential guidance to stop obligating the Ukraine security assistance initiative. And the first option would be for the president to do a rescission. The second is a reprogramming action that the department of defense would do... Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): In both of those would require congressional notice. There would be an extra step that the president would have to take to notify Congress. As far as, you know, was there ever any notice that was sent out to Congress? Laura Cooper: Sir, I did express that, that I believed it would require a notice to Congress and that then there was no such notice to my knowledge or preparation of such a notice to my knowledge.

Hearing: Impeachment Hearing with Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and Jennifer Williams, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 19, 2019

Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams

Witnesses

  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
Transcript:

3:47:00 Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): Did anyone, unto your understanding, raise the legality of withholding this assistance. Alexander Vindman: It was raised on several occasions. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): And who raised those concerns? Alexander Vindman: So following the July 18th sub PCC, which is again what I coordinate or what I convene, at my level. There was a July 23rd, PCC that would have been conducted by Mr. Morrison. There were questions raised on as to the legality of the hold. Over the subsequent week, the issue was analyzed. And during the July 26th deputies...so the deputies from all the departments and agencies, there was an opinion rendered that it was, it was legal to, put the hold. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): It was, excuse me. Alexander Vindman: There was an opinion, legal, opinion rendered that it was, okay to, or that the hold was legal.

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Jan 18 2020

1hr 41mins

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CD207: State of Corporatism

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It's 2020 and the government was actually funded before the new year! However, as always, dozens of bills hitched a ride into law attached to the government funding. In this episode, learn about some of the dingleberry laws that could effect your retirement savings, cable bills, and our partners in war.

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CD156: Sanctions – Russia, North Korea & Iran

CD186: National Endowment for Democracy

CD190: A Coup for Capitalism

CD191: The “Democracies” Of Elliott Abrams

Bills Articles/Documents Additional Resources Sound Clip Sources Town Hall Conversation: A Town Hall Conversation with Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Atlantic Council, January 7, 2020

Speakers:

  • Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Transcript:

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Companies such as Cisco and Pfizer are already looking to set up research centers in Greece.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: There's always this advice that other heads of state and government gave me when I was in the position. They told me, make sure you do the reforms very quickly. And then when you look at how other governments have performed, usually that is not the case. We are going against the trends. And we've also said that for 2020, we will continue with this aggressive reform agenda.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: We're really looking to strengthen our ability to import LNG. We've expanded the LNG capacity of our main LNG terminal in Revithoussa outside Athens. But we're also looking to complete a floating storage and regasification unit and FSR EU outside the port of Alexandroupoli. I consider this port, this project absolutely critical for Greece. I've given it my full personal support. It will be an additional, source, entry point for LNG, also American LNG into the European market. And of course, as you pointed out, we have also signed the East Med pipeline, which is an ambitious longterm projects that will bring gas from the Eastern Mediterranean into the European markets. This is an important project for Europe, not just for Greece. Eastern Mediterranean is the only proven source of natural gas, new proven source of natural gas, that Europe has access to. For the next 30 years, at least, natural gas is going to be the transition fuel that will allow us to move towards a carbon neutral Europe. This is also important for Greece and our energy transition. And I think the countries of the region have taken the important geopolitical decision that the best way to get this gas out of the region is for a pipeline that will go through Cyprus, Greece and end up in Italy. So this is an important statement of intent. And we're very, very happy that we signed the project in Athens a few days ago.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: You're all aware of the fact that we are trying to unblock the old airport project, the Hellinikon project. And we've really worked very, very hard with our ministers to make sure that we remove all the unnecessary bureaucratic impediments in order for this investment to take place. We have two American companies bidding for the casino license. It's important that for the first time, some serious money is going to be invested in this project by American companies.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Started lowering our taxes, lower taxes on real estate, lowered taxes on corporation starting January 1st of this year. And I think there's a general sense in Greece that we are open for business. We're looking to aggressively attract foreign direct investment. And it's already beginning to happen.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: We will start the discussions to explore the possibility of Greece joining the F35 program. This is an important priority for me and the government. Once the F16 program is completed in 2024, we feel we will have the fiscal space.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: It is unacceptable within the context of an alliance to have one ally and member clearly provoke another ally, clearly referring to Turkey and the activities by President Erdogan. And that this is something which within the context of an alliance should not be brushed aside because the general approach of NATO has always been, Oh, okay, we have two ally members. They have their issues, let them sort it out, but I think we have a clear case to make that now the situation is rather different.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: We want to use the additional fiscal space in order to further cut taxes and use only 20% of the additional fiscal space. So 80% will be directed towards further cutting taxes, and 20% will be used towards targeted social spending to address extreme inequality and extreme poverty in Greece.

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Jan 13 2020

1hr 26mins

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CD206: Impeachment: The Evidence

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President Donald Trump has been impeached. In this episode, hear the key evidence against him presented by the witnesses called to testify in over 40 hours of hearings that took place in the "inquiry" phase of the impeachment. Using this episode, you will be able to judge for yourself how strong the case against President Trump really is as the country prepares for his Senate trial. 

Please Support Congressional Dish – Quick Links

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CD067: What Do We Want In Ukraine?

CD068: Ukraine Aid Bill

CD136: Building WWIII

CD156: Sanctions – Russia, North Korea & Iran

CD167: Combating Russia (NDAA 2018) LIVE

CD202: Impeachment?

Articles/Documents Additional Resources Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Emerging U.S. Defense Challenges and Worldwide Threats, United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, December 6, 2019

Witnesses

  • General John M. Keane
  • Mr. Shawn Brimley
  • Dr. Robert Kagan
Transcript:

55:55 Robert Kagan: But as we look across the whole panoply of threats that we face in the world, I worry that it’s too easy to lose sight of what, to my mind, represent the greatest threats that we face over the medium- and long term and possibly even sooner than we may think, and that is the threat posed by the two great powers in the international system, the two great revisionist powers international system—Russia and China, because what they threaten is something that is in a way more profound, which is this world order that the United States created after the end of World War II—a global security order, a global economic order, and a global political order. This is not something the United States did as a favor to the rest of the world. It’s not something we did out of an act of generosity, although on historical terms it was a rather remarkable act of generosity. It was done based on what Americans learned in the first half of the twentieth century, which was that if there was not a power—whether it was Britain or, as it turned out, it had to be the United States—willing and able to maintain this kind of decent world order, you did not have some smooth ride into something else. What you had was catastrophe. What you had was the rise of aggressive powers, the rise of hostile powers that were hostile to liberal values. We saw it. We all know what happened with two world wars in the first half of the twentieth century and what those who were present at the creation, so to speak, after World War II wanted to create was an international system that would not permit those kinds of horrors to be repeated.

CNN Town Hall: Pelosi says Bill Clinton impeached for "being stupid", CNN, December 5, 2019

Speakers:

  • Nancy Pelosi
Transcript:

Questioner: So, Ms, Pelosi. You resisted calls for the impeachment of president Bush in 2006 and president Trump following the Muller report earlier this year, this time is different. Why did you oppose it? Why did you oppose impeachment in the past? And what is your obligation to protect our democracy from the actions of our president now? Pelosi: Thank you. I thank you for bringing up the question about, because when I became speaker the first time, there was overwhelming call for me to impeach president Bush on the strength of the war in Iraq, which I vehemently opposed. And I say it again, I said it other places. That was my wheelhouse. I was intelligence. I was a ranking member on the intelligence committee, even before I became part of the leadership of gang of four. So I knew there were no nuclear weapons in Iraq. It just wasn't there. They had to show us, they had to show the gang of four. All the intelligence they had, the intelligence did not show that that was the case. So I knew it was a misrepresentation to the public. But having said that, it was in my view, not a ground for impeachment. They won the election. They made a representation. And to this day, people think, people think that it was the right thing to do. People think Iraq had something to do with the 9/11. I mean, it's appalling what they did. But I did and I said, if somebody wants to make a case, you bring it forward. They had impeached bill Clinton for personal indiscretion and misrepresenting about it and some of these same people are saying, Oh, this doesn't rise to impeachment or that right there. And impeaching Bill Clinton for being stupid in terms of something like that. I mean, I love him. I think it was a great president, but being stupid in terms of that and what would somebody do not to embarrass their family, but in any event, they did Bill Clinton. Now they want me to do George this. I just didn't want it to be a way of life in our country. As far as the Muller report or there was a good deal of the academic setting and a thousand legal experts wrote a statement that said, the Muller Report impeach...is what's in there as an impeachable offense? So much of what's in the Muller report will be more clear once some of the court cases are resolved, but it wasn't so clear to the public. The Ukraine, this removed all doubt. It was self evident that the president undermined our national security, jeopardize the integrity of our elections as he violated his oath of office. There's just... That's something that cannot be ignored.

Hearing: Hearing on Constitutional Framework for Impeachment, House Judiciary Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, December 4, 2019

Watch on Youtube: The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump

Witnesses

  • Professor Noah Feldman
  • Professor Pamela Karlan
  • Professor Michael Gerhardt
  • Professor Jonathan Turley
Transcript:

1:41:00 Michael Gerhardt: The gravity of the president's misconduct is apparent when we compare it to the misconduct of the one president resigned from office to avoid impeachment conviction and removal. The House Judiciary Committee in 1974 approved three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon who resigned a few days later. The first article charged him with obstruction of justice. If you read the Muller report, it identifies a number of facts. I won't lay them out here right now that suggest the president himself has obstructed justice. If you look at the second article of impeachment approved against Richard Nixon, it charged him with abuse of power for ordering the heads of the FBI, IRS, and CIA to harass his political enemies. In the present circumstance, the president is engaged in a pattern of abusing the trust, placing him by the American people, by soliciting foreign countries, including China, Russia, and Ukraine, to investigate his political opponents and interfere on his behalf and elections in which he is a candidate. The third article approved against president Nixon charged that he had failed to comply with four legislative subpoenas. In the present circumstance, the president has refused to comply with and directed at least 10 others in his administration not to comply with lawful congressional subpoenas, including Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and acting chief of staff and head of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney. As Senator Lindsey Graham now chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee said when he was a member of the house on the verge of impeaching president Clinton, the day Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day he was subject to impeachment because he took the power from Congress over the impeachment process away from Congress, and he became the judge and jury. That is a perfectly good articulation of why obstruction of Congress is impeachable.

2:02:30 Norm Eisen: Professor Feldman, what is abuse of power? Noah Feldman: Abuse of power is when the president uses his office, takes an action that is part of the presidency, not to serve the public interest, but to serve his private benefit. And in particular, it's an abuse of power if he does it to facilitate his reelection or to gain an advantage that is not available to anyone who is not the president. Noah Feldman: Sir, why is that impeachable conduct? Noah Feldman: If the president uses his office for personal gain, the only recourse available under the constitution is for him to be impeached because the president cannot be as a practical matter charged criminally while he is in office because the department of justice works for the president. So the only mechanism available for a president who tries to distort the electoral process for personal gain is to impeach him. That is why we have impeachment.

2:09:15 Norm Eisen: Professor Gerhardt, does a high crime and misdemeanor require an actual statutory crime? Michael Gerhardt: No, it plainly does not. Everything we know about the history of impeachment reinforces the conclusion that impeachable offenses do not have to be crimes. And again, not all crimes are impeachable offenses. We look at, again, at the context and gravity of the misconduct.

2:35:15 Michael Gerhardt: The obstruction of Congress is a problem because it undermines the basic principle of the constitution. If you're going to have three branches of government, each of the branches has to be able to do its job. The job of the house is to investigate impeachment and to impeach. A president who says, as this president did say, I will not cooperate in any way, shape, or form with your process robs a coordinate branch of government. He robs the House of Representatives of its basic constitutional power of impeachment. When you add to that the fact that the same president says, my Department of Justice cannot charge me with a crime. The president puts himself above the law when he says he will not cooperate in an impeachment inquiry. I don't think it's possible to emphasize this strongly enough. A president who will not cooperate in an impeachment inquiry is putting himself above the law. Now, putting yourself above the law as president is the core of an impeachable offense because if the president could not be impeached for that, he would in fact not be responsible to anybody.

3:15:30 Jonathan Turley: I'd also caution you about obstruction. Obstruction is a crime also with meaning. It has elements. It has controlling case authority. The record does not establish obstruction. In this case, that is what my steam colleagues said was certainly true. If you accept all of their presumptions, it would be obstruction, but impeachments have to be based on proof, not presumptions. That's the problem. When you move towards impeachment on this abbreviated schedule that has not been explained to me - why you want to set the record for the fastest impeachment. Fast is not good for impeachment. Narrow, fast, impeachments have failed. Just ask Johnson. So the obstruction issue is an example of this problem. And here's my concern. The theory being put forward is that President Trump obstructed Congress by not turning over material requested by the committee and citations have been made to the third article of the Nixon impeachment. Now, first of all, I want to confess, I've been a critic of the third article, the Nixon impeachment my whole life. My hair catches on fire every time someone mentions the third article. Why? Because you would be replicating one of the worst articles written on impeachment. Here's the reason why - Peter Radino's position as Chairman of Judiciary was that Congress alone decides what information may be given to it - alone. His position was that the courts have no role in this. And so by that theory, any refusal by a president based on executive privilege or immunities would be the basis of impeachment. That is essentially the theory that's being replicated today. President Trump has gone to the courts. He's allowed to do that. We have three branches, not two. You're saying article one gives us complete authority that when we demand information from another branch, it must be turned over or we'll impeach you in record time. Now making that worse is that you have such a short investigation. It's a perfect storm. You set an incredibly short period, demand a huge amount of information and when the president goes to court, you then impeach him. In Nixon, it did go to the courts and Nixon lost, and that was the reason Nixon resigned. He resigned a few days after the Supreme Court ruled against him in that critical case. But in that case, the court recognized there are executive privilege arguments that can be made. It didn't say, "You had no right coming to us, don't darken our doorstep again." It said, "We've heard your arguments. We've heard Congress's arguments and you know what? You lose. Turn over the material to Congress." Do you know what that did for the Judiciary is it gave this body legitimacy. Now recently there's some rulings against president Trump including a ruling involving Don McGahn. Mr. Chairman, I testified in front of you a few months ago and if you recall, we had an exchange and I encouraged you to bring those actions and I said I thought you would win and you did. And I think it's an important win for this committee because I don't agree with President Trump's argument in that case. But that's an example of what can happen if you actually subpoena witnesses and go to court. Then you have an obstruction case because a court issues in order and unless they stay that order by a higher court, you have obstruction. But I can't emphasize this enough. And I'll say just one more time. If you impeach a president, if you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power. It's your abuse of power.

3:26:40 Jonathan Turley: There's a reason why every past impeachment has established crimes, and it's obvious it's not that you can't impeach on a non-crime. You can, in fact. Non-crimes had been part of past impeachments. It's just that they've never gone up alone or primarily as the basis of impeachment. That's the problem here. If you prove a quid pro quo that you might have an impeachable offense, but to go up only on a noncriminal case would be the first time in history. So why is that the case? The reason is that crimes have an established definition and case law. So there's a concrete, independent body of law that assures the public that this is not just political, that this is a president who did something they could not do. You can't say the president is above the law. If you then say the crimes you accuse him of really don't have to be established.

3:39:35 Jonathan Turley: This is one of the thinnest records ever to go forward on impeachment. I mean the Johnson record one can can debate because this was the fourth attempt at an impeachment, but this is certainly the thinnest of a modern record. If you take a look at the size of the record of Clinton and Nixon, they were massive in comparison to this, which was is almost wafer thin in comparison, and it has left doubts - not just in the minds of people supporting president Trump - now it's in the minds of people like myself about what actually occurred. There's a difference between requesting investigations and a quid pro quo. You need to stick the landing on the quid pro quo. You need to get the evidence to support it. It might be out there, I don't know, but it's not in this record. I agree with my colleagues. We've all read the record and I just come to a different conclusion. I don't see proof of a quid pro quo no matter what my presumptions, assumptions or bias might be.

Hearing: Impeachment Hearing with Fiona Hill and David Holmes, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 21, 2019

Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Dr. Fiona Hill and David Holmes

Witnesses

  • Dr. Fiona Hill
  • David Holmes
Transcript:

44:45 David Holmes: Our work in Ukraine focused on three policy priorities: peace and security, economic growth and reform and anti-corruption and rule of law. These policies match the three consistent priorities of the Ukrainian people since 2014 as measured in public opinion polling, namely an end to the conflict with Russia that restores national unity and territorial integrity, responsible economic policies that deliver European standards of growth and opportunity and effective and impartial rule of law, institutions that deliver justice in cases of high level official corruption. Our efforts on this third policy priority merit special mention because it was during Ambassador Yovanovitch's tenure that we achieved the hard-fought passage of a law establishing an independent court to try corruption cases.

51:00 David Holmes: It quickly became clear that the White House was not prepared to show the level of support for the Zelensky administration that we had originally anticipated. In early May, Mr Giuliani publicly alleged that Mr. Zelensky was "surrounded by enemies of the U S president" and canceled a visit to Ukraine. Shortly thereafter we learned that Vice President Pence no longer plan to lead the presidential delegation to the inauguration. The White House then whittled down an initial proposed list for the official presidential delegation to the inauguration from over a dozen individuals to just five. Secretary Perry as its head, Special Representative for Ukraine and negotiations Kurt Volker representing the State Department, National Security Council director Alex Vindman representing the White House, temporary acting Charge D'affairs Joseph Pennington representing the Embassy, and Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland. While Ambassador Sondland's mandate as ambassador as the accredited ambassador to the European Union did not cover individual member states, let alone non-member countries like Ukraine, he made clear that he had direct and frequent access to President Trump and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and portrayed himself as the conduit to the President and Mr. Mulvaney for this group. Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland, and Ambassador Volker later styled themselves "the three Amigos" and made clear they would take the lead on coordinating our policy and engagement with the Zelensky administration.

53:30 David Holmes: The inauguration took place on May 20th and I took notes in the delegations meeting with President Zelensky. During the meeting, Secretary Perry passed President Zelensky a list that Perry described as "people he trusts." Secretary Perry told President Zelensky that he could seek advice from the people on this list on issues of energy sector reform, which was the topic of subsequent meetings between Secretary Perry and key Ukrainian energy sector contacts. Embassy personnel were excluded from some of these later meetings by Secretary Perry's staff.

56:50 David Holmes: Within a week or two, it became apparent that the energy sector reforms, the commercial deals, and the anti-corruption efforts on which we were making progress were not making a dent in terms of persuading the White House to schedule a meeting between the presidents.

58:10 David Holmes: We became concerned that even if a meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky could occur, it would not go well. And I discussed with embassy colleagues whether we should stop seeking a meeting all together. While the White House visit was critical to the Zelensky administration, a visit that failed to send a clear and strong signal of support likely would be worse for President Zelensky than no visit at all.

58:30 David Holmes: Congress has appropriated $1.5 billion in security assistance for Ukraine since 2014. This assistance has provided crucial material and moral support to Ukraine and its defensive war with Russia and has helped Ukraine build its armed forces virtually from scratch into arguably the most capable and battle-hardened land force in Europe. I've had the honor of visiting the main training facility in Western Ukraine with members of Congress and members of this very committee, Ms. Stefanik, where we witnessed firsthand us national guard troops along with allies conducting training for Ukrainian soldiers. Since 2014 national guard units from California, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, and Wisconsin have trained shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainian counterparts.

59:30 David Holmes: Given the history of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine and the bipartisan recognition of its importance, I was shocked when on July 18th and office of management and budget staff members surprisingly announced the hold on Ukraine security assistance. The announcement came toward the end of a nearly two hour national security council secure video conference call, which I participated in from the embassy conference room. The official said that the order had come from the president and had been conveyed to OMB by Mr. Mulvaney with no further explanation.

1:03:30 David Holmes: The four of us went to a nearby restaurant and sat on an outdoor terrace. I sat directly across from Ambassador Sondland and the two staffers sat off to our sides. At first, the lunch was largely social. Ambassador Sondland selected a bottle of wine that he shared among the four of us and we discuss topics such as marketing strategies for his hotel business. During the lunch, Ambassador Sondland said that he was going to call President Trump to give him an update. Ambassador Sondland placed a call on his mobile phone and I heard him announce himself several times along the lines of Gordon Sondland holding for the president. It appeared to be he was being transferred through several layers of switchboards and assistance. And I then noticed Ambassador Sondland's demeanor changed and understood that he had been connected to President Trump. While Ambassador Sondland's phone was not on speaker phone, I could hear the president's voice through the ear piece of the phone. The president's voice was loud and recognizable and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume. I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the president and explained he was calling from Kiev. I heard president Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied, yes, he was in Ukraine and went on to state President Zelensky "loves your ass." I then heard President Trump ask, "So he's going to do the investigation?" and Sondland replied that "He's going to do it" adding that President Zelensky will do anything you ask him to do. Even though I did not take notes of these statements, I have a clear recollection that these statements were made. I believe that my colleagues who were sitting at the table also knew that Ambassador Sondland was speaking with the president. The conversation then shifted to Ambassador Sondland's efforts on behalf of the president to assist a rapper who was jailed in Sweden. I can only hear Ambassador Sondland's side of the conversation. Ambassador Sondland told the president that the rapper was "kind of effed there and should have pled guilty." He recommended that the president "Wait until after the sentencing or we'll only make it worse", and he added that the president should let him get sentenced, play the racism card, give him a ticker tape when he comes home. Ambassador Sondland further told the president that Sweden quote "should have released him on your word, but that you can tell the Kardashians you tried."

1:15:00 David Holmes: Today, this very day, marks exactly six years since throngs pro-Western Ukrainians spontaneously gathered on Kiev's independence square, to launch what became known as the Revolution of Dignity. While the protest began in opposition to a turn towards Russia and away from the West, they expanded over three months to reject the entire corrupt, repressive system that had been sustained by Russian influence in the country. Those events were followed by Russia's occupation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and invasion of Ukraine's Eastern Donbass region, and an ensuing war that to date has cost almost 14,000 lives.

1:17:00 David Holmes: Now is not the time to retreat from our relationship with Ukraine, but rather to double down on it.

2:00:15 David Holmes: In the meeting with the president, Secretary Perry as head of the delegation opened the meeting with the American side, and had a number of points he made. And, and during that period, he handed over a piece of paper. I did not see what was on the paper, but Secretary Perry described what was on the paper as a list of trusted individuals and recommended that President Zelensky could draw from that list for advice on energy sector reform issues. Daniel Goldman: Do you know who was on that list? Holmes: I didn't see the list. I don't know other colleagues. There are other people who've been in the mix for a while on that set of issues. Other people, Secretary Perry has mentioned as being people to consult on reform. Goldman: And are they Americans? Holmes: Yes.

4:18:15 Fiona Hill: As I understood there'd been a directive for a whole scale review of our foreign policy assistance and the ties between our foreign policy objectives and the assistance. This has been going on actually for many months. And in the period when I was wrapping up my time there, there had been more scrutiny than specific assistance to specific sets of countries as a result of that overall review.

4:21:10 Fiona Hill: I asked him quite bluntly in a meeting that we had in June of 2019. So this is after the presidential inauguration when I'd seen that he had started to step up in much more of a proactive role on a Ukraine. What was his role here? And he said that he was in charge of Ukraine. And I said, "Well, who put you in charge Ambassador Sondland?" And he said, "The president." Stephen Castor: Did surprise you when he told you that. Fiona Hill:It did surprise me. We'd had no directive. We hadn't been told this. Ambassador Bolton had never indicated in any way that he thought that Ambassador Sondland was playing a leading role in Ukraine.

4:36:30 Fiona Hill: And one of Ukraine's Achilles heel, in addition to, it's military disadvantage with Russia, is in fact, energy. Ukraine remains for now the main transit point for a Russian oil and gas and pipelines to Europe. And this has been manipulated repeatedly, especially since 2006, by the Russian government. And in fact, I mean many of you here will remember, in the Reagan era, there was a huge dispute between the United States and Europe about about whether it made sense for Europe to build pipelines from the then Soviet union to bring gas to European markets.

4:55:30 David Holmes: United States has provided combined civilian and military assistance to Ukraine since 2014 of about $3 billion plus to $1 billion - three $1 billion loan guarantees that's not...those get paid back largely. So just over $3 billion, the Europeans at the level of the European Union and plus the member States combined since 2014. My understanding and have provided a combined $12 billion to Ukraine.

5:02:05 Fiona Hill: And so when I came in Gordon Sondland was basically saying, "Well, look, we have a deal here that there will be a meeting. I have a deal here with the Chief of Staff, Mulvaney there will be a meeting if the Ukrainians open up or announce these investigations into 2016 and Burisma" and I cut it off immediately there because by this point, having heard Mr. Giuliani over and over again on the television and all of the issues, that he was asserting. By this point, it was clear that Burisma was code for the Bidens because Giuliani was laying it out there. I could see why Colonel Vindman was alarmed and he said this is inappropriate with the National Security Council. We can't be involved in this.

5:03:45 Fiona Hill: And that's when I pushed back on Ambassador Sondland and said, "Look, I know there's differences about whether one, we should have this meeting. We're trying to figure out whether we should have it after the Ukrainian, democratic, sorry, parliamentary elections, the Rada elections", which by that point I think had been set for July 21st. It must have been, cause this is July 10th at this point. And Ambassador Bolton would like to wait until after that to basically see whether President Zelensky gets the majority in the parliament, which would enable him to form a cabinet. And then we can move forward.

6:05:50 Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY): Dr. Hill, turning back to you, there's been discussion about the process of scheduling the meeting between President Zelensky and President Trump, and you testified that there was hesitancy to schedule this meeting until after the Ukrainian parliamentary elections. Is that correct? Fiona Hill: That is correct, yes. Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY): And that's because there was speculation in all analytical circles, both in Ukraine and outside the Ukraine, that Zelensky might not be able to get the majority that he needed to form a cabinet, correct? Fiona Hill: That is correct. Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY): And you also testified that another aspect of the NSC hesitancy to schedule this meeting was based on broader concerns related to Zelensky's ability to implement anti-corruption reforms. And this was in specific relation to Ukrainian oligarchs who basically were the owner of the TV company that Mr. Zelensky his program had been a part of. Is that correct? Fiona Hill: That is correct.

6:21:40 Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): One of them is headlined "After boost from Perry, backers got huge gas deal in Ukraine." The other one is titled "Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors probe Giuliani's links to Ukrainian energy projects." Mr. Holmes. Thank you, chairman. You indicated that Secretary Perry, when he was in the Ukraine, had private meetings with Ukrainians. Before he had those private meetings, in a meeting with others, including yourself, I believe, he had presented a list of American advisers for the Ukraine energy sector. Do you know who was on that list? David Holmes: Sir, I didn't see the names on the list myself. Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): Do you know if Alex Cranberg and Michael Blazer were on that list? David Holmes: I have since heard that Michael Blazer is on the list.

Hearing: Impeachment Inquiry Hearing with Laura Cooper and David Hale, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 20, 2019

Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Laura Cooper and David Hale

Witnesses

  • Laura Cooper
  • David Hale
Transcript:

45:30 Laura Cooper: I have also supported a robust Ukrainian Ministry of Defense program of defense reform to ensure the longterm sustainability of US investments and the transformation of the Ukrainian military from a Soviet model to a NATO inter-operable force.

45:50 Laura Cooper: The National Defense Authorization Act requires the Department of Defense to certify defense reform progress to release half of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative or USAI funds, a provision we find very helpful. Based on recommendations from me and other key DOD advisers, the Department of Defense in coordination with the Department of State certified in May, 2019 that Ukraine had "taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption, increasing accountability and sustaining improvements of combat capability." 

47:15 Laura Cooper: Let me say at the outset that I have never discussed this or any other matter with the president and never heard directly from him about this matter.

48:05 Laura Cooper: I and others at the interagency meetings felt that the matter was particularly urgent, because it takes time to obligate that amount of money. And my understanding was that the money was legally required to be obligated by September 30th to the end of the fiscal year.

49:15 Laura Cooper: I received a series of updates and in a September 5th update, I and other senior defense department leaders were informed that over a $100,000,000 could not be obligated by September 30th.

49:45 Laura Cooper: After the decision to release the funds on September 11th of this year, my colleagues across the DOD security assistance enterprise worked tirelessly to be able to ultimately obligate about 86% of the funding by the end of the fiscal year, more than they had originally estimated they would be able to. Due to a provision in September's continuing resolution, appropriating an amount equal to the unobligated funds from fiscal year 2019, we ultimately will be able to obligate all of the USAI funds.

51:04 Laura Cooper: Since my deposition, I have again reviewed my calendar, and the only meeting where I recall a Ukrainian official raising the issue with me is on September 5th at the Ukrainian independence day celebration.

51:45 Laura Cooper: Specifically, on the issue of Ukraine's knowledge of the hold or of Ukraine, asking questions about possible issues with the flow of assistance. My staff showed me two unclassified emails that they received from the state department. One was received on July 25th at 2:31 PM. That email said that the Ukrainian Embassy and House Foreign Affairs Committee are asking about security assistance. The second email was received on July 25th at 4:25 PM that email said that the Hill knows about the FMF situation to an extent, and so does the Ukrainian embassy. I did not receive either of these emails. My staff does not recall informing me about them and I do not recall being made aware of their content at the time.

53:04 Laura Cooper: On July 3rd at 4:23 PM they received an email from the State Department stating that they had heard that the CN is currently being blocked by OMB. This apparently refers to the congressional notification State would send for Ukraine FMF. I have no further information on this.

53:20 Laura Cooper: On July 25th a member of my staff got a question from a Ukraine embassy contact asking what was going on with Ukraine security assistance. Because at that time, we did not know what the guidance was on USAI. The OMB notice of apportionment arrived that day, but the staff member did not find out about it until later. I was informed that the staff member told the Ukrainian official that we were moving forward on USAI, but recommended that the Ukraine embassy check in with State regarding the FMF.

1:02:40 David Hale: We've often heard at the state department that the President of the United States wants to make sure that a foreign assistance is reviewed scrupulously to make sure that it's truly in US national interests, and that we evaluated continuously to meet certain criteria that the president's established. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): And since his election, is it fair to say that the president Trump has looked to overhaul how foreign aid is distributed? David Hale: Yes. The NSC launched a foreign assistance review process, sometime, I think it was late August, early September, 2018.

1:04:30 Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): In the past year, Ukraine was not the only country to have aid withheld from it, is that correct? David Hale: Correct. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): In the past year, was aid held withheld from Pakistan? David Hale:Yes sir. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): Why was aid withheld from Pakistan? David Hale: Because of unhappiness over the policies and behavior of the Pakistani government towards certain proxy groups that were involved in conflicts with United States. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): And in the past year was aid also withheld from Honduras. David Hale: Aid was withheld from three States in central Northern central America, yes. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): The past year was aide withheld from Lebanon? David Hale: Yes sir. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): And when aid was first held withheld from Lebanon, were you given a reason why it was withheld? David Hale: No. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): So having no explanation for why aid is being withheld is not uncommon. I would say it is not the normal way that we function... Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): But it does happen. David Hale: It does happen. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): And is it true that when aid was being withheld from Lebanon that was at the same time aid was being withheld from Ukraine? David Hale: Correct, sir. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX):And, you've testified that the aid to Lebanon still hasn't been released, is that right? David Hale: That is correct. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): Alright.

1:26:05 Laura Cooper: Russia violated the sovereignty of Ukraine's territory. Russia illegally annexed territory that belonged to Ukraine. They also denied Ukraine access to its Naval fleet at the time. And to this day, Russia is building a capability on Crimea designed to expand Russian military power projection far beyond the immediate region.

1:59:40 Laura Cooper: There are three separate pieces to our overall ability to provide equipment to the Ukrainian armed forces. The first is the foreign military finance system, which is a State Department authority and countries around the world have this authority. That authority is used for some of the training and equipment. There's also the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. That's a DOD authority. Unlike the State authority, the DOD authority is only a one year authority. And then third, there's an opportunity for defense sales. And that is something that we're working with Ukrainians on now so that they can actually purchase U.S. equipment. But the javelin specifically was provided under FMF initially and now the Ukrainians are interested in the purchase of javelin.

2:00:35 Rep. Will Hurd (TX): And there wasn't a hold put on purchasing of equipment, is that correct? Laura Cooper: Not to my understanding, no.

2:04:15 Laura Cooper: There were two ways that we would be able to implement presidential guidance to stop obligating the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. And the first option would be for the president to do a rescission. The second is a reprogramming action that the Department of Defense would do... Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX): In both of those would require congressional notice. There would be an extra step that the president would have to take to notify Congress. As far as, you know, was there ever any notice that was sent out to Congress? Laura Cooper: Sir, I did express that, that I believed it would require a notice to Congress and that then there was no such notice to my knowledge or preparation of such a notice to my knowledge.

2:07:41 Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX): But you can't say one way or another whether the inquiries in these emails were about the whole, is that fair? Laura Cooper: I cannot say for certain. Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX):Right, and you can't say one way or another, whether the Ukrainians knew about the whole before August 28th, 2019 when it was reported in Politico, correct? Laura Cooper: Sir, I can just tell you that it's the recollection of my staff that they likely knew, but no, I do not have a certain data point to offer you.

Hearing: Impeachment Inquiry Hearing with E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 20, 2019

Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Ambassador Gordon Sondland

Witness

  • Gordon Sondland
Transcript:

54:00 Gordon Sondland: As I testified previously, Mr. Giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a white house visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 Election DNC server, and Burisma. 54:30 Gordon Sondland: Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew these investigations were important to the president.

55:00 Gordon Sondland: I was adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid, as the Ukrainians needed those funds to fight against Russian aggression.

55:10 Gordon Sondland: I tried diligently to ask why the aid was suspended, but I never received a clear answer. Still haven't to this day. In the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 elections and Burisma as Mr. Giuliani had demanded.

59:40 Gordon Sondland: During the Zelensky inauguration, on May 20th the US delegation developed a very positive view of the Ukraine government. We were impressed by President Zelensky's desire to promote a stronger relationship with the United States. We admired his commitment to reform, and we were excited about the possibility of Ukraine making the changes necessary to support a greater Western economic investment. And we were excited that Ukraine might, after years and years of lip service, finally get serious about addressing its own well known corruption problems.

1:01:15 Gordon Sondland: Unfortunately, President Trump was skeptical. He expressed concerns that the Ukrainian government was not serious about reform, and he even mentioned that Ukraine tried to take him down in the last election. In response to our persistent efforts in that meeting to change his views, President Trump directed us to quote, "talk with Rudy." We understood that talk with Rudy meant talk with Mr. Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer. Let me say again, we weren't happy with the President's directive to talk with Rudy. We did not want to involve Mr. Giuliani. I believe then as I do now, that the men and women of the state department, not the president's personal lawyer, should take responsibility for Ukraine matters. Nonetheless, based on the president's direction we were faced with a choice, we could abandon the efforts to schedule the white house phone call and a white house visit between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, which was unquestionably in our foreign policy interest, or we could do as president Trump had directed and talk with Rudy. We chose the latter course, not because we liked it, but because it was the only constructive path open to us.

1:12:05 Gordon Sondland: After the Zelensky meeting, I also met with Zelensky's senior aide, Andre Yermak. I don't recall the specifics of our conversation, but I believe the issue of investigations was probably a part of that agenda or meeting.

1:12:15 Gordon Sondland: Also, on July 26 shortly after our Kiev meetings, I spoke by phone with President Trump. The White House, which has finally, finally shared certain call dates and times with my attorneys confirms this. The call lasted five minutes. I remember I was at a restaurant in Kiev, and I have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations. Again, given Mr. Giuliani's demand that President Zelensky make a public statement about investigations. I knew that investigations were important to President Trump. We did not discuss any classified information. Other witnesses have recently shared their recollection of overhearing this call. For the most part, I have no reason to doubt their accounts. It's true that the president speaks loudly at times and it's also true, I think, we primarily discussed ASAP Rocky. It's true that the president likes to use colorful language. Anyone who has met with him at any reasonable amount of time knows this well. I cannot remember the precise details. Again, the White House has not allowed me to see any readouts of that call and the July 26 call did not strike me as significant. At the time, actually, actually, I would have been more surprised if President Trump had not mentioned investigations, particularly given what we were hearing from Mr. Giuliani about the president's concerns. However, I have no recollection of discussing Vice President Biden or his son on that call or after the call ended.

1:14:10 Gordon Sondland: I know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question. Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes. Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election. Mr Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians and Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these prerequisites for the White House call and the White House meeting reflected President Trump's desires and requirements.

1:23:10 Gordon Sondland: There was a September 1st meeting with President Zelensky in Warsaw. Unfortunately, President Trump's attendance at the Warsaw meeting was canceled due to Hurricane Dorian. Vice President Pence attended instead. I mentioned Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations. I recall mentioning that before the Zelensky meeting. During the actual meeting, President Zelensky raised the issue of security assistance directly with Vice President Pence and the vice president said that he would speak to President Trump about it. Based on my previous communication with Secretary Pompeo, I felt comfortable sharing my concerns with Mr. Yermak. It was a very, very brief pull aside conversation that happened. Within a few seconds, I told Mr. Yermak that I believe that the resumption of US aid would likely not occur until Ukraine took some kind of action on the public statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.

1:38:30 Gordon Sondland: I finally called the president, I believe it was on the 9th of September. I can't find the records and they won't provide them to me, but I believe I just asked him an open ended question, Mr. Chairman. "What do you want from Ukraine? I keep hearing all these different ideas and theories and this and that. What do you want?" And it was a very short, abrupt conversation. He was not in a good mood and he just said, I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell them Zelensky to do the right thing. Something to that effect.

1:43:00 Gordon Sondland: Again, through Mr. Giuliani, we were led to believe that that's what he wanted.

2:06:25 Gordon Sondland: President Trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. The only thing we got directly from Giuliani was that the Burisma and 2016 elections were conditioned on the White House meeting. The aide was my own personal guess based again, on your analogy, two plus two equals four.

2:10:30 Gordon Sondland: Again, I don't recall President Trump ever talking to me about any security assistance ever.

2:44:00 Stephen Castor: Did the president ever tell you personally about any preconditions for anything? Gordon Sondland: No. Okay. Stephen Castor: So the president never told you about any preconditions for the aid to be released? Gordon Sondland: No. Stephen Castor: The president never told you about any preconditions for a White House meeting? Gordon Sondland: Personally, no.

3:01:10 Stephen Castor: And are you aware that he was also interested in better understanding the contributions of our European allies? Gordon Sondland: That I'm definitely aware of. Stephen Castor: And there was some back and forth between the state department officials trying to better understand that information for the president. Gordon Sondland: Yes, that's correct. Stephen Castor: And how do you know that wasn't the reason for the hold? Gordon Sondland: I don't... Stephen Castor: But yet you speculate that there was a link to the this announcement. Gordon Sondland: I presumed it, yes. Stephen Castor: Okay.

3:07:05 Stephen Castor: And when you first started discussing the concerns the president had with corruption, Burisma wasn't the only company that was mentioned, right. Gordon Sondland: It was generic, as I think I testified to Chairman Schiff, it was generic corruption, oligarchs, just bad stuff going on in Ukraine. Stephen Castor: But other companies came up, didn't they? Gordon Sondland: I don't know if they were mentioned specifically. It might've been Naftagas because we were working on another issue with Naftagas. So that might've been one of them. Stephen Castor: At one point in your deposition, I believe you, you said, "Yeah, Naftagas comes up at every conversation." Is that fair? Gordon Sondland: Probably.

3:14:55 Gordon Sondland: I think once that Politico article broke, it started making the rounds that, if you can't get a White House meeting without the statement, what makes you think you're going to get a $400 million check? Again, that was my presumption. Stephen Castor: Okay, but you had no evidence to prove that, correct? Gordon Sondland: That's correct.

3:44:10 Daniel Goldman: It wasn't really a presumption, you heard from Mr. Giuliani? Gordon Sondland: Well, I didn't hear from Mr. Giuliani about the aid. I heard about the Burisma and 2016. Daniel Goldman: And you understood at that point, as we discussed, two plus two equals four, that the aid was there as well. Gordon Sondland: That was the problem, Mr. Goldman. No one told me directly that the aid was tied to anything. I was presuming it was.

5:02:10 Rep. Jim Himes (CT): What did Mr. Giuliani say to you that caused you to say that he is expressing the desires of the President of the United States? Gordon Sondland: Mr. Himes, when that was originally communicated, that was before I was in touch with Mr. Giuliani directly. So this all came through Mr. Volcker and others. Rep. Jim Himes (CT): So Mr. Volcker told you that he was expressing the desires of the President of the United States. Gordon Sondland: Correct.

5:20:40 Rep. Michael Turner (OH): Well, you know, after you testified, Chairman Schiff ran out and gave a press conference and said he gets to impeach the president and said it's because of your testimony and if you pull up CNN today, right now, their banner says "Sondland ties Trump to withholding aid." Is that your testimony today, Mr. Ambassador Sondland, that you have evidence that Donald Trump tied the investigations the aid? Cause I don't think you're saying that. Gordon Sondland: I've said repeatedly, Congressman, I was presuming. I also said that President Trump... Rep. Michael Turner (OH): So no one told you, not just the president...Giuliani didn't tell you, Mulvaney didn't tell you. Nobody - Pompeo didn't tell you. Nobody else on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying aid to these investigations. Is that correct? Gordon Sondland: I think I already testified. Rep. Michael Turner (OH): No, answer the question. Is it correct? No one on this planet told you that Donald Trump was tying this aid to the investigations. Cause if your answer is yes, then the chairman's wrong. And the headline on CNN is wrong. No one on this planet told you that president Trump was tying aid to investigations. Yes or no? Gordon Sondland: Yes.

Hearing: Impeachment Hearing with Ambassador Kurt Volker and National Security Aide Tim Morrison, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 19, 2019

Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Ambassador Kurt Volker and Timothy Morrison

Witnesses

  • Kurt Volker
  • Timothy Morrison
Transcript:

43:20 Timothy Morrison: I continue to believe Ukraine is on the front lines of a strategic competition between the West and Vladimir Putin's revanchist Russia. Russia is a failing power, but it is still a dangerous one. United States aids Ukraine and her people, so they can fight Russia over there and we don't have to fight Russia here. Support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty has been a bipartisan objective since Russia's military invasion in 2014. It must continue to be.

48:00 Kurt Volker: At no time was I aware of or knowingly took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden. As you know, from the extensive realtime documentation I have provided, Vice President Biden was not a topic of our discussions.

50:20 Kurt Volker: At the time I took the position in the summer of 2017 there were major complicated questions swirling in public debate about the direction of US policy towards Ukraine. Would the administration lifts sanctions against Russia? Would it make some kind of grand bargain with Russia in which it would trade recognition of Russia seizure of Ukrainian territory for some other deal in Syria or elsewhere? Would the administration recognize Russia's claimed annexation of Crimea? Will this just become another frozen conflict? There are also a vast number of vacancies in key diplomatic positions. So no one was really representing the United States in the negotiating process about ending the war in Eastern Ukraine.

51:20 Kurt Volker: We changed the language commonly used to describe Russia's aggression. I was the administration's most outspoken public figure highlighting Russia's invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine, calling out Russia's responsibility to end the war.

54:45 Kurt Volker: The problem was that despite the unanimous positive assessment and recommendations of those of us who were part of the US presidential delegation that attended the inauguration of President Zelensky, President Trump was receiving a different negative narrative about Ukraine and President Zelensky. That narrative was fueled by accusations from Ukraine's then prosecutor general and conveyed to the president by former mayor Rudy Giuliani. As I previously told this committee, I became aware of the negative impact this was having on our policy efforts when four of us, who were a part of the presidential delegation to the inauguration, met as a group with President Trump on May 23rd. We stressed our finding that President Zelensky represented the best chance for getting Ukraine out of the mire of corruption and had been in for over 20 years. We urged him to invite President Zelensky to the White House. The president was very skeptical. Given Ukraine's history of corruption. That's understandable. He said that Ukraine was a corrupt country full of terrible people. He said they tried to take me down. In the course of that conversation, he referenced conversations with Mayor Giuliani. It was clear to me that despite the positive news and recommendations being conveyed by this official delegation about the new president, President Trump had a deeply rooted negative view on Ukraine rooted in the past. He was receiving other information from other sources, including Mayor Giuliani, that was more negative, causing him to retain this negative view. Within a few days, on May 29th, President Trump indeed signed the congratulatory letter to President Zelensky, which included an invitation to the president to visit him at the White House. However, more than four weeks passed and we could not nail down a date for the meeting. I came to believe that the president's long-held negative view towards Ukraine was causing hesitation in actually scheduling the meeting, much as we had seen in our oval office discussion.

57:35 Kurt Volker: President Zelensky's senior aide, Andriy Yermak approached me several days later to ask to be connected to Mayor Giuliani. I agreed to make that connection. I did so because I understood that the new Ukrainian leadership wanted to convince those like Mayor Giuliani, who believes such a negative narrative about Ukraine, that times have changed and that under President Zelensky, Ukraine is worthy of us support. Ukrainians believed that if they could get their own narrative across in a way that convinced Mayor Giuliani that they were serious about fighting corruption and advancing reform, Mayor Giuliani would convey that assessment to President Trump, thus correcting the previous negative narrative. That made sense to me and I tried to be helpful. I made clear to the Ukrainians that Mayor Giuliani was a private citizen, the president's personal lawyer, and not representing the US government. Likewise, in my conversations with Mayor Giuliani, I never considered him to be speaking on the president's behalf or giving instructions, rather, the information flow was the other way. From Ukraine to Mayor Giuliani in the hopes that this would clear up the information reaching President Trump.

1:00:15 Kurt Volker: I connected Mayor Giuliani and Andriy Yermak by text and later by phone they met in person on August 2nd, 2019. In conversations with me following that meeting, which I did not attend, Mr. Giuliani said that he had stressed the importance of Ukraine conducting investigations into what happened in the past, and Mr. Yermak stressed that he told Mr. Giuliani it is the government's program to root out corruption and implement reforms, and they would be conducting investigations as part of this process anyway.

1:00:45 Kurt Volker: Mr. Giuliani said he believed that the Ukrainian president needed to make a statement about fighting corruption and that he had discussed this with Mr. Yermak. I said, I did not think that this would be a problem since that is the government's position. Anyway, I followed up with Mr. Yermak and he said that they would indeed be prepared to make a statement.

1:02:10 Kurt Volker: On August 16th, Mr. Yermak shared a draft with me, which I thought looked perfectly reasonable. It did not mention Burisma or 2016 elections, but was generic. Ambassador Sondland I had a further conversation with Mr. Giuliani who said that in his view, in order to be convincing that this government represented real change in Ukraine, the statement should include specific reference to Burisma and 2016 and again, there was no mention of Vice President Biden in these conversations.

1:02:40 Kurt Volker: Ambassador Sondland and I discussed these points and I edited the statement drafted by Mr. Yermak to include these points to see how it looked. I then discussed it further with Mr. Yermak. He said that for a number of reasons, including the fact that since Mr. Lutsenko was still officially the prosecutor general, they did not want to mention Burisma or 2016 and I agreed. And the idea of putting out a statement was shelved. These were the last conversations I had about this statement, which were on or about August 17 to 18.

1:04:00 Kurt Volker: At the time I was connecting Mr. Yermak and Mr. Giuliani and discussing with Mr. Yermak and Ambassador Sondland a possible statement that could be made by the Ukrainian president, I did not know of any linkage between the hold on security assistance and Ukraine pursuing investigations. No one had ever said that to me, and I never conveyed such a linkage to the Ukrainians.

1:04:40 Kurt Volker: I believe the Ukrainians became aware of the hold on August 29th and not before. That date is the first time any of them asked me about the hold by forwarding an article that had been published in Politico.

1:42:30 Daniel Goldman: Your testimony, that based on the text that you wrote, linking the investigations and the 2016 election on July 25th to the White House meeting, you're saying that by this point in August, with this back and forth, that you were unaware that this public statement was a condition for the White House meeting? Kurt Volker: I wouldn't have called it a condition. It's a nuance I guess. I viewed it as very helpful. If we could get this done, it would help improve the perception that President Trump and others had. And then we would get the date for a meeting. If we didn't have a statement, I wasn't giving up and thinking that, Oh, well then we'll never get a meeting.

1:44:00 Daniel Goldman: I want to move forward to September, and early September when the security assistance begins to more overtly be used as leverage to pressure the Ukrainians to conduct these investigations that President Trump wanted. Mr. Morrison, you accompanied Vice President Pence to Warsaw when he met with President Zelensky, is that right? Timothy Morrison: I was in Warsaw when the vice president was designated as the president's representative. I was accompanying Ambassador Bolton. Daniel Goldman: Understood. You were at the bilateral meeting with the vice president and President Zelensky, correct? Timothy Morrison: I was. Daniel Goldman: In that meeting, were the Ukrainians concerned about the hold on security clearance - military assistance rather. Timothy Morrison: Yes. Daniel Goldman: What did they say? Timothy Morrison: It was the first issue that President Zelensky raised with Vice President Pence. They were very interested. They talked about its importance to Ukraine. It's important to their relationship. Daniel Goldman: And what was Vice President Pence's response? Timothy Morrison: The vice president represented that it was a priority for him, and that we were working to address, and he characterized President Trump's concerns about the state of corruption in Ukraine. And the president's prioritization of getting the Europeans to contribute more to security sector assistance. Daniel Goldman: And did he directly explain to the Ukrainians that those were the actual reasons for the holds or was he just commenting on general concerns of the president? Timothy Morrison: I don't know that he necessarily acknowledged a hold. We mentioned that we were reviewing the assistance and that that's the way I heard it. That's the way I would characterize it. And those were the points he raised to help President Zelensky understand where we were in our process. Daniel Goldman: And to your knowledge though, on sort of the staff level as the coordinator of all the interagency process, you are not aware of any review of the Ukraine security assistance money, were you? Timothy Morrison: Well, we had been running a review. We had been running an interagency process to provide the president the information that I had been directed to generate, for the president's consideration as to the state of interagency support for continuing Ukraine security sector assistance. Daniel Goldman: And the entire integrate agency supported the continuation of the security assistance, isn't that right? Timothy Morrison: That is correct.

1:46:50 Daniel Goldman: Now after this larger meeting with Vice President Pence and President Zelensky, you testified at your deposition that you saw Ambassador Sondland immediately go over and pull Andriy Yermak aside and have a conversation. Is that right? Timothy Morrison: President Zelensky left the room, Vice President Pence left the room, and in sort of an anteroom, Ambassador Sondland and Presidential Advisor Yermak had this discussion. Yes. Daniel Goldman: And what did Ambassador Sondland say to tell you that he told Mr. Yermak? Timothy Morrison: That the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted.

1:49:00 Daniel Goldman: A few days later on September 7th, you spoke again to Ambassador Sondland, who told you that he had just gotten off the phone with President Trump. Isn't that right? Timothy Morrison: That sounds correct. Yes. Daniel Goldman: What did Ambassador Sondland tell you that President Trump said to him? Timothy Morrison: If I recall this conversation correctly, this was where Ambassador Sondland relayed that there was no quid pro quo, but President Zelensky had to make the statement and that he had to want to do it. Daniel Goldman: And by that point, did you understand that the statement related to the Biden and 2016 investigations? Timothy Morrison: I think I did, yes. Daniel Goldman: And that was essentially a condition for the security assistance to be released. Timothy Morrison: I understood that that's what ambassador Sondland believed.

2:08:40 Stephen Castor: And you met with President Zelensky on, I believe it was August 29th, Timothy Morrison: Ambassador Bolton had a meeting with President Zelensky and I staffed that meeting. Stephen Castor: And that's right around the time when the Rada had met and they had started to push through their reforms. Timothy Morrison: As I recall, the meeting, the date of the meeting between Ambassador Bolton and President Zelensky was actually the first day of the new Rada. Stephen Castor: And, some of these reforms included, naming a new prosecutor general. Timothy Morrison: A new prosecutor general, a brand new cabinet, yes. Stephen Castor: And they pushed through some legislation that eliminated immunity for Rada members. Timothy Morrison: Yes, eliminating parliamentary immunity. Stephen Castor: And I believe you provided some color into this experience, this meeting, and you said that the Ukrainians had been up all night, working on some of these legislative initiatives. Timothy Morrison: Yes. Uh, the Ukrainians with whom we met were by all appearances exhausted from the pace of activity. Stephen Castor: And was Ambassador Bolton encouraged by the activity? Timothy Morrison: Yes, he was. Stephen Castor: And was the meeting altogether favorable? Timothy Morrison: Quite.

Hearing: Impeachment Hearing with Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and Jennifer Williams, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 19, 2019

Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams

Witnesses

  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
  • Jennifer Williams
Transcript:

50:30 Jennifer Williams: On August 29th, I learned that the vice president would be traveling to Poland to meet with President Zelensky on September 1st. At the September 1st meeting, which I attended, President Zelensky asked the vice president about news articles reporting a hold on U.S. security assistance for Ukraine. The vice president responded that Ukraine had the United States unwavering support and promised to relay their conversation to President Trump that night. During the September 1st meeting, neither the vice president nor President Zelensky mentioned the specific investigations discussed during the July 25th phone call.

1:06:45 Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): Let me turn if I can to the hold on security assistance, which I think you both testified you learned about in early July. Am I correct that neither of you were provided with a reason for why the president put a hold on security assistance to Ukraine? Jennifer Williams: My understanding was that OMB was reviewing the assistance to ensure it was in line with administration priorities, but it was not made more specific than that. Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): And Colonel Vindman? Alexander Vindman: That is consistent. We had...the review was to ensure it remained consistent with administration policies.

1:07:20 Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): Colonel Vindman, you attended a meeting in John Bolton's office on July 10th, where Ambassador Sondland interjected to respond to a question by senior Ukrainian officials about a White House visit. What did he say at that time? Alexander Vindman: To the best of my recollection, Ambassador Sondland said that in order to get a White House meeting, the Ukrainians would have to provide a deliverable, which is investigations, specific investigations. Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): And what was Ambassador's Bolton's response or reaction to that comment? Alexander Vindman: We had not completed all of the agenda items and we still had time for the meeting and Ambassador Bolton abruptly ended the meeting.

1:08:15 Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): Based on Ambassador Sondland's remark at the July 10th meeting, was it your clear understanding that the Ukrainians understood they had to commit to investigations President Trump wanted in order to get the White House meeting. Alexander Vindman: It may have not been entirely clear at that moment. Certainly Ambassador Sondland was a calling for these meetings and he had stated that his, this was developed per conversation with the chief of staff, Mr. Mick Mulvaney. But, the connection to the president wasn't clear at that point.

2:13:00 Stephen Castor: And President Zelensky's inauguration was May 20th, if I'm not mistaken. Jennifer Williams: Yes, that's correct. Stephen Castor: And you had about four days notice? Jennifer Williams: In the end, the Ukrainian parliament decided on May 16th to set the date for May 20th, that's correct. Stephen Castor: So you would acknowledge that that made it quite difficult for the vice president and the whole operation to mobilize and get over to Ukraine? Correct? Jennifer Williams: It would have been, but we had already stopped the trip planning by that point. Stephen Castor: And when did that happen? Jennifer Williams: Stopping the trip planning? on May 13th. Okay. Stephen Castor: And how did you hear about that? Jennifer Williams: I was called by a colleague in the chief, by the vice president's chief of staff's office and told to stop the trip planning. Stephen Castor: As I understand it, it was the, the assistant to the chief of staff? Jennifer Williams: That's correct. Stephen Castor: Okay. And so you didn't hear about it from General Kellogg or the chief of staff or... Jennifer Williams: Correct. Stephen Castor: Or the president or the vice president. You heard about it from Mr. Short's assistant. Jennifer Williams: That's right. Stephen Castor: And did you have any, any knowledge of the reasoning for stopping the trip? Jennifer Williams: I asked my colleague why we should stop trip planning and why the vice president would not be attending. And I was informed that the president had decided the vice president would not attend the inauguration. Stephen Castor: But do you know why the president decided? Jennifer Williams: No, she did not have that information. Stephen Castor: Okay. And ultimately the vice president went to Canada for a USMCA event during this window of time, correct? Jennifer Williams: Correct. Stephen Castor: So it's entirely conceivable that the president decided that he wanted the vice president to go to Canada on behalf of USMCA instead of doing anything else, Correct? Jennifer Williams: I'm really not in a position to speculate what the motivations were behind the president's decision. Stephen Castor: You know, the vice president has done quite a bit of USMCA events, right? Jennifer Williams: Absolutely, yes sir.

2:23:10 Stephen Castor: When you were, you went to Ukraine for the inauguration, correct? On the 20th. Alexander Vindman: Right. Stephen Castor: At any point during that trip, did Mr. Dani look offer you a position of defense minister with the Ukrainian government? Alexander Vindman: He did. Stephen Castor: And how many times did he do that? Alexander Vindman: I believe it was three times. Stephen Castor: And you have any reason why he asked you to do that? Alexander Vindman: I don't know. But, every single time I dismissed it. Upon returning, I notified my chain of command and the appropriate counterintelligence folks about this offer. Stephen Castor: I mean, Ukraine's a country that's experienced a war with Russia, certainly their minister of defense is a pretty key position for the Ukrainians. President Zelensky, Mr. Dani look to bestow that honor on you. At least asking you, I mean, that was a big honor. Correct. Alexander Vindman: I think it would be a great honor and frankly, I'm aware of service members that have left service to help nurture the developing democracies in that part of the world, certainly in the Baltics, former officers and federal contractors, I believe it was an air force officer that became an administrator of defense. But I'm an American. I came here when I was a toddler and I immediately dismissed these offers, did not entertain them. Stephen Castor: When he made this offer to you initially, did you leave the door open? Was there a reason that he had to come back and ask you a second and third time? Or was he just trying to convince you? Alexander Vindman: Yeah Council, you know what, the whole notion is rather comical that I was being asked to consider whether I'd want to be the minister of defense. I did not leave the door open at all, but, it is pretty funny for Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, which really isn't that senior, to be offered that illustrious a position.

3:44:00 Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): Ms. Williams again, When did you first learn that the security assistance was being held up? The nearly $400 million that was referenced. Jennifer Williams: July 3rd. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): And were you aware of any additional or did you attend any additional meetings in which that military assistance being withheld was discussed? Jennifer Williams: I did. I attended meetings on July 23rd and July 26th, where the security assistance hold was discussed. I believe it may have also been discussed on July 31st. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): And, at that point, did anyone provide a specific reason for the hold? Jennifer Williams: In those meetings, the OMB representative reported that the assistance was being held at the direction of the White House chief of staff. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): And did they give reasons beyond that it was being withheld by the White House chief of staff? Jennifer Williams: Not specifically. The reason given was that there was a ongoing review whether the funding was still in line with administration priorities. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): Did anyone in any of those meetings or in any other subsequent discussion you had discuss the legality of withholding that aid. Jennifer Williams: There were discussions, I believe in the July 31st meeting and possibly prior as well, in terms of Defense and State Department officials were looking into how they would handle a situation which earmarked funding from Congress that was designated for Ukraine would be resolved if the funding continued to be held as we approached the end of the fiscal year. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): And from what you witnessed, did anybody in the national security community support withholding the assistance? Jennifer Williams: No.

3:47:00 Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): Did anyone, unto your understanding, raise the legality of withholding this assistance. Alexander Vindman: It was raised on several occasions. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): And who raised those concerns? Alexander Vindman: So following the July 18th sub PCC, which is again what I coordinate or what I convene, at my level. There was a July 23rd, PCC that would have been conducted by Mr. Morrison. There were questions raised on as to the legality of the hold. Over the subsequent week, the issue was analyzed. And during the July 26th deputies...so the deputies from all the departments and agencies, there was an opinion rendered that it was, it was legal to, put the hold. Rep. Mike Quigley (IL): It was, excuse me. Alexander Vindman: There was an opinion, legal, opinion rendered that it was, okay to, or that the hold was legal.

Hearing: Impeachment Hearing with Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 15, 2019

Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

Witness

  • Marie Vanonvich
Transcript:

49:15 Marie Yovanovitch: I worked to advance U.S. policy - fully embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike - to help Ukraine become a stable and independent democratic state with a market economy integrated into Europe.

50:05 Marie Yovanovitch: Ukraine, with an enormous landmass and a large population, has the potential to be a significant commercial and political partner for the United States, as well as a force multiplier on the security side. We see the potential and Ukraine, Russia sees, by contrast, sees the risk. The history is not written yet, but Ukraine could move out of Russia's orbit. And now Ukraine is a battleground for great power competition with a hot war for the control of territory and a hybrid war to control Ukraine's leadership. The U.S. has provided significant security assistance since the onset of the war against Russia in 2014 and the Trump administration strengthened our policy by approving the provision to Ukraine of anti-tank missiles known as javelins.

51:15 Marie Yovanovitch: As critical as the war against Russia is, Ukraine struggling democracy has an equally important challenge. Battling the Soviet legacy of corruption, which has pervaded Ukraine's government. Corruption makes Ukraine's leaders ever vulnerable to Russia and the Ukrainian people understand that. That's why they launched the Revolution of Dignity in 2014 demanding to be a part of Europe, demanding the transformation of the system, demanding to live under the rule of law. Ukrainians, wanted the law to apply equally to all people, whether the individual in question is the president or any other citizen. It was a question of fairness, of dignity. Here again, there is a coincidence of interests. Corrupt leaders are inherently less trustworthy. While an honest and accountable Ukrainian leadership makes a U.S.-Ukrainian partnership more reliable and more valuable to the United States. A level playing field in this strategically located country bordering four NATO allies creates an environment in which U.S. business can more easily trade, invest, and profit.

3:38:10 Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): Were you involved in the July 25th Trump-Zelensky phone call or preparations for the call? Marie Yovanovitch: No, I was not. Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): Were you involved in the deliberations about the pause in military sales to Ukraine as the Trump administration reviewed newly elected President Zelensky's commitment to corruption reforms? Marie Yovanovitch: For the delay in...? Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): For the pause. Marie Yovanovitch: The pause? No, I was not. Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): Were you involved in the proposed Trump-Zelensky, later Pence-Zelensky meetings in Warsaw, Poland on September 1st? Marie Yovanovitch: No, I was not. Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): Did you ever talk to President Trump in 2019? Marie Yovanovitch: No, I have not. Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): Mick Mulvaney. Marie Yovanovitch: No, I have not. Rep. Devin Nunes (CA): Thank you, Ambassador.

4:51:00 Rep. Mike Turner (OH): Now the U.S. Ambassador to the E.U., they would have under their portfolio aspiring nations to the E.U., would they not? Marie Yovanovitch: Yeah. Rep. Mike Turner (OH): Okay. So, E.U. Ambassador Sondland then would've had Ukraine in his portfolio because they're an aspiring nation and he's our U.S. ambassador to the EU. Correct? Marie Yovanovitch: I think he testified that one of his first discussions was with... Rep. Mike Turner (OH): But you agree that it's within his portfolio. Correct? You would agree that it's in his portfolio, would you not? Yes. Marie Yovanovitch: I would agree, that... Rep. Mike Turner (OH): Thank you. Now I want to go to the next... Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): I'm sorry, let her finish her answer, please. Rep. Mike Turner (OH): Now, Mr. Holbrook is a gentleman who I have an great deal of reverence for. Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): Ambassador Yovanovitch has not finished her answer. You may finish your answer Ambassador. Rep. Mike Turner (OH): Not out of my time. You're done. Nope. Right. Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): No, The ambassador will be recognized. Marie Yovanovitch: I would say that, all EU ambassadors deal with other countries, including aspiring countries, but it is unusual to name the U.S. ambassador to the EU to be responsible for all aspects of Ukraine.

4:54:15 Rep. Andre Carson (IN): What concerned you about the Prosecutor General's office when you were the ambassador in Ukraine? Marie Yovanovitch: What concerned us was that there didn't seem to be any progress in the three overall objectives, that Mr. Lutsenko had laid out, most importantly for the Ukrainian people, but also the international community. So the first thing was reforming the Prosecutor General's office. It's a tremendously powerful office where they had authority not only to conduct investigations, so an FBI like function, but also to do the actual prosecution. So very, very wide powers, which is part of that Soviet legacy. And there just wasn't a lot of progress in that. There wasn't a lot of progress in handling personnel issues and how the structure should be organized and who should have the important jobs because some of the people in those jobs were known to, were considered to be corrupt themselves. Secondly, the issue that was tremendously important to the Ukrainian people of bringing justice to the over 100 people who died on the Maidan during the Revolution of Dignity in 2014. Nobody has been held accountable for that. And that is, you know, kind of an open wound for the Ukrainian people. And thirdly, Ukraine needs all the money that it has. And it is, there is a strong belief that former president Yanukovych and those around him made off with over $40 billion. $40 billion! That's a lot in the U.S. It's a huge amount of money in Ukraine. And so, again, nobody has, none of that money has really been...I think, I think maybe $1 billion was repatriated, but the rest of it is still missing.

6:13:25 Rep. Peter Welch (VT): Now as ambassador, you had no knowledge of whatever it is President Trump ultimately seems to have wanted to get for cooperation in this investigation isn't that correct? Marie Yovanovitch: Yes. Rep. Peter Welch (VT): All right. Now you've been asked about whether a president has authority to replace an ambassador, and you have agreed that that's the president's prerogative. Marie Yovanovitch: Yes, that's true. Rep. Peter Welch (VT): But that assumes that the reasons are not related to the personal private political interests that the president at the expense of our national security, right? Marie Yovanovitch: Yes. Rep. Peter Welch (VT): And you've been the target of insults from the president. You join some very distinguished company, by the way, Senator McCain, General Kelly, a man, I admire. I think all of us do. General Mattis. We're not here to talk about that unless the reason you get insulted as you did today, essentially blaming you for Somalia, is if this is another step by the president to intimidate witnesses. He didn't intimidate you. You're here, you've endured. But there are other people out there that can expect to Trump treatment if they come forward. That's a question for us.

Hearing: Diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent Impeachment Inquiry Testimony, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN Coverage, November 13, 2019

Watch on Youtube: Open Hearing with Ambassador Bill Taylor and George Kent

Witnesses:

  • William Taylor
  • George Kent
Transcript:

35:00 George Kent: The United States has very clear national interests at stake in Ukraine. Ukraine's success is very much in our national interest in the way we have defined our national interest broadly in Europe for the past 75 years. After World War II, U.S. Leadership furthered far-sighted policies like the Marshall plan in the creation of a rules based international order, protected by the collective security provided by NATO Western Europe, recovered and thrived after the carnage of World War II, not withstanding the shadow of the iron curtain. Europe's security and prosperity contributed to our security and prosperity. Support of Ukraine's success also fits squarely into our strategy for central and Eastern Europe since the fall of the wall 30 years ago this past week. A Europe truly whole, free and at peace, our strategic game for the entirety of my foreign service career is not possible without a Ukraine whole, free and at peace, including Crimea and the Donbass, territories currently occupied by Russia.

37:00 George Kent: Ukraine's popular revolution of dignity in 2014 forced a corrupt pro Russian leadership, the fleet of Moscow. After that, Russia invaded Ukraine, occupying 7% of its territory, roughly equivalent to the size of Texas for the United States. At that time, Ukraine state institutions were on the verge of collapse. Ukrainian civil society answered the challenge. They formed volunteer battalions of citizens, including technology professionals and medics, a crowdsourced funding for their own weapons, body armor and supplies. They were the 21st century Ukrainian equivalent of our own minute men of 1776 buying time for a regular army to reconstitute. Since then, more than 13,000 Ukrainians have died on Ukrainian soil defending their territorial integrity and sovereignty from Russian aggression. America's support and Ukraine's own de facto war of independence has been critical in this regard. By analogy, the American colonies may not have prevailed against the British Imperial might without the help of transatlantic friends after 1776. In an echo of Lafayette's organized decision assistance to general George Washington's army and Admiral John Paul Jones' Navy, Congress has generously appropriated over one point $5 billion over the past five years, and desperately needed trained and equipped security assistance to Ukraine. These funds increase Ukraine strength and ability to fight Russian aggression. Ultimately, Ukraine is on a path to become a full security partner of the United States within NATO.

39:20 George Kent: In 2019, Ukrainian citizens passed the political torch to a new generation. When that came of age, not in the final years of the Soviet union, but in an independent Ukraine, presidential and parliamentary elections swept out much of Ukraine's previous governing elite and seated 41 year old president Zelensky, a cabinet with an average age of 39, and a parliament with the average age of 41. At the heart of that change mandate five years after Ukraine's Revolution of Dignity is a thirst for justice because there cannot be dignity without justice, without a reform judicial sector that delivers justice with integrity for all, Ukrainian society will remain unsettled. Foreign investors, including American investors, will not bring the great investment needed to ensure that Ukraine's longterm prosperity is secured.

45:30 George Kent: In mid-August, it became clear to me that Giuliani's efforts to gin up politically motivated investigations were now infecting U.S. Engagement with Ukraine, leveraging President Zelensky's desire for a White House meeting.

45:45 George Kent: There are and always have been conditionality placed on our sovereign loan guarantees for Ukraine conditions include anticorruption reforms as well as meeting larger stability goals and social safety nets. The International Monetary Fund does the same thing. Congress and the executive branch work together to put conditionality on some security assistance in the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

54:45 William Taylor: Since 2014, you and Congress have provided over $1.6 billion in military assistance to Ukraine. The security assistance provides small unit training at an army base near Lviv in the Western end of the country. It provides ambulances, night vision devices, communications equipment, counter battery, radar, Navy ships, and finally weapons. The security systems demonstrates our commitment to resist aggression and defend freedom.

55:11 William Taylor: During the 2014 to 2016 period, I was serving outside of government and joined two other former ambassadors to Ukraine in urging the Obama Administration officials at the State Department, Defense Department and other agencies to provide lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine in order to deter further Russian aggression. I also supported much stronger sanctions on Russia. I was pleased when the Trump administration provided javelin anti-tank missiles and enacted stronger sanctions.

56:30 William Taylor: I could be effective only if the U.S. policy of strong support for Ukraine, strong diplomatic support along with robust security, economic and technical assistance were to continue.

58:00 William Taylor: But once I arrived in Kiev, I discovered a weird combination of encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances. Firstly, encouraging: President Zelensky was reforming Ukraine in a hurry. He appointed reformist ministers and supported long stalled anticorruption legislation. He took quick executive action, including opening Ukraine's high anticorruption court with a new parliamentary majority stemming from snap elections. President Zelensky changed the Ukrainian constitution to remove absolute immunity from Rada deputies. The source of raw corruption for two decades.

1:05:30 William Taylor: On July 9th, on a phone call with Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs, Fiona Hill, and Director of European Affairs, Lieutenant Colonel Alex Veneman at the NSC. They tried to reassure me that they were not aware of any official change in us policy towards Ukraine, OMB's announcement notwithstanding. They did confirm that the hold on security systems for Ukraine came from chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who maintained a skeptical view of Ukraine.

1:12:00 William Taylor: By mid-August, because the security assistance had been held for over a month for no reason that I could discern, I was beginning to fear that the long standing U.S. Policy of support for Ukraine was shifting. I called State Department counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl to discuss this on August 21st. He said he was not aware of a change in policy, but would check on the status of the security assistance. My concerned deepened the next day. On August 22nd, during a phone conversation with Mr. Morrison, I asked him if there had been a change in policy of strong support for Ukraine, to which he responded, 'It remains to be seen.' He also told me during this call that the president doesn't want to provide any assistance at all.

*1:13:00 William Taylor: Just days later on August 27th, Ambassador Bolton arrived in Kiev and met with President Zelensky during their meetings. Security systems was not discussed. As far as I knew, the Ukrainians were not aware of the hold until August 29th.

1:28:30 William Taylor: Mr. Chairman, there are two Ukraine stories today. The first is the one we're discussing this morning that you have been hearing about for the past two weeks. It's a rancorous story about whistleblowers, Mr. Giuliani, side channels, quid pro quos, corruption and interference in elections. In this story, Ukraine is merely an object. But there's another story, a positive bipartisan one and this second story, Ukraine is the subject. This one is about young people and a young nation struggling to break free of its past, hopeful that their new government will finally usher in a new Ukraine, proud of its independence from Russia, eager to join Western institutions and enjoy a more secure and prosperous life.

1:32:00 William Taylor: Mr. Chairman, the security assistance that we provide takes many forms. One of the components of that assistance is counter battery radar. Another component are sniper weapons.

1:36:15 Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): Now, I, I think you said that if we believe in a principle of sovereignty of nations where countries get to determine their own economic, political and security alliances, we have to support Ukraine and its fight. That the kind of aggression we see by Russia can't stand. How is it important to American national security that we provide for a robust defense of Ukraine sovereignty? William Taylor: Mr. Chairman, as my colleague, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent described, we have a national security policy, a national defense policy that identifies Russia and China as adversaries. The Russians are violating all of the rules, treaties, understandings that they committed to that actually kept the peace in Europe for nearly 70 years. Until they invaded Ukraine in 2014, they had abided by sovereignty of nations, of inviolability of borders. That rule of law, that order that kept the peace in Europe and allowed for prosperity as well as peace in Europe was violated by the Russians. And if we don't push back on that, on those violations, then that will continue. And that Mr. chairman, affects us. It affects the world that we live in, that our children will grow up in and our grandchildren. This affects the kind of world that we want to see overall. So that affects our national interest very directly. Ukraine's on the front line of that conflict.

1:40:00 William Taylor: The whole notion of a rules based order was being threatened by the Russians in Ukraine. So our security assistance was designed to support Ukraine. That's it. It was not just the United States, it was all of our allies.

1:45:00 William Taylor: I had learned that in Warsaw, after the meeting Vice President Pence had with President Zelensky, Ambassador Sondland, had had meetings there and had described, to Mr. Yermak, the assistant to President Zelensky, that the security assistance was also held, pending announcement, by President Zelensky in public of these investigations. Before that, I had only understood, from Ambassador Sondland that the White House meeting was conditioned. And at this time, after I heard of this conversation, it struck me, it was clear to me that security assistance was also being held.

1:46:10 William Taylor: It's one thing to try to leverage a meeting in the white house. It's another thing I thought, to leverage security assistance, security assistance to a country at war dependent on both the security assistance and the demonstration of support. It was much more alarming. The White House meeting was one thing. Security assistance was much more alarming.

1:58:40 William Taylor: Mr. Goldman, what I can do here for you today is tell you what I heard from people, and in this case it was what I heard from ambassador Sondland.

2:07:30 Daniel Goldman: Just so we're clear, Ambassador Taylor, before this July 25th call, President Trump had frozen the security assistance that Ukraine needed and that the White House meeting was conditioned on Ukraine initiating this investigation, and that had been relayed to the Ukrainians. Is that an accurate state of play at this time? William Taylor: That's an accurate state of play. I at that point had no indication that any discussion of the security assistance being, subject to - conditioned on investigations had taken place. Daniel Goldman: Right. But you understood that the white house meeting. William Taylor: That's correct.

3:14:15 Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): We know that from your deposition in those 55 days that aid is delayed, you met with President Zelensky three times. The first one was July 26th the day after the famous call now between President Trump and President Zelensky. President Zelensky meets with you, Ambassador Volker and Ambassador Sondland and again according to your deposition and your testimony, there was no linkage of security assistance dollars to investigating Burisma or the Bidens. Second meeting is August 27th, again in this 55 day timeframe. Second meeting is August 27. President Zelensky meets with you and Ambassador Bolton and others and again there no linkage of dollars - security assistance dollars to an investigation of the Bidens. Then of course the third meeting is September 5th. President Zelensky meets with you and Senators Johnson and Murphy. And once again there was no linkage of security assistance dollars to an investigation of Burisma or the Bidens. Three meetings with the president of Ukraine, the new president, and no linkage. That's accurate? William Taylor: Mr. Jordan is certainly accurate on the first two, first two meetings, because to my knowledge, the Ukrainians were not aware of the hold on assistance until the 29th of August. Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): The Politico article. William Taylor: The Politico article. The third meeting that you mentioned with the senators, Senator Murphy and Senator Johnson, there was discussion of the security assistance, but Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): The linkage... William Taylor: The linkage, there was not, there was not discussion of linkage.

3:19:50 Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): Ambassador, you weren't on the call were you, with the president? You didn't listen in on President Trump's call and President Zelensky's call? William Taylor: I did not. Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): You've never talked with Chief of Staff Mulvaney? William Taylor: I never did. Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): You never met the president. William Taylor: That's correct. Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): You had three meetings again with Zelensky and it didn't come up, and two of those they had never heard about, as far as I know. Rep. Jim Jordan (OH): And President Zelensky never made an announcement? This, this is what I can't believe. And you're their star witness.

3:23:20 George Kent: If we're doing a systemic, holistic program, you need institutions with integrity. That starts with investigators. It goes to prosecutors, it goes to courts, and eventually it goes to the correction system. In countries like Ukraine, we generally start with law enforcement, and that's what we did in 2014-15 with the new patrol police. There also is oftentimes needed a specialized anticorruption agency. In Ukraine that was called the National Anticorruption Bureau or NABU. There was a different body that reviewed asset declarations for unusual wealth called National Anticorruption Prevention Council. And eventually we got to helping them establish a special anticorruption prosecutor and eventually a high court on anticorruption. And that was to try to create investigators, prosecutors, and courts with integrity that couldn't be bought and would be focused on high level corruption.

3:34:00 Rep. Adam Schiff (CA): You've been asked, how could there be conditioning if the Ukrainians didn't know, but the Ukrainians were told by Ambassador Sondland, were they not? William Taylor: They were. They were. They didn't know as near as I can tell, the Ukrainians did not know about the hold on the phone call, on July 25th that's true. But they were told, as you said, Mr. Chairman, on the 1st of September.

3:38:50 Rep. Michael Turner (OH): Example of that Ambassador Taylor, is that you testified in your prior testimony that you have not had any contact with the President of the United States. Is that correct? William Taylor: That's correct, sir. Rep. Michael Turner (OH): Mr. Kent, have you had any contact with the President of the United States? George Kent: I have not.

Press Conference: 'Get Over It': Politics Is Part Of Foreign Policy, Mulvaney Says, npr, October 17, 2019

Speaker:

  • Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney
Transcript:

18:50 John Carl: All right, so to the question of Ukraine. Mick Mulvaney: Yeah. John Carl: Can you clarify, and I've been trying to get an answer to this. Was the president serious when he said that he would also like to see China investigate the Bidens and you were directly involved in the decision to withhold funding from Ukraine. Can you explain to us now definitively why? Why was funding with that... Mick Mulvaney: I'll deal with the second one first, which is, look, it should come as no surprise to anybody. The last time I was up here, I haven't done this since I was chief of staff, right? Last time I was up here. Some of you folks remember it was for the budget briefings. Right. And one of the questions y'all always asked me about the budget is what are y'all doing to the foreign aid budget? Cause we absolutely gutted it. President Trump is not a big fan of foreign aid. Never has been. Still isn't, doesn't like spending money overseas, especially when it's poorly spent. And that is exactly what drove this decision. I've been in the office a couple times with him talking about this. He said, look, Mick, this is a corrupt place. Everybody knows it's a corrupt place. By the way, put this in context. This is on the heels of what happened in Puerto Rico, when we took a lot of heat for not wanting to give a bunch of aid to Puerto Rico because we thought that place was corrupt. And by the way, it turns out we were right. All right, so put that as your context. It's like this is a corrupt place. I don't want to send them a bunch of money and have them waste it and have them spend it, have them use it to line their own pockets. Plus I'm not sure that the other European countries are helping them out either. So we actually looked at that during that time, before when we cut the money off before the money actually flowed, cause the money flowed by the end of the fiscal year. We actually did an analysis of what other countries were doing. In terms of supporting Ukraine. And what we found out was that, and I can't remember, if it's zero or near zero dollars from any European countries for lethal aid. You've heard the president say this, that we give them tanks and the other countries give them pillows. That's absolutely right that as vocal as the Europeans are about supporting Ukraine. They are really, really stingy when it comes to lethal aid and they weren't helping Ukraine and that still to this day are not, and the president did not like that as a normal as long answer your question, but I'm still going. So, those were the driving factors. He also mentioned to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server. Absolutely. No question about that. But that's it. And that's why we held up the money. Now there was a report... John Carl: So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he, it was on the, to withhold funding to Ukraine. Mick Mulvaney: The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was, was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation then that is absolutely appropriate and which ultimately then flowed. By the way, there was a report that we were worried that the money wouldn't, if we didn't pay out the money, it would be illegal. Okay. It would be unlawful. That is one of those things that is, has that little shred of truth in it. That that makes it look a lot worse than it really is. We were concerned about in our, over at OMB about an impoundment, and I know I just put half you folks to bed, but there's the budget control act, impound budget control, empowerment act of 1974 says, if Congress appropriates money, you have to spend it. Okay. At least that's how it's interpreted by some folks. And we knew that that money either had to go out the door by the end of September or we had to have a really, really good reason not to do it. John Carl: And that was the legality of the issue you just described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the incident Democrats server happened as well. Mick Mulvaney: We do that all the time with foreign policy. We were holding up money at the same time for, what was it? The Northern triangle countries were holding up aid at the Northern triangle countries so that they would change their policies on immigration. But by the way, and this speaks to it, this speaks to important point because I heard this yesterday and I can never remember the gentleman who testified was...McKinney, is that his name? I don't know him. He testified yesterday. And if you go and if you believe the news reports, okay. Cause we've not seen any transcripts of this. The only transcript I've seen was Sondland's testimony morning this morning. If you read the news reports and you believe them, what did McKinney say? Yesterday when McKinney said yesterday that he was really upset with the political influence in foreign policy. That was one of the reasons he was so upset about this, and I have news for everybody. Get over it. There's going to be political influence and foreign policy. That is going to happen. Elections have consequences and foreign policy is going to change from the Obama administration to the Trump administration. And what you're seeing now, I believe, is a group of mostly career politicians, career bureaucrats who are saying, you know what? I don't like president Trump's politics, so I'm going to participate in this witchhunt that they're undertaking on the Hill. Elections do have consequences and they should, and your foreign policy is going to change. Obama did it in one way. We're doing it a different way and there's no problem with that. 23:50 Reporter: That it was okay for the US government to hold up aid and require a foreign government to investigate political opponents of the president. Mick Mulvaney: Now, you're talking about looking forward to the next election...We're talking... Reporter: The DNC is still involved in this next election. Is that not correct? Mick Mulvaney: So wait a second. So this, hold on a sec. Not yet. Let me ask you guys to gate the DNC. Let's look at this is the DNC. There's an ongoing investigation by our department of justice into the 2016 election. I can't remember the person's name. Durham, okay. That's an ongoing investigation. Right? So you're saying the president States, the chief law enforcement person cannot ask somebody to cooperate with an ongoing public investigation into wrongdoing? That's just bizarre to me that you would think that you can't do that. Reporter: And so you would say that it's fine to ask about the DNC, but not about Biden? So Biden is now, Biden is running for the democratic nomination, right? That's for 2020. Mick Mulvaney: That's a hypothetical. Cause that did not happen here. But I would ask, you know, on the call, the president did ask about investigating the Bidens. Are you saying that the money that was held up, that that had nothing to do with the Bidens. Mick Mulvaney: The money held up had absolutely nothing to do with Biden. There's no way. And that was the point I made to you. Reporter: And you're drawing a distinction. You're saying that it... Mick Mulvaney: Three factors, again, I was involved with the process by which the money was held up temporarily. Okay. Three issues for that. The corruption in the country, whether or not other countries were participating in the support of the Ukraine and whether or not they were a cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our department of justice. That's completely legitimate.

Press Conference: Foreign Affairs Issue Launch with Former Vice President Joe Biden, Council on Foreign Relations, January 23, 2018

Speakers:

  • Richard Haass - President of the Council on Foreign Relations
  • Joe Biden
Transcript:

Joe Biden: I’ll give you one concrete example. I was—not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

Published Transcript: Ukraine crisis: Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call, BBC News, February 7, 2014

Speakers:

  • Victoria Nuland, Asst. Sec. of State for Europe
  • US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt

Listen on Youtube: Nuland-Pyatt leaked phone conversation _COMPLETE with SUBTITLES

Transcript:

Victoria Nuland: Good. So, I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Geoffrey Pyatt: Yeah, I mean, I guess. In terms of him not going into the government, just let him sort of stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of sort of the process moving ahead, we want to keep the moderate Democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok and his guys, and I’m sure that’s part of what Yanukovych is calculating on all of this. I kind of— Victoria Nuland: I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. What he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know? I just think Klitsch going in—he’s going to be at that level working for Yatsenyuk; it’s just not going to work.

Victoria Nuland: So, on that piece, Geoff, when I wrote the note, Sullivan’s come back to me VFR, saying, you need Biden, and I said, probably tomorrow for an “atta-boy” and to get the deets to stick. Geoffrey Pyatt: Okay. Victoria Nuland: So, Biden’s willing. Geoffrey Pyatt: Okay, great. Thanks.

Daily Briefing: State Department Daily Briefing, State Department, C-SPAN Coverage, Jen Psaki, February 6, 2014

Speaker:

  • Jennifer R. Psaki
Transcript:

0:19 Male Reporter: Can you say whether you—if this call is a recording of an authentic conversation between Assistant Secretary Nuland and Ambassador Pyatt? Jen Psaki: Well, I’m not going to confirm or outline details. I understand there are a lot of reports out there, and there’s a recording out there, but I’m not going to confirm a private diplomatic conversation. Reporter: So you are not saying that you believe this is a—you think this is not authentic? You think this is a— Psaki: It’s not an accusation I’m making. I’m just not going to confirm the specifics of it. Reporter: Well, you can’t even say whether there was a—that this call—you believe that this call, you believe that this recording is a recording of a real telephone call? Psaki: I didn’t say it was inauthentic. I think we can leave it at that. Reporter: Okay, so, you’re allowing the fact that it is authentic. Psaki: Yes. Reporter: “Yes,” okay. Psaki: Do you have a question about it?

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Dec 23 2019

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Thanks for 5,270 Pages in a Week

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In this bonus "thank you" episode, Jen provides an update on the last work days of 2019 in Congress, which included an offensive amount of legislation that passed while the country was distracted by the Trump Impeachment Show. Also in this episode is the announcement of a new podcast Jen is co-hosting called Talking Fat and Jen shares contributor notes and emails. 

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Dec 23 2019

1hr 21mins

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CD205: Nuclear Waste Storage

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For 38 years, the United States government has been trying to figure out what to do with the radioactive nuclear waste that was created when the Defense Department developed nuclear weapons and the nuclear waste that continues to be created by nuclear power generation. In this episode, learn the history of this on-going dilemma and listen in on the debate as it currently rages in the 116th Congress. 

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Articles/Documents Additional Resources Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Nuclear Waste Storage, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, June 27, 2019.  

Watch on C-SPAN

Witnesses:
  • Maria Korsnick - President and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute
  • Steven Nesbit - Nuclear Waste Policy Task Force Chair at the American Nuclear Society
  • Geoffrey Fettus - Senir Attorney at the National Resources Defense Council
  • John Wagner - Associate Director at the Idaho National Labratory’s Nuclear Science & Technology Directorate Watch on YouTube
Transcript:

0:50 Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK): Beginning with the passage of the Nuclear Waste policy Act in 1982, congress has attempted several times to address the back end of the fuel cycle. In an effort to resolve an earlier stalemate, the federal government was supposed to begin taking title to use fuel and moving it to our pository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, beginning in 1998.

Manchin waste must be buried.aiff 5:30 Sen. Joe Manchin (WV):Since the National Academy of Sciences 1957 report recommending deep geologic disposal for highly radioactive waste, it is clear what we need to do with the nuclear waste. The prudent and responsible thing to do is to bury this waste deep in the earth, to protect the environment and public for generations to come. Unfortunately, the path to achieve this is not entirely clear.

7:45 Sen. Joe Manchin (WV): Failing to act means the federal government is racking up more liability to be paid to the utilities to store this waste in their own private storage facilities adjacent to the reactors. So the taxpayer is on the hook here to the tune of about $2 million a day with an estimated overall liability of $34.1 billion.

11:15 Maria Korsnick: Currently 97 commercial nuclear power plants in 29 states provide nearly 20% of the America's electricity and more than half of the emissions free electricity.

12:00 Maria Korsnick: The US nuclear industry has upheld its end of the bargain at sites in 35 states around the country. Commercial used fuel is safely stored and managed awaiting pickup by the federal government, which was scheduled for 1998.

13:00 Maria Korsnick:But let me be clear. Congressional action is necessary and three important points must be addressed. First, we need to answer on the Yucca Mountain license application. DOE submitted the application to the NRC more than a decade ago, and Congress directed the NRC to issue a decision in 2012. This deadline, like too many was missed because DOE without basis, shut down the Yucca mountain project for the sake of the communities holding stranded used fuel wishing to redevelop their sites. We must move forward and allow Nevada's concerns with Yucca mountain to be heard by NRC'S, independent administrative judges. This will allow a licensing decision to be determined based on its scientific merits rather than politics.

13:50 Maria Korsnick: Second, as a licensing process of Yucca mountain moves forward, interim storage can play an important role in helping move spent fuel away from reactor sites. Moving interim storage in parallel with the Yucca Mountain project helps to alleviate state and local concerns that interim storage will become a defacto disposal facility.

14:30 Maria Korsnick: And finally, the nuclear industry and electricity consumers around the country have paid their fair share to address the back end of the fuel cycle. But as 1234 was originally drafted prior to the court mandated prohibition on the fee, and I want to strongly convey the importance of not prematurely reimposing the nuclear waste fee, especially given the substantial balance and large investment interest, which accrues annually.

24:30 Steven NesbitIn addition, the money from the nuclear waste fund, the federal government has many means for providing infrastructure improvements, federal land, educational opportunities, and other means of support to states and communities interested in exploring a partnership on the management of nuclear material. Make those potential benefits abundantly clear from the beginning.

27:45 Geoffrey Fettus: The years of wrangling over what standards should be set for cleanup and are massively contaminated nuclear weapon's sites, such as those in Washington or South Carolina is made exponentially worse by DOE self regulatory status, which the Atomic Energy Act ordains with these exemptions. The same is true with commercial spent fuel, where any state that is targeted to receive nuclear waste looks to be on the hook for the entire burden of the nation's spent fuel. State consent and public acceptance of potential repository sites will never be willingly granted, unless and until power on how, when and where waste is disposed of is shared, rather than decided simply by Federal Fiat. There's only one way consent can happen consistent with our cooperative federalism. Specifically, Congress can finally remove the Atomic Energy Acts. Anachronistic exemptions from our bedrock environmental laws are hazardous waste and clean water laws must include full authority over radioactivity and nuclear waste facilities, so that EPA and most importantly, the states can assert direct regulatory authority. Removing these exemptions will not magically solve this puzzle and create a final repository. But I think it can work faster than what we have now, because it will open a path forward that respects each state rather than offering up the latest one for sacrifice. The Texas and New Mexico events of the last several weeks demonstrate this.

33:15 John Wagner: First and foremost, I want to be clear from a technical standpoint. Spent nuclear fuel storage and transportation is safe as evidenced by more than 50 years of safe and secure operations by the public and private sectors. We do not have a spent nuclear fuel safety crisis in this country.

46:35 Geoffrey Fettus:The actual waste issue, honestly Senator, has not, and is not what is holding up nuclear powers ability to compete in the market. What is holding up nuclear powers ability to compete in the market are it's gigantic upfront capital costs. The South Carolina reactors that are now a $9 billion hole in the ground at summer and Vogel now, I think is now pushing 28 billion for two new units. The likelihood of building new nuclear power is vanishingly unlikely in this [inaudible].

47:40 Sen. Joe Manchin (WV): We're decommissioning some nuclear plants? Maria Korsnick: That's correct. Sen. Joe Manchin (WV): Are they-, have they run their life cycle? Maria Korsnick: Not all of them. No. Sen. Joe Manchin (WV): Could they be-... Maria Korsnick: They're being shutdown, because in the marketplace right now, the marketplace does not recognize the carbon free attribute of nuclear. It's competing.... Sen. Joe Manchin (WV): So there's no value to carbon free nuclear? Maria Korsnick: Not in the marketplace there's not. There should be. And that would help. And-... Sen. Joe Manchin (WV): Are any of these plants in basically controlled PSE's, or basically they're all merchant? Maria Korsnick: The ones that are shutting down for the most part are merchant, not all, but for the most part.

50:40 Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN): Yeah, we have four places that we could-, four tracks we could follow to do something. We could have a Yucca mountain open, we could build a new Yucca Mountain, we could have a public interim site, or we could approve a private interim site.

54:05 Geoffrey Fettus: Texas and New Mexico would both be barred from the consent process. Clearly by the terms of the bill. Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN): And I assume from your testimony, you think they should be? Geoffrey Fettus: We think that would put us in precisely the same stalemate. It's put us here for-...

54:20 Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN):Your testimony, you thought the private sites are because of the promise they have ought to have priority, is that correct? Maria Korsnick: We do think they should have priority. The challenge with the private sites right now, is they don't want to be the defacto longterm storage, which keeps it connected to a long term storage answer.

59:00 Sen. Martin Heinrich (NM): What should consent look like? Geoffrey Fettus: Consent should look like regulatory authority, as simple as that. To the extent that there has been acceptance in New Mexico of the WHIP-... Sen. Martin Heinrich (NM): right... Geoffrey Fettus: ...Transuranic Geologic Repository, the only operating one in the world. Sen. Martin Heinrich (NM): Why do we have that? Why do we have consent for-... Geoffrey Fettus: The only consent-, Well, it's a little complicated and it's not nearly the consent that needs to be there and it's not the full regulatory authority-... Sen. Martin Heinrich (NM): But the state has.... Geoffrey Fettus: But the state has hazardous waste permitting authority, and that state can shut the place down and set terms by which it can operate after it had a fire and an explosion that shut it down and contaminated it for several years. Sen. Martin Heinrich (NM): And we reopened that facility, which I will repeat, is the only, only deep geological repository, um, that's been successfully built that I'm aware of in this country, because of the state's involvement.

1:02:35 Sen. Mike Lee (UT): Dr. Wagner mentioned several small reactors. How much more efficiently would these smaller reactors use fuel than reactors in past decades, and could you describe how these new forms of generating nuclear energy could possibly change our need for nuclear waste storage going forward? Maria Korsnick: Yeah, so, I guess as you look forward, there's a variety of different types of small modular reactors that can be built, but some of the types of small modular reactors that can be built would actually be interested in using a different type of fuel. And some of that fuel could be in fact what we consider used fuel today. So in any solution set that we put in, we should remind ourselves that we want it to be retrievable. There's 95% still good energy in what we call used fuel. It's just in a different form. And some of these reactors that are being looked at for tomorrow, will be able to harvest that energy. Sen. Mike Lee (UT): And will be able to use it far below that 95% threshold that you described? Maria Korsnick: That's correct. Sen. Mike Lee (UT): How low would they go? Maria Korsnick: They should be able to use the majority of that good energy. I would say, you know, you'll be down to maybe the four to 5%, that's left, that would then need to be stored.

1:04:40 Maria Korsnick: Sort of goes back to when we said there's 95% still good energy in the, what we call, used fuel. It's transformed, and so instead of being, say, uranium 235, it's turned into uranium 238, or it's turned into plutonium 239. So those isotopes can still release energy, but they, not in the current way in our current lightwater reactors. So in recycling, what you do is you essentially take the fuel apart and you isolate what's good and can be used again. So that uranium, that plutonium,- it can then be mixed and you can use it in current reactors, that's called "Mox" fuel, or you can use it for other types of reactors. So, again, it sort of closes the fuel cycle, if you will. You're left with a very small amount that is not useful in a fuel. And France as an example, reprocesses their fuel, they turn that into a glass and then you store that inert glass. Sen. Mike Lee (UT): So the glass is inert? It's not [inaudible] at that moment. It's not emitting?... Maria Korsnick: It's radioactive, but it's not useful for fuel. So it's stored in accordance with,-. It would it be in a deep geologic situation, but it will be a very small amount. Sen. Mike Lee (UT): No, it reduces the overall volume of what's produced. Maria Korsnick: That's correct. Sen. Mike Lee (UT): So why wouldn't we do that? Maria Korsnick: So in the United States, we've chosen not to. We've chosen the fact that, and this was made in the Carter Administration, days that the fact of reprocessing, they look at it as a potential proliferation, even though there are many processes and things you could put in place to ensure that it's done, without any kind of proliferation concerns. But that's why the United States doesn't currently go for reprocessing today. Sen. Mike Lee (UT): So if that decision was made in the Carter administration, when we're talking about 40 years ago or more... Maria Korsnick: That's correct. Sen. Mike Lee (UT): What has changed since then that might cause us to need to reconsider that? Has the technology changed in such a way that, you know, what was perceived as dangerous would no longer necessarily be deemed, made dangerous? Maria Korsnick: Well, I mean, I think we've proven on a lot of fronts that we are, we have the capability of managing a significant things. The government manages plutonium on a regular basis, so it obviously can be done and can be done safely.

1:07:45 Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV): In 1987, I believe it was, Tennessee was able to successfully remove the Oak Ridge facility as an interim storage facility changed the law. And now in this bill, Tennessee has equally, the opportunity to say no, like every other state, except Nevada. That's all I'm looking for in my state, is those similar opportunities.

1:08:25 Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV): Section 306E requires a potential host state to veto or approve a site before they are fully informed of a site's local impacts, prior to initiating a review licensing process. That essentially leaves Yucca mountain as the default sole repository. Section 506A gives parody to all other states, yet allows Yucca Mountain and other states in New Mexico, Texas, and Utah to be kept on the list without requiring their consent. And section 509 eliminates the legal 70,000 metric ton limit of waste to be stored at a repository, so if no state wants to be a host, this guarantees all the waste goes to Yucca Mountain.

1:11:00 Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV): Under this act, would the NEI support this act if the NWA walked away, and walked away from the Yucca Mountain project and demonstrated that a new repository project could be done more efficiently and rapidly than Yucca Mountain, would you support that? Maria Korsnick: I don't see how another process could be done more rapidly with all of the analysis that's already been done on Yucca. But if you found such magic place, yes, we could be supplying.... Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV): Well, I, DOE studies have shown that walking away from Yucca Mountain and starting over with a repository in salt or shell could save billions of dollars over the life of the facility. So, and this is the challenge I've had, we've had a stalemate over the last 32 years and we have offered the opportunity to come in and work with us and find a solution for it, and I think you have that today. But unfortunately, what I see from the industry is this same old playbook and not willing to even admit there's an opportunity to move forward. There's not even a willingness to talk about potential new technology that can be utilized to address this safe storage, and that is my concern.

1:23:55 Sen. Angus King (ME): But if the main Yankee site is safe, why not a larger similar site that has the same technology? You're telling me everybody says it's safe. As an interim step until we've figure out what, what the best pr-, I don't understand why we have to go from 80 temporary to permanent? Um, isn't there a step in between that with technological.... Maria Korsnick: Well, that's what consolidated interim storage is. Sen. Angus King (ME): That's what I'm talking.... Maria Korsnick: Yeah, and the challenge is nobody wants to sign up for consolidated interim storage. You mentioned New Mexico. The governor just recently wrote a letter. The last New Mexico governor was in support of interim storage. The current New Mexico governor not, and the challenge is because they don't want to become the long-term repository, and until there is an idea of a long-term repository, anybody that raises their hands for that consolidated interim storage is defacto the long,-term... Sen. Angus King (ME): I think that's a good point because are these temporary sites are now the defacto long-term sites.

1:27:55 Maria Korsnick: If you decided today on a long term repository site, by the time you license it, let's just select Yucca since we've talked about it, that would still be another three to five years just to license it today, cause all of the analysis has been done and there's additional hearings that have to happen. Nevada has to have their say..... Sen. Joe Manchin (WV): Well, if we're not capacity, why would we have an interim site? If you just want to carry three to five years.... Maria Korsnick: That's just to get your license. It's going to be another decade to build it. Alright, so you're already talking, you have 15 years if you were on "go" today. 35 billion is what your obligation is today and in 15 years it's going to be closer to 50 billion. So you have to manage the liability that you are building on a daily basis and the best way to help manage that liability is that interim storage, because once you start taking that fuel off site, eventually that judgment fund comes down because you don't have to pay the judgment fee because you've taken the fuel in an interim state. Sen. Joe Manchin (WV): How far along are we on permitting the interim sites? Maria Korsnick: You're nowhere. Sen. Joe Manchin (WV): So, whether we started today with interim or permanent, it's the same timetable? Sen. John Barrasso (WY): There's two sites that have applications in, but you know, whether they will actually go forward and construct those sites, is an open question.

1:34:40 Sen. John Barrasso (WY): American rate payers have now paid about 12, I'm sorry, $15 billion, to site, to study and to design a repository for the Yucca Mountain site and thus funding $200 million that was paid to the state of Nevada to develop their own scientific and technical analysis. So, Ms. Korsnick, why is it important for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to complete the independent safety review of the proposed Yucca mountain repository? Maria Korsnick: Well, you just mentioned the significant money that has been expended. We should have a fair hearing and quite frankly, give Nevada a chance to have their hearing. The process will require that it goes through the judges, et cetera, through the licensing process and for all this money that has been expended. Let's understand the science and the licensing process and work ourselves through it. In the future, we might need another long-term repository. So let's learn everything that we can and understand the science and the licensing process for the one that's so far along.

1:45:10 Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV): I think we should learn from the science from Yucca Mountain because there are no natural barriers or manmade barriers that make it safe. But we keep hearing that all the time. So let me ask you this, if we were to learn from the science of Yucca Mountain, which would require still 40 more miles to, of tunnel to be, to dig the tunnel, to bury the canisters, which, by the way, the same canisters that are utilized for Yucca Mountain in the study can't be utilized because the industry doesn't use the same type of canisters. But what I'm told, it is so hot once it's stored, and it leaks like a sieve because the hydrology shows already in the exploratory tunnel that it leaks like a sieve, that once the canisters are there, titanium drip shields will have to be created to put over the canisters. And by the way, those titanium drip shields would not be placed in that facility once the canisters here till 90 years later, and it cannot be placed by man in there, so you have to build the robotics to put the pipe Titanium drip shields to protect the water that goes down into the canisters that would go into the aquifer below. Is that the science that you're saying that you would learn from that you should not have in any other repository? Steven Nesbit: What I was referring to senator, was completing the licensing process and having the concerns such as you just expressed evaluated by a panel of experts and ruled on in a manner that we can learn from them, if indeed we go on to develop other repositories elsewhere. That's all I talked about... Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV): We already have the information, and that's my point..... Steven Nesbit: Well Senator, I don't agree with your terms.... Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV): You spent $19 billion on a five mile exploratory tunnel to study the geology and hydrology. We know that because it's a volcanic tuff and there's fractures through the rock, that it's going to leak, so that's why the titanium drip shields are part of your plan for the canisters that will be placed there. So that's why I'm saying we've already had the information that shows it's not safe, so why are we going to waste another 30 years with 218 contentions by the state and lawsuits that I know I was part of, this attorney general against your department or, excuse me, against the Department of Energy, and instead of looking forward in a comprehensive approach and utilizing the science to help us understand, and moving forward, and the new technology that is out there, that's all I'm looking for, and I'd love the industry to come to the table and work with us on that, so thank you. Steven Nesbit: The key question at Yucca Mountain is not whether it's built in volcanic tuff, but whether it can or cannot comply with the very conservative environmental standards that were laid down to protect the health and safety of the public, and that's the question that would be resolved in a licensing hearing before fair, impartial and qualified judges. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV): I disagree, but now that I have more time, let me add a little bit more to this. Because I think, for purposes of science, we really are. And I would ask the scientists here, isn't the intent here to decrease any type of unexpected opportunities with respect to science? So you want an, you want a place that is safe, that you are going to decrease any vulnerabilities with respect to that deep geologic site, instead of adding to those vulnerabilities by manmade, alleged safety barriers or natural safety periods, you're going to decrease those kinds of vulnerabilities. And isn't that what you're really looking for, for any type of site, a deep, geologic site and, maybe Mr. Fettus, I don't know if you have a response to that? Geoffrey Fettus: I couldn't agree more Senator Cortez Masto. The idea behind any geological repositories to find geologic media that can isolate the waste for that length of time, it's dangerous. And the problem that the Yucca Mountain project has repeatedly run into is, whenever it ran into the technical challenges that you so accurately described, the response was to weaken the standards, to allow the site to be licensed. So we don't look at the upcoming atomic safety and licensing board proceeding, if it were to ever go forward as as a full exercise and having the state have a fair say.

Advanced Nuclear Technology: Protecting U.S. Leadership and Expanding Opportunities for Licensing New Nuclear Energy Technologies, Committee on Environment and Public Works: Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, June 4, 2019 Witnesses:
  • Chris Levesque - CEO at TerraPower
  • William Magwood - Director General at the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency
Transcript:

26:35 William Magwood: About 30 companies around the world are vying to develop game changing technologies, most of them working in gen four concepts. While ithere is great hope and enthusiasm at each of these companies, it's important to note that developing a new light water technology and shepherding it through regulatory approval costs at least a billion and a half. Generation four technologies will cost substantially more, and this is before billions are spent on demonstration facilities. The typical company working to develop an innovative nuclear technology today has perhaps a dozen engineers and scientists devoted to the technology efforts and access to tens of millions of dollars. In comparison, I recently visited the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, which is developing a molten salt reactor technology. Molton salt reactors are a gen four technology that is high interest to several private sector companies because it represents the path of extraordinarily safe and efficient nuclear reactors. They have the potential as consume waste rather than generate it. The project in China has currently over 400 scientist and engineers hard at work developing this technology with plans to build a demonstration reactor the next decade.

31:20 Chris Levesque: Demonstrating new nuclear technologies is the most important step to jumpstart an advanced U.S.nNuclear industry and compete globally. No company can commercialize advanced nuclear technology until it is demonstrated. Federal supportive demonstration efforts has driven down costs for technologies like solar, wind, and hydraulic fracturing. We need a similarly ambitious effort to demonstrate a portfolio of advanced nuclear reactors. This will take increased public private cooperation, and we need to start this now.

54:00 Chris Levesque: One thing the government and specifically this committee has done very right, I think, is the passage of NIMA because that really empowers our safety regulator to entertain these advanced reactor designs. So thank you for that support. And one area where improvement is needed, I think, and the committee has already focusing on this is with NELA, the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act. We really need a demonstration project. We need multiple demonstration projects in the U.S. where we actually design, build, and demonstrate advanced technologies. Otherwise this will all be talk and we won't realize this, this new technology in the United States.

59:00 Sen. Mike Braun (IN): So you mentioned computer modeling as a difference. Give me some other differences so I can easily understand what generation one and two is then what this miracle might be if we ever see it. Chris Levesque: Yeah. So this is leading to some of the benefits of advanced reactors. And this applies to many of the technologies. These are now low pressure systems. They're systems that have inherent safety, meaning we don't need a lot of extra mechanical and electrical systems.Sen. Mike Braun (IN): Can they store fuel onsite when it's spent? Chris Levesque: Well, they do require onsite fuel storage and some of them require a future geological repository which the U.S. government is working on. But many of these technologies like Terra Power's also because of the computer modeling, they have very advanced physics to the core that generate much lower waste at the end of the fuel cycle, up to an 80% reduction in that waste. And so that's why China and Russia, even though they're building plants that are much like what we developed in the U.S, they have their eyes on these advanced reactor designs and really the U.S, because of our national lab complex and our legacy from those plants I mentioned... Sen. Mike Braun (IN): But they're not built yet? They're still in the developmental stage? Chris Levesque: We are really the best poised... The U S has a leadership opportunity here that if we don't take it, China and Russia will. But we are best situated today to take leadership on advanced reactors. And if we don't, China and Russia will in a very short period of time. The time to act is now, as in this year, we need to begin work on demonstration of advanced reactors.

1:05:30 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): And Mr. Levesque, one of my earliest exposures to Terra Power involved the proposition that the technology had the promise of allowing us to go back through the currently just sitting there, nuclear waste stockpiles that we have for which we have no plan and actually be able to utilize that and repurpose it as fuel and turn, as I said in my opening remarks, a liability into an asset. Is that still a focus of Terra Power? Will it remain a focus of Terra Power? Is that a focus of the industry? And what can we do to help make sure it remains the focus of the next gen or gen four industry? Chris Levesque: Senator, you're pointing to a very, a major capability of, of advanced reactors. Today's reactors only use about 5% of the fissile material before the reactor has to be shut down and the fuel is removed. It's just the way the physics work. Advanced reactors, including Terra Power's design, much more completely uses that fuel. Now, Terra Power's designs today plan on using depleted uranium, which is the waste product of the enrichment process. We can use either depleted uranium or natural uranium to fuel the traveling wave reactor. hHowever, this entire new family of advanced reactors does offer the potential to go and look at spent fuel. Of course, we, you know, we're waiting for the U S to develop a geologic repository for spent fuel. But advanced nuclear technologies do allow you the opportunity to go look at what amount of fissile material is remaining in that spent fuel and is there a way to utilize more of it? So that's yet another benefit of advanced reactors.

1:07:30 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): If I may make a comment, Mr. Chairman, I know that you made from a very strong business background and if we were running United States incorporated, the liability of all that nuclear waste we have stockpiled all around the country and dozens of sites would show up when your auditors came and when you did your financial reporting to your shareholders, they would say here on the debit side of the column is this liability that you have for having to deal with this nuclear waste at some point, and if it was a $500 million liability, you'd have an incentive to spend up to $499 million to clean it up. But because we're the United States of America, not the United States incorporated, there is no place where it shows up in our balance sheet and so we really don't have that persistent economic incentive that a corporation would have to deal with it as a national issue. There's a bit of a carbon price flavor to the point I'm trying to make, but there's also, this is like the reverse of it. There's this liability and there's no way in which, as I can see it, that a Terra Power or somebody else can say, okay, there's a $500 million problem, that means I can come up with a $200 million solution and then we can split the difference and we're making like $150 million and my business sense gets motivated. My innovation juices start to flow to solve that problem. Instead of just sits there and the stuff has sat there for decades and we're waiting for the magic solution to go put it in Yucca mountain or someplace. But I don't see that happening without a revolt from Nevada. So we need to, I think there's an economic solution here as well. If this was a pure business proposition, there'd be a lot more energy in solving it because there'd be this account that was dragging on our balance sheet saying, fix me, fix me, fix me.

Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials, June 1, 2011. Witnesses:
  • Peter Lyons - then Assistant Energy Secretary for Nuclear Energy
  • Gregory Friedman - then Energy Department Inspector General
  • Martin Malsch - Attorney representing the State of Nevada.
  • Christopher Kouts - Former Acting Director of Civilian Radioactive Waster Management at the US Department of Energy
Transcript:

20:00 Rep. Shelley Berkley (NV): Thank you for inviting me to testify today. Let's get right to the point. Nevadans had been saying no to Yucca Mountain for decades and we will continue shouting "No" at the top of our lungs until this effort to shove nuclear waste down our throats is ended. I don't know who you met with, but I can tell you the latest poll polls show that 77% of the people of the state of Nevada don't want nuclear waste stored at Yucca Mountain. Why? Because we don't want our home turned into a nuclear garbage dump and we oppose more wasteful spending on a $100 billion dinosaur in the Nevada desert that should have gone extinct years ago. I know members of this committee will hear today from others who will say that Nevada's efforts to stop the dump is all political and it's nothing to do with science. Hogwash! The truth is that Nevada's opposition has always been based on the danger that Yucca mountain poses to our state and our nation. Make no mistake, the Yucca Mountain project was born of politics starting with the infamous 1987 Screw Nevada bill. And why was it politics? Because the state of Nevada had a very small delegation at that time and we were unable to protect the state from the 49 others. You want to talk about science? There's no radiation standards that currently exist because there's no way to create radiation standards to protect the public from nuclear waste with a 300,000 year half shelf-life. Originally, they were going to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, then they realized there were groundwater problems, so we were going to store it in containers with a titanium shield to protect it from the dripping water. Then they realized that wasn't enough, cause the titanium shields were going to erode. So then they were going to build concrete bunkers to contain the titanium shields that contain the canisters. And then, the last secretary of energy in the Bush administration actually said he was going to create an army of robots that were going to go down to Yucca mountain because man can't go down there, and to be able to protect us from the, the nuclear waste leakage. This legislation, the Screw Nevada bill, did away with any pretense of science when it eliminated every other site under consideration as a dump location. At the same time, the nuclear industry and its allies have worked for years to silence Nevada's criticism and to minimize the fact that the proposed dump is located smack in the middle of an active earthquake zone. This is an area that has been rocked by violent earthquakes in the recent past and we know the risks it creates. Proponents of the dump have also sought to dismiss scientific finding, showing that water will enter Yucca mountain causing rapid corrosion of waste canisters and resulting in release of dangerous radioactive materials. And dump backers have worked tirelessly to downplay the risk to millions of Americans living along the transportation routes from decades of waste shipments barreling down our nation's roads and railways, with each canister a potential terrorist target or accident waiting to happen, whether caused by human error, mechanical failure, or a deliberate 911 style strike, a massive release of these deadly materials threatens to kill or injure Americans to release radioactive contamination and to shut down major portions of our interstate highway system and rail system. When it comes to plans for Yucca Mountain, the fact remains that you can never eliminate the risks that will accompany shipping nuclear waste across more than 40 states, through communities utterly unprepared to deal with radioactive contamination. We're talking about shipments, passing homes, hospitals, schools, every single day for four decades, and even more incredible, at the end of those 40 years, there will even be more waste in the cooling ponds than there were when the shipments began, and that's because as long as the plant is operating, some amount of nuclear waste will always remain at the nuclear facility, and that is why the threat posed by Yucca Mountain must be weighed against the availability of dry cask storage as an affordable solution to this problem and it's available today. Using this method, we can secure waste at existing sites and hardened containers, where they can remain for the next hundred years until we figure out what to do with this garbage. The nuclear industry is already utilizing dry cask storage at various locations around the U.S.. There's no reason we should not require plans to begin moving waste right now from cooling pools into hardened containers. In conclusion, Nevada remains in case you don't already know, opposed to more wasteful spending on a failed $100 billion project that threatens lives, the environment and the economy of my community and others across the nation. I will lay my body down on those railroad tracks to prevent any train that has nuclear waste in it from going to Yucca Mountain. I make that pledge to you and the people I represent. Nuclear waste can remain on existing sites and dry cask storage for the next century, giving us time to find an actual solution to replace the failed Yucca Mountain project and if anybody watched what was happening in Japan, and still has the audacity to suggest this for the people of our country, shame on us all! And Germany just announced that they were ending their nuclear program because they have no way to safely store nuclear waste. If Germany can figure that out, by gosh, the United States of America should be able to figure that out too. I yield back the balance of my time.

29:00 Rep. Doc Hastings (WA): What is truly not workable is the uncertainty that faces our commercial nuclear power industry, as they look to a future that may require them to house spent nuclear fuel on a site for decades because there is no geological repository ready to accept it.

30:15 Rep. Doc Hastings (WA):My district is home to the Hanford nuclear site. Part of the top secret Manhattan project that developed and constructed the first atomic bomb. The work done at Hanford helped win WW II and later provided the nuclear deterrents that helped defeat communism and end the Cold War. Today, Hanford is the world's largest, the world's largest environmental cleanup project, and the high level defense nuclear waste at Hanford is slated to be shipped to the national repository at Yucca Mountain. Right now, the Department of Energy is building, right now, a building, a critical $12 billion plant that will treat 53 million gallons of high level defense waste currently stored in underground tanks at Hanford and turn it into safe, stable glass logs that are scheduled to be stored at Yucca Mountain. The waste treatment plant, which is a $12 billion plant, which is over halfway done, is being built to beat specifications designed to match the geological structure and makeup of Yucca Mountain.

32:00 Rep. Doc Hastings (WA): Delaying or abandoning Yucca Mountain means that Hanford will be home to high-level defense waste even longer. The federal government's legal commitment to our state won't be kept, and clean up progress at Hanford will be jeopardized. With more defense waste slated to go to Yucca mountain than any other state in the union, the stakes for my state of Washington cannot be higher and the risks could be not more, not more real.

32:30 Rep. Doc Hastings (WA): In addition, Richland, which is just south of the Hanford project, is the home to Pacific northwest only commercial nuclear power plant, the Columbia Generating Station. The spent nuclear fuel from this plant is also slated to go to Yucca mountain, but without Yucca opening, the spent fuel will have to be kept onsite for an unknown amount of time, at great expense to the taxpayers and rate payers.

1:33:00 Rep. Jay Inslee (WA): This is very disturbing on a couple of bases. One is, in my state, the state of Washington, we have people very diligently trying to follow their obligations legally and in their profession, getting this waste ready to ship to Yucca. They're going to be ready to ship 9,700 canisters to Yucca. They're doing their job, but the department's not doing its job. Now that's on a local concern, but on a national concern, I just think this situation is one of a failed state. You know, they talk about fail states around the world? This- because of the failure to follow the clear law here, this is the equivalency of a failed state. We reached a national decision. It is unpopular in one local part and a beautiful part of the country, as it will be in any part of the country that we ever have this decision made and yet we can't execute a decision. Now this, this sort of flagrant statement that social acceptance is now a legal criteria, I don't understand. I just ask Dr. Lyon, how are we ever to build anything like a nuclear waste repository anywhere in the United States if social acceptance is a mandatory criteria to build something? Dr. Peter Lyons: I use the example in my testimony of the waste isolation pilot plant in New Mexico, which has the strongest local acceptance, and I noted that there are a number of international examples where with careful education, with transparent processes, there has been strong acceptance of repository programs.

1:35:00 Rep. Jay Inslee (WA): And obviously in the decision making of the department based on the best science and geology and hydrology, we decided Nevada was the best place. But now you're telling me we're gonna maybe look for a less scientifically credible, less geologically stable, less hydrologically isolated place because we might get a little better social acceptance. That is a failed policy by a failed state and I have to just tell you, regardless who the administration is, in an abject failure to follow federal law here is most disturbing and it's unacceptable. And I don't really want to think I want to belabor you with too many more questions. I just want to tell you it's unacceptable by any administration of any party to make a decision when we're dealing with this number of curies of radiation based on social acceptance is an, is just a, not a, a winner for this country.

1:41:43 Gregory Friedman: Approximately 10% of Yucca mountain was designated as I am, as I recall, for a high level defense waste and spent nuclear-, defense spent nuclear waste. My understanding is that the current inventory of waste in that category exceeded, exceeds even the 10% of the Yucca mountain that was set, reserved for that purpose originally.

2:07:00 Martin Malsch: The original 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy act forsaw many of the problems which that now afflict the Yucca mountain program. Among other things, it sought fairness and redundancy by requiring multiple sites from which to choose ultimate locations for repositories and it's strove for regional equity by setting up site selection programs for two facilities, one in the west and one in the east. However, all this was scrapped in 1987. Congress decreed that all repository development efforts must focus now on just one site in Nevada and it did so not withstanding incomplete scientific information and the fact that now spent reactor fuel and high level waste from every region in the country would now be sent to a single western state with no nuclear power plants or high level waste generating facilities. After 1987, there was only one possible site and inevitably as more and more dollars were spent, it became progressively more difficult to admit that the selection of Yucca Mountain had been a mistake. But we know now things we did not know in 1987. We now know that groundwater will reach the wastes at the site in about 50 years, not the hundreds or thousands of years it had been originally thought. We now know the Yucca Mountain is not dry. Total of water seepage into the tunnels where the waste will be located will be as much as 130,000 kilograms per year. These and other serious problems led to even more exotic and doubtful engineering fixes. When it appeared likely that the Yucca Mountain site could not satisfy certain EPA and NRC licensing requirements, the requirements were simply eliminated. These actions by Congress and then by EPA DOE and NRC destroyed the credibility of the program.

2:18:00 Christopher Kouts: Because the development of Yucca mountain has been such a contentious and protracted process, it is being suggested that only consensual siting of these facilities should be pursued. I would submit to the subcommittee that the U.S. and international experience in this area proves otherwise. In my discussions over the years with the directors of repository programs abroad, they have consistently expressed their concerns that due to the very long time frame to repository programs take to develop, any political consensus at the beginning can evaporate with one election, just as it has in the U.S. with Yucca Mountain. At the end of the day, implementing a repository program requires steady, consistent national leadership.

Nuclear Waste Storage, House Energy and Commerce Committee, April 18, 2002 Witnesses:
  • Jim Gibbons - then Representative followed by Governor of Nevada from 2007 to 2011
  • Spencer Abraham - Secretary of Energy from 2001-2005
Transcript:

41:45 Rep. Jim Gibbons (NV): The disposal of the nation's high level nuclear waste has been and remains an important issue for many Americans. However, for the past 20 years it has been the single most important issue for the state of Nevada. And just as a historical note, Mr Chairman, the Nuclear Waste Policy act of 1982 as amended in 1987, selected Nevada and Yucca Mountain as the sole site to be studied for consideration of a nuclear repository. It's very important to note Mr Chairman, under this law and its subsequent amendment, a finding that the site is suitable to become a high level waste repository for the next 10,000 years would require and I repeat, would require that the site be determined "geologically sound". Mr Chairman, as the person who holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Nevada in geology, I'm probably one of the few geologists in Congress, but I can tell you having looked at this, Yucca mountain is not, nor will it ever be geologically sound. If the site is geologically sound, why so much cost on the engineering aspect of this project? The answer is, you cannot spend enough money to make a mountain geologically sound. What will the DOI, DOE realize is that they can spend enough to make the manmade engineering barrier sound? The problem is that is not what the law requires. If you look at the fine print and if you look hard enough, you'll see that the DOE has failed to prove Yucca mountain's geologic suitability and they have made promises that they cannot keep. How do I know this and how do the American people know this? Because once DOE started digging and actually studying Yucca Mountain, they realized they would have to change the rules in order to meet the suitability standards mandated by Congress in the act. And what the DOE found out was this,-one, rates of water infiltration into the mountain are on the order of 100 times higher than previously thought. Two, credible studies indicate a significant presence of Basaltic volcanism in and around Yucca Mountain. Three, with Nevada ranking third in the nation in seismic activity, it has been determined that there have been nearly 700 cases of earthquake or seismic activity of 2.5 magnitude on a Richter scale or more near