Kent and Taylor Took Notes. Why Is the State Department Keeping Them from Congress?
November 13, 2019
George Kent just testified about the memo he wrote regarding his concerns with Giuliani’s pressure campaign. Kent wasn’t alone in memorializing his conversations: Ambassador Taylor took notes too. Why hasn’t the State Department allowed Congressional investigators to review them?
Kent wrote a memorandum detailing his concerns.
REP. SPEIER: “Mr. Kent, did you actually write a memo documenting your concerns that there was an effort underway to pressure Ukraine to open an investigation to benefit President Trump?”
KENT: “Yes, ma’am. I wrote a memo to the file on August 16th.”
He was “so alarmed” by Trump’s pressure campaign that he documented it in a memo to the file — weeks before the whistleblower complaint surfaced.
New York Times: “As the senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine, George P. Kent was so alarmed by what he viewed as President Trump’s efforts to initiate ‘politically motivated prosecutions’ there that he wrote a memo about it over the summer — weeks before an anonymous whistle-blower’s explosive complaint prompted the impeachment inquiry.”
Ambassador Taylor did the same. He took meticulous, contemporaneous notes.
Ambassador Taylor: “I’ve always kept careful notes, and I keep a little notebook where I take notes on conversations, in particular when I’m not in the office. So, in meetings with Ukrainian officials or when I’m out and I get a phone call and I can – I keep notes. The third documents are handwritten notes that I take on a small, little spiral notebook in my office of phone calls that take place in my office.”
Contemporaneous notes are an important resource, memorializing details while they’re still fresh in one’s mind.
New York Times: Contemporaneous notes “help reflect a level of detail documented while events are still fresh in the writer’s mind. In court, they can serve to corroborate testimony.”
Taylor and Kent provided all their notes to the State Department at the department’s request, but the State Department has refused to turn them over to Congress.
Ambassador Taylor’s Deposition: Q “And have you provided all of those documents to the State Department?” A “I have.” Q “At their request. Is that right?” A “At their request. I think in response to your subpoena to the State Department, they did a document search which came, of course, to Embassy Kyiv, applied to the State Department. We did a search of all of our documents, including the ones I just mentioned, and sent them into the State Department.” Q “Okay. And I assume that you are aware that, other than the WhatsApp messages that Ambassador VoIker provided to the committees, the committees have not received any of these documents from the State Department?” A “I assumed that, but I didn’t know that until you confirmed it.”
NBC News: “The chairs also note that Kent’s ‘contemporaneous documentation of conversations and events’ — which are property of the State Department — have not been turned over by the agency, despite a subpoena. ‘The State Department and White House continue to withhold these key documents from the committees in defiance of duly authorized subpoenas. These actions demonstrate the president’s clear obstruction of Congress and support the inference that these documents further corroborate the testimony of presidential misconduct that we have received,’ the chairs said.”
The Trump administration has spent a lot of time telling us all how transparent they are, and Congress and the public have a right to see Ambassador Taylor’s and George Kent’s notes.