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Opening Statement for First Public Hearing from Kent Whistleblower Complaint on Ukraine (Kelly Smith, comp.) 1 (11/13/2019)

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     Opening  Statement Before the House  Permanent  Select Committee  on Intelligence

                                      George P. Kent
             Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
                                 U.S. Department of State

                                    November  13, 2019


Good  morning. My  name  is George Kent, and I am Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for
Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. I have served proudly as a non-partisan career Foreign
Service officer for more than 27 years, under five Presidents, three Republicans and two
Democrats.  As I mentioned in my opening comments last month in the closed-door deposition, I
represent the third generation of my family to have chosen a career in public service and sworn
the oath all U.S. public servants do, in defense of our Constitution.

Indeed, there has been a George Kent sworn to defend the Constitution continuously for nearly
60 years, ever since my father reported to Annapolis for his plebe summer. After graduating first
in his Naval Academy class in 1965, the year best known for his Heisman-winning classmate
Roger Staubach, my father served a full 30 years, including as Captain of a nuclear ballistic
missile submarine.

Five great uncles served honorably in the Navy and in the Army in World War II. In particular,
Tom  Taggart was stationed in the Philippines at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor; he
survived the brutal Bataan Death March and three more years in a Japanese Prisoner of War
camp, unbroken.  He returned to service as an Air Force Judge Advocate, upholding the rule of
law until his death in 1965.

Today I appear before you once again, under subpoena, as a fact witness ready to answer all of
your questions about the events and developments examined in this inquiry to the best of my
ability and recollection subject to limits placed on me by the law and this process.

I begin with some opening comments on the key principles at the heart of what brings me before
you today. To wit: principled public service in pursuit of our enduring national interests, and the
place of Ukraine in our national and security interests.

For the past five years, we have focused our united efforts across the Atlantic to support Ukraine
in its fight for the cause of freedom, and the rebirth of a country free from Russian dominion and
the warped legacy of Soviet institutions and post-Soviet behavior.

As I stated in my closed-door deposition last month, you don't step into the public arena of
international diplomacy in active pursuit of principled U.S. interests without expecting vigorous
pushback, including personal attacks. Such attacks came from Russians, their proxies, and
corrupt Ukrainians. This tells me that our efforts were hitting their mark.


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