We’ve made the undermining of President Trump’s America First foreign policy a central tenet in why this impeachment push is happening, and as you will learn, George Kent and William Taylor’s testimonies are a bunch of second, third, and fourth-hand unelected bureaucratic hearsay. As you’ll also see, they have pre-formed world-views and strange affiliations with Ukraine and each other that have to be taken into consideration.
Kent is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, which means he oversees everything Ukraine-related for the U.S. State Department. He’s a career guy, with decades of Ukraine experience.
According to Kent’s closed-door testimony, he was regularly talking with Ambassador Bill Taylor, and he heard about Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president from the person who set it up, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
Again, Kent didn’t hear anything directly from President Trump, and as the Washington Post writes, quote “but rather from other officials who talked to people who talked to Trump.” Fourth-hand B.S.!
And most of it is really steeped in bitterness that his friend Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, was sacked this summer because everyone disliked her.
Kent famously protested a “fake news smear” directed at Ambassador Yovanovitch by media commentators supportive of President Trump, and he also criticized the Ukrainian prosecutor undermining Yovanovitch, calling it “complete poppycock”.
Also of note about Kent: he did try to warn the Obama administration folks a few years ago that Hunter Biden’s business dealings represented a serious conflict of interests, so look for Republicans on the Intel Committee to hammer this tomorrow.
But let’s look into George Kent and his worldview a little closer…
Kent graduated in 1989 with a degree in Russian history and literature from Harvard University. He then earned a Masters from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in 1992.
Kent has been in the State Department’s foreign service since 1992. He speaks Ukrainian, Russian, and Thai, as well as some Polish, German, and Italian. His work as diplomatic attaché has included service in Ukraine, Poland, Thailand and Uzbekistan.
Kent was assigned to serve as deputy political counselor in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 2004 to 2007, which include the time period of the Orange Revolution. This is important, and we’ll come back to it later.
According to his official bio, Kent spent 2012-2014 as the Director for Office of Europe and Asia programming in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), where he oversaw $200 million in annual programming for rule of law, law enforcement and judicial system capacity building in Europe and Asia.
Then from 2014-2015, Kent was a Senior Anti-Corruption Coordinator in the State Department’s European Bureau “leading development and advocacy of anti-corruption messages across Europe and Eurasia.”
So of course Kent is going to be sensitive to the issue of Ukrainian corruption, since he’s been doing a terrible job fighting it for years!
And he was deputy chief of mission in Kyiv, from 2015 to 2018, when we saw Ukraine get involved in the 2016 U.S. election for President, so great job there Kent(!)
Then on September 4, 2018, he was appointed to his current position as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
Here’s where it gets good…
George Kent has gone completely native. Some of the media reports on Kent touch on the fact Kent loves Ukraine, the people, the culture, etc. But there’s a big distinction between being a Ukrainephile, if that’s a word, and going completely native.
George Kent’s wife, who he met while stationed in Uzkekistan, is Crimean Tatar, and her grandparents were relocated from Ukraine to Uzbekistan in the 1940s, and Ukraine is understandably personal to them.
And Kent’s adult daughter – who describes herself on her public LinkedIn profile as a “Crimean Tatar American” and posted a “Free Ukraine” meme on her public Facebook page, is a podcaster for the Kyiv Post, where she is obsessed with all things Crimean and Tatar. OK…
But get this – Kent and his wife proudly posted on their public Facebook pages, their Commonwealth of Virginia vanity plates reading KRYM UA, which is Ukrainian for the Crimean Peninsula, and on another car QIRIM UA, which is Crimean Tatar for the Crimean Peninsula, and of course UA is a reference to Crimea being a part of Ukraine.
The transcript for the public Facebook post reads:
“Crimea is Ukraine. On the fifth anniversary of the Crimean resistance to Russian occupation, here are our his-hers, kulti-lingual Virginia Department of Transportation-issued license plates reaffirming international law, U.S. policy and personal belief: Qirim UA and Krym UA.”
“PERSONAL BELIEF!!!” Hello!
To close though, I want to hit on something important: why does the Kent-Taylor double-header matter tomorrow?
As I laid out, George Kent was the Deputy Political Counselor in Kyiv, Ukraine from 2004-2007. Not only did this period of service coincide with the pro-democracy, pro-western “Orange Revolution” in the nation, it was during this time that Kent worked for Bill Taylor – Wednesday’s other impeachment inquiry witness – who had become U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine on June 21, 2006.
Then in September 2018, Kent was appointed to his current position as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, which then put him back in touch with Bill Taylor, who was installed as the Charges d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine on June 18, 2019, after Marie Yovonavitch, Friday’s witness, was recalled.
So what we have here is a very curious intertwined connection of Bill Taylor and George Kent involving Ukraine going back more than a decade, and we’re supposed to believe it’s just coincidence these two are our Day One Impeachment Witnesses?
I DON’T THINK SO!
Jason Miller is the former Trump 2020 campaign senior communications adviser and co-host of War Room: Impeachment