Good morning Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Nunes, and Members of the Committee. My name is David Holmes, and I am a career Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State. Since August 2017, I have been the Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine. While it is an honor to appear before you, I want to make clear that I did not seek this opportunity to testify today. Since you determined that I may have something of value to these proceedings and issued a subpoena, it is my obligation to appear and tell you what I know. Indeed, as Secretary Pompeo has stated
, “I hope everyone who testifies will go do so truthfully,
accurately. When they do, the oversight role will have been performed, and I think America will
come to see what took place here.” That is my
goal: to testify truthfully and accurately to enable you to perform that role. And to that end, I have put together this statement to lay out as best I can my recollection of events that may be relevant to this matter.
By way of background, I have spent my entire professional career as a Foreign Service Officer. Like many of the dedicated public servants who have testified in these proceedings, my entire career has been in service of my country. I am a graduate of Pomona College in Claremont, California, and received graduate degrees in international affairs from the
University of St. Andrews (Scotland) and Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of
Public and International Affairs. I joined the Foreign Service in 2002 through an apolitical, merit-based process under the George W. Bush administration, and I have proudly served administrations of both parties and worked for their appointees, both political and career. Prior to my current post in Kyiv, Ukraine, I served in the political and economic sections at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia.
In Washington, I served on the National Security
Council staff as Director for Afghanistan and as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State. My prior overseas assignments include New Delhi, India; Kabul, Afghanistan; Bogotá, Colombia; and Pristina, Kosovo. As the Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, I lead the Political Section covering
internal politics, foreign relations, and security policies, and serve as the senior policy and political adviser to the Ambassador. The job of an embassy political counselor is to gather information
about the host country’s
 political landscape, report back to Washington, represent U.S. policies to foreign contacts, and advise the Ambassador on policy development and implementation. In this role, I am
a senior member of the Embassy’s Country Team and continually
involved in addressing issues as they arise. I am also often called upon to take notes in meetings involving the Ambassador or visiting senior U.S. officials with Ukrainian counterparts. For this reason, I have been present in many meetings with President Zelenskyy and his administration, some of which may be germane to this inquiry. While I am the Political Counselor at the Embassy, it is important to note that I am not a political appointee or engaged in U.S. politics in any way. It is not my job to cover or advise on U.S. politics. On the contrary, I am an apolitical foreign policy professional, and my job is to focus on the politics of the country in which I serve so that we can better understand the local landscape and better advance U.S. national interests there. In fact, during the period that we will cover today, my colleagues and I followed direct guidance from Ambassador Yovanovitch and Ambassador Taylor to focus on doing our jobs as foreign policy professionals and to stay clear of Washington politics.
Policy Objectives in Ukraine
I arrived in Kyiv to take up my assignment as Political Counselor in August 2017, a year after Ambassador Yovanovitch received her appointment. From August 2017 until her removal from post in May 2019, I was Ambassador
 chief policy advisor and developed a deep respect for her dedication, determination, decency, and professionalism. During this time we worked together closely, speaking multiple times per day, and I accompanied Ambassador Yovanovitch to many of her meetings with senior Ukrainian counterparts. 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 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. These efforts strained Ambassador
relationship with former President Poroshenko and some of his allies, including Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, who resisted fully empowering truly independent anti-
corruption institutions that would help ensure that no Ukrainians, however powerful, were above the law. Despite this resistance, the Ambassador and the Embassy kept pushing anti-corruption and the other priorities of our policy toward Ukraine.
Emergence of a Political Agenda
Beginning in March 2019, the situation at the Embassy and in Ukraine changed dramatically. Specifically, the three priorities of security, economy, and justice, and our support for Ukrainian democratic resistance to Russian aggression, became overshadowed by a political agenda being promoted by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and a cadre of officials operating with a direct channel to the White House. That change began with the emergence of press reports critical of Ambassador Yovanovitch and machinations by then-Prosecutor General Lutsenko and others to discredit her. In mid-March 2019, an Embassy colleague learned from a Ukrainian contact that Mr. Lutsenko had complained that Ambassador
Yovanovitch had “destroyed
with her refusal to support him until he followed through with his reform commitments and ceased using his position for personal gain. In retaliation, Mr. Lutsenko made a series of unsupported allegations against Ambassador Yovanovitch, mostly suggesting that Ambassador Yovanovitch improperly used the Embassy to advance the political interests of the Democratic party.
Among Mr. Lutsenko’s allegations were
that the Embassy had ordered the investigation of a former Ukrainian official solely because that former official was allegedly the main Ukrainian contact of the Republican Party and of President Trump personally, and that the Embassy had allegedly pressured
predecessor to close a case against a different former Ukrainian official, solely because of an alleged connection between that
company, Burisma, and former Vice President
Biden’s son.
Mr. Lutsenko also claimed that he had never received $4.4 million in U.S. funds intended for his office, and that there was a tape of a Ukrainian official saying he was trying to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election. Finally, Mr. Lutsenko publically claimed that Ambassador Yovanovitch had given
him a “do not
prosecute list
 containing the names of her supposed allies, an allegation that the State Department called an
fabrication,” and
 that Mr. Lutsenko later retracted. Mr. Lutsenko said that, as a result of these allegations, Ambassador Yovanovitch would face
“serious problems” in the United States.
Public opinion polls in Ukraine indicated that Ukrainians generally did not believe Mr.
Lutsenko’s allegations, and on March 22, President
Poroshenko issued a statement in support of Ambassador Yovanovitch. Following
Mr. Lutsenko’s allegations, Mr. Giuliani and others made a number of public
statements critical of Ambassador Yovanovitch, questioning her integrity and calling for her removal from office. Mr. Giuliani was also making frequent public statements pushing for Ukraine to investigate interference in the 2016 election and issues related to Burisma and the Bidens. For example, on May 1, 2019, the New York Times reported that Mr. Giuliani had
“discussed the Burisma investigation, and its intersections with the Bidens, with the ousted
Ukrainian prosecutor genera
l and the current prosecutor.”
On May 9, the New York Times reported that Mr. Giuliani said he planned to travel to Ukraine to pursue investigations into
2016 election interference and into the involvement of former Vice President Biden’s s
on in a
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