In his prepared opening statement, George Kent described at length his credentials and commitment to advancing U.S. interests and freedom in Ukraine. Kent, the deputy secretary of state for the bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, then detailed what he saw as an attempt to contradict or undermine the national interest, and specifically to undermine then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch:
Over the course of 2018-2019, I became increasingly aware of an effort by Rudy Giuliani and others, including his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, to run a campaign to smear Ambassador Yovanovitch and other officials at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv.
He also talked about his perceptions of Giuliani's impact on the U.S. relationship with Ukraine:
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 Zelenskyy's desire for a White House meeting.
Read George Kent's full opening statement here:
Kent also briefly addressed his concerns about Burisma, the Ukrainian gas firm that had employed Hunter Biden. Mr. Trump has claimed that Joe Biden, as vice president, pushed for the removal of a prosecutor general because he was investigating Burisma, when in fact the prosecutor was widely seen as corrupt by the West.
Kent said he raised concerns about Hunter Biden's service on the board of Burisma, though he also said he never saw efforts by a U.S. official to "shield Burisma."
...[I]n a briefing call with the national security staff in the Office of the Vice President, in February 2015, I raised my concern that Hunter Biden's status as board member could create the perception of a conflict of interest. Let me be clear; however, I did not witness any efforts by any U.S. official to shield Burisma from scrutiny. In fact, I and other U.S.officials consistently advocated reinstituting a scuttled investigation of Zlochevsky, Burisma's founder, as well as holding the corrupt prosecutors who closed the case to account.
He concluded his opening remarks by praising first-generation Americans who have testified before the committee in closed hearings, including Yovanovitch, Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill. Yovanovitch is testifying in an open hearing on Friday, while Vindman and Hill will appear next week.