WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday pressed the State Department’s Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale and Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford about politically-motivated investigations. In response to Murphy’s questioning, Hale confirmed that it is not official U.S. policy to urge Ukraine to investigate Crowdstrike or Burisma, and that he is not aware of Rudy Giuliani being involved in current diplomatic conversations with Ukraine.
“I think it’s important to acknowledge those facts, because part of the defense of the president’s actions will be that those requests were in fact appropriate. And I think it’s relevant that since the uncovering of those demands have been made, they are no longer part of official U.S. policy query. Whether or not
if those actions were appropriate, they would have been dropped after these investigations began,” Murphy said.
Murphy also pressed Hale and Ford about energy independence from Russia. “Do you agree that there are ways in which we could increase the support that we give countries around Russia to try to end this asymmetry that exists today in the way that they leverage their energy resources and we leverage ours?”
A full transcript of Murphy exchange with Hale and Ford can be found below:
MURPHY: “Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. Thank you to both of you for your tremendous public service.
“There is, of course, no way to unwind our policy towards Russia with our policy towards Ukraine. And we’re going to have plenty of opportunities in the House and the Senate to litigate what our policy has been in the past towards Ukraine, but I thought it might be appropriate to level set and just clarify what our policy is currently towards Ukraine. And so Ambassador Hale, just a few quick questions. Is it currently our policy with respect to Ukraine to request investigations into an entity called CrowdStrike?”
MURPHY: “Is it currently our policy towards Ukraine to request investigations into the connection between the former vice president’s family and a company called Burisma?”
HALE: “ Not that I’m aware of.”
MURPHY: “Is Rudy Giuliani involved today in any diplomatic conversations with Ukraine?”
HALE: “Not that I’m aware of Sir.”
MURPHY: “I think it’s important to acknowledge those facts, because part of the defense of the president’s actions will be that those requests were in fact appropriate. And I think it’s relevant that since the uncovering of those demands have been made, they are no longer part of official U.S. policy query. Whether or not if those actions were appropriate, they would have been dropped after these investigations began.
“On another topic. One of the sort of ways to talk about our competition with Russia is through a prism of what is called asymmetric warfare, they have capabilities that we don’t have. And it’s always struck me that that is a choice—it’s not an inevitability. There are some things they’re willing to do that we just aren’t willing to do from a from a moral standpoint, from a standpoint of conscience. But there are also capabilities that they have, that we choose not to utilize, in particular the way in which they use their energy resources to bully nations around them and to win friends and influence adversaries. We have chosen not to use our energy resources in the same way, but there are appropriate means by which we could provide more direct assistance to countries in and around Russia’s periphery to make them energy independent.
“A bunch of us, Senator Johnson, Senator Rubio, myself and others have a piece of legislation that would set up a billion dollar financing capacity in the federal government to help actually finance energy independence projects in and around the Russia periphery. It strikes me as a way to sort of close this gap that exists without asking our private sector energy companies to throw their weight around in a way that’s completely integrated with us security interests. Do you agree that there are ways in which we could increase the support that we give countries around Russia to try to end this asymmetry that exists today in the way that they leverage their energy resources and we leverage ours?”
HALE: “Yes, I agree very much with the thrust of your comments and part of that is making sure that our allies have alternate sources of energy. And that’s been a major thrust of our strategy on Nord Stream 2, it’s because we don’t want Germany and others in Europe to be even more dependent on Russian energy sources. I myself have had multiple conversations in my travels in Ukraine and Belarus and Eastern Europe, on this very theme. The private sector, of course, would have to be hopefully a very prominent partner and in that in that enterprise.”
FORD: “If I might add to that. I think the Under Secretary is quite right and you’re quite right about the importance of manipulated energy relationships and Russia’s strategic policy. And one of the things that we are also doing to try to meet this challenge is through, not just promoting any particular type of energy alternative, but also focusing upon civil nuclear cooperation.
“We are working very hard, for example, in my corner of the State Department to promote improved relationships with partners and friends around the world in order to help provide them with alternatives in the form of carbon free nuclear energy from U.S. suppliers. Which serves our nonproliferation interest, it serves our strategic interests. And in promoting those kinds of things and trying to find alternatives to Russian relationships and Chinese relationships, which often come with very elaborate and too good to be true, debt bondage sort of financing terms. I’m not familiar with your particular bill, but in principle, being able to offer more financing alternatives to our partners in the civil nuclear business would be very helpful.”
MURPHY: “My continued hope is that we get that bill before this committee as soon as possible. I think it enjoys support in the administration and on both sides of this committee. My time is up, I’ll end there. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.”
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