State Dept. official believed Trump-Ukraine conduct was 'injurious to the rule of law,' transcripts show

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By Adam Edelman  with NBC News Politics
Image: George Kent
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent leaves Capitol Hill on Oct. 15, 2019.   -  Copyright  Andrew Harnik AP file

State Department official George Kent, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, told House investigators last month that he had noted specific conversations he'd witnessed related to White House's attempted quid pro quo that he said were "injurious to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and the U.S," according to a transcript of his testimony made public Thursday.

"I wrote a note to the file saying that I had concerns that there was an effort to initiate politically motivated prosecutions that were injurious to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and the U.S.," Kent told the committees about two particular conversations he'd witnessed.

Lawmakers have focused on Kent and other witnesses to establish that the Trump administration froze aid money as part of an attempt to pressure Ukraine to open politically advantageous probes.

The transcript of the behind-closed-doors testimony by Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state who worked on Ukraine and five other countries, before the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into Trump was just the latest to be made public this week, as the probe moves to a public phase.

NBC News reported last monthfollowing Kent's testimony that he had told investigators that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney appointed three other Trump administration officials — Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, the then-U.S. special envoy to Ukraine — to spearhead the president's efforts in Ukraine.