The former American ambassador to Ukraine says President Trump himself pressured the State Department to remove her from that post over "false claims," reports NBC News. Marie Yovanovitch was testifying behind closed doors Friday to House impeachment investigators, but her opening remarks were made available to multiple outlets. Details:
- 'Incredulous': Yovanovitch says she was “incredulous” she lost her post "based, as far as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives," per the New York Times. In fact, she says deputy secretary of state John Sullivan told her she had "done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause." However, Sullivan told her Trump had "lost confidence" in her, and Sullivan referred to a "concerted campaign" against her.
- Giuliani: Yovanovitch says Rudy Giuliani and his associates spread "fictitious" stories that she was badmouthing Trump in private, reports the Washington Post. “I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me,” she said. But his associates "may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine."
- Perspective: The opening remarks offered no new details in regard to Trump's efforts to encourage a Ukraine investigation of Joe Biden, one of the focuses of the impeachment investigation. But Yovanovitch's testimony—along with the testimony of another diplomat, Gordon Sondland, next week, should provide more information about Trump's actions in Ukraine in general, notes the Wall Street Journal. The State Department initially blocked Sondland from testifying. He is seen as a "Trump guy," per a post at Axios, and Republicans hope his testimony will actually help the White House.
- State Department: Yovanovitch delivered a searing assessment of the department, saying it is being "attacked and hollowed out from within." She predicted a wave of resignations and said the "harm will come when private interests circumvent professional diplomats for their own gain, not the public good." This week, Michael McKinley, a longtime diplomat and top adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announced his resignation, per the Post. Inside the department, anger is reportedly brewing over a perception that Pompeo is not protecting his staffers.
- Giuliani, II: ABC News reports that Giuliani's business relationship with the two men charged this week with the illegal funneling of money to candidates is now the subject of a federal criminal investigation in New York.
- Whistleblower: Attorneys for the man whose whistleblower report led to the impeachment inquiry are asking if their client can answer lawmakers' questions in writing, rather than in person, out of fear for his safety, reports the Wall Street Journal.
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