Abandoning diplomat's discretion, ex-Ukraine ambassador takes Trump to task

Cheryl Sanders
October 12, 2019

One of the Times' sources says the investigation is related to Giuliani's efforts to undermine former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

On May 9, 2018, Sessions sent a private letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he cited "concrete evidence from close companions that Ambassador Yovanovitch has spoken privately and repeatedly about her disdain for the current administration".

Yovanovitch told lawmakers investigating Trump's dealings with Ukraine that there was a "concerted campaign" against her based on "unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives".

The former US ambassador to Ukraine told congressional investigators on Friday that President Donald Trump was behind a concerted effort to remove her from her post based on spurious claims, a development she found "incredulous".

Mr Zelensky also said he does not believe US-Ukraine relations will be affected by the inquiry into the call.

For the past several months, the Trump White House has pushed the authorities in Kyiv to investigate Burisma Group, a big gas-production company, and the role there of Hunter Biden, who served on its board, along with actions of Mr. Biden when he was overseeing USA policy toward Ukraine.

Yovanovitch was abruptly removed from her post earlier this year with very little explanation. According to a cached biography on the State Department, earlier in her career she worked at the USA embassies in Ottawa, London, Moscow and Mogadishu. Law enforcement officials briefed on the matter told CNN that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecutors in Manhattan are examining Giuliani's involvement in the broader flow of money that has become the focus of alleged violations that are at the center of the charges against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. According to Yovanovitch, Sullivan said the president no longer wished for her to be his ambassador because he had lost confidence in her.

President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy looks on during a meeting in NY on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

"It was compelling, it was impactful, it was powerful and I just feel grateful for the opportunity to have received that information", said Democratic Rep. Denny Heck, who flew in from Washington state for the interview.

Meanwhile, Yovanovitch was mentioned in the call between Trump and Zelensky, where Trump described her as "bad news". Zelensky said he agreed "100%".

She said she did not know Mr Giuliani's reasons for attacking her.

Yovanovitch did not respond to TIME's request for comment, and has shunned the news media as the Ukraine scandal has escalated.

The former ambassador said she could only recall contact with Giuliani on three occasions, none of which had anything to do with the matters under investigation.

Yovanovitch was recalled from Kyiv as Giuliani pressed Ukrainian officials to investigate the baseless corruption allegations against Biden and his son, who was involved with a gas company there.

House Democrats have demanded to hear from four other state department officials: Ukraine Special Envoy Kurt Volker, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, and Counselor T Ulrich Brechbuhl.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference in Kiev on Thursday, Mr Zelensky said of his 25 July call with Mr Trump: "There was no blackmail". Russian Federation has denied wrongdoing. The lawyers, Robert Luskin and Kwame Manley, said that State Department regulations prohibit Sondland from producing documents concerning his official responsibilities and that the department has the "sole authority" to do so.

Other reports by iNewsToday